A construction site accident took the life of a 38-year-old Elon man on August 26. The accident happened at Pine View Baptist Church in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Sheriff Chris Shew told reporters that around 10:30 a.m., a cinder block retaining wall collapsed on the north side of the Church. A worker was relaying directions to a driver about an asphalt milling machine’s placement when the wall gave out. It caused the machine to overturn, and tragically it fell on the worker.
The Medical Examiner stated that the man died instantly.
4,628 workers were killed at their job in 2012, according to Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) statistics. That equates to about 12 workers per day. 15% of total fatalities were construction contractors.
OSHA lists what it calls the “Fatal Four” causes of death for constructions workers, which account for over half of all construction fatalities. The “Fatal Four” are:
– Struck by an Object
– Caught – in/between [equipment or materials]
Although workplace deaths have been dramatically reduced since 1970 as OSHA and employers worked together to increase safety, 12 deaths per day is still a bleak statistic. Men and women who go to work and diligently do their jobs should not have the worry of a serious or fatal workplace accident on their shoulders. I hope the decline in workplace deaths continues in the coming years, and I hope it’s a steep decline. Sacrificing some productivity to increase safety comes at a cost, but there is no amount of money that can bring back a worker who is killed on the job.
Workers’ compensation covers damages for workplace injuries for many employees and their families, but in the construction field it’s common for construction companies to hire independent contractors who are not be covered under workers’ compensation laws. In those cases, it may be possible to pursue a third party negligence claim against the company who contracted the worker or the equipment manufacturer if the injury was caused by faulty machinery.
If you or a loved one were injured on the job, you should notify your employer of your injury (even if you think they already know) and then consider talking to an attorney who is knowledgeable about workers’ compensation and third party negligence claims. Our workplace injury attorneys can assess the circumstances surrounding your injury and help you determine the best course of action.
For more information about what to do if you or a loved one was injured or killed on the job, see our attorneys’ answers to frequently asked questions about workplace injuries.