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Construction Site Accidents Can be Fatal

Dec 24, 2007
The following are some statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics on safety and on-the-job injuries in the construction industry:

* One of every five workplace fatalities is a construction worker.

* There were 1,225 fatal occupational injuries in construction in 2001, excluding fatalities on September 11. Also in 2001, there were 481,400 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in construction. Incidence rates for nonfatal injuries and illnesses were 7.9 per 100 full-time equivalent workers in construction, and 5.7 per 100 full-time equivalent workers in all private industry in 2001.

* Because only about 10% of construction companies employ more than 20 workers, the great majority have no formal job safety regulations or programs in place.

* In 1992, the "lost-workday" rate for workers in the construction industry was 5.7 per every 100 full-time workers. This lost-workday rate was the highest of any major economic sector.

* Nationwide, about 15% of workers' compensation costs are attributable to injuries in the construction industry.

Virtually all significant injuries suffered in construction accidents give rise to workers' compensation rights. Those limited rights, however may be supplemented by legal actions against others who have responsibility for various activities on the job site, including construction managers, general contractors, subcontractors, equipment manufacturers, etc. These rights depend upon the application of various complex laws and the individual circumstances of the accident.

For example, in most construction projects, many different contractors are involved. If any contractor other than the direct employer has responsibility for the injuries, full damages can be recovered. Likewise, if a defective tool, machine, or other product causes injury, an injured worker can be fully compensated.

Construction workers have a right to a safe workplace according to OSHA, the Federal governing body for occupational safety and health. If a workplace hazard exists and action is not taken quickly, an employee should contact an OSHA area office or state office via a written complaint.

If the OSHA or state office determines that there are reasonable grounds for believing that a violation or danger exists, the office will conduct an inspection. A workers' representative has a right to accompany an OSHA compliance officer during the inspection. The representative is chosen by a union representative, if there is one, or by the employees. Under no circumstances may the employer choose the workers' representative. The inspector may conduct a comprehensive inspection of the entire workplace or a partial inspection limited to certain areas or aspects of the operation.

At the end of the inspection, the OSHA inspector will meet with the employer and the employee representatives to discuss the abatement of any hazards that may have been found. These need to be corrected or serious penalties and legal liabilities may arise.
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