Federal workplace safety regulators call construction “a high hazard industry.” The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says one in five worker deaths annually (20%) occur in construction.
Construction workers face numerous hazards at job sites such as falling from rooftops, being struck by heavy construction equipment, contact with unguarded power tools and machinery, suffering electrical shock and inhaling silica dust and asbestos, which can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. In Texas, a construction worker suffered fatal injuries on the job about every other workday.
Nationwide, there were 1,061 deaths in the private construction industry in 2019, a 5 percent increase from 2018 and the largest total since 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says. In all, 5,333 workers died on the job in 2019 (an incidence rate of 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers).
In Texas in 2019, 123 construction workers died in workplace accidents, including 32 accidents involving motor vehicles and 13 fatalities involving exposure to harmful environments or substances, according to the BLS. Based on a five-day work week, this equates to a construction site death just about every other workday.
In all, 608 Texas workers died from occupational injuries in 2019, making construction industry deaths 20 percent of the total.
The Texas Department of Insurance’s Division of Workers’ Compensation said in a November 2020 report that there were 11,300 nonfatal injuries and illnesses reported in the state’s construction industry in 2019. This is an incidence rate of 1.5 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers in Texas. Based on a five-day work week, this equates to 43 construction site injuries each workday.
In all Texas private industry, there were 187,600 nonfatal injuries and illnesses reported in 2019. Injuries and illnesses in the construction industry made up 6 percent of the state’s total.
The construction site accident attorneys of Herrman & Herrman in San Antonio help construction workers obtain workers’ compensation benefits when they have been injured on the job. We also help the families of construction workers who were killed on the job. If you’re a construction worker or a family member dealing with a disputed workers’ compensation claim, contact us at (361) 882-4357 about the steps you can take to claim benefits you are owed.
Common Causes of San Antonio Construction Accidents
As statistics for fatal construction accidents in Texas indicate, more than a quarter of construction site accidents are motor vehicle accidents. In a report about fatal injuries in road work zones, the BLS said nearly half of construction workers killed in work zone accidents were struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment. Workers are most frequently struck by automobiles driving through the work zone or by dump trucks backing up on site.
Last September in San Antonio, a construction worker was critically injured when a pickup truck traveling through a work zone hit a backhoe on Martin Luther King Drive and Upland Road on the city’s east side.
OSHA and the U.S. Department of Transportation have standards and guidance for the safe set-up of highway work zone signs, barricades and flagging that can help prevent work zone accidents.
In another San Antonio construction accident last July, a construction worker was trapped waist-deep in dirt after a trench collapse near Galm Road and Swayback Ranch. San Antonio Fire Department crews pulled the man out of the hole after about two hours of work, and he was transported to the hospital for potential surgery.
According to OSHA, excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations. Trench cave-ins pose the greatest risk of injury and are more likely than some other excavation-related incidents to result in worker deaths. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car.
In June 2020, the National Utility Contractors Association, a trade association for the utility construction and excavation industry, organized a nationwide trench safety stand down for employers to stop work and talk directly to employees about trench and excavation hazards and safety. A second annual stand down is scheduled for June 14-18, 2021.
Top Causes of Construction Accidents
These recent construction accidents in San Antonio illustrate half of OSHA’s infamous “Fatal Four” leading causes of fatalities in the construction industry. They are:
- Falls. Construction workers fall off ladders, roofs, scaffolding and other elevated construction areas and because of unprotected sides or holes and improperly constructed walking or working surfaces. Falls can be prevented by using proper fall protection. Falls cause more than a third of all deaths in the workplace.
- Struck by an Object. Struck-by injuries occur when a worker is hit by an object or piece of equipment that is moving, falling, or swinging or by motor vehicles. About 10 percent of workplace deaths are caused by struck-by accidents.
- Electrocution. Construction workers face such electrocution risks as exposed wiring, wet conditions while outlets are exposed, contact with overhead power lines or energized conductors or circuit parts in electrical panels and equipment panels, poorly maintained extension cords and power tools, and lightning strikes. About 8.6 percent of workplace fatalities involve electrocution.
- Caught-in or Caught-between. These include trench or excavation collapses, as well as workers caught between moving or rotating machinery or machinery parts or caught in collapsing structures or materials. Caught-in or caught-between accidents account for about 2.5 percent of occupational fatalities.
Contact a San Antonio Construction Accident Attorney Today
Unlike other states, Texas does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Most larger companies do carry it, but the consequence of Texas’s weak worker protections is that an employee who has been injured on the job can have a harder time obtaining workers’ comp benefits.
If you are injured while at work, you should report the accident to your supervisor as soon as possible. Then we suggest you contact an experienced Texas workers’ compensation attorney. If a loved one of yours has died in a workplace accident, you need an attorney right away, too. Even an employer who seems to be helpful may not understand workers’ compensation benefits well or may not stand up to an insurance company administrator who wants to minimize a valid workers’ comp claim.
At Herrman & Herrman, we are dedicated to helping construction workers and their family members after serious accidents. Our attorneys and staff speak both Spanish and English, so we can review the accident and your legal options in the language you are most comfortable discussing legal matters. The legal advice we provide in our initial meeting with you is absolutely free.