The number of construction workers who have died on the job hit an all-time high in 2019, according to a new report from the Center for Construction Training and Research. The nonprofit organization, which aims to prevent construction accident deaths and injuries, used 2011-2019 data from the U.S. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and saw that there were 1,102 construction worker deaths in 2019. This is a 41.1% increase from 2011.
What the Study Found
The increase in construction accident fatalities was particularly significant among Hispanic workers, surging 89.8% over the nine years of the study. Workers in the 45 to 64 age group accounted for the most deaths (241) between 2016 and 2019. But, the 65-and-older age group had the highest death rate over those four years.
The study also found that the four main causes of construction accident deaths were falls, struck-by incidents, caught in/between accidents and electrocution. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) labels these causes as the Fatal Four as they have historically been the main causes of construction accident deaths.
These four types of accidents resulted in 709 deaths in 2019, accounting for 64.3% of all fatalities in the construction industry that year. Falls to a lower level rose to 401 in 2019 and accounted for 36.4% of all fatalities that year, which was a 25% increase from 2018. Struck-by deaths increased 7.6% during the study period including a 21.2% increase in those involving a transport vehicle.
Around seven out of 10 caught-in/between fatalities involved workers being crushed by collapsing materials. The number of fatal falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds all rose during the study period. In 2019 alone, fatal falls from roofs totaled 146, which was a 28.1% increase over 2018.
Laws That Protect NY Workers
There are local, state and federal laws that protect workers who have been injured in falls at construction sites. Section 240 of the New York Labor Laws is commonly known as the “Scaffolding Law.” This statute governs the use of scaffolding at work sites. It requires contractors, property owners and their agents who erect, demolish, repair, alter, paint or clean a structure to be responsible for providing the necessary equipment, including scaffolding, to keep workers safe from falls on the job.
This law also recognizes that falls are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries and that they are preventable. Workers are also required to be provided with fall safety devices when they are at a job site such as harnesses, safety nets, toe boards guardrails, etc. Scaffolds and worksites should be free of slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall hazards that might cause these major injury accidents.
A large number of construction workers such as ironworkers, steelworkers, carpenters, masons, laborers or electricians work from an elevation or height by using scaffolds, platforms, ladders etc. Worksites must have safety measures in place to prevent workers from falling off overhead platforms, elevated workstations or into holes or shafts. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry and 8 feet in long shoring operations. In addition, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.
Some of the precautions that must be taken at construction sites include guarding floor holes and shafts into which workers can accidentally walk or fall; provide guardrails and toe boards around every elevated open-sided platform, floor or runway; and provide workers with fall protection devices such as safety harnesses and lines, safety nets, stair railing and handrails. This type of personal protective equipment should be provided at no cost to workers. Construction workers should also receive proper job training, safety training and adequate supervision on the job.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you have suffered injuries in a construction-related accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job – one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year. Our law firm also recovered $3,000,000 for a man who fell and suffered two broken legs when he walked into an open elevator shaft. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and/or medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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