What are the greatest risks in construction work?

Although workers can suffer injuries on the job in any kind of work, some industries have more and greater hazards than others. Construction workers in California show up every day for work knowing that there is always a chance of getting hit by a heavy object, tripping on a plank, or falling off scaffolding.

Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to take strict workplace safety measures to protect workers from onsite accidents, OSHA reports that about 20% of all workplace fatalities in the United State are in construction.

 While there are many potential risks to construction work, the leading causes of death or serious injury, call the “fatal four” are due to:

  1. Falls, from a hidden gap or unstable scaffolding, concealed holes, unsteady structures, or high winds.
  2. Electrocution
  3. Struck-by incidents, hit by a falling object or piece of equipment.
  4. Caught-in/between, machinery, excavation equipment, or vehicles.

Although falls make up one in three construction accidents, these four together are responsible for more than half of all construction worker deaths. Even with safety measures in place, OSHA guidelines caution workers to take extra measures to protect themselves from potential hazards.

Is it better to file a workers’ compensation claim or go to court?

Construction workers in California are covered under workers’ compensation (WC) insurance for injuries from a workplace accident that will cover medical treatments, temporary or permanent disability, as well as supplemental job displacement or death benefits.

If the employer was maintaining a safe work environment when the accident occurred, it is best to go through the WC system. It is important to keep detailed medical records from the beginning, pay attention to filing deadlines, and find out more about the process in order to avoid claim denials or delays.

However, if the injury was due to a preventable accident, the construction company, contractor, or onsite manager could be held accountable. Because OSHA safety regulations create a standard of safety and hazard prevention for construction workers, if the employer has not implemented these measures on the job site and a worker is injured as a direct result, the injured party can sue them for negligence in civil court.

Before pursuing either avenue, it can help to first get a legal assessment of your case to determine what you can recover from the harm you have suffered.