The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics has compiled several statistics regarding safety and and information about injuries that occurred on the job in the construction industry. Some of these statistic are:
* One of every five workplace fatalities is a construction worker.
* There were 1,225 fatal occupational injuries in construction in 2001, excluding fatalities on September 11. Also in 2001, there were 481,400 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in construction. Incidence rates for nonfatal injuries and illnesses were 7.9 per 100 full-time equivalent workers in construction, and 5.7 per 100 full-time equivalent workers in all private industry in 2001.
* Because only about 10% of construction companies employ more than 20 workers, the great majority have no formal job safety regulations or programs in place.
* In 1992, the “lost-workday” rate for workers in the construction industry was 5.7 per every 100 full-time workers. The lost-workday due to injury rate in the construction industry is greater than in any other industry.
* Nationwide, about 15% of workers’ compensation costs are attributable to injuries in the construction industry.
Almost every injury that construction workers suffer could makes the worker eligible for workers compensation rights. Legal actions against people with in authority positions such as general contractors, construction managers, equipment manufacturers, or subcontractors can supplement the constrained rights. These rights depend upon the application of various complex laws and the individual circumstances of the accident.
For example, in most construction projects, many different contractors are involved. If any contractor other than the direct employer has responsibility for the injuries, full damages can be recovered. Likewise, if a defective tool, machine, or other product causes injury, an injured worker can be fully compensated.
Construction workers have a right to a safe workplace according to OSHA, the Federal governing body for occupational safety and health. If a workplace hazard exists and action is not taken quickly, an employee should contact an OSHA area office or state office via a written complaint. If the OSHA or state office determines that there are reasonable grounds for believing that a violation or danger exists, the office will conduct an inspection. A workers’ representative has a right to accompany an OSHA compliance officer during the inspection. The representative is chosen by a union representative, if there is one, or by the employees. At no time may the workers’ representative be chosen by the employer. The inspector may conduct a comprehensive inspection of the entire workplace or a partial inspection limited to certain areas or aspects of the operation. At the end of the inspection, the OSHA inspector will meet with the employer and the employee representatives to discuss the abatement of any hazards that may have been found. These need to be corrected or serious penalties and legal liabilities may arise.