Construction Workers – Most Prone to Work-related Accidents

The Willow Island disaster, which occurred in April of 1978 and killed 51 construction workers all working on a scaffold, is considered the largest construction accident in the history of the United States. So many more construction site accidents happened before and after this one tragic event, all severely injuring scores of workers and taking the lives of many others.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics records about 150,000 job-related injuries annually in construction sites alone, making industrial jobs the most dangerous of all types of works. To ensure safety in construction sites, in particular, and in all workplaces, in general, the United States government passed into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act, or OSH Act, in 1970 which, after a year, established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHS’ main concern is to implement the mandate on safe and healthy working conditions in all work environments for the benefit of all employees.

In 2012, of the 4,175 deaths involving employees in the private sector, 806 were construction workers. The top four causes of deaths, which OSHA came to call the “Fatal Four,” include: falls; being struck by something, such as a truck, crane, a falling wall, a falling object or other heavy tool or vehicle; electrocution; and, being caught-in/between.

A personal injury attorney will always emphasize the necessity of construction jobs, yet will also affirm the many dangers construction workers are regularly exposed to. Thus, property owners, contractors, machinery manufacturers and all workers have the responsibility of doing their part in keeping working sites as safe as possible to avoid untoward incidents, which, in reality, can be avoided.

When an accident occurs, however, then hiring a highly-competent legal counsel may be necessary. He/She may be able to help the accident victim assess the extent of the injury, apply for Worker’s Compensation benefit or pursue the best legal action against the liable party (if the injured victims waives his/her claim for the Worker’s Comp benefit).

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Construction Site Dangers: Requiring Workers to be on Their Toes at All Times

The Willow Island disaster at the Pleasants Power Station in West Virginia, which occurred on April 27, 1978, is considered the largest construction accident in the United States. The accident occurred as the cable that was lifting a bucket of concrete slackened and pulled the crane lifting it toward the inside of the tower. Concrete and the crane fell on the 51 construction workers working on a scaffold below; all 51 workers died.

Construction works imply two things: progress and danger. Progress because it suggests a booming economy; Danger, because of the many forms of danger construction workers get exposed to, such as dangerous and flammable substances, sharp and heavy tools, heavy machineries, dangerous fumes and dust, exposed electrical wirings, and the height that workers need to reach to do their assigned work.

In 2012, of the 4,175 deaths involving employees in the private sector, 806 were construction workers. Danger of injuries and deaths in work environments is the major reason why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency tasked to enforce safety and health standard laws in all workplaces, requires property owners, contractors, machinery manufacturers and all workers to strictly observe safety measures in doing their job and exercise responsibility in keeping working sites as safe as possible to avoid untoward incidents, which, in reality, are totally preventable.

On the day of the Willow Island accident itself, an investigation team from OSHA arrived and discovered a number of safety lapses that contributed to the accident and deaths:

  • The scaffold, as it rose, was bolted to concrete that had just recently been poured and, therefore, had not dried yet;
  • Some bolts were missing while the ones used were of insufficient grade; and,
  • Without going through proper engineering review, the concrete hoisting system was modified.

One law firm, the Hach & Rose, LLP, said it very precisely when it said that “construction sites can be extremely dangerous, and accidents at these sites can happen suddenly and without warning. Unfortunately, these accidents can leave people seriously injured and struggling to cope with the consequences of their injuries.”

An Iowa personal injury lawyer expresses the same line of thought, saying innocent victims, after an accident, “are often forced to suffer through physical and emotional pain, extensive medical bills, lost income due to time away from work, and other costs. Injuries not only interfere with your life in the present, but can present long term complications and disability, interfering with your quality of life for years into the future.”

These innocent victims of accidents should not be left to suffer on their own, especially if the accident was a result of the negligent or irresponsible acts of another party. Getting a seasoned construction accident or personal injury lawyer, not only after a construction site accident, but after any type of accident, for that matter, may be necessary in order for the victim to pursue the compensation he/she may be legally entitled to claim.

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