Construction among worst industries for workplace injuries and deaths

The construction industry leads all other industries in fatalities and also contributes significantly to serious accidents that require time off work.

The construction industry plays a vital role in today's economy; according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, almost 6.5 million Americans work in construction, including many people in Harrisburg. Sadly, though, the costs of working in this industry can be steep. Data indicates that construction industry injury and fatality rates are typically among the worst in any industry.

High fatality rate

In 2013, construction industry workers suffered the most fatalities of workers in any industry, both in Pennsylvania and on a national scale. In the state, a total of 26 lives were lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationally, over 1 in 5 fatal industries occurred in construction, according to OSHA.

The most frequent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are from 2009, but they indicate a similar level of risk. That year, construction workers experienced over 9 percent of all nonfatal illnesses or injuries that required time away from work. The rate of fatal construction accidents, meanwhile, was nearly three times greater than the fatal accident rate in all other industries.

Risky working conditions

The risks associated with specific work within the industry are especially alarming, as the following OSHA statistics reveal:

  • About 2.3 million laborers work on scaffolding, which frequently contributes to fall accidents - better safety measures could save an estimated 50 lives and prevent 4,300 work-related injuries every year.
  • Forklifts injure 95,000 workers yearly, often during turnovers - enhanced training could reduce the risk of these accidents.
  • Ladder and stairway falls cause an estimated 24,882 injuries and 36 deaths every year - about half of the nonfatal injuries are serious enough to result in the employee requiring time off work.

Sadly, injuries that force employees to take time off work may be severe enough to have life-changing impacts. Fortunately, Pennsylvania workers are entitled to workers' compensation benefits when they are hurt on the job.

Available financial compensation

Workers' compensation benefits can address medical expenses and lost wages arising from a workplace injury. Payments for wage loss are often set at two-thirds of the worker's average weekly pay. Workers who suffer permanent disfigurement or disability may also receive a lump sum award for the loss.

Pennsylvania workers are not eligible for workers' compensation if they intentionally injure themselves or if they sustain the injury while breaking the law. Otherwise, if an injury occurs in the course of a person's work-related duties, the person is entitled to compensation. Repetitive stress injuries and occupational diseases are also compensable.

If a fatal workplace injury occurs, the worker's surviving dependent family members may be eligible for a death benefit. Family members who are part of the victim's household may also qualify for this type of benefit.

Unfortunately, depending on the circumstances of the accident, securing adequate benefits - or any benefits at all - may be difficult for an injured worker or a fatally injured worker's surviving family members. This is why partnering with an attorney is advisable for anyone facing steep expenses, serious medical issues or long-term losses following a workplace accident.

Keywords: worksite, construction, accident, injury