The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) warns of four leading causes of fatalities in the construction industry. These causes are known as the “fatal four hazards.” Workers who suffer these types of injuries need to know their options for getting all their workers’ compensation benefits. Death benefits may also be available to families who lost loved ones in work-related accidents.
Also, in addition to bringing a workers’ compensation claim, you may have a third-party liability claim for bodily injury and pain and suffering if you are injured due to the negligence of someone at the construction site who does not work for your employer. In that case, you would have potentially two claims for your injury — the workers’ compensation claim and the third-party claim.
Falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites. When you work at a height of 15 to 30 feet, you need to use a steel erection for safety. At 10 feet and below, you can use scaffolds. Six feet high is the point at which you need to use at least general fall protection. Regardless of which of these heights you’re working at, it’s important to have guard rails, personal fall arrest systems (PFA systems) or covers.
Keep in mind that the Georgia workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, so even if a serious injury results from a mistake, you can still file a workers’ compensation claim to get the benefits you need. Our Georgia Workers’ Comp FAQ has more information.
OSHA has established regulatory standards for electrical work. Electrocution is the second leading cause of construction site deaths. Even if you’re not an electrician, electrocution is a hazard for you. Locate where the utilities are before beginning work and maintain a safe distance from power lines. Never use electric tools unless they are double insulated or grounded.
Construction workers sometimes become caught between machinery, fixed structures and other objects, including caved-in trench walls. This type of construction injury usually happens without warning. To reduce the risk of caught-between injuries — particularly trench cave-ins — never enter a trench that isn’t sloped, benched, shored or shielded. Any trench that is five feet deep or deeper needs to have an adequate protection system.
Also, avoid positioning yourself between fixed and moving objects, such as vehicles and heavy equipment.
Struck by an object
Protecting yourself from struck-by hazards is challenging because an object might suddenly hit you because of another worker. Remind your coworkers of safety guidelines, and report workers who refuse to listen and take safety precautions. You should also always wear the necessary protective gear at the job site.
A note on small subcontractors and general contractors
Many small subcontractors in Georgia do not have workers’ compensation insurance. If you are injured while doing construction work for a small subcontractor, and if there is a general contractor over the entire project, you can bring a claim against the general contractor’s workers’ comp insurance if the subcontractor does not have any workers’ comp insurance.
Getting the benefits you need
Even when a work accident causes life-altering injuries, employers and insurance companies will do everything they can to minimize or even deny workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers. To learn more about getting all the workers’ comp benefits you need and deserve, please see our Georgia Workers’ Comp Do’s and Don’ts.