Construction workers form an integral part of our society. We see them wearing hard hats and working away regardless of the weather conditions that surround them and rarely consider the dangers they are facing just to get a building completed on time. The reality is that they face a number of hazards while performing their work, which is perhaps why, of the 4,379 fatalities in the private sector in 2015, 21.4 percent were in the construction sector. This amounted to 937 deaths-one in five workers who died in 2015 were construction workers.
More than 60 percent of these deaths were caused by what the U.S. Department of Labor terms ‘fatal four.’ These leading causes have been identified as falling, getting struck by an object, getting electrocuted and getting caught in-between two objects.
Falling caused 38.8 percent of construction workers’ accidents. They are at high risk of falling from roofs, scaffoldings, cranes, ladders and other elevated surfaces. Nearly ten percent of accidents are caused when an object strikes a worker, generally falling from a high surface. These could be tools falling from above or other equipment that hasn’t been secured properly. Construction workers are also often stuck behind reversing trucks, which accounts for 7.2 percent of construction related incidents. Electrocutions account for around 8.6 percent of incidents.
If these fatal four are eliminated from the workplace, more than 600 deaths could be eliminated annually. Removing these hazards and educating workers about potential risks is an employer’s duty, and when they neglect to perform this duty and cause a workplace accident, it may be possible to file a workers’ compensation claim.