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Construction Site Accidents in New Jersey

Construction sites are some of the most dangerous places to work in the United States. Accidents happen on construction sites all the time, and every time one happens, it puts all of the workers there at a significant risk of suffering a serious personal injury. Worse, the causes of many of these construction site accidents are beyond the control of the workers who are most likely to get hurt.

If you or someone you love has been hurt or even killed in a construction site accident, you deserve compensation for your losses. The personal injury attorneys at the New Jersey law office of Lavery, Selvaggi & Cohen fight for your rights and pursue your interests both in and out of the courtroom so you get the care you need.

Construction Site Accidents are Common

As the primary government agency that stands between construction workers and their contractors, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is what prevents bosses and building companies from neglecting the safety of their workers. Together with another agency in the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), OSHA keeps a close eye on data and figures that show how safe construction sites are in the U.S.

The numbers show that construction sites are some of the most dangerous places to work in the country, and they are getting even worse.

According to reports by OSHA and BLS, there were 4,379 workers in the private sector who lost their lives while on the job in 2015. Out of these, 937 – more than one in five – were in the construction industry.

Unfortunately, these are only the worst of the construction site accidents. Thousands more construction workers suffer nonfatal injuries in site accidents every year. BLS even estimates that this number could be as high as 150,000 per year, or approximately one in ten construction site workers in the U.S.

To make matters even more concerning, the numbers provided by the BLS are likely far lower than what actually happens. BLS relies heavily on construction companies and businesses to self-report any workplace accidents that their workers suffer, giving them a vested interest in underreporting. In fact, a study from 2014 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that 90% of employers did not comply with OSHA's recordkeeping regulations. Thousands of workplace accidents, therefore, likely never made it to the attention of BLS or OSHA.

However, one thing that is reliable is the trend that shows construction site accidents are becoming more common in recent years. BLS's 2015 report showing that there were 937 construction site deaths was the highest since 2008. It was also a 4% increase over 2014 and a 27% increase over 2011.

Causes of Construction Site Accidents

Nearly two-thirds of those who died on a construction site in 2015 were lost to one of only four causes, which OSHA calls the “Fatal Four”:

  1. Falls took the lives of 364 workers, or 38.8% of those who died on a construction site;
  2. 90 more were killed when they were struck by an object, amounting to 9.6% of the construction site fatalities;
  3. Electrocutions caused another 81 fatalities, or 8.6% of those on the construction site; and
  4. 67 construction site workers were killed when they were caught in or between heavy machinery, amounting to an additional 7.2% of the construction fatalities.

The disconcerting part about these numbers is that each and every one of these fatalities is entirely preventable. OSHA lays out guidelines that deal with workers' safety in all of these areas, and employers are legally required to follow these guidelines on the worksite. For example:

  • 29 C.F.R. § 1926.501 requires employers to provide fall protection systems that ensure their workers are standing on safe ground or platforms that can hold their weight and that will not put them in danger by moving or swaying;
  • 29 C.F.R. § 1926.451 lays out the legal requirements that employers have to follow when their employees are working on a scaffold; and
  • 29 C.F.R. § 1910.305 states the general safety requirements that employers need to follow to prevent electrocutions from happening on their job sites.

Many of the injuries that are suffered in construction site accidents could have been prevented if employers took these regulations seriously and followed them closely.

Special Dangers at Roadway Construction Sites

While dangers like heavy machinery and falling apply to all construction work sites, there is one type of worksite that poses a significant risk to all of the workers on it: Roadway construction.

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), 1.5% to 3% of all workplace fatalities happen at road construction sites, with an average of 122 workers losing their lives every year in the decade between 2005 and 2014. While these fatal accidents have declined since 2005, they are still way too high, especially because, like other construction site accidents, they are very preventable.

Nearly half of the construction workers who lost their lives at road construction sites were run over or backed over by a vehicle on site. However, more construction workers were killed on site by other construction vehicles, like dump trucks, than by passing motorists in the work zone. Relatively few construction workers were killed on a road construction site in a vehicle collision or when they were hit by an object or caught between pieces of machinery.

New Jersey Construction Site Accident Attorneys

Staying safe on a construction site is something that all workers try to do. However, there are numerous times where a dangerous situation develops that they can neither control nor avoid. Unfortunately, these events are common on construction sites, and the accidents that result can cause serious or even fatal injuries.

If you or someone you love has been hurt or killed in a construction site accident in New Jersey, reach out to the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Lavery, Selvaggi & Cohen by calling us at (908) 852-2600 or by contacting us online for the legal representation you need to get the compensation that you deserve.