Construction sites are always dangerous places, even for workers, due to the many different hazardous factors present and used or operated within their vicinities. These include dangerous and flammable substances, sharp and heavy tools, heavy machinery, dangerous fumes and dust, and exposed electrical wiring; one may also include the high places where construction workers need to do their assigned work.
State and federal government entities are fully aware of the various dangers construction workers (as well as many other workers) are exposed to. Thus, due to workplace dangers, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed into law in 1970; this Act, in turn, gave birth to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1971, a federal agency tasked to enforce safety and health standard laws in all workplaces.
Since the OSHA came into existence in 1971, it has made an impact in the industrial field, reducing the number of workplace injuries by 67% and deaths by 65%. Thus, while the 1970s registered as many as 38 worker deaths per day, the strict implementation of OSHA rules, especially during the last few years, has resulted to about only 12 fatal accidents in construction sites beginning in 2012. Still a loss of many lives, but definitely so much lower compared with the past decades.
Some of the safety standards that OSHA enforces, in construction sites particularly, are proper lighting all throughout the construction area, adequate worker protection against falls and falling objects, wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE), safe and sturdy stairways and ladders, use of reliable and properly assembled scaffoldings, 2A rating fire extinguishers every 3000 square feet, body-flushing and eye-washing facilities within 25 feet of battery-changing areas, properly displayed and clearly visible accident-prevention signs, which ought to be removed when hazard no longer exists in the area, and ground fault-circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
Accidents that construction workers may sustain during the performance of their work, especially those resulting from their co-workers’, supervisor’s or employer’s direct violation of the safety and health standard laws, may be considered personal injuries, injuries that are product of someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Though injured workers (or those who develop work-related illnesses due to exposure to hazardous substances, even if the illness becomes apparent months or years after the worker has already resigned or retired from work) may apply for the Workers’ Compensation Insurance benefit, they also have the right to file a claims lawsuit against their employer. One of the conditions stipulated in the Workers’ Comp is freedom of the employer from further legal responsibility once the injured worker avails of the benefit. On this regard, it is highly advisable that a worker who gets hurt in an accident seek the help of a lawyer, who has full knowledge of, and experience in, personal injury laws and lawsuits, respectively, and who can advise him/her about the legal rights he/she has regarding lawsuits and compensation for whatever damages the injury or illness would result to.