The construction industry experiences a significant number of worker fatalities each and every year. The industry does not have the highest fatality rate of all U.S. industries, but it does feature the highest number of workers killed overall. Meaning, forestry workers and professional fisherman, for example, are more likely to be killed on the job but more construction industry workers (total) are killed while on the job annually, partially because their duties are so dangerous and partially because there are so many people employed in this industry.
Construction work is certainly considered a hazardous occupation, as construction accidents can happen in thousands of different ways. That being said, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the top four hazards in the construction industry. These are sometimes referred to as the Fatal Four. They are the most common reasons for deadly accidents on a construction site.
More than anything else, workers pass away as a result of falls. This category can include slipping and falling on the same level, which could cause a worker to strike their head on a hard surface. It could also include falling from a ladder or a scaffolding system. Many workers fall from equipment or elevated positions, such as when working on a roof.
Next, workers are too often struck by vehicles or other items. A truck driver may back into a worker on a construction site, for instance. A power tool could be dropped from above and strike a worker as it falls.
When workers are caught between two different areas, they can suffer significant crush injuries or even suffocation. An example of phenomenon occurs when a worker is pulled into a piece of heavy machinery with spinning gears, perhaps because their clothing or hair became snagged. Another example is when workers are digging trenches and a trench collapses with the workers still inside.
Finally, working around electricity is very common in the construction industry, and it can be quite dangerous. In some cases, the risk comes from electrical lines that are being installed, such as when an electrician is running power in a new build. But the risk could also come from overhead powerlines, especially for workers who are using ladders or heavy equipment.
What options does the family have?
Workers who have simply been injured in an accident often have options to seek workers’ comp benefits, and they need to know how to proceed. But even the family members of those who have passed away may have legal steps that they can take. It is certainly worth understanding what options there are at this difficult time.