Long Beach Construction Accident Attorneys
Nationwide, construction work is among the most dangerous occupations. Thanks to California's growing population, the increase in the number of homes and businesses being built has led to hundreds of thousands of construction site accidents each year.
According to the United States Department of Labor, 4,836 workers were killed on the job in 2015 in the United States.
Here are some important things to know about construction injuries:
- It is the responsibility of the construction companies to thoroughly inspect each site with safety engineers and provide safety programs for employees. When these measures are not implemented or fail to protect construction workers, the owners, architects, insurance companies, and equipment manufacturers can be found legally responsible.
- Third party negligence means the manufacturers of the various equipment and products used on the site can be found liable for any injuries. It is also possible that subcontractors and even the general contractor may be held responsible for damages.
- Worker's compensation provides those workers injured on the job, or suffering from a disease while in the course of employment, benefits that include payments based on the employee's wages and total or partial disability. Unfortunately, this alone may not be enough compensation.
Through annual inspections and reports, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified four major hazards that cause accidents, injuries, and fatalities at construction sites across the United States.
- Falls. Construction sites require fall protection when working over equipment and for heights six feet and over, including properly constructed scaffolding, guard-rail systems, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems (body harnesses). Preventive measures are the best method of avoiding injuries and ensuring employee safety.
- Electrical Exposure. Exposed electrical wires, including power lines, damaged equipment, and extension cords, can cause a wide range of accidents, such as burns, electrocution, shock, arc flashes, fire, and explosions. Measures can be taken to minimize the risk of electrical exposure by inspecting and grounding equipment, maintaining a safe distance from power lines, guarding live electrical parts, checking circuit breakers, and following lockout/tagout procedures.
- Struck-By Objects. According to a report by the BLS in 2009, Struck-By accidents account for 17% of all construction injuries. These accidents generally involve a worker suffering blunt-force trauma from a flying, falling, swinging, or rolling object, such as tools, heavy machinery, motor vehicles or construction materials. Workers can protect themselves from struck-by objects by maintaining a safe distance from heavy machinery when in use, being aware of unbalanced loads and lifting capacities, securing materials to cranes, turning off or parking vehicles when not in use, wearing safety equipment (helmets, goggles, seatbelts, etc.), and inspecting all equipment before use.
- Caught-In/Between Situations. Similar to Struck-By incidents, Caught-In/Between accidents occur when a worker is pinned between machinery or fixed structures, or a cave-in in the case of trenches. These accidents also include injuries where a worker’s body or clothing is caught in a machine, such as an exposed finger in a saw. Employees are advised to always use an equipment’s guard system, ensure machinery is supported or turned off when not in use, never place themselves between moving and inanimate objects, and maintain protecting zones when working in trenches.
These four hazards provide a broad view of the risks associated with construction sites and understanding the procedures for each situation can help avoid injuries. But employers are always required to provide thorough training for safety protocols to minimize the risk of construction accidents from the Fatal Four and maintain a safe work environment.
Around 40% of all construction site fatalities involve electrocution. According to the California Administrative Code, only qualified technicians are allowed to do electrical work. Additionally, such work can’t be undertaken unless the following measures are taken:
- A responsible supervisor must determine when it is necessary to conduct work while a part or system is energized
- Workers must be trained regarding any necessary techniques or hazards involved in the job
- Personal protective equipment (including eye protection) must be issued
- All necessary barriers, barricades, tags, or signs must be put in place.
Other accidents and injuries that frequently take place at a construction site include:
- Crane Accidents. Many serious and fatal injuries involving cranes occur each year when the crane touches a power line, when workers assemble and dismantle the crane, or due to various failures of the crane's construction.
- Scaffolding Accidents. Most accidents of this type are attributed to negligent construction and maintenance of the scaffolding. 10,000 of the 500,000 injuries that occur annually on construction sites are associated with work on scaffolds.
- Compressed Gases Hazards. Mechanical as well as chemical dangers accompany the wide use of compressed gases in construction projects. Failure to follow safe handling procedures injures thousands of workers each year.
- Dangerous and Defective Machines. Serious injuries result from moving machine parts when safeguards meant to protect workers are not implemented. Such preventable injuries can occur when using mechanical power presses, nail guns, and other dangerous machines.
- Mechanical Hazards. The point of operation, power transmission apparatus, and other moving parts of machines pose hazards on construction sites. These basic components of almost all machines need to be recognized as such, and safety measures must be taken to protect those on the site.
- Falling Objects. One of the most common hazards on a construction site involves objects falling or being dropped from a height. In these instances, hard hats may not be enough protection, and serious, life-altering impacts can occur, including head and neck injuries. Construction sites must take into account where such accidents are likely to occur and provide sufficient protections and warnings to workers.
- Construction Site Falls. One-third of the nearly 1,000 construction workers who will be killed on the job this year are the victim of falls. The worksite might be unstable. Fall protection equipment might be misused. Many of the deaths and injuries from falls can be prevented when the proper precautions are taken.
- Logging Accidents. Possibly the most dangerous occupation in the country, logging can cause serious accidents. Massive weights and irresistible momentum of falling, rolling, and sliding trees and logs are involved in daily operations, and when these hazards are combined with dangerous environmental conditions such as uneven terrain, wind, or extreme cold, logging poses significant risks to employees.
- Welding, Cutting and Brazing Accidents. When dealing with these hazardous tasks, employers must determine all exposures to hazards in the workplace and assess what protective equipment should be used.
- Chemical Exposure and Related Illnesses. When workers must handle toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials, they can be at risk of contracting workplace related illnesses or diseases. Employees must be informed of such risks, and all necessary precautions must be taken or the employer could be found liable for all health related damages, even if a significant amount of time has elapsed between exposure and the subsequent illness.
Construction sites can be highly dangerous. While many of the above accidents might not lead to significant injuries, in some cases, workers can suffer from serious, debilitating injuries or even death. Victims might face steep medical bills, long rehabilitations, an inability to work, and emotional damages. Sadly, worker’s compensation may not cover all of the damages, and insurance companies will do their best to limit their liability.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a construction site accident, you need a Long Beach construction accident lawyer who is compassionate to your situation, who is passionate about your case, and who will not quit. Long Beach personal injury attorney Joseph H. Low has been successfully representing clients for years and has been fighting for the rights of California citizens all of his life. With offices in Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, Sacramento and San Diego Counties, The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV has the right trial attorneys for you.
Call (888) 454-5569 today to schedule a free consultation.