The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has spent nearly 45 years protecting the nation’s workers and, since their inception in 1971, the number of workplace injuries and death has dropped precipitously. Yet, despite this drop, OSHA still notes that more than 12 workers die on average in a typical workday. As a way to figure out why this continues to happen, in 2013, the agency gathered statistics from around the nation and found that, of the more than 4,100 worker deaths that year, 57.7% of them could be traced to four specific causes, most of which occurred in the construction industry.
OSHA found these workplace accidents to be the “Fatal Four:”
- Falls – OSHA found that a whopping 36.5% of all deaths in the workplace happened because employees fell, including falls from ladders, scaffolds, roofs, and even machinery. Many of these falls also came from higher floors of high rises under construction as well as cranes.
- Struck by an object – In second place on this unfortunate list were the 10.1% of deaths that were the result of objects, like tools or pieces of equipment that swung into, fell onto or otherwise hit a worker. Quite often, these objects can include tools that are dropped or fall from heights.
- Electrocution – Third on the list are the 8.6% of workers who died from one of the numerous electrocution risks workers face, especially on a construction site, where there is often exposed wiring and potentially wet conditions.
- Caught-in or caught-between – rounding out the Fatal Four are the 2.5% of workers who are injured or killed either because they were caught in a machine or device or because they were caught in between two machines or devices. In most of these cases, these accidents involve cranes or other heavy equipment or machinery.
The Dangers of the Construction Industry
There is little doubt that the construction industry can be very dangerous under normal conditions, and while OSHA makes a strong attempt to regulate safety and health and to keep all workplaces as safe as possible by enforcing safety standards in all workplaces, injuries and fatalities remain a constant concern. Sometimes, because everyone from contractors to subcontractors and even workers themselves, are working on very tight deadlines and often under difficult conditions, it is not unusual for some at a jobsite to cut corners and to place getting the job done ahead of doing so safely, which can lead to serious injuries and, in some cases, death.
Most accidents, including the Fatal Four, are preventable, and all employers have an obligation to place worker safety at the top of the list of workplace concerns. All workers have a right to the safest workplace possible. While Texas workers’ compensation law generally prevents workers from taking action against their employers or co-workers directly for a workplace accident that leads to injury, in many cases, it can be established that one or more third parties may be liable for an accident, such as a construction company, which may be at fault if it can be shown that they failed to perform safety inspections, provide proper training or follow proper safety regulations, or if they fail to provide workers with adequate safety equipment. Contractors and subcontractors may be liable if they failed to inform workers of hazards present on the worksite. Manufacturers and materials suppliers may be liable if injuries were caused by defective products or products that weren’t properly maintained to proper specifications.
The Gutierrez Law Firm – Texas Workplace Accident Lawyers
Again, there are a variety of people who have a duty to make sure that worksites and working environments are as safe as possible, and when they fail in their duty, an injured worker should contact an experienced attorney, such as those at the Gutierrez Law Firm, so they can review all of the facts of your situation so that you can understand all available options and make sure you’re doing what’s best for you and your family.