Construction work is an ongoing process in the North Carolina. Barely a day goes by when we do not see roadwork, the erection of a new building or the refurbishing of an existing building. However, construction is a dangerous profession, especially considering many construction workers work at tall heights and with heavy machinery. The following is a brief overview of the top four causes of construction fatalities according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and what employers should do to prevent them.
Falls are one of the top four causes of construction worker fatalities. Construction workers often have to work on scaffolding, on ladders or near holes. Employers should provide workers with personal fall arrest equipment. Adequate perimeter protections should be installed. Floor openings should be covered and labeled. Finally, employers should ensure ladders and scaffolds are used safely.
Another top cause of construction worker fatalities is being struck by an object. Employers should ensure workers are never placed between moving and fixed objects. Workers should also be provided with high visibility clothing if they are working near equipment and vehicles.
A third top cause of construction worker fatalities is being caught-in/between a trench or excavation. Employers should ensure trenches and excavations have adequate protective systems, especially if they are five or more feet deep. In addition, trenches and excavations should be sloped, shored, benched or equipped with a shield system.
Finally, electrocutions are the fourth top cause of construction worker fatalities. Employers should ensure all utilities and power lines are located and identified before beginning work, especially when working at heights. Employers should make sure workers are placed a safe distance away from power lines and only use electric tools that are grounded or double insulated. Ground-fault circuit interrupters should be used to prevent electrocutions.
Unfortunately, construction workers in North Carolina have dangerous jobs, and when employers do not provide adequate safety protections, workers can die. When this happens, the worker’s survivors may want to learn more about their legal options, including the possibility of pursuing workers’ compensation death benefits, or even a lawsuit if appropriate. Our firm’s webpage on construction site injuries may be useful to those who want to learn more about this topic.