Fatal Construction Accident Highlights Industry Dangers

One construction worker was killed and two others were seriously injured when a wall collapsed onto them at a construction site in Brooklyn, NY recently. The three men were pinned under a pile of heavy cinder blocks, and one of them didn’t make it out alive. He was just 19-years-old, according to a report of the incident by The New York Times.
It should perhaps be unsurprising that the local Department of Buildings received a complaint earlier this year regarding potentially unsafe working conditions at the site. According to that complaint, workers weren’t wearing face masks during asbestos abatement work. The complaint also noted that a wall on site was “not stable.”

The wall that fell onto the trio was reportedly a retaining wall, though it’s not clear if it’s the same one the previous caller referenced.

When the complaint was received back in May, it was forwarded to the Department of Environmental Protection, presumably because of the issues with asbestos exposure. The DEP said it had no immediate information to offer about the complaint or its disposition.

This case reveals why it is so critical for regulators to follow up with each and every complaint, and to impose harsh fines and other penalties when companies fail to follow the rules. Lax, permissive attitudes from regulators lead to dangerous situations for workers. This is especially true in the construction industry.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, there were 4,585 work-related deaths in 2013. That’s an average of 12 deaths every single day, 88 per week.

Of the 4,100 worker deaths in the private industry, more than 20 percent were in the construction field. That’s 1 in 5 deaths.

The top causes of construction worker deaths in the U.S. are:

  • Falls
  • Struck-by object
  • Electrocution
  • Caught in/between

These incidents alone account for nearly 60 percent of all construction worker deaths. That’s why they are referred to as the “fatal four.” Eliminating just these four issues would save an estimated 480 lives every year.

In South Carolina, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 69 construction accident deaths statewide. Many more suffer serious and debilitating injuries that require long-term care and time away from work.

Just recently, according to a report from Greenville Online, a 44-year-old construction worker was killed after falling 30 feet from onto concrete. He had been on site of a residential and retail construction project. Although he was conscious and talking initially after the fall, he died five hours later of blunt force trauma to the chest. Officials say a detached harness may have been to blame.

When a worker is killed on the job, their dependent loved ones may be entitled to collect workers’ compensation death benefits, which allow for up to 66 2/3 percent of worker’s average weekly wage over the course of 500 weeks. Compensation for certain total and permanent disabilities, meanwhile, may result in lifelong compensation.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
One Worker Dies and 2 Are Injured in Wall Collapse at Brooklyn Construction Site, Sept. 3, 2015, By Liam Stack, The New Yor imes

More Blog Entries:
South Carolina Worker Injury at Construction Site Blast, Aug. 31, 2015, Greenville Work Injury Attorney Blog

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