It’s not secret that construction worksites are dangerous places. Take a look at a typical construction site and you’ll see a hectic scene. People are building things all around the place, heavy machinery is moving from here to there, holes are being dug, forms are being made, trucks are coming and going, roadways and walkways are not well defined, people are cutting in front of each other, workers are stationed high up off the ground on scaffolding, tools like saws and jackhammers are being employed, things are being hoisted off the ground that could fall.
You’re dealing with dangerous items in a dangerous workplace. So which one of those dangers harms the most workers?
The answer is falls for both construction injuries and deaths. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that in 2013, more than one third of construction deaths were from falls.
Workers are often perched up high on ladders and scaffolding, unprotected. Something could strike the base of where the workers are standing, and scaffolding is often unsteady to begin with. Crews erect the scaffolding as safely as they can, but very often, it’s not anchored to anything.
Coming in behind falls are being struck by objects. There are lots of large machinery moving about a construction site, including backhoes, forklifts, bulldozers, front end loaders and cranes, and all of them can do a lot more damage than a car if they strike a human being. The very nature of construction work can place the workers in harm’s way.
Our firm had a client who had his legs crushed because of a split-second decision by a heavy machine operator. A dump truck was coming down a road and was going to come close to a crane. The crane operator was concerned and lurched backwards to get out of the way, but didn’t look behind him and ran over a worker who was located behind the crane.
However, under Massachusetts law injured workers typically receive workers compensation, but can not sue their employer or other workers responsible for any injuries they receive. The employer is required to provide workers comp insurance and the worker is expected to receive that instead. There is one major exception, product liability cases, but that’s worth it’s own blog post.