Whether it is just a small project for a homeowner or a major commercial development, the construction industry can be extremely hazardous for workers. Every day, construction workers have to operate under extremely hazardous walking conditions, as well as other employees in the field. Because of this reality, severe work-related injuries at construction sites happen extremely often. Regulations, specifications, inspection requirements, and job safety programs all attempt to prevent accidents on constructions sites and promote awareness of safety for everyone involved in a construction job. Accidents still happen and will continue to happen, despite crucial efforts made to deal with concerns regarding construction site safety caused by both the nature of the work and the array of hazards that are experienced by construction workers. These risks may include falling off scaffolds from high elevations, being hit by a moving or falling piece of equipment, electrocution, health risks due to asbestos or chemical exposure, defective equipment injuries, unreasonably unsafe machinery, and injuries due to lifting or repetitive movement.
Construction Accidents Can Be Complicated
If you or a loved one has been harmed after working on a construction job, the first step to take toward legal recovery is to call an experienced construction attorney to discuss the circumstances of your case. Many potential issues may arise during the process, such as compliance with occupational and site safety standards and regulations, engineering concerns, and liability or indemnity determinations. These all mandate that your case be handled by a skilled lawyer who understands the laws involving construction area accident liability.
OSHA Safety Regulations
Safety regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 are practiced by all states in some form, including Utah, and these regulations are also applied to work that is completed in the construction industry. The problem of who may be liable for ensuring compliance with OSHA regulations — such as the general contractor or even a sub-contractor — usually it is placed on who is in control of the worksite or activity when the injured party was harmed. The legal impact of violating any OSHA regulations can change depending on certain conditions. In Utah jurisdictions, if evidence can be provided that shows an OSH regulation was violated which resulted in injury, little else needs to be done to establish the liability of a negligent party. OSHA regulations are not the sole legal standards that hold a property owner, general contractor, or sub-contractor liable for an injury taking place at a construction site. Many times, the property owner or general contractor will have his or own established safety regulations, which are generally applied or made specifically for the circumstances of the construction project, and are meant to protect those who are working on the project. Violations of these regulations could also provide the basis of a construction accident injury claim.
Getting Help After a Construction Accident Injury
If you have been harmed after being involved in an accident in a construction area, many things can be done to protect yourself and your legal rights after the fact:
• Receiving immediate medical attention for your injuries;
• Reporting the injury to your employer and/or construction site manager. Be sure to record the name and position of the person notified;
• Write down the names and contact information of anyone who may be witness to the accident; and
• If applicable, attempt to preserve any evidence related to your injury, such as taking photographs of the location where you were injured — as well as the injuries themselves — or keeping the equipment or tool that was involved in your injury.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) finds that an estimated 65 percent of construction workers find themselves on scaffolds frequently. With this in mind, it isn’t a real surprise that some of the most common accidents in the construction industry involve scaffolds or other types of lifts, hoists, or ladders. These accidents are not usually the most severe in terms of sustained injuries that are caused by the construction workers falling from defective, inadequately installed, or unreasonably unsafe scaffolding equipment. This may be due to an employer’s failure to utilize necessary protective equipment or due to the worker falling from onto another worker from a scaffold, lift, or ladder.
OSHA Scaffold Regulations
Each employer, supervisor, and worker operating on a construction site using scaffolds is required to comply with OSHA regulations concerning construction and inspection, among other considerations.
• Design and Construction. The design and construction of scaffolds must comply with OSHA requirements involving the type of equipment, proper capacities, construction methods, and use. Every scaffold and its individual components must be able to support its own weight in addition to at least four times the maximum predicted load without failing. Every suspension rope has to be able to support at least six times the maximum predicted load.
• Inspection. Employers should have reasonably competent workers inspect all scaffolds and its components for any observable defects before being used each shift. Scaffolds need to be erected, moved, dismantled, or changed only under the supervision of a competently skilled individual. Each component any personal fall protection equipment — such as body belts or harnesses, lanyards, droplines, trolley lines, or points of anchorage — need to be inspected by a competently skilled individual before being used. Any noticeably damaged or worn equipment needs to be removed and immediately serviced.
In 2017, out of a combined 4,674 deaths in the private sector, 971 of these deaths were in the construction industry, accounting for 20.7 percent of all fatalities. The leading causes of death in the field involve falls, electrocution, being struck by falling equipment, or being caught between tools of machinery. Even the most diligent construction companies can still be at risk for a major accident. Construction accidents don’t just happen on their own, either. It’s usually the result of a series of events that ultimately led to the incident. Some of the most common types of construction accidents and how you can work to prevent them.
• Falls: Not too surprisingly, falls pose one of the greatest risks to construction sites. This is traditionally the leading cause of construction site worker deaths each year, with 991 fatalities in just 2016. Proper fall protection isn’t always in place at construction sites. Poor scaffolding safety also poses a hefty risk, with issues in scaffolding construction being a top contributor to fall hazards. It’s up to employers to protect their workers and contractors on the job. Investing in fall protection gear (e.g. harnesses), adding toe rails around open platforms, installing handrails, and requiring personal protective gear can all help to mitigate fall risk.
• Slips and Trips: One of the major culprits of all workplace accidents is a major danger on construction sites. There are myriad opportunities for holes, equipment, uneven ground, or weather conditions to increase the risk of a slip or trip. Even with safety training and proper precautions, slips and falls can easily occur. Make sure workers are aware of the potential hazards on the job. Emphasizing caution, marking slip and trip hazards, and encouraging workers to remain vigilant while on the job can help to reduce risk.
• Electrocutions: One of the top four leading causes of workplace fatalities is electrocution. In 2016 alone, there were 82 electrocution deaths, which accounted for over 8% of all workplace fatalities. Though this number has historically been higher (over 300 related deaths and thousands of injuries in 2014), electrocution remains a real threat to construction site workers. Though the causes of electrocution can vary, many of these incidents can be prevented by taking the proper precautions. Providing construction safety training and quality personal protective equipment (PPE) can both be effective tools in mitigating electrocution risk. Make sure employees recognize that wearing PPE is a requirement, not an option.
• Struck by an Object: Another of the Fatal Four causes of workplace death objects striking workers caused nearly 100 deaths in 2016, accounting for almost 10% of all workplace deaths for the year. Objects being dropped from up high, flying debris, suspended loads coming loose, and swinging or rolling loads all fall under this category. When any of these scenarios occur, it catches workers off-guard. They don’t have time to react to get themselves to safety. Many of them never know what hits them. In order to combat this threat, make sure each worker is equipped with the right protective gear when using power tools (e.g. face mask, eyewear, etc). Take time to secure all tools and machinery. Wear hard hats around the construction area, even when you think work isn’t being performed. Never stand under a suspended load. And most importantly, make sure you remain visible on the construction site so that machine operators and other workers know you’re there.
• Getting Caught or Crushed: Also known as “caught in between”, this type of construction accident caused over 70 deaths in 2016 alone. These accidents are when a worker’s body becomes caught, squeezed, or crushed in between two objects. Construction equipment rollovers and unguarded machines can contribute to caught-in-between cases. To combat this risk, make sure no machine is left unattended. Only authorized operators should be allowed to use the machine or equipment. Make sure your team is familiarized with any potential crush points or other moving parts that can pull them into danger. Use proper lockout/tagout procedures when working on machines or equipment to prevent surprise startups. Also, pay attention to your workers’ clothing and appearance. Loose shirts, jewelry, and long hair can easily get caught in a moving machine.
Construction Accidents Can Be Prevented
When a construction site worker becomes injured in an accident, it not only affects their life and livelihood, but also the future of the company. Construction accidents are largely preventable and companies should take every possible precaution to do their part in training, educating, and protecting their employees.
Utah Construction Accident Law Firm
When working a physical job, there is always going to be a risk of being injured while at work. These risks are even larger for construction workers, masons, and contractors. Working on a construction site is dangerous by nature, and things can go wrong at any time. Accidents can happen due to faulty machinery, equipment breaking, and negligence of a subcontractor, improper signage, falling objects, and unsafe working conditions. The results of these mishaps can be devastating, it is in these times that people need a construction accident law firm the most.
How a Utah Premises Liability Injury Case Works
Whether you are at your friend’s house or going to the grocery store, you can be injured at any time. You may wonder if you are completely to blame or if another party could have contributed to your injuries. Whenever you experience an injury after entering someone’s property, such as a slip and fall or some other type of accident resulting in injury, you can potentially hold the owner of the property responsible for your resulting damages under the legal theory of premises liability. Premise liability involves when a property owner (or owners) has a potential legal responsibility for injuries experienced due to unsafe conditions on the property. A premise liability case can happen in nearly any type of open space or building, including accidents with slip and falls, swimming pools, construction sites, defective machinery, fires, animals, or lack of proper security. Today we are going to examine the basis of a viable personal injury case involving premises liability and how they may apply to your case.
What the Plaintiff Needs to Prove
In the state of Utah, the specific elements involving a premise liability have to be proven by the plaintiff in order to construct a valid claim for their case. In most cases, the injured party, or plaintiff, will have to prove:
• That the party who caused the injury (the defendant) owned, occupied, or leased the property;
• That the defendant was negligent in the use of the property;
• That the plaintiff sustained injuries; and
• That the defendant’s negligence was a significant factor in causing the harm.
How to Provide Evidence of These Elements
When proving these elements, it has to be shown that the defendant had a duty to warn or inform you about latent dangers which were not known to you and you could not reasonably discover on your own. This duty can also extend to dangers which the defendant should have known about if he or she had exercised reasonable care. If you were injured, you need to show evidence of your sustained injuries. This can be accomplished through testimony or through the testimony of an expert physician. You can also provide medical bills on top of this expert testimony concerning the extent of your injuries, the pursued medical treatment, and how these injuries have impacted certain aspects of your life. You then have to show that the defendant’s negligence was a significant factor in your sustained injuries. The injuries suffered have to be reasonably foreseeable regarding the defendant’s action or neglect. Also, the defendant’s negligence does not have to be the sole contributor to your injuries; it just has to have contributed to the harm experienced.
Liability Depending On the Status of the Person on the Property
Historically, the approached used in jurisdictions in Utah in order to determine the defendant’s standard of care relies upon the status of the person who is entering the property. There are three standard basic statuses: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
• Invitees: An invitee is someone who enters the property for the financial benefit of the defendant or someone who enters the property that is open to the general public. The defendant owes a duty of reasonable care in maintaining the property to the invitees. This duty includes an assumed obligation to make the property reasonably safe for visitors.
• Licensees: A licensee is anyone who has given or implied permission of the defendant to enter their property. For instance, social guests would be considered as licensees. If the social guest is asked to leave the property and then refuses, however, he or she would become a trespasser. The defendant must repair or give warning of concealed dangers he or she knows of which the licensee is unaware.
• Trespassers: A trespasser is anyone who unlawfully enters or remains on property owned by another. The defendant owes no real duty to the trespasser except to refrain from willfully and carelessly injuring the trespasser.
Construction Accident Lawyer
When you need legal help with a construction accident in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506