Most Common Construction Site Accidents & Injuries
Our country depends on construction workers to build our homes, construct the buildings businesses operate in, and pave and repair our roads. But being a construction worker is hardly an easy job. Between 2002 and 2012, 19.5% of all workplace fatalities involved workers in the construction industry. It’s estimated that over the course of a 45-year long career, a construction worker has a 1-in-200 chance of sustaining a fatal, on-the-job injury.
There are a huge number of ways construction site accidents and injuries can occur. Between all the heavy machinery and powerful tools involved and the fact that workers often have to work at high elevations or in tight, enclosed spaces, it’s very easy to be injured on a construction site if construction safety isn’t taken seriously.
Causes of Construction Accidents
Although there are so many ways for construction injuries to happen, certain types of accidents tend to happen more frequently than others. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a government agency that oversees workplace safety, has what they call the “fatal four” construction site accidents. The “fatal four” accidents were responsible for 60.6% of all construction worker deaths in 2014:
Falls: Falls are the most common construction site accident by far. In 2014, falls accounted for 39.9% of all construction worker deaths. During the 2015 fiscal year, several of OSHA’s 10 most commonly issued citations for construction sites all involved things that could lead to falls, such as inadequate fall protection, scaffolding problems, and unsafe ladders.
Electrocution: Electrocutions are the second most common type of fatal construction site accident, accounting for 8.2% of all construction worker deaths in 2014. Issues related to electrical components, wiring methods, and other electrical equipment were the 8th most frequently issued citation by OSHA in the 2015 fiscal year.
Struck By Object: The number of fatal accidents that involved a worker being struck by an object were only slightly lower than accidents involving electricity in 2014, causing 8.1% of all construction worker fatalities. Since construction sites commonly involve people working on several levels or have beams moving around, it’s very easy for workers to be struck by falling objects or beams being moved around if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
Caught-In/Between: There are several ways a construction worker might suffer from a fatal caught-in/between accident. A limb might get caught in a piece of equipment, the worker could be crushed by falling debris, or a worker could get trapped between immovable objects. These types of accidents accounted for 4.3% of all construction site fatalities in 2014.
OSHA estimates that if the “fatal four” could be eliminated, it would save 545 lives in America every year. But the “fatal four” are hardly the only causes of construction injuries. Many construction workers either work directly on the road or close to it, which puts workers at risk for being hit by a vehicle. In developing countries, approximately 30% of all motor vehicle crashes involve someone at work. Construction workers are also very commonly exposed to hazardous materials, which can lead to respiratory illnesses if they’re not handled safely. It’s estimated that if a person begins working in construction at the age of 20 and lives to be 85, they’ll have a 15% chance of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and an 11% chance of developing other parenchymal chest problems due to dust inhalation.