Construction Accidents in Columbia, SC
Workplace injuries can be devastating to injured workers and their families. A majority of workplace accidents occur in the construction industry. The construction industry is a dangerous occupation; however, the inherent danger involved in the profession does not excuse employers from creating a safe work environment for their employees. In fact, employers are required by both state and federal laws to ensure their employees have a safe place to work.
If you are injured at work, there are many sources of compensation to help you and your family. Without the proper legal representation to protect your rights, you may unknowingly forfeit your rights to the compensation you need and deserve. Let the attorneys at Peake & Fowler use their knowledge and decades of experience to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
There are many injuries that can occur in the construction industry, including:
- Ladder Falls – Among construction workers, an estimated 81% of fall injuries treated in emergency departments involve a ladder. While ladder falls often cause serious injuries, many of these accidents are preventable. In fact, employers have a responsibility to protect workers from ladder falls, and if they fail in this duty, they may be liable for injuries and deaths resulting from their negligence. Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment to do the job, including the right kinds of ladders and safety gear. Employers must also train workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use of ladders, fall protection systems, and other equipment they’ll be using on the job. The most frequent causes of ladder falls on construction sites include:
- Selecting the wrong type of ladder
- Using worn or damaged ladders
- Incorrect use of ladders
- Incorrect placement of ladders
- Scaffold Collapses – One of the leading causes of workplace injuries and deaths is due to scaffold collapses and similar scaffold-related accidents. Scaffold accidents also cause injury to pedestrians as well as damage to cars and other property. There are many kinds of injuries that can occur from scaffolding accidents in the construction industry, including those caused by:
- Scaffolds collapsing with workers on them
- Scaffolds collapsing onto passing pedestrians or workers
- Workers falling from scaffolds
- Objects falling from scaffolds onto passing pedestrians or workers
- Electrocution to workers or passing pedestrians
- Forklift Accidents – While a forklift can prove to be an indispensable source of assistance in hauling materials around a construction site or warehouse, these powerful machines can also prove dangerous. Often workplaces fail to properly instruct workers according to OSHA guidelines, or may not maintain forklifts for optimal performance. Often, forklift accidents are preventable with proper training in forklift operation and safety procedures. Additionally, if a job site is not properly maintained with forklift use in mind, driving the machine on uneven or unstable surfaces can lead to injuries.
- Crane Accidents – There are many ways in which crane accidents may occur. Common accidents involve a load becoming unbalanced during a lift, collapse of a crane due to an excessive load, or electrocution from an improperly grounded crane coming into contact with overhead high-voltage power lines and becoming energized. Crane accidents are nearly always the result of negligence or error by crane operators or other persons responsible for the operation. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Preplanning and coordination for the crane operation is inadequate or nonexistent
- The area surrounding the crane operation is congested
- Pinch points are left unguarded
- There is not sufficient clearance to complete the lift
- Outriggers are not extended properly
- The crane is not set up on a solid foundation
- The crane is operated amid overhead and electrical hazards
- The crane operator is untrained or inexperienced
- The site supervisor or superintendent is untrained or inexperienced in crane operations
- The crane is not set up properly
- The wrong crane is selected, given the task at hand or conditions on the jobsite
- Jobsite personnel modify crane operating procedures on an ad hoc basis
- The crane is not operated within the design parameters provided by the manufacturer
- Trenching and Excavation Accidents – Trenching and excavation accidents are particularly deadly because, when a trench collapses in on itself, a worker has only a few seconds to react, and if the trench is particularly deep and there is no nearby means of egress, the worker will face deadly odds in escaping the trench. Furthermore, it can be difficult for other workers to assist the endangered worker without also endangering themselves. The risks associated with this type of work, however, are manageable. Federal law requires contractors to incorporate various types of protective system options on trenches over five feet deep, but many contractors nonetheless ignore federal and state guidelines, putting workers in peril.
Construction Industry Safety Requirements
The United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers follow regulations designed to keep workers free from injury, such as keeping a workplace free from known dangers, keeping floors in a clean and dry condition, educating employees regarding job hazards, and providing protective gear at no cost to their workers.
According to OSHA, some of the most common violations of safety standards in the construction industry are fall protection requirements, scaffolding requirements, and ladder safety.
Employers are required by law to protect their workers from falls. In the construction industry, employers are required to provide protection from falls at the elevation of six feet or at any elevation when working over dangerous machines or equipment. Some of these protections include: covering any holes in the floors; placing guard rails and toe-board around elevated areas; and placing guard rails and toe-board around areas where a person could fall into chemicals or machinery. Employers must also provide proper safety gear such as harnesses and safety nets when needed.
According to OSHA, the four major hazards to employees working on scaffolds are falls from elevation, partial or complete scaffold collapse, being struck by falling objects, and electrocution. Employers are required to guard against these types of injuries by using guard rails and fall arrest systems, properly constructing scaffolding and not allowing them to be overloaded, inspecting the scaffolding and associated equipment, and providing personal protective gear. They are also required to protect others from falling objects by taking measures such as barricading the area below the scaffold, not allowing people to be below the scaffolding, and using equipment to catch falling objects. Employers are also required to protect against electrocution by making sure there is enough clearance between power lines, de-energizing lines, and using protective coverings.
Sources of Compensation
The primary source of compensation for injuries that occur at work is the South Carolina worker’s compensation program. This program was designed to protect workers and compensate them for lost wages and medical expenses. The process can be complicated and difficult; however, the attorneys at Peake & Fowler can help you with your worker’s compensation claim to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. We may also recommend a civil suit if your work related injury was caused by an employer’s intentional or reckless actions, or the negligence of a third party. For example, if the employer has failed to ensure a safe work environment by violating the laws set out to protect employees such as failing to provide proper fall protection, the employer may be liable for injuries caused by this unlawful behavior.
Contact our Knowledgeable and Experienced Attorneys who will Fight for Your Rights
If you have been injured at work, don’t wait to get help. We have the knowledge and experience to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. In Columbia, South Carolina and surrounding communities, call Peake & Fowler at 803-788-4370, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Peake & Fowler Law Firm, P.A., is located in Columbia, SC and serves clients in and around Newberry, Lexington, Sumter, Allendale, Orangeburg, St. Matthews, Bishopville, Florence, Blythewood, State Park, Eastover, Columbia, Elgin, Irmo, Hopkins, Ridgeway, Lugoff, Ballentine, West Columbia, Kershaw, Camden, Dusty Bend, and Richland County, Lexington County, Calhoun County, Orangeburg County, Sumter County, Kershaw County, Newberry County, Fairfield County, Lee County, Clarendon County and Florence County.