Construction is an inherently dangerous industry and with Los Angeles being a city that thrives on commercial and industrial economic stimulation and constant land development, there continues to be a growing amount of construction taking place throughout the city and county, putting construction accidents in Los Angeles on the rise. Though construction accidents range from all levels of severity, because of the nature of construction work, most accidents result in death or, if they are fortunate enough to survive, permanent injury. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Los Angeles suffered nearly 100 fatal injuries on construction sites in 2013, which is one of the highest in the nation.
Common construction site accidents include crane accidents, electrocution, slips and falls, mishandling of heavy machinery, forklift accidents, caught-in-betweens, scaffolding accidents, trench collapses, welding accidents, transportation accidents/work zone crashes, and falling objects. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates and enforces the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) which set standards for the safety in and around construction sites.
According to OSHA, out of 3,929 worker fatalities in private industry during the 2013 calendar year, 796 (20.3%) were in construction. That means that one out five worker deaths were in construction. OSHA has even coined the top four construction accidents as the “Fatal Four”. The Fatal Four, accounting for more than half of all construction site fatalities (58.7%), are: 1) falls, 2) being struck by a falling object, 3) electrocution, and 4) caught-in/betweens. According to the BLS, 36.9% of all construction site accidents are due to falls; 10.3% are due to being struck by objects; 8.9% are due to electrocution; and 2.6% are due to caught-in/betweens.
The November 2012 issue of the Cal-OSHA Reporter states that from 2008-2010, 168 construction workers in California lost their lives on the job. During the same period, fatal and nonfatal construction injuries in California cost the California economy $2.9 billion. This report attributes these injuries and costs to the idea that California’s occupational safety and health oversight is insufficient. California, along with at least 20 other states, has elected to operate its own occupational safety and health program which is administered by the Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupation Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). In 2010, there were only 237 Cal/OSHA inspectors assigned to inspect 1,337,867 California work places, which includes construction sites. The Cal/OSHA November 2012 Reporter predicts that it would take Cal/OSHA about 158 years to inspect each workplace in California one time. More than 26% of all Cal/OSHA inspections concern the construction industry.
It is no question that California’s strained economy has impacted the construction industry in the Los Angeles area, despite the constant land development. In fact, staying within budget in this lop-sided economy has forced construction projects to make cuts in the area of administering safety, often compromising health and safety standards. Unfortunately, when a construction site accident occurs, the impact can be permanent, requiring long term specialized health care, or, even worse, fatal.
Stoner Grannis LLP are experienced in pursuing claims involving recovery from serious injuries or wrongful death as a result of a construction site accident and are willing to address any inquiries you may have if you or a loved one has been involved in one.