Construction zones are one of the most dangerous places to be in America. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry accounts for one in five workplace deaths. Slips, trips and falls account for the majority of injuries and deaths at these sites, which provides some insight into the types of construction zones that tend to see the most significant number of incidents.
What Is a Construction Work Zone?
Technically, the term construction zone already implies a specific type of site. The U.S. government defines work zones as areas on roadways where workers conduct maintenance, construction or utility-related activities. In layman’s terms, construction zone takes on a broader meaning and applies to all construction sites ― regardless of their locations. When discussing construction zones with an attorney, your employer or other professionals, verify the definition they have in mind to ensure you are on the same page.
What Features Do the Most Dangerous Construction Zones Share?
Some construction zones tend to have higher rates of adverse incidents than others. These are the main features they have in common.
According to the BLS, slips, trips and falls account for more than a third of all deaths in the construction industry. High-rise buildings involve tall structures on multiple levels, which increases the risk of slips, trips and falls at these particular sites. The BLS also reports that from 2017 to 2022, most falls involved the person falling onto a lower level. For example, in 2021, 680 people suffered injuries after falling to a lower level, while 145 people sustained injuries from falling on the same level.
Work Zones Along Roadways
Fatal crashes at work zone sites increased by 1.4% from 2019 to 2020. These deaths include workers and other persons present at the scene, such as pedestrians and passenger car drivers. Several factors account for the high risks associated with these kinds of construction zones:
- Daily changes in traffic patterns
- Worker construction activities
- Narrowed rights of way
- Distracted driving
Roadway Work Zones in Southern and Midwest States
According to one report published by the BLS, roadway construction zone accidents happened most commonly in nine specific states. Most of these states belonged to the Midwest and the South:
- North Carolina
Construction Zones Managed By Small Businesses
According to the CDC, 75% of fatal falls involve construction companies with 19 employees or less. Compare this to smaller employers hiring only 39% of construction workers on company payrolls. Over the years, experts have proposed several potential reasons for this:
- Smaller companies might need more resources to create, implement and enforce safety programs.
- Smaller companies might not have the newest, best and safest equipment.
- Smaller companies remain exempt from some business requirements that would otherwise improve workers’ safety.
Construction Zones Involving Heavy Machinery
Heavy machinery includes large equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes and forklifts. According to OSHA, 75% of struck-by fatalities involve these and other examples of heavy machinery. Because of this, OSHA requires that workers receive proper training before operating these machines in a construction zone and other work settings.
What Are Some Common Causes of Construction Accidents?
Construction and adjacent professions consistently rank among the most dangerous jobs. The industry also poses a risk to passersby, who may wander onto construction sites and sustain injuries. Experts have studied construction injuries and fatalities to determine the potential causes and how companies can address them.
Lack of Proper Training
In some cases, construction workers might not receive adequate safety training before starting their jobs. For example, a worker who operates a forklift might not be familiar with that specific brand or model. As a result, he or she might cause an accident that injures other workers or pedestrians in the area.
Lack of Personal Protective Equipment
Employers must provide their workers with the necessary personal protective equipment to protect them from potential hazards. However, some employers might not offer their employees the correct gear or they might ask employees to use equipment that does not meet safety standards.
Inadequate Worksite Supervision
The lack of supervision on a construction site can lead to accidents because no one is present to ensure that the workers comply with safety standards. For example, a supervisor may oversee several work sites or the work site could be too large for one or two supervisors to handle effectively.
Failure To Follow Safety Rules and Regulations
Construction sites must follow all relevant federal, state and local safety regulations. Accidents can occur on the job site if companies and their workers do not follow these rules. For example, workers who do not wear the appropriate safety gear can suffer injuries in a preventable accident.
Failure To Post Proper Signage
Construction sites must have clearly marked signage to alert passersby and motorists of hazardous conditions. Without proper signage, people in the vicinity can wander into dangerous areas and become injured or killed. Companies could also face lawsuits for negligence.
Inadequate Maintenance of Equipment
Employers should ensure that all construction machinery receive regular maintenance and inspections. If not, workers might operate faulty machinery, which can cause serious injuries or fatalities. Employers should also provide workers with the right tools and equipment to do the job safely and efficiently.
Impairment from Drugs and Alcohol
Some construction workers may be impaired due to substance use or abuse while on the job. This can lead to catastrophic accidents, including falls from high places, electrocution, and other injuries. Employers should enforce a zero-tolerance policy regarding drug and alcohol use to protect workers and bystanders.
What Should Injured Persons Do After a Construction Accident?
How you respond to a construction accident can determine your medical and financial recovery options. Each case is different and specifics change based on the person’s relationship to the construction site and company, such as a passerby versus a worker. Nevertheless, here are some general guidelines.
Seek Medical Care
If you are injured in a construction accident, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Many injuries, such as broken bones and concussions, require immediate treatment. Others, like repetitive stress injuries, might not show symptoms for weeks or months. By getting prompt medical care, you can ensure that you receive the correct diagnoses and treatments for your injuries.
Keep detailed medical treatment records, including doctor’s notes, prescription medications, and other relevant information. An experienced attorney can use these documents to support a lawsuit for compensation if you decide to take legal action.
Take Photos of The Accident Site
Take photos or videos of the accident site before workers or another party cleans it up. These images can provide crucial evidence for a court case and help you prove the cause of your accident.
Retain an Attorney
After an accident, getting legal representation from an experienced personal injury attorney is in your best interest. An attorney will know how to protect your rights and build a compelling case for compensation. He or she can help you make a strong case.
How Jason Stone Injury Lawyers Can Help
Our personal injury attorneys have recovered more than $60 million for clients who sustained injuries at construction sites and other types of accidents. We have tackled these cases from several angles, such as workers’ compensation and premises liability. Are you ready to see what our team of experienced professionals can do for you? Contact us to get started.