Who Is Most at Risk for Construction Site Accidents?

By: Peter Kent

Workplace accidents can ostensibly occur in any work atmosphere, with the responsibility for providing a safe working environment resting on the shoulders of the employer. However, construction sites seems to offer a more hazardous locale than other workplace environments, such as a store or office setting. This need not be the case, and construction accidents can be easily prevented by putting into place rigid and enforceable safety practices at all construction sites. For example, the general contractor and all subcontractors should be required to create and maintain a reasonably safe work site, with warnings of any dangers inherent in the site and the work to be done there. There should also be an emphasis put on the hiring of careful employees, with coordination of job safety as well as supervision to ensure compliance with all safety specifications. Additionally, all site workers should be adequately trained in the proper operation of all equipment on site and the site itself must be managed in keeping with all legal standards in order to prevent any construction sit accidents.

Even with precautions and adherence to safety practices, construction site injuries can still occur due to the inadequacy of these provisions.

Accidents involving defective or collapsing scaffolds can result in construction site accident cases; falls off of or through roofing structures; electrocutions; falls off of ladders; defective machinery such as cranes, hoists, conveyors, tractors, and forklifts; malfunctioning construction equipment or other tools; and the collapse of floors or walls. The kinds of construction site accidents often result in serious injury and can sometimes even result in death. In fact, thousands of construction workers are injured or killed in construction site accidents each year.

Construction Site Accidents and Workers' Compensation

Virtually all significant injuries suffered in construction site accidents give rise to workers' compensation rights. The Workers' Compensation Act provides benefits to workers who are injured on the job. Unfortunately, Workers' Compensation alone may be insufficient compensation especially in the case of very serious and catastrophic personal injuries which happen often in construction site accidents. The rights are dependent on the interpretation and application of several complicated laws and individual circumstances of the construction accident.

However, these limited workers' compensation rights may be supplemented by legal actions against others who have responsibility for various activities on a construction site including construction managers, general contractors, subcontractors, equipment manufacturers, etc. When a construction site accident occurs, the owners, architects, insurance companies and manufacturers of equipment can be held responsible for inadequate safety provisions.

As an example, in many construction undertakings, several different contractors are involved. Full damages can be recovered if any contractor other than the direct employer has responsibility for the injuries. Likewise, if a defective tool, machine, or other product causes injury, an injured worker can be fully compensated.

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