Articles Posted in North Carolina Construction Accidents

Although U.S. construction workers are safer now than they have been in a quarter of a century, the fact is these professionals are still at high risk for work-related injuries to their nerves, joints, tendons, and muscles. That’s according to a new study by The Center for Construction Research and Training, headquartered in Maryland. construction workers

These types of injuries, most commonly in the form of strains and sprains, typically happen because employees are overworked. They are also exposed to excessive amounts of twisting, bending, vibrations, and situations when they need to contort their bodies into awkward positions. Resulting conditions are known as “work-related musculoskeletal disorders,” or WMSDs for short. The public doesn’t hear much about these conditions, despite their pervasiveness among those in construction, since they don’t make for punchy headlines. You’re far more likely to hear about a major fall or a collision involving large vehicles than you are to hear about a worker who suffered an elbow sprain.

Still, the effect of this on individual workers and the industry as a whole is undeniable. The study revealed the loss of wages for private construction workers – both salaried and hourly – was $46 million in 2014, the most recent year for which figures were available. And while there are workers in many different injuries who are at risk for musculoskeletal injuries, workers employed in construction steadily have the highest risk of them all.

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Investigators for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration have recommended thousands of dollars in fines against a company whose worker collapsed on the job and later died due to heat stress. When he was rushed to the hospital, the 47-year-old had a core body temperature of 107 degrees. The heat index that day in Jefferson City, MO was 90 degrees. sun

The worker had been installing roofing material at a high school construction project. It was only the laborer’s third day on the job, and allegedly, the company had not allowed enough time for him to become acclimated to toiling in the high temperatures.

That’s the case in a lot of work-related heat stress deaths. Workers are new to a position, and they aren’t physically accustomed to working long stretches outside in the sun and heat. Workers – especially those new to the job – need to be afforded frequent access to water, rest, and shade during hot summer months. While this may seem a low priority for workplaces as we head into the colder months, the fact is we should be talking about worker exposure risk year-round. Cold stress also is a serious problem for outdoor workers, and one for which companies must also plan.

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One worker was killed and another seriously injured in a crane accident after both fell off the West Seattle Bridge in Washington state.crane

The Seattle Times reports a passing truck driver struck the boom lift, later insisting he didn’t see any traffic control markings, such as cones, barriers or a flagger in the moments before the crash.

The two men were reportedly contractors, which can sometimes muddy the question of workers’ compensation benefits. Independent contractors are generally not eligible for benefits from the general contractor, but it will depend on the agreement between the two entities and which company purchased benefits. If another contractor or the general contractor was responsible for establishing proper traffic controls on this site, it’s entirely possible too that the victims/ surviving family could additionally pursue a third-party action for negligence, which could further increase the compensation to which they are entitled. A second action might be plausible against the truck driver/ employer, a mushroom farm delivery driver.  Continue reading

In any work-related accident, the sole remedy a worker has against an employer is workers’ compensation. The system is supposed to provide fast, no-fault financial relief when injuries arise out of and occur in the course and scope of one’s work. constructionworkers1

However, this exclusive remedy in workers’ compensation is not applicable to certain third parties. So while you can’t sue your employer, you can take action against, say, the driver of the car that struck you or the manufacturer of the machine by which you were injured.

On a construction site, the question of who is a “third party” and who is not can become muddied. There are so many contracts, subcontracts and various entities involved, it can become tough to parse out the issue of liability. That’s why you must have an experienced construction accident lawyer to help walk you through it.  Continue reading

Roofing is a tough job. The hours are early and long. The physical labor is intense. Exposure to the extreme elements exacerbates all of it.roofing

A study conducted by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) Data Center revealed falls from roofs account for one-third of all fall-related construction deaths from 1992 to 2009. Those most at risk were employed by small companies, mostly on residential construction projects. Immigrant workers and Hispanic workers faced higher risks of injuries.

During the study period, 20,500 people died in the construction industry, and of those, nearly 6,600 died in falls. Of those, 2,163 deaths happened when workers fell from the roof.  Continue reading

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.
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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.
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For years in North Carolina, businesses – primarily those in the construction industry – have sidestepped labor and tax laws by labeling employees as “independent contractors.”
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In so doing, they reaped numerous benefits. They have been able to underbid law-abiding companies by as much as 20 percent because they didn’t withhold taxes from paychecks. Workers, meanwhile, are made to toil absent the benefit of protections to which they are entitled, such as unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance.

The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer conducted a five-part series last year detailing this practice, and revealed it costs an estimated $467 million annually in lost federal and state revenue – just from the state’s construction industry alone.
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A North Carolina scaffolding collapse killed three construction workers. Crews were dismantling the scaffold at a high-rise construction site in downtown Raleigh.
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The platform reportedly fell 11 stories shortly before mid-day. Serious injuries were reported for at least one other worker, who was inside a portable toilet that was crushed when the scaffold came crashing down.

Workers carrying out construction work underneath the scaffolding indicated they heard something pop. Someone began shouting at everyone to “Run!” Workers then heard a massive crash behind them as they fled. Some described it as sounding like “an explosion.”
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Construction workers face some of the most dangerous working conditions when on the job. In a recent tragedy, one man was killed and four workers were injured when a pedestrian bridge collapsed at the Wake Technical Community college campus in Raleigh. According to reports, the injured workers were rushed to the hospital after the collapse. On man suffered severe back and neck injuries, another broke his leg and a third was being treated for pain. Three of the four injured workers were forced to undergo surgery after the accident.

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Construction sites are dangerous because of faulty support, heights, potential problems with electricity and a host of other conditions that can pose a risk to workers. In the event of an accident, victims and their loved ones have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim and to collect financial benefits to cover lost wages and medical expenses. Though workers cannot traditionally bring claims against their employers, they can bring personal injury claims against third-parties, including property owners, manufacturers, and other subcontractors.
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Not long ago, three construction workers in Raleigh were injured while working on a project at North Carolina State University when they were struck by a steel beam dropped from a crane. crane.jpg

The incident is still under investigation, but word of the accident emerged around the same time that officials with the Occupational Health & Safety Association announced they would extend the deadline for crane operator training requirements – by three full years.

The new rules, which were supposed to go into effect this November, have been pushed back until November 2017. Once they do go into effect, anyone who operates a crane will have to be either certified by an approved organization or qualified by an audited employer program.
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