Wednesday, February 22, 2023

What Are the Most Common Construction Accident Injuries?

Construction accidents can have a devastating impact on workers and their families. Despite safety regulations designed to protect workers, construction sites remain inherently dangerous places to work.

As a result, injuries are common, and they can result in substantial medical bills and lost wages — not to mention significant physical and emotional pain.

How Common Are Construction Accidents?

Construction workers play a vital role in our economy, building our roads, homes, workplaces, and other structures we rely on. But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 951 workers in the construction and extraction industry died in work-related accidents in 2021, second only to deaths in the transportation industry (1,032). The prime culprits were falls, electrocutions, being struck by objects, and caught-in or caught-between accidents, otherwise termed the “Fatal Four” by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

When construction accidents aren’t fatal, they can cause devastating long-term — if not permanent and life-changing — injuries.

The Most Common Construction Accident Causes and Their Injuries

The nature of construction work means that workers are exposed to a range of hazards that can result in serious injuries and a massive financial burden. With causes including falls, accidents involving heavy equipment, and electrocution, construction workers face a constant risk of injury on the job.

Some of the most common construction accident causes and injuries include:

Falls from Height

Falls are the leading cause of construction-related injuries and fatalities. Falls from height can cause several injuries, ranging from broken bones and spinal cord injuries to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). If a construction worker sustains a severe TBI, they might lose consciousness or have trouble communicating and regulating their emotions. These injuries can affect workers physically, cognitively, and emotionally and often require extensive medical treatment.

Struck-by Accidents

This type of construction accident occurs when a worker is hit or struck by an object. This might be a fallen roof tile, a piece of equipment, a swinging object, or even a vehicle.

Depending on the object a worker is hit by and the force of the impact, struck-by accidents can cause injuries ranging from sprains and broken bones to spinal cord injuries.

Even a broken bone can result in lengthy treatment and time off work if it doesn’t heal correctly. Construction workers may need surgery to align the bone, and even then, they may experience permanent weakness that affects their ability to do their job.

Electrocutions and Explosions

If a construction worker comes into contact with live electrical wires or is involved in a fire — whether combustible, chemical, or electrical — they may sustain severe burns.

Burns don’t just have a physical impact — they can also result in scarring and disfigurement, which can have a significant emotional impact and leave workers with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.

Caught-in or between Accidents

Caught-in or between accidents occur when a worker is squeezed, crushed, or trapped in or between machinery or equipment. Some common examples include being squeezed between a wall and a forklift or a conveyor belt and a piece of machinery. These accidents are particularly dangerous and can result in internal injuries, crushed limbs, and amputations.

What to Do If You’re in a Construction Accident

With construction accidents happening so frequently, it’s vital to know what steps to take if you’re injured on the job. There are several key steps you should take:

Get Medical Attention

If you're injured on the job, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately or as soon as possible — even if you feel fine. Some injuries don’t show symptoms immediately, and what you think is a minor injury could end up being much worse. Delaying treatment not only means you won’t get the urgent care you might need, but it can also affect whether you can claim compensation, which can be a vital lifeline if you cannot work and have medical bills to pay.

Report the Accident to Your Employer

You should also report your accident to your employer. Reporting requirements vary by state — you may have just a couple of days or months to notify your employer — so it’s advisable to report the accident as soon as possible.

If your employer has worker’s compensation insurance — which is mandatory in every state except Texas, barring a few exceptions for certain employers — they should file a claim with the workers’ compensation commission in your state so you can recover the cost of your medical treatment and a portion of your lost wages.

Consult a Personal Injury Attorney

You should also consider consulting a personal injury lawyer to determine if you’re entitled to file a personal injury claim. Generally speaking, if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you can receive a payout to cover your medical expenses and some of your lost wages, but you cannot file a personal injury claim (unless a third party, such as the manufacturer of faulty equipment, is at fault). This can be a benefit, as you only have to show your accident happened at work, but it also means you cannot recover additional damages for pain and suffering and the long-term impact of your injuries on your life.

If you’re in Texas, workers’ compensation insurance isn’t mandatory, so if your employer does not have it and you’re hurt on the job, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. To do this, you must show your employer was negligent or reckless and that this resulted in your injury. A common example of negligence is failing to follow best practices to ensure workplace safety. This can come in many forms, such as:

•    Failing to adequately train employees
•    Providing defective equipment
•    Failing to provide protective gear, such as hard hats, goggles, and gloves
•    Not routinely conducting safety inspections.

In this case, you may be able to hold your employer accountable and recover significant compensation. A personal injury lawyer in McAllen, for example, will be able to advise you on whether you have a claim.

Construction accidents can have serious consequences for workers and their families. If you’ve been injured on the job, it's important to take the appropriate steps to protect your health and safety and ensure you get any compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Dr. Louis Patino is a personal injury attorney and founder of Patino Law Firm, which has offices in McAllen and San Antonio, Texas.

This is a guest blog entry.

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