There are few workplaces as hazardous as construction sites, which are home to more fatal injuries each year than any other industry. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also tracks non-fatal severe injuries in the workplace and its new report of 2015 data places construction-related incidents as the most prevalent in the country.
The recently released findings include a new proposal that requires employers to report serious injuries to OHSA within 24 hours. Qualifying injuries include amputations, loss of an eye, or in-patient hospitalization. A continuing requirement that was already in place requires employers to report a worker fatality within 8 hours. The new timelines are designed to allow OSHA to respond timely and focus its attention where workers face the highest risk.
The year 2015 presented more than 10,000 reports and officials believe that the reports have helped eliminate threats that could have led to thousands more. The reports only include injuries from states that do not administer their own safety and health programs, making the actual instances of severe injury likely double.
Injuries on construction sites
More than 6 million people in this country work on construction sites each day. There they are exposed to hazards like falls from scaffolding and heavy equipment accidents. A gripping finding of the OSHA report is just how many of the reported severe injuries took place on construction jobs.
Three of the top four industries reporting severe injuries include:
- Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors (391 reports);
- Building Equipment Contractors (343 reports); and
- Nonresidential Building Construction (271 reports).
Most of the injuries were preventable by employers.
OSHA’s response in most of these cases is not to investigate but to ask employers to investigate it themselves and suggest preventative remedies. In many cases, the agency found employers eager to cooperate and sometimes even adopt stricter safety measures than required. In some cases, however, employers were uncooperative and even tried to hide the dangerous conditions so they would not need to fix them.
Matching reports with state workers’ compensation claims also leads the agency to believe half of the serious injuries are not being reported.
Construction accident liability
In addition to the physical dangers present on a construction site, there are often many different parties with access to the location. This raises questions of who may have caused or be liable for construction accidents. The answer may be the construction company, the property owner, or some other party. State and federal laws can affect whether these parties can be held accountable to the injured worker.
Workplace injuries often result in medical expenses and lost wages. Victims can also suffer a loss of earning capacity, short- or long-term disabilities, pain, and suffering. Some of this may be covered by workers’ compensation but that usually is not enough to pay all of the costs associated with severe, or catastrophic disability.
If you or a family member have been hurt in a workplace accident, South Carolina personal injury lawyers at The Jeffcoat Firm can answer your questions and discuss options for legal recourse. Call (803) 200-2000 to set up a free consultation today.