Houston Construction Accident Lawyer
Construction site accidents are a major problem around the world, claiming hundreds of lives and causing thousands of grievous injuries every year in the U.S. alone. In 2001, there were 1,225 fatal incidents, resulting in a staggering rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 workers, higher than any other occupation. In fact, this industry represents 6 percent of the U.S. workforce, but nearly 20 percent of all workplace fatalities. Though safety has improved marginally since 2001, thousands of preventable incidents still occur every year.
COMMON INJURIES OUR CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT LAWYERS SEE
The leading cause of injury in the industry is falling from heights. OSHA requires fall protection around runways, ramps, walkways, hoist areas, formwork, holes, excavations, and other unprotected edges. Those in the bricklaying, roofing, and residential building industries are at particular risk of falling.
Vehicle wrecks are another major source of injury, affecting workers at job sites and those traveling between job sites. Most injuries caused by motor vehicles in the industry are from work vehicles attempting to move material or excavate areas.
Falls and vehicle crashes represent the bulk of industry incidents, but many workers are also struck by objects, electrocuted, or caught between objects every year. Laborers also have to contend with several health hazards each year, such as asbestos, corrosive chemicals and excessive noise.
WHAT KIND OF INJURIES CAN CONSTRUCTION SITE ACCIDENTS CAUSE?
Workers harmed in workplace incidents can suffer from a number of injuries, many of them permanent or severely debilitating. Falls, even those from low heights, and being struck by objects can result in multiple broken bones, internal damage, or injuries to the spine or brain. Brain and spine injuries are especially problematic as they typically cause permanent disability. Spine and brain injuries may result in paralysis, problems with cognition, pain, speech or motor problems, or other complications. Recovery from spine and brain injuries is almost always limited and only possible after extensive physical or mental rehabilitation.
Workers can also be harmed by corrosive chemicals, which may cause burns, or permanent damage to eyes or ears. Workers that inhale noxious fumes produced by chemicals may suffer from brain or lung damage if oxygen is deprived for long.
Exposure to asbestos can cause a fatal condition known as mesothelioma, a cancer that may affect the lining around the lungs or heart. Mesothelioma is difficult to detect and often impossible to treat once found. Most people diagnosed with it only have months to live.
ARE THESE INJURIES PREVENTABLE?
In most cases, an employer can mitigate the risk of any incidents by implementing safety protocols or placing protective barriers or signage in high risk areas. Unfortunately, fall protection is often not placed in areas where it would be helpful. This is because safety regulations do not adequately define where the protection should be placed, resulting in many workers being involved in short falls, which can be just as dangerous as falls from greater heights.
WHAT ARE SOME IMPORTANT STATISTICS REGARDING CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT INJURIES?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one in 10 workers in this industry are hurt every year. With more than 800 annual deaths, it is considered one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. On average, that comes out to more than two deaths a day. In some ways, this isn’t a surprise, given the sheer number of workers in the industry and the rate at which municipalities take on additional projects. However, most of the worst injuries could be prevented if workplaces were inspected for and organized around safety.
WHAT GENERALLY CAUSES CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT INJURIES?
OSHA calls the four most common causes of industry incidents the “fatal four,” as they are present in nearly 60 percent of all fatal disasters. These include falls (37 percent of all fatalities), being struck by an object (10 percent), electrocution (9 percent) and being caught between objects (2.5 percent). If work sites could eliminate these risks from the equation, nearly 500 workers’ lives would be saved annually.
One of OSHA’s functions is to investigate incidents after they occur and determine if any safety violations were present at the time of the disaster. Unfortunately, safety violations plague the industry. Among the most common safety violations are a lack of fall protection, inadequate warning signage or warning communication, improper erection of scaffolding, lack of respiratory protection, and improper setup and maintenance of electrical controls. These aren’t unavoidable oversights; they are direct violations of the regulations that OSHA has setup in conjunction with industry experts.
However, OSHA can only lightly enforce these regulations with fines that tend to be paltry compared to the money a company can save by ignoring its workers’ safety. This is one reason employers must be held accountable when they gamble with their workers’ lives.
HOW SEVERE CAN CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT INJURIES BE?
Even a fall from a short height can leave lasting injuries, and most incidents are more than just a slight tumble. Falls from scaffolding and being hit by heavy objects can result in severe trauma, including debilitating injuries to the spine or brain. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are capable of permanently disabling a person, leaving them without the ability to work or take care of themselves.
Electrocution can stop a worker’s heart or result in severe burns, which can lead to chronic pain or disfiguring scars, or the loss of life. Crushing injuries, usually caused by being caught between objects, can kill a person outright, break multiple bones, or cause massive organ damage.
In short, with the presence of heavy machinery, hazardous materials and work vehicles, injuries in this industry are often devastating.
WHEN TO CONTACT A CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT LAWYER
As soon as an incident occurs, employers often go into damage control mode to limit their losses. Injured workers are often coerced into signing away their ability to file a claim, especially when other parties may be involved in the suit. To keep these tactics from affecting the outcome of a case, an injured worker should consider contacting a construction accident lawyer experienced in these matters.
Anyone who is injured during a workplace incident at a construction site should consider speaking to a Houston construction accident lawyer right away. An experienced injury lawyer may be able to help a victim of a workplace incident get the compensation they need for medical expenses and ongoing therapy.
Social Security Disability cases likely to be referred