Although federal and state laws that require employers to maintain a safe workplace, some do not. There are instances where contractors take shortcuts to turnaround projects faster and reduce expenses, posing a risk to people who work on the sites and the local pedestrians.
Cranes, ladders and fixtures falling from buildings and walls
Toxic substance exposure
Defective construction and tool equipment
Improper use of equipment
Improper or insufficient training
Misuse of tools and other equipment
Poor safety precautions and oversight
Construction Site Safety and Your Rights
Safety measures on construction sites are supposed to be followed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. There are clear standards for cranes, crane operations, crane training, fall protection, scaffolding, ladders, hazard communication, machinery, and many other aspects of a construction site project and operations. A party’s failure to abide by OSHA standards may be evidence of negligence if that failure caused an accident.
If you or someone you know have suffered any construction related injuries, or others that are not listed, compensation may be awarded and should contact our experienced Florida construction accident lawyers at South Florida Injury Law Firm today to discuss your legal options with our Free Case Review
Also, you may be entitled to recover more money than a workers’ compensation claim alone could provide. You may also have claims for medical bills, pain and suffering, permanent limitations and past and future lost earnings.
Because of the numerous contractors, subcontractors and other parties often involved in construction sites, it can be difficult to determine exactly who should be held responsible for your injuries or the death of a loved one.
Types of Available Compensation
Almost every employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. These benefits can help an injured worker cover medical expenses and lost wages and are available to a worker regardless of the circumstances surrounding an accident that causes injury.
Although a worker cannot file an injury lawsuit against their employer, it may be possible to file a claim against a third party whose negligent actions led to your injury. A personal injury claim is also available to non-workers who are injured on a construction site.
If a defective product caused your injuries, it may be possible to bring a claim against the manufacturer, retailer or wholesaler of that product.
If you have lost a loved one in a construction accident, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for your loss.
Construction Related Accident and Injury Help
With decades of experience handling these types of complex cases, our South Florida Injury Law Firm construction accident lawyers have the skills and the resources needed to conduct a thorough investigation. You can rely on us to put your interests first and will work to help you recover the maximum compensation you are entitled.
Schedule a free consultation by calling (954) 488-JEFF (Fort Lauderdale), (954) 488-JEFF (Boca Raton & West Palm Beach), or 877-566-8759 (toll-free). You can also fill out this online form to set up your case evaluation. We’re a dedicated team of personal injury lawyers who work on a contingency basis and will take your calls at any time, on any day of the week.
Construction work is no easy feat. There are many risks of working in construction, and workers have to take many precautions to stay safe.
If those precautions are not followed to the letter, workers face serious injuries in a variety of different ways. Even a simple slip and fall and turn deadly. Just look at what happened in Fort Lauderdale last month.
Three-Story Fall Causes Life Threatening Injuries Despite Harness
A construction worker in Fort Lauderdale took safety precautions, including wearing a harness, before moving materials three stories off the ground. Still, when he fell, the man sustained life threatening injuries.
Currently, OSHA is investigating the accident, but we don’t have much more information. What we do know, however, is that this type of fall has already killed construction workers in Florida this year.
Another notable headline from the year so far includes Florida construction workers left dangling from building after scaffolding collapsed underneath their feet.
What is causing all of these accidents?
One possible answer may be lack of training. Even though the man in Fort Lauderdale took precautions to be safe, there are no reports about his training in the field.
Some construction workers in Florida say that proper training can prevent most of these accidents. Christopher Morrison, the state training coordinator for the Florida Carpenters Regional Council, says “there are only two things that will make a scaffold collapse: improper erection or one of the parts and pieces being damaged.”
South Florida is currently booming with construction, which often puts pressures on employers to get workers started on projects without the proper training. While this might not seem like a big deal, it’s bad for everyone involved. A major accident or death not only impacts any workers involved, it puts all eyes on the employers, and end up being very costly.
Common Construction Accidents in Florida
While falls are one of the most dangerous and common accidents in construction, Florida construction workers have to deal with many other dangers while they are on the job. Some of the daily risks for construction workers include:
Exposure to Asbestos, Lead, Etc. Tearing down older buildings often leads to lead paint or asbestos exposure. Both of these substances can cause major health risks later on in life. Workers may not even know that asbestos or lead were present at a job site until it is decades too late.
Falling Objects. A yellow helmet may prevent head injuries from many falling objects, but unfortunately there are certain items and materials that can cause serious injuries no matter how strong your helmet is. In fact, 90 construction workers were killed in 2015 after being struck by an object.
Electrical Accidents. Electric work is certainly not a job for the untrained worker. Even on the job site, only certain workers are allowed to install electricity. Electrocutions are one of the top causes of death in construction work.
Collapsing and Crushing Objects. Getting crushed by a collapsing building, scaffolding, elevator, is one of the most serious construction accidents a worker can experience. Not only is it a top reason for construction worker deaths, workers also face losing limbs or other serious bodily injuries from getting crushed.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured
For those who are lucky enough to survive a serious construction accident, the pain doesn’t stop with physical symptoms. You may lose the ability to work and earn an income, at least temporarily, and medical bills add up quickly.
However, if you did not receive proper training before you set out on the job site, your injuries may not be entirely your fault. This goes for any other construction workers who were on the job with you as well.
For example, if a new guy didn’t receive proper training before setting up the scaffolding that you fell from, you may be able to ask for compensation from your employer because they were negligent in providing employees with the necessary training.
This is just one way that the negligence of others can lead to a construction accident. There are countless others.
After an accident, you may be approached by a lawyer or an insurance company that offers you a settlement outside of court. Or you may face having to deal with an employer who refuses to take responsibility for your accident and tries to leave you high and dry.
Don’t just accept your fate – contact a knowledgeable construction accident lawyer. You may be afraid to speak out due to your employment status, but even if you were not working legally, you still have a right to compensation from a negligent employer.
Start fighting for your family and your future today by reaching out to a South Florida personal injury lawyer.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
With more and more people moving to urban areas and looking for central places to live and work, sometimes the only direction to go is up. High-rise buildings are, well, on the rise, and construction cranes are becoming a fixture along the skyline of major cities in Florida and around the country. Most of us pay these large pieces of machinery little mind… until we hear about a gruesome construction accident caused by a crane.
Crane accidents occur far more frequently than you might think. The website CraneAccidents.com tracks reports of crane accidents worldwide and has already documented 5 separate crane or trailer lift incidences, one involving a fatality and two involving electrocution on power lines, in the first week of June 2014 alone.
Common Types of Crane Accidents
It’s unsurprising that a heavy piece of machinery like a tower crane can do a lot of damage when something goes wrong. Tower cranes can have a maximum unsupported height of 265 feet and can extend even higher when tied to a building. Cranes can also lift up to 19.8 tons (39,690 pounds), a weight which can easily demolish buildings and kill bystanders if dropped.
Some relatively common types of crane accidents include: • Construction workers falling: Construction workers sometimes use baskets attached to cranes to work on projects that require them to be at a great height, such as building a bridge. It’s possible for the bucket to become detached from the crane arm or for workers to fall out if they lean too far over the edge.
• Electrocution: If construction workers are using a crane to work on power lines, they risk being electrocuted and burnt if the crane comes into direct contact with the line.
• Crane overturning: Because cranes are so unwieldy, an operator or mechanical error may result in the crane overturning while it’s being moved.
• Crane slipping off road: As with any heavy vehicles, if the driver of a mobile crane begins to lose control and skid on the road, they may be unable to correct the error before sliding off the road and crashing.
• Crane collapsing: There are many different reasons a crane might collapse, including high winds, too much weight, or even a manufacturing error that results in the crane snapping at the base.
• Crane load dropping: In addition to causing a crane to collapse, overloading a crane may result in the load dropping, crushing any buildings or people below.
Both Construction Workers and Bystanders Are at Risk in Crane Accidents
While construction workers who spend a significant amount of time on or near a crane are obviously at the greatest risk for being injured or dying in a crane accident, individuals who are unassociated with the construction industry may be affected, as well. For example, in one of the worst crane accidents in modern history, a crane crashed into several buildings and a townhouse, killing seven people inside.
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
Some jobs certainly don’t attract as much attention as others. For instance, telling someone you work as a plumber or on a construction site may not impress them as much as telling them you are an architect, photojournalist, or an astronaut. But construction jobs are some of the most underrated, if not for the growth and rewarding opportunities, then at least for the many dangers and risks workers are constantly exposed to. It may not be included in the job description, but working on construction sites often leads to injury, long-term disability, and death.
According to numbers published by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, 3,945 workers died in private industries in 2012, of which nearly 20 percent were from the construction industry. The “Fatal Four” reasons of accidents of the industry include:
Falls – the number one reason for worker injuries and fatalities, accounting for 36 percent of all deaths in the construction industry.
Electrocutions – More than 60 people have been electrocuted, accounting for 9 percent of all deaths in the construction industry.
Hit by object – considering the size and weight of materials and equipment used on construction sites, any contact between them and workers is likely to result in injury and even death. 78 workers were struck by objects in 2012, making up 10 percent of all fatalities in the construction industry.
Caught in/between – 2 percent of workers who are caught in/between equipment on construction sites lose their lives (13 people died this way in 2012).
Despite the numerous efforts of OHSA to increase workers’ safety and bring forth effective ways to prevent injury and fatality in the workplace, the rate of injury and death has not decreased proportionally to their efforts. Workers may be much safer now than ten years ago (6,217 deaths in 1992 compared to 4,383 in 2012), but numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show no significant difference between the rate of fatality reported between 2009 and 2012. For instance, the number of fatalities in 2009 was 879, only slightly higher than that recorded in 2012, of 849; the rate of injury and illness cases per 100 workers has dropped only by a few percentages from 2009 to 2012. Whether due to faulty equipment, poor communication between team members, or improper risk management training, workers continue to lose their lives in the workplace. Here are six reasons why:
1. Attitude of Workers towards Safety
Basically, all workers are informed and well aware of the safety precautions and dangers they’re exposed to. However, their attitude towards safety depends largely on age and experience, according to the results of the Safety Attitude Questionnaire (SAQ). For instance, the older workers with more experience may be less careful around equipment, thinking that accidents will not happen to them or, in any way, confident they can handle unforeseen situations with success. On the other hand, younger employees pay more attention to work safety and usually take more precaution measures at work.
2. Erring on the Human Side
No matter what safety precautions are implemented in the workplace, scientists believe there are certain permanent characteristics in a worker that make him/her more likely to cause or be involved in an accident. The Behavior Models, the Human Factors Models, and the Ferrel Theory are some of the theories pointing to human error as the root cause of workplace accidents, while also describing different corrective actions to eliminate it.
3. Poor Communication and Dissension between Team Members
An older report from Stanford University titled “Safety Problems in On-site Construction Work Processes” revealed that the lack of collaboration, poor communication between members of different departments, and dissension can lead to injuries in the workplace:
“In construction sites of this general constructor, verbal or written instructions of safety work procedures are offered by on-the -spot decision making at crew safety meetings or in planning and allocation daily meetings. One of those instructions is that every worker regardless of their position has to participate to keep the workplace in good housekeeping order. Nonetheless, because insufficient instruction, inadequate plans and workers’ negative attitude towards the supervisor, present construction sites are often cluttered with tools, packaging materials and waste materials such as, wood shaving, defective nails and boards. The conditions frequently result in human error occurrence associated with stumbling or slipping and stepping on sharp objects.”
4. Workplace factors
Aside from human error, many construction workplace accidents are attributed to faulty equipment and tools, as well as unsafe work areas. Uncovered holes, trenches, exposed stakes, and rebars may pose hazards to those coming across them, usually leading to injuries due to slips and falls.
Workers who go near an open-sided floor without paying attention to his steps may fall and get injured; the same may happen with workers who use staircases that have no handrails, offering no support during the climbing and causing workers to land on their sides or injure their heads. Stepladders are also a very important component among workplace factors likely to cause injury and long-term disability. Accidents occur when workers either fall from a tipped-over stepladder, leave tools on the top platform and then these fall on someone else’s head, or the ladder may simply break under the weight of a worker equipped with heavy tools.
Falling roofs are one of the leading causes of workplace accidents where no fall protection is ensured. Scaffolding problems that occur when someone unauthorized to erect scaffolds may overlook potential dangers, leading to materials falling off scaffolds and workers working on inferior levels getting hurt. When working in construction and using power tools, it seems like a no brainer to use protective equipment such as appropriate ear and eye protection, considering that a nail is shot from a gun with the same force as a .22 caliber bullet. Also, not wearing protective gloves and helmets may result in cuts and amputations.
5. Improper Risk Management Training
In a construction project, risk management’s goal is to identify the factors that might negatively influence or impact the cost schedule or quality objectives of the project and proceed to implement corrective measures to mitigate these risks. The riskier an activity is, the more dramatic will be the consequences of errors, thus risk management works by implementing measures to reduce the level of risk to a minimum.
According to a paper by researchers at the Engineering Management Department Center for Advanced Studies in Engineering, risks associated with the construction industry may be:
Technical: inadequate site investigation, improper design, low-quality materials
Logistical: proper transportation facilities and sufficient resources for construction equipment such as spare parts, fuel, and operators
Management related risks: industrial relation problems, uncertain productivity of resources
Some of the benefits of effective risk management training implementation include minimizing uncertainty on projects, better decision-making processes, providing focus on essential problems, better work planning, easier to identify accountability, etc.
Risk management training is probably the most challenging – and less emphasized – part of a construction project. Project managers should be able to recognize and identify the causes of risk and trace them to their consequence. The use of risk management training from the early stages of a construction project, where essential aspects regarding quality of materials and labor are still not decided, is crucial for the outcome of the entire project and for making use effectively of the available resources.
6. Superficial accident investigation and under-reporting
Because construction accidents can rarely be attributed to a single cause, one of the most effective prevention methods includes accident investigation. Identifying the causes of an accident enables managers and owners to take proactive steps into controlling or eliminating so that the chance of similar future accidents is slim.
To be able to explain how an accident has happened – and how it can be prevented in the future – investigators must gather information and analyze the events surrounding the incident. Having this data, they should be able to identify the workplace conditions by looking at physical evidence and also eyewitness testimony. All these steps must be done immediately following the accident to ensure the best outcome, but most often, things are quite the opposite. Little attention is paid to workers injured on the job, if their injuries aren’t severe, and when they do have a case and are ready to file a claim, companies force them to accept unjust payouts.
Not to mention that only an insignificant percent of all construction injuries are actually reported, for various reasons: employers may not consider the injury work-related, they may not be clear about injury reporting regulations, or fail to report the injury at a later time in case it was initially deemed non reportable.
About the Author
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases encompassing personal injury, civil, and business matters, his expertise and skillfulness ensuring his admission into the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.