roofers with construction accident injuriesYou Can Get Workers’ Compensation After a PA Construction Accident

There are many potential hazards on Pennsylvania construction sites. Despite safety precautions such as hard hats and steel-toe boots, construction workers are at constant risk of on-the-job accidents and potentially life-threatening injuries.

Different types of construction workers are at risk for different injuries and illnesses. Roofers, for example, have a high rate of injuries and fatalities from falls, the most common source of injury on construction sites. Ironworkers, the group with the highest rate of occupational illnesses and injuries among construction workers, are also at risk for falls. However, ironworkers also suffer from respiratory disease and other health problems caused by the nature of their work. Plumbers, electricians, laborers, drywall installers, and drivers also face hazards unique to their jobs. In fact, construction workers in every field have a high risk for injury and occupational illness. This is why the U.S. Department of Labor ranks construction among the nation’s most dangerous occupations.

There is no denying that construction is a dangerous industry, yet not all construction trades are the same. The construction field is comprised of a variety of subcontractor fields. Workers in each field have unique risks associated with their professions. Consider this data collected by the government from 1992-2001.

Figure 4-20. Average distribution of full-time construction workers by trade, 1992-2001. Among the trades monitored by CPWR, the estimated distribution of employed construction workers by trade ranged from 0.6% to 13.3% during 1992-2001. Carpenters made up the largest proportion of construction workers (13.3%), followed by construction laborers (8.8%) and electricians (5.9%). (Notes: (1) Apprentices are included for some trades when data were available. (2) All other includes managers, professionals, supervisors, clerical workers, sales personnel, and trades that each totaled less than 1% of the industry. (3) Computations were based on a definition of full-time work as 2,000 employee hours per year.)

(Sources: BLS

[2002c]; Dong et al. [2004].)

Carpenters made up the largest percentage of full-time construction workers, yet they only accounted for 13.3% of the total number of construction workers.

Your Job Title May Affect Your Risk of Construction Job-Related Injuries

In 2001, construction workers in the United States suffered from nonfatal job related illnesses and injuries at a rate of 268 injuries for every 10,000 workers. However, some construction related industries saw rates much higher than this average. Ironworkers, for example, suffered occupational illness and injury at a rate of 751.8 per 10,000 workers, and construction laborers had a rate of 512.1 injuries and illnesses per 10,000 workers during 2001.

Figure 4-27. Rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases with days away from work by construction trade, 2001. In 2001, the rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses involving days away from work ranged from 131.2 per 10,000 full-time workers among painters to 751.8 for ironworkers-nearly a 6-fold difference.

(Sources: BLS [2002c; 2003b]; Pollack and Chowdhury [2001]; Dong et al. [2004].)

PA Construction Workers Risk Job Related Fatalities

The average rate of fatalities among construction workers in 2001 was 13.2 workers for every 100,000 workers. However, 6 types of construction workers saw rates higher than the average. These groups include ironworkers with a rate of 75.6 deaths per 100,000; roofers with 41.2 deaths per 100,000; welders and cutters (39.9 per 100,000); construction laborers (38.4 deaths per 100,000); truck drivers (29.5 deaths per 100,000); and operating engineers (17.2 deaths per 100,000).

Figure 4-23. Fatal occupational injury rates by construction trade, 2001. Fatal occupational injury rates in the construction trades for 2001 ranged from 6.0 per 100,000 full-time workers for drywall installers to 75.6 for ironworkers-more than a 12-fold difference.

(Sources: BLS [2002b,c]; Chowdhury and Dong [2002].)

Many construction worker deaths are due to fatal falls. Injuries like these are often preventable. As with all construction related fatalities, different workers in the construction trade suffer from fall fatalities at different rates.

The average rate in 2001 was 4.4 fall-related deaths for every 100,000 workers. The two groups that exceed the average rate most significantly were the groups with the highest number of overall fatalities:  ironworkers (66.8 percent) and roofers (30.1 percent).

Figure 4-26. Fatal occupational fall rates by selected construction trade, 2001. The 2001 rate for fatal occupational falls among ironworkers was 66.8 per 100,000 workers-15 times the average rate for all construction. For roofers, the fatal fall rate was 30.1, or 7 times the average rate for all construction.

(Sources: BLS [2002b,c]; Dong et al. [2004].)

Injured in a PA Construction Accident? Our Lawyers Can Help

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law was created to avoid costly lawsuits between employers and their workers. A worker who is hurt on the job can collect benefits without considering whether the employer, a coworker, or the employee himself may have caused the injury. However, the same state law forbids workers to sue their employers or coworkers if a negligent act causes an injury.

But, there is an exception. In some construction site accidents, a worker may be injured by the negligent actions of a subcontractor or a visitor to the worksite. When someone outside the employee’s causes an injury, it may be possible to recover additional money by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the third party.

No matter what the situation, it is important that a construction worker who is injured on the job discuss the situation with a Pennsylvania construction injury attorney. Call Larry Levin and Jay Shor—the Bulldog Lawyers— at 866-462-8553. We’ve been fighting for the rights of injured workers for over 20 years. Ask to schedule a free consultation; we’ll look into your case and advise you of your rights. If you choose to work with us, we’ll make sure you get all the compensation you deserve.

The truth is that there are thousands of hazards on every construction site. Construction trade workers must navigate around live wires, ladders, scaffolds, power tools and heavy machinery simply to do their job. This means that builders, home remodelers, roofers, carpenters, and electricians have some of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 796 construction work-related deaths in 2013, more than in any other industry.

Overall, construction workers experienced 9.4 fatalities and 4,200 injuries for every 100,000 full-time workers in 2013. But, some categories of construction workers, including electrical workers, roofers and construction laborers, had higher rates of fatalities.

However, on-the-job hazards like electricity and scaffolding aren’t the only reason that construction trades have high injury rates. Construction sites are busy places; it is not unusual for several tasks to be going on at once as multiple teams of workers complete different aspects of the overall project. But, there is little supervision of the teams to assure that individuals and teams don’t create safety risks for each other. A construction site manager can provide some guidance, but he can’t be everywhere at once—and it’s easy for a subcontractor to make a tiny error that becomes a construction site fatal injury risk for another worker hours later.

Top 10 List of Construction Site Injury Dangers

Years of experience have taught our PA construction accident injury lawyers that any type of accident can occur at any workplace. However, each type of occupation is more likely to be exposed to a particular set of injuries. Our clients in the construction and building trades most often experience the following job-related complaints:

  1. Burns and electrical injuries. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more thanten percent of construction industry deaths in 2010 were caused electrocutions. The top causes of electrical injuries on construction sites are contact with overhead power lines, contact with live wiring, and contact with electrical devices. Other burn injury hazards on construction sites include welding equipment, steam, and chemical burns.
  2. Falls. The second leading cause of injury and death on construction sites is falls from heights; this includes falls due to the misuse of ladders and scaffolds. According to OSHAm fall injuries are “the leading cause of death in construction,” and were responsible for over one-third of all fatal job accidents in 2010. Construction deaths can occur when workers plummet from the upper floors of a skyscraper; however, most worker deaths and injuries involve less dramatic falls. A roofer who falls from the top of a one-story house can easily be killed; even a fall off an insecure five-foot ladder can inflict life-threatening injuries.
  3. Head injuries. Falls from heights, flying debris, malfunctioning equipment, and objects falling from above are common causes of head injuries at construction and demolition project sites. The results of a head injury can be devastating: spinal cord damage that permanently paralyzes the worker; a traumatic brain injury that destroys memory or personality; coma; or even death.
  4. Hearing loss. Construction sites can be amazingly noisy places. Regular exposure to sound levels above 85 decibels has been linked to hearing loss over time, but the machinery at a typical construction site regularly generates 80 decibels or more of background noise. A worker using power tools will easily exceed the danger threshold, and may gradually become deaf, even if he routinely wears ear protection. For example, a nail gun can put out 140 to 170 decibels of sound during operation. There is also the risk of deafness from a single unexpected acute noise event, such as an explosion. Some forms of hearing loss involve lasting nerve damage; in these cases, recovery of hearing is impossible.
  5. Heavy equipment and heavy item injuries. Injuries from cranes, aerial lifts, mechanical booms, and power tools dominate the list of heavy equipment hazards on construction sites. Workers can also be harmed by being crushed, caught in heavy mechanical devices, or caught between items. Such “caught in/caught between” accidents can include a finger severed after being trapped in a miter saw, a worker who is mangled when his coveralls are caught on a rotating pump shaft, or a worker whose arm is broken when it gets entangled in a moving conveyor belt system.
  6. Heavy industry fatalities. According to OSHA;s report of injuries in private industry in 2010 (the last year for which statistics are available),18.7 percent of injuries were in construction fields. The leader causes of construction workers deaths are falls; being struck by objects; electrocution; and being caught in or caught between objects. These “Fatal Four” accident types account for 56 percent of construction worker deaths.
  7. Lifting injuries. Workers on construction sites often will need to lift and move heavy objects, such as sand, mortar, roofing shingles, and cinder blocks. It is important that proper equipment be used to lift and move, but sometimes the worksite management fails to provide safe equipment or train workers in proper lifting procedures. Overstrain of muscles and bones can cause lifting injuries to the back, knees, shoulders, and legs. Some of these injuries may be serious enough to require surgery, or they may be permanently disabling despite medical care.
  8. Musculoskeletal damage. Muscle strains and sprained joints are among the bone, muscle, and joint injuries that regularly harm builders. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at the Centers for Disease Control reports that “NIOSH research … found that the two main causes of injuries to drywall installers and carpenters are overexertion (37%) and falls (32%).” Some overexertion injuries are caused by lifting heavy objects, but working in a cramped area or awkward position for an extended period can also lead to potentially disabling knee and hip injuries.
  9. Occupational diseases. Exposure to the mineral asbestos can cause serious occupational diseases in construction workers: asbestosis (scarring of the lungs), lung cancer, and mesothelioma (cancer of the chest lining or stomach). Many workers who are diagnosed with these diseases are surprised to find out that asbestos is still used in construction. However, remodeling and demolition projects often expose construction workers to asbestos materials that installed before the mid-1970s. But, asbestos isn’t the only risk. Chemicals used on building sites can cause dermatitis, asthma, or pneumonia. Adhesives, glues, solvents, and sealing compounds; silica dust or sand; and cadmium, manganese, beryllium, and other metals in soldering and welding braze and exhaust streams are all sources of occupational disease for construction workers.
  10. Repetitive strain injuries. Construction workers often repeat motions over and over. Although individual movements present little risk of damage to the body, the cumulative impact of twisting, turning, and lifting over time can inflame nerves and injure tendons. Such repetitive trauma injuries may cause intense, disabling pain in arms, hands, shoulders, wrists, and other joints. Regular use of tools—even screwdrivers and wrenches—can cause carpal tunnel syndrome for builders. Repetitive stresses can also cause or worsen bursitis, epicondylitis, arthritis, and tendonitis.

Let Our Attorneys Help You Get Workers’ Compensation for Your Pennsylvania Construction Site Accident

Workers’ compensation provides benefits for past and future medical expenses, partial replacement of job income, occupational training, and physical therapy. It does not compensate a construction worker for his pain and suffering. Although many workers in the construction trades are labor union members, it is important to know that you may not be able to use health insurance from your job for an injury that is covered by workers’ compensation.

Larry Levin and Jay Shor—the Bulldog Lawyers—have been fighting on behalf of injured workers for over 20 years at their Pennsylvania workers’ rights law firm. They know that injured workers are entitled to fair recovery when they are injured on the job. We can help anyone who is fighting his or her employer or the insurance company over workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania. If you were injured at a construction site and your benefits have been delayed, denied, or terminated too early, please contact our offices in Reading, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg at 866-462-8553.