Top Causes of Construction Accidents
The Florida construction industry plays an important role in the state’s economy, swelling especially when the market is on the upswing or right after a major storm. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are more than 5,000 construction workers just in in the Fort Lauderdale metro area.
The BLS also reports that in one recent year, construction deaths accounted for 22 percent of fatal workplace accidents in Florida. That’s nearly 1 in every 5 job-related deaths.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale construction accident attorneys we know these accidents claim lives and livelihoods of those in their prime. They and their families are often left with inadequate resources to pay medical bills, lost wages, funeral expenses and more. Workers’ compensation insurance may cover some of this, but it’s often insufficient. That’s why it’s worthwhile to explore whether there are other legal avenues of compensation available in your case.The “Fatal Four” in Construction
Construction company employers and workers know their industry is inherently wrought with more safety challenges than most other career fields. Although there are a wide range of potential risks, most injuries and fatalities are preventable by careful development and enforcement of safety protocol that meets industry and regulatory standards.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency responsible for developing and enforcing worker safety standards, has identified four most common types of construction accidents that lead to worker deaths. Eliminating these four hazards would save the lives of an estimated 630 workers every year – not to mention the prevention of thousands more injuries.
These hazards are:
- Falls – Nearly 39 percent of construction deaths in a single year were attributed to falls. A significant portion of these involved falls from one higher level to another (from a roof, scaffolding or platform), as opposed to a simple trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall at the same level. Falls from roofs were the No. 1 cause of death in Florida construction over a recent four-year stretch, followed closely by falls from ladders.
- Struck-by Object – 9.4 percent.
- Electrocution – 8.3 percent.
- Caught-in/ between – 7.3 percent. This category also encompasses construction workers who died while caught in or compressed by equipment or objects, struck caught or crushed in collapsing structures, equipment or materials.
These scenarios account for 1 in every 5 construction worker deaths.Most Commonly Cited OSHA Standard Violations
Construction company employers generally know – or should know – the kinds of safety standards they must meet for any given job or project. OSHA routinely inspects construction sites to ensure companies are in compliance. They can’t be fined if they aren’t. These fines often aren’t very severe, but they do put the company on notice of serious safety violations that require immediate correction.
OSHA reports the most commonly-cited safety standard violations within the construction industry include:
- Failure to secure adequate fall protection;
- Failure to meet general requirements for scaffolding structures;
- Failure to ensure ladder use follows safety guidelines of the industry and manufacturer;
- Failure to ensure workers receive adequate fall protection training.
Each of these can have significant and potentially fatal consequences for South Florida construction workers. Other safety standard breaches that can cause or contribute to worker injuries include:
- Collapse of trenches and excavation walls that aren’t properly installed;
- Power tool accidents, particularly when proper ear and eye protection aren’t worn;
- Transportation-related injuries, especially those involving dump trucks, forklifts and other large industrial vehicles;
- Improper lifting of materials (with back muscles as opposed to with legs);
- Repetitive motion injuries;
- Fires and explosions.
Although many construction accidents are covered by workers’ compensation claims, in many cases it’s possible to recover damages from a third party as well.
Workers’ compensation in Florida generally covers the following for injuries sustained by employees in the course and scope of employment:
- Medical bills;
- Prescription medication reimbursement;
- Medical equipment;
- A portion of lost wages;
- Certain job replacement benefits.
The exact nature and extent of your benefits will depend on the classification of your disability (i.e., none, partial, total, temporary, permanent, death).
Meanwhile, successful third-party liability claims can help you recover the same kind of damages – and then some – and usually in higher amounts. For instance, workers’ compensation death benefits allow for roughly 66 percent of decedent worker’s weekly pay to be given to dependent survivors – up to $150,000. A wrongful death lawsuit, meanwhile, can mean damages that allow full recovery of lost wages for what would have otherwise been the calculated remainder of worker’s career.
Note: You cannot file a civil lawsuit against your employer. There are narrow exceptions, but they rarely apply. Third-party litigation is filed separately from workers’ compensation claims against individuals or companies that are not your employer/ co-worker.
Consultation with an experienced construction accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale can help you understand the possible legal options you have.
If your loved one died in a Fort Lauderdale construction accident, contact the wrongful death attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.