Personal InjuryUnsafe Conditions on Construction Sites and Legal Requirements

May 9, 2022by Aaron Allison

Construction continues to boom in Texas, employing over 735,000 people and contributing over $100 billion to the state’s economy every year. And yet construction remains one of the most dangerous occupations in America, accounting for over 20 percent of all worker fatalities every year. 

A major reason for construction site accidents and incidents is that construction job sites are often dangerous work environments, despite requirements and regulations meant to protect unsafe construction workers. Construction job sites can frequently be hazardous for workers, as well as for other people in the area.  

 

What Unsafe Conditions are Common on Construction Sites?

The most frequent construction job site hazards are:

  • Lack of fall protection. Workers should be protected from falls, slips, and trips on construction sites, and should not be exposed to: 
    • Working at height without a guardrail and/or personal fall protection
    • Hard-to-see holes and gaps, including skylights, pits, trenches, and other excavations
  • Unsafe scaffolding. Scaffolding is such a source of potential construction accidents that it is in its own category. Scaffolding should never:
    • Be loaded in excess of its rated capacity
    • Have inadequate foundation, suspension, cross bracing, or guard rails, or be counterweighted with improper materials
    • Be poorly maintained, with frayed, kinked, or compromised materials
    • Have platforms cluttered with tripping hazards
  • Exposure to hazardous materials. Construction workers may often be exposed to hazardous materials like lead, asbestos, chemicals, and heavy metals like chromium and cadmium.
  • Excessive noise. Prolonged, unprotected exposure to loud noises creates unsafe construction worker conditions.
  • Lack of electrical protection. Construction sites and projects that involve electricity are required to maintain a continuous path to the ground and adequate ground-fault protection. At any job site, improper use of extension and power cords poses a threat to workers

In addition, construction job sites, tools, and materials may become wet, greasy, or oily, rendering them unsafe. 

 

What Kinds of Injuries Result from Unsafe Construction Sites?

Because there are so many potential hazards, unsafe construction job sites can cause a huge range of accidents and injuries. The most common construction worker fatal accidents are:

  • Fall to a lower level. Falls are the most common cause of construction site fatalities, accounting for 36 percent of construction deaths in 2019. Construction workers most often fall from roofs, ladders, and scaffolds. Even when a fall is not fatal, it may cause life-altering injuries, including injuries to the brain and spine.
  • Struck-by injuries. Just over 15 percent of fatal construction accidents are struck-by incidents. Construction workers are often struck by moving vehicles on the job site, or struck by other objects and equipment, resulting in severe injuries and even death.
  • Electrocution. Electrocution accidents are often due to non-electrician construction workers being inadequately trained to work around power lines and practice electrical safety. Electricity can cause burns, damage to the heart and internal organs, or be fatal. 
  • Caught-in/between. A broad category of construction accidents are “caught-in/between” accidents, where unsafe construction workers are caught in machinery or trapped between two objects, leading to crushing injuries and fatalities. 
  • Hearing damage and loss. More than half of all construction workers are exposed to hazardous noise, leading to about 25 percent of all construction workers having impaired hearing that affects their day-to-day activities. 

 

What are the Legal Requirements for Construction Sites?

Employers are required to follow legal requirements for construction sites and worker safety. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has hundreds of detailed guidelines, requirements, and regulations that are designed to reduce and improve unsafe construction work and protect construction workers. In fact, there are so many legal regulations for construction sites that OSHA has created a convenient Quick Start Guide to help people find the requirements and regulations for different aspects of the construction industry and job site management. 

However, in the case of unsafe construction work, it can sometimes be a challenge to determine who is legally responsible for safety at a construction site. There are often many different company and employer relationships on a single construction project, with subcontractors and different companies sharing the same worksite and overlapping areas of responsibility. In the case of a construction accident in Texas, it is a good idea to contact a qualified personal injury attorney right away, who will conduct an investigation and collect evidence before it is lost. 

 

What Can You Do About Unsafe Conditions on Construction Sites?

If you are an employee concerned about unsafe construction work, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Always guard your own safety. Always follow safety regulations and guidance, and wear protective equipment, including ear protection. OSHA requires that every construction job have a daily briefing, where hazards and precautions are explained thoroughly. If you are concerned about electricity, hazardous materials, and other unsafe construction site conditions, request a safety briefing from your supervisor. 
  2. Complete an OSHA complaint form. OSHA provides an online form for workplace hazards and will keep your complaint anonymous. If your complaint contains reasonable grounds that a health hazard exists, OSHA will conduct an on-site inspection. Whether there is an on-site inspection or not, OSHA will contact you with the results of their investigation, and will also post the information at the worksite.
  3. Call or email the Texas Department of Insurance. You can also report an unsafe condition on construction sites to the Texas Department of Insurance by phone or email

 

How Can Aaron Allison Help? 

If you are a construction worker who has been injured as a result of your employer’s failure to follow legal requirements for construction sites, contact Aaron Allison today. Our family-owned law firm has been helping injured workers and their families since 1978, and we are experts in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and wrongful death cases. We offer free consultations, and you pay no money until we recover in your case. 

Aaron Allison