Recent Construction Accident Death Highlights Fall Dangers

According to WEHT, a 48-year-old man died as a result of a fall at a hotel construction site in Gibson County on Nov. 24, 2020. Officials reported that the man fell off a scissor lift while working on the site, prompting an investigation by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Construction workers face many dangers in the course of their work. The industry is often ranked among the most dangerous professions in America, as workers may be exposed to hazards such as heavy machinery, electricity, falling objects, and falls from elevated surfaces and platforms. Slips and falls account for around one-third of all construction-related deaths.

Why Is Construction Such a Dangerous Industry?

Although safety standards have improved significantly in the U.S. during the 20th and 21st centuries, construction workers still die on the job every year nationwide. USA Today reports that 259 people were killed in construction accidents in 2017 alone, and an additional 21,760 workers suffered serious injuries. And OSHA says that in 2018, that number increased to 320 fatal falls, which represented nearly 32 percent of all fatal construction deaths that year.

Construction is a dangerous profession because it puts workers in harm’s way on a daily basis. For example, workers may be seriously injured or killed when operating heavy machinery due to lack of knowledge or training, or due to the machine itself breaking or malfunctioning.

Hard hats are required at work sites due to the risks posed by falling objects, but even the sturdiest hard hats can’t protect against heavy objects. Electricity is often present at work sites, and it’s not always grounded or routed in a manner that prevents workers from coming into contact with it. And finally, workers are often required to do their jobs on catwalks, scaffolding, and roofs, putting them at risk of serious injury or death if they lose their balance and fall.

What Causes Construction Workers to Fall?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that construction has the most fatal falls out of all industries, and it represents 51% of all falls nationally.

Construction workers can fall for many reasons, such as:

  • Unstable scaffolding or platforms—All elevated platforms that workers stand, walk, or step on should be secured and resistant to unnecessary movement or shifting. When platforms aren’t properly secured or constructed, they may break, tilt, or shift, causing workers to lose their balance and fall.
  • Defective or malfunctioning machinery—As with the worker in Gibson County, many construction employees rely on mechanical lifts and elevators to reach their work sites. When those machines malfunction for any reason, or if they aren’t operated properly or by someone with sufficient training, workers may be at risk of falling.
  • Lack of safeguards—Scaffolding should have railing and bars to prevent workers from easily falling off the sides of buildings if they lose their balance. Additional safety measures such as anchors, harnesses, and ropes can also further protect workers who do their jobs dozens or even hundreds of feet off the ground.

How Dangerous is Falling?

Slips, trips, and falls are dangerous for anyone, but they’re particularly common, and often deadly, in the construction industry. According to OSHA, workers who are six feet or higher off the ground face a significant risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries if they fall to the ground.

People who fall while working at construction sites face many risks, including broken bones, head injuries, paralysis, and even death. Because of those risks, and because falls represent such a large percentage of construction worker deaths, it’s imperative for all contractors and construction companies to do everything in their power to protect their workers.

We Help Injured Construction Workers Get Compensation

If you were injured in a construction accident or fall—or if your loved one was killed as a result of at a construction site—Wagner Reese wants to help you get the money you’re owed.

Too many construction-related falls are preventable, especially when companies spend the time and money to properly train employees and provide them with necessary safety gear. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. And when it doesn’t, we believe they should be held accountable.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We want to protect your rights and ensure your family’s voice is heard.