Nobody goes into the construction industry thinking it is going to be a walk in the park. Everybody who ever worked construction knew before their first day on the job that construction work is dirty, difficult, and above all, dangerous. Injuries are commonplace, and fatal injuries on the construction site happen far more often than in any other kind of workplace. Construction work sites are loaded with hazards most employees in other occupations will never see, and many of those hazards are potentially fatal.
No Industry Compares to Construction for Deaths, Injuries
In 2019, federal statistics indicate that on-the-job deaths of construction workers accounted for 20% of all workplace fatalities, a trend that has held for decades even though the construction industry accounts for only 4% of total employment in the United States. In addition to fatalities, more than 70,000 construction injuries are reported each year, with probably that many more going unreported. The injury rate for construction workers was 9.7 per 100,000 employees in 2019, nearly triple the rate of 3.5 per 100,000 employees for all other private sector employment. The non-fatal injury rate for construction workers is 71% higher than any other industry.
In fact, the injury prospects for the average construction worker are not attractive. Almost all construction workers are likely to suffer an injury over the course of a career in construction, with many of them suffering more than one. About 10% of all construction workers are injured every year, with 60% of workplace injuries occurring during the first year on the job. Over the course of a 45-year career, construction workers face a 1-in-200 likelihood of suffering a fatal injury.
Just a Few Causes Account for Most Construction Accident
Even though construction sites have an abundance of ways to be injured or killed on the job, just a handful of causes are responsible for the vast majority of construction injuries and fatalities. These are:
- Falls, either slips and falls at ground level or falls from heights
- Being struck by an object
- Being crushed by or between two or more objects, including being crushed between vehicles or equipment, being run over by a vehicle, or being crushed in a collapsing structure or tunnel.
Workers’ Compensation Covers Construction Injuries
In Georgia, workers’ compensation serves as a security blanket for employees who suffer injuries at work. The system provides medical coverage and replacement income for lost wages when employees are injured on the job. This coverage is provided without regard to fault in almost all cases. In return, employees usually cannot sue their employers for injuries suffered on the job when those injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. The intent is to limit employer liability while providing state-guaranteed levels of compensation for on-the-job injuries.
While workers’ compensation is intended to serve as the primary source of compensation for injuries suffered at work, it does not rule out other potential sources of recovery. For instance, Georgia law allows injured employees to pursue lawsuits against third parties who bear some responsibility for the employee’s injury. This could include equipment or tool manufacturers, other drivers who are at fault in a traffic accident that injures someone who is driving in the course of employment, or other third parties whose negligence contributes to the employee’s injuries.