San Luis Obispo Construction Accident Attorneys
It’s well known that a construction site is a dangerous place. But that doesn’t mean you give up your right to seek proper compensation for injuries suffered there.
At the Law Office in Daniel J. O’Neill, in San Luis Obispo, we know how to get results for clients injured in construction accidents. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more. We serve clients throughout California.
Experience Handling All Types of Construction Accidents
Our firm has over 35 years of experience in personal injury cases. We represent clients who have been injured in many different types of construction accidents, including those involving:
- Falling objects
- Defective equipment
- Falls from scaffolding or ladders
- Negligent third party contractors
- Forklift Accidents
Many people may be under the misconception that workers’ compensation is the only available remedy for someone hurt on a construction site. That is not necessarily the case. Even if you were working when you were injured, it is possible that you have a third party claim to pursue, such as against a maker of defective equipment or a contractor whose negligence caused your injuries. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney at our firm to understand what your options are.
Construction accidents can cause very serious injuries, including:
- Neck, back and spinal injuries – Spinal cord injuries, back injuries, neck injuries
- Brain injuries – Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Tips to Improve California Construction Site Safety
Construction workers face numerous workplace hazards that could cause serious injuries, but there are steps they can take to improve their safety.
Nearly every occupation in every industry throughout California, and elsewhere, has at least some risk for work-related injuries or illnesses. However, the danger may be greater for some professions, such as construction workers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, construction workers suffered 4.3 occupational injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees in 2009 alone. Although some of the danger in these workplaces is inherent, there are steps that workers and employers can take to reduce the risk for construction site accidents.
Common Construction Site Hazards
Construction workers face a number of hazards in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, some of the most common dangers at construction sites include the following:
- Falls, particularly from a significant height
- Electric shocks
- Scaffold collapse
- Trench collapse
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Forklift accidents
Additionally, failing to use the proper personal protective equipment may contribute to occupational injuries for construction workers.
Encourage a Culture of Safety
One of the most important things employers in the construction industry can do to help reduce injuries is to create a safety culture in the workplace. Providing workers with regular safety training sessions and emphasizing safety protocols may help achieve this. Additionally, employees should be taught how to safely and properly use equipment. Furthermore, workers and management should receive instruction on how to handle emergency situations. This will ensure people know where to locate first aid kits and how to respond in the event of an accident at the worksite.
Conduct Regular Inspections
Some construction site accidents are caused by equipment that is not operating correctly, or that is in disrepair. Employers should conduct regular walk-throughs and inspections to look for areas and equipment that need maintenance. Likewise, construction workers should inform their employers if they experience issues with any equipment, or if there are areas at the work-site that need attention.
In addition to maintaining equipment, employers should ensure that any hazardous materials on the construction site are labeled and stored appropriately. Dangerous areas on the site should also be marked off or identified.
Use Personal Protection Equipment
For construction workers, the use of personal protective equipment can be crucial to preventing some work-related injuries. Employers may consider providing their employees with such equipment, including safety harnesses, hard hats, safety goggles and work gloves. It is important that workers use the provided protective equipment, or get their own. They should also wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
Keep Work Areas Clear
Construction workers use, and are in contact with, all types of machinery on the job. In some cases, people may be struck by or get pinned in this equipment, which could cause neck, back and spinal injuries, among others. It may be helpful for employers to encourage their workers to keep unnecessary people and clutter to a minimum in work areas. It is advisable that construction workers themselves watch out for such machinery and avoid standing too close to equipment that is in use.
Four Other Ways to Prevent Construction Accidents
Recognize the “Big Four” Construction Site Hazards
While many aspects of a construction site are dangerous, four specific areas carry the highest risk of serious injury. These are:
- Being struck by something
- Being caught in or between items
Learning how to stay safe in in respect to these hazards is crucial to creating a safe construction site and preventing injury to yourself as a worker.
Be Aware of Fall Hazards
When a construction worker falls, the chances of injury and death are extremely high. Many of these falls occur when a worker falls from scaffolding, which causes around 50 fatalities a year. Workers can protect themselves by inspecting scaffolding before climbing to ensure it is properly set up and on solid footing. Scaffolding needs to be accessed using ladders or stairways only. Finally, workers must learn what the maximum intended load is, and only take up that amount when using the scaffolding.
Scaffolding is just one area where a fall hazard can occur. Workers must be aware of fall hazards related to climbing ladders and stairs. Workers need to watch for structural damage that can contribute to a fall, and always ensure they are using the proper ladder for the task. When working on a tall building or aerial lift, workers must use safety nets, fall arrest systems, or other safety mechanisms to catch them if they do fall.
For construction industry leaders, insisting on safety is critical here. All stairways, ladders, and elevated surfaces must be cleaned of debris, grease, or water to prevent slippage. Construction site managers must inspect elevated working surfaces and ladders regularly. They also must insist on the use of safety systems that prevent falls.
Don’t forget to consider the added risk that comes with weather issues. In the winter when ice and snow are on the site, or during a rainy period, surfaces become slicker, and added slickness increases the fall risk. Using products to add traction and ensuring ice is melted before climbing onto high surfaces is crucial during these times.
Use Heavy Machinery Safely
Being struck by an object or getting caught in or between an object typically occurs when a worker is working around heavy machinery. Workers can be struck overhead by a load on a crane, crushed under a piece of equipment, or injured in rollover and turnover accidents. In fact, OSHA estimates that 95,000 employees are injured every year operating powered trucks on the worksite.
To prevent these injuries, construction crews need to ensure that only those who are trained to use a piece of equipment do so. Also, hardhats and other safety equipment must be worn at all times. Workers should only use the equipment as it was intended to be used, and they should avoid operating it near trenches or ditches whenever possible. Equipment needs to be inspected to ensure the reverse signal alarm is working and can be heard above the noise of the job site. A strict speed limit needs to be enforced on the job site as well, and operators of machinery need to wear seatbelts.
Prevent Electrocution Risk
Finally, electrocution is a risk that all must take measures to avoid. Prior to starting a job, the job site manager needs to locate and mark all utility lines, both underground and overhead. Portable equipment must only be used when grounded or double insulated, and equipment should be powered in a circuit that uses ground-fault circuit interrupters. Electrical hazards on ladders, platforms, and scaffolding must be identified so works can be alert to them.
In spite of these warnings, construction sites, even those that are managed safely, are at high risk for accidents, and construction accidents are life-changing, with thousands of dollars of medical bills and the potential to lose gainful employment.
Consult with an Attorney
Depending on the circumstances, construction workers who are injured on the job in California are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. For some, however, it may be difficult to navigate the claims filing process and obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. Therefore, people who have suffered occupational injuries at construction sites may benefit from working with a legal representative. A lawyer may help them understand their rights, as well as guide them through the claims filing process.
Call 1-805-542-0639 for a Free Initial Consultation
To learn how we can benefit you, contact our office in San Luis Obispo for a free initial consultation and your construction site injuries.