If you work in construction, you are likely aware of at least some of the risks you face on the job site. However, some dangers are more serious than others.
According to OSHA, more than 1,000 construction workers were killed on the job in 2019 (the most recent year of data). Tragically, fatalities in the construction industry make up approximately 20 percent of the overall number of workplace deaths in the United States. These numbers do not account for the many additional workers who sustain serious injuries on construction sites.
If you or a loved one suffered injury on a construction site in New Jersey, it is important to speak to a lawyer about your legal rights and options for financial recovery. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help.
Top 10 Dangers on New Jersey Construction Sites
Some occupational hazards, such as striking your thumb with a hammer or tripping over an extension cord, result in minor injuries. They can often be treated with first aid or perhaps a visit to urgent care. Medical expenses and the time workers miss from such injuries is typically minimal.
In other cases, however, common hazards on job sites can lead to catastrophic injuries and permanent disability. You may have recourse to workers’ compensation, as well as grounds for a personal injury claim, in accidents involving the following:
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Falls are the number-one serious workplace accident on construction sites. Whether you fall a few feet from a ladder or multiple stories from scaffolding or a lift, falls to the ground can result in a wide range of traumatic injuries.
2. Caught-In and Caught-Between Hazards
Construction workers may be caught in or caught between a wide range of objects, including:
- Heavy machinery
- Collapsing trenches
- Runaway and malfunctioning vehicles and equipment
- Structural collapses
- Stationary objects (such as a wall or other barrier) and a machine or vehicle
As you can see, caught-in and caught-between hazards can range from getting a limb or piece of clothing entangled in a machine to being crushed by unstable structures and materials. The outcome of these accidents, however, is often serious, ranging in severity from amputation injuries to being “buried alive.”
3. Falling Objects
Workers on the ground are also at risk from height-related accidents. The biggest danger comes from objects that fall from heights, such as tools and other equipment, building materials, and more.
Brain injuries, neck injuries, and other serious harm can befall workers who are struck by an object. Even hardhats and other safety gear may provide limited protection from these accidents.
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Electricity is essential for many aspects of construction work. Unfortunately, exposure to electric current carries a high risk of serious injury and death.
Construction sites are home to a number of electrocution risks. Loose, frayed, or uninsulated wiring can all cause a shock. Electrocution may also occur when workers are performing jobs below the ground (such as digging a trench and striking a utility line) or above the ground (such as when a worker comes into contact with overhead power lines).
5. Particulate Matter
So far we have covered a number of “big” hazards on construction sites. The majority of these accidents involve large and heavy equipment, materials, and structures.
However, it is crucial not to overlook the “small” dangers that reside on construction sites. Many workers develop serious respiratory illnesses from inhaling microscopic particles of hazardous materials. From wood to crystalline silica, many construction materials give off dust and fibers that can have adverse effects on the health of workers.
Toxins on construction sites can also take the form of airborne gases. Construction workers are regularly exposed to diesel exhaust from machines. Some fumes are confined to specific construction activities, such as laying asphalt, painting, stonework, and more.
Inhaling toxic fumes can lead to short-term (e.g., headache, irritation of the mucous membranes, etc.) and long-term (e.g., fatigue, neurological disorders, etc.) symptoms. Some substances also carry an increased risk of cancer.
7. Fires and Explosions
Construction workers sometimes forget just how many things on a job site can catch fire and even explode. The risk of fires and explosions is constant on construction sites due to the presence of flammable chemicals and materials, sparks created by tools and machines, and more.
Human error is another leading contributor to fires and explosions on construction sites. Proper signage and supervision of workers can help prevent accidents caused by reckless disposal of lit cigarettes, careless cooking over an open flame, and more.
8. Unsafe Walkways
Spilled grease and paint, uneven flooring, and other safety issues can arise in the course of construction. The severity of slip and fall accidents can vary significantly, potentially resulting in injuries ranging from sprained wrists to broken arms to trauma to the head and face.
Falls do not have to occur from heights to result in injury. Potential errors should be reported to a supervisor and cleaned up promptly to avoid accidents involving slips.
9. Lockout and Tagout Errors
Whether a machine needs repairs or work is being performed in the vicinity, it is essential for workers to follow lockout and tagout procedures when equipment is being taken out of use. Errors in this process can lead to injuries stemming from caught-in and caught-between accidents, electrocutions, and other hazards.
10. Defective Equipment
Power tools, machinery, and vehicles must be used properly and maintained to reduce the risk of injury. However, even if equipment is used as intended and kept in good repair, defects can lead to serious injuries and even death.
If you suspect a faulty product caused your construction accident, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Defective product litigation is complicated, and timely investigation of the accident and collection of evidence is crucial to preserve all of your options for filing a claim.
Injured on a Construction Site? Our Lawyers Can Help!
Construction workers put in long, hard days to earn a living. As though the work itself is not difficult enough, they must also navigate a wide variety of hazards to avoid getting seriously hurt.
Until you speak to a lawyer after a construction site accident, no one is looking out for your rights and best interests. Failure to seek legal guidance can result in you getting less compensation than you deserve or – even worse – denial of your claim.
At Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, we don’t solely help those injured on construction sites file for workers’ comp benefits. We identify all potential claims in your case, possibly including a personal injury lawsuit, a defective product claim, and more.
Please call (201) 585-9111 today for a free case evaluation. The construction accident attorneys at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi serve workers in Fort Lee and throughout New Jersey.