Working in the construction industry carries risks. The National Safety Council (NSC) ranks construction as the fourth most dangerous occupation after the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector, mining, and transportation and warehousing. The fatality rate for construction is 9.2 for every 100,000 workers, according to the NSC.
In Indiana, 20 construction workers died from on-the-job injuries in 2012, the most recent year for which Department of Labor (DOL) data is available. Among those fatalities, eight occurred in the specialty trade sector, seven in heavy and civil engineering construction, and five in building construction.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that construction accident injuries accounted for 796 (20.3 percent) of the 3,929 work-related fatalities in private industry in 2013. In other words, one out of every five workers who died was in construction.
Types of Construction Accidents
OSHA’s “Fatal Four” types of accidents caused 58 percent of the fatalities among construction workers in 2013. OSHA estimates that eliminating these four leading types of accidents would save the lives of 468 workers a year. Fatal Four accidents in 2013 break down as follows:
Beyond the Fatal Four, construction trade workers suffer many other types of accidents, including:
- Trench and excavation cave-ins
- Crane accidents
- Heavy equipment accidents
- Power tool accidents
- Fires and explosions
- Toxic chemical and hazardous substance exposure
- Welding mishaps
Causes of Construction Accidents
OSHA protects construction workers through a number of safety standards and regulations issued specifically for the construction industry. These regulations make employers responsible for accident prevention, including regular and frequent inspections of jobsites, materials, and equipment.
When employers fail to comply with these regulations, hazardous conditions can develop on jobsites, resulting in accidents, injuries, and fatalities for workers. Some common factors contributing to construction accidents include the following:
- Defective or poorly maintained tools, machinery, and equipment can malfunction and cause injury to workers.
- Untrained or improperly trained workers are allowed to operate equipment and machinery, often leading to injuries to other workers as well as themselves.
- Proper guardrails and safety gear are not provided to protect workers on scaffolding and other heights from falls.
- Trench walls are not sloped or shored properly to prevent cave-ins, and workers are crushed and buried under tons of dirt.
- Employers fail to provide respiratory protection against worker exposure to toxic chemicals and hazardous substances.
- Guards are not provided on machinery and equipment with moving parts to prevent workers or their body parts from being trapped in the machinery and crushed, amputated, or otherwise injured.
- Cranes are not properly insulated or prevented from contact with power lines, leading to electrocution of workers.
Who Is Responsible for Construction Accident Injuries?
Most injured workers in Indiana are eligible for workers' compensation benefits. However, depending on the circumstances, several different parties other than the worker’s employer could be potentially liable for worker injuries in a third-party claim or lawsuit.
The best thing to do if you have been hurt in a construction accident in Indiana is to consult with a knowledgeable construction accident attorney. At the Sevenish Law Firm our construction accident lawyer will carefully investigate your accident to determine who may be held accountable for your injuries. Responsible parties may include:
- Manufacturers of defective equipment
- Contractors or subcontractors other than the injured worker’s employer
- Property owners in certain cases, such as slip and fall accidents, when the property is not owned by the injured worker’s employer
- Outside drivers who cause crashes or pedestrian accidents
Legal Rights of Injured Construction Workers
Workers in the construction industry have certain rights under OSHA regulations, including the right to work on a jobsite that is reasonably free of hazardous conditions. When accidents occur, regardless of fault, injured workers have the right to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits will cover all medical expenses associated with the injury and a portion of the worker’s lost wages. In tragic cases when workers are killed on the job, their families are usually entitled to workers' compensation death benefits.
In cases when a construction accident was caused by the negligence of a third party, other than the worker’s employer, the injured worker has the right to file a claim or lawsuit for compensation for the injuries sustained in that accident. Damages injured workers may be entitled to claim include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. Compensation recovered in third-party claims is additional to workers' compensation benefits.
When you work with us at the Sevenish Law Firm, our seasoned Indianapolis construction accident attorney is dedicated to protecting your rights and aggressively pursuing the maximum benefits and compensation you are entitled to receive. Since 1985, we have helped thousands of accident victims and their families throughout Indiana. Contact our firm for a free and confidential case consultation.