Construction sites are full of both obvious and hidden dangers. While some of these hazards inherently come with the territory of working in the construction industry, some are present because employers, site managers, and other parties may fail to take the necessary and legal precautions to keep workers safe and reduce the risk of construction accidents.
In this blog, we will discuss how safety is regulated on construction sites, the most commonly cited OSHA violations, and how injured construction workers may recover after an accident.
The Role of OSHA on Construction Sites
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that works to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for all by:
- Setting federal safety standards for all workplaces
- Enforcing requirements by conducting regular worksite inspections
- Providing training programs and materials to increase knowledge about occupational health and safety
Under OSHA regulations, all workers have the right to work in an environment that is safe, healthy, and reasonably free from hazards. The specific safety standards for workplaces will vary based on the field or industry. Those who work in construction, for instance, will need to be adequately protected from:
- Trench collapses
- Scaffolding collapses
- Electric shocks
- Repetitive motion industries
- Getting struck by objects
- Crush injuries
The Most Commonly Cited OSHA Violations
Sadly, many workplaces that receive frequent OSHA violations are based in the construction industry. Here are the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations during the 2019 fiscal year:
- Fall Protection, construction (general requirements): 6,010 violations
- This includes the failure to provide proper fall protection near unprotected or exposed edges and steep roofs. Most violations were issued to those in the roofing, construction, masonry, and framing industries.
- Hazard Communication: 3,671 violations
- A lack of proper communication, including datasheets, training programs, and written programs, can lead to work hazards.
- Scaffolding, construction (general requirements): 2,813 violations
- Common violations involving scaffolding include improper decking, failing to use guardrails when needed, and failing to secure systems on a solid foundation.
- Lockout/tagout: 2,606 violations
- These requirements protect workers from unexpected releases of hazardous energy during machinery maintenance and use.
- Respiratory Protection: 2,450 violations
- Violations often result from failing to perform required tests and failing to provide medical evaluations.
- Ladders, construction: 2,345 violations
- Common deficiencies cited include lack of side rails, using ladders for unintended purposes, using ladders improperly, or using defective ladders.
- Powered Industrial Trucks: 2,093 violations
- Violations commonly address improperly-used, deficient, or damaged forklifts.
- Fall Protection, construction (training requirements): 1,773 violations
- Common violations include failing to certify workers in fall protection, failing to get fall protection training in writing, and failing to retain the training content.
- Machine Guarding: 1,743 violations
- This includes failing to properly guard machine points of operation.
- Eye and Face Protection, construction: 1,411 violations
- The most common citations included failing to provide eye and face protection to workers who were exposed to flying objects/hazards and failing to provide protection from gases and vapors.
How OSHA Violations Affect Workers’ Compensation
Because Georgia the workers’ compensation operates on a no-fault system, an OSHA violation that results in a construction accident won’t affect an injured worker’s access to workers’ compensation benefits. Essentially, it makes no difference whether your employer abided by or violated OSHA requirements; as an employee, you are entitled to file a workers’ comp claim.
As we discussed in one of our recent blogs, construction workers are only eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are considered full-fledged company employees. Additionally, Georgia employees are barred from suing their employers for negligence. Workers’ is the exclusive remedy for injured workers.
Independent contractors are not eligible to pursue workers’ comp claims because they are not considered employees under the law. This means that independent contractors are not barred from filing a personal injury suit against the person or company who hired them for the construction job.
In other words, these individuals may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the individual, company, or organization whose negligence caused the person to become injured. In these cases, OSHA violations could be used as evidence to prove negligence.
Protecting the Rights of Injured Construction Workers
If you were injured at work on a construction site and don’t know what to do next, reach out to our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys at your earliest convenience. The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford will review your case for free and help you determine what your best legal options are for getting your medical expenses paid and recovering lost wages.
Get 20+ years of legal experience in your corner at calling (770) 629-9321 today!