Construction accidents result in many workplace deaths in Massachusetts

The construction industry is one of the U.S.’s most dangerous jobs, accounting for many serious workplace injuries and fatalities across the country.

Every day, countless construction workers risk their lives building, improving or maintaining structures that most people take for granted. Although there have been many improvements to workplace safety over the years, the construction industry still remains one of the country's most dangerous professions. Thousands of construction workers across America are injured or killed in construction jobsite accidents every year. According to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, 856 construction workers lost their lives in Massachusetts in 2013. This number was higher than the previous two years.

"Fatal four" at the head of construction industry's deadliest accident types

Numerous construction trades take their places in a list of the top 20 most dangerous U.S. industries, states Bloomberg. There are nearly 19 workplace fatalities among construction laborers for each 100,000 workers.

A small group of accidents are more prevalent than others. According to EHS Today, these accident types are known in the construction industry as the "fatal four," and were responsible for 57 percent of fatal injuries in construction in 2012. These involve falls, being caught between objects, electrocutions and being hit by objects. Falls alone contributed to 36 percent of construction fatalities that year. It is estimated that getting rid of these fatal four accidents would prevent at least 435 construction deaths each year.

Safety violations make a construction site more dangerous

Before safety standards were set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, construction workers were largely on their own in terms of workplace safety practices and equipment. Now, stringent precautions are in place to prevent as many accidents as possible. Despite these precautions, there are still worksite accidents, many of which were due to safety violations. Every year, states Electrical Construction & Maintenance, about 10,000 construction sites are inspected by OSHA officers. Reportedly, it is rare to find a site where there are no safety or health violations.

The top three construction site safety violations can result in catastrophic accidents. These include the following:

  • Scaffolding - Scaffolding structures must be constructed on a stable surface, and walking surfaces must be entirely covered by flat planks to avoid tripping or falling. Many worksites fail to implement proper scaffolding procedures, resulting in falls.
  • Grounding - Electrical wires or cables are frequently not grounded or de-energized near construction workers, causing numerous electrocutions. Also, many power tools are still used despite having worn electrical cords or other faulty components that can result in shocks.
  • Excavations - Trench safety is currently being looked at as a high-priority hazard by OSHA, due to the high rate of violations regarding excavations. Failure to properly shore or brace excavations and provide an easily-accessible escape route has resulted in construction workers being crushed or suffocated in collapses. Other risks include inhaling toxic fumes or not having air to breathe in confined spaces.

On July 10, an ironworker was critically injured while working on a construction site at Logan International Airport in Boston, reported the Boston Globe. Authorities said he was working on the third floor of a parking garage when a concrete panel dropped, causing the man to fall about 40 feet to the ground. The State Department of Public Safety, OSHA officials and the construction company were investigating to see if any violations contributed to the accident.

It is devastating when someone is injured in a preventable workplace accident. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a construction accident, it may be in your best interests to speak with a personal injury attorney.

Keywords: construction, accident, injury