You Don’t Want These Number Ones
“We’re number one!” It’s a cry often heard in sports stadiums and gatherings around televised games. But if you are a construction worker, we have a couple of number ones that you would not wish on your worst enemy.
Consider these facts:
- In the construction industry, falls are the number one cause of death. In 2014, 40 percent of construction fatalities were due to falls—349 out of 874 total deaths.
- Inadequate protection from falls is the number one OSHA violation year after year. In 2015, 55 percent of citations for lack of fall protection were given out to residential construction companies. The actual number was 4,079 citations out of a total of 7,402. DNRB Inc., dba Fastrack Erectors in Pacific, MO, was fined $511,000 after a 22-year-old worker fell over 30 feet. It was one of the ten largest fines of 2015 handed down by OSHA.
- Scaffolding, all forms of which are standard on almost all construction jobs, was the number three OSHA violation for 2015. Infractions for improper scaffolding structures which were 10 feet or higher off the ground amounted to 4,681 violations. Practically all scaffolding-related injuries arise from falls.
Construction work injuries have what are known as the “Fatal Four:” falls, caught-between-objects injuries, electrocution, and struck-by injuries. These four categories of injuries account for nearly 60 percent of injuries in construction workers.
The Potential for Organ Damage
Construction workers are highly likely to suffer internal injuries, sometimes known as organ damage, because all of the Fatal Four can result in such injuries. Organ damage is generally of two kinds:
- Blunt trauma. A blunt trauma injury damages tissue by stretching it beyond its normal limits. Crush trauma, a kind of blunt trauma, uses compression to damage tissues. Falls or struck-by accidents often result in blunt trauma, and caught-between injuries often result in crush trauma.
- Penetrating trauma. Penetrating trauma is when an object penetrates tissue, tearing it. Falls, caught-between, and struck-by accidents can be responsible for penetrating trauma.
It might not be as obvious to you how electric shock causes organ damage. But non-fatal electrocution can wreak havoc on our bodies, causing permanent heart, kidney, and brain damage as well as burns and broken bones.
Symptoms of Organ Damage
If you have blunt trauma or crush trauma, often your biggest symptom is pain. As many of our organs are grouped in the torso or abdomen, abdominal pain is a primary symptom of possible organ damage. Other symptoms of organ damage, besides abdominal pain, are:
- Trouble breathing, or pain when breathing (can indicate punctured lungs from broken ribs)
- Swelling, bruising, and external marks accompanying other symptoms
- A hard, rigid abdomen
- Left shoulder pain (especially for liver and spleen damage)
- Signs of shock (paleness, fast pulse, low blood pressure)
- Vomiting blood
- Blood in the urine (kidney damage)
- Headache, sleepiness, lightheadedness, passing out, trouble speaking, dilated pupils, trouble seeing clearly, or generally being “out of it” (can indicate traumatic brain injuries).
The brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs are vital to our survival. Additionally, a ruptured spleen puts you at risk of bleeding to death internally. These sorts of injuries are true medical emergencies and should be attended to immediately.
A Recent Case in New York
A 20-year-old worker was ordered to go to the roof for a siding job. He was unable to find a place to tie off his safety harness and ended up falling 20 feet, suffering a number of severe injuries, including a brain injury. The injuries left the worker permanently disabled with multiple physical and mental problems. At trial, the building’s owner and the contractor were both found liable. A total of $62 million was awarded for past and future pain and suffering, along with $60,100 for medical costs. The case is on appeal.
Construction injuries can be catastrophic and can significantly impact future earnings, as well as make everyday life difficult. If you have had a recent serious injury at work, you might want to consider seeking legal advice.
When something goes wrong, we are left to wonder.
State and federal agencies have strict guidelines and regulations to keep construction workers safe while they are doing their jobs. In some cases, employers might ignore these regulations or fail to ensure they are properly followed. In such a situation, a case can sometimes be made for negligence. Where machines or equipment, including scaffolding, are involved, there can also be questions of malfunctions because of manufacturer’s defects or improper maintenance.
With over 30 years’ experience handling workplace injury claims in Indiana, let McNeely Stephenson put their resources to work for you. You may be eligible for compensation to assist you with medical bills and other financial obligations. If you would like to explore your options, contact Mike Stephenson at 1-317-825-5200, or use our online form. The initial consultation is always free.