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Category Archives: Construction Accidents


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What Types of Chemical Injuries Happen on Construction Sites?

A construction site is an inherently dangerous place. Heavy machinery and equipment, power tools, working at heights, and unfinished electrical work are just some of the occupational hazards that construction workers are exposed to on a daily basis. However, one safety hazard that is often overlooked is the risk of injury from toxic chemicals. Hazardous chemicals cause more than 190,000 illnesses and 50,000 fatalities every year in the United States, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Unfortunately, construction workers may not even realize they have been exposed to a dangerous chemical until they develop a health condition or injury related to toxic exposure, such as:

  • Respiratory conditions.
  • Skin disease.
  • Cancer.
  • Lung disease.
  • Neurological injuries.
  • Reproductive damage.
  • Endocrine disruption.

Exposure to toxic chemicals can cause both minor conditions, such as skin allergies and long-term serious injuries, including damage to the lungs and other internal organs. In the worst cases, exposure can lead to life-threatening illnesses like cancer.

What Are Some of the Chemicals Used in Construction?

Chemicals are everywhere in the materials used for construction, and their use is strictly regulated by OSHA. Some of the most dangerous and prevalent types of chemicals found on construction sites include the following:

  • Lead: Used in plumbing fixtures and for soldering.
  • Mercury: Contained in compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) fixtures, electrical devices, batteries for cordless power equipment, and commercial and residential thermostats.
  • Halogenated flame retardant chemicals: Used as insulation between walls and around wiring.
  • Polyvinyl chloride: Commonly used to coat pipes and insulate electrical wiring as well as for flooring, taping compounds, ductwork, sheet roofing, shingles, and block insulation.
  • Cadmium: Found in steel products with rust protection coatings.
  • Silica: Contained in concrete, stone, bricks, tiles, and sand.
  • Asbestos: Used in many insulating materials before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned most asbestos products.
  • Zinc: Use of galvanized steel in construction is common, and the protective coating is made from zinc. Cutting and welding zinc-based materials or zinc coated materials can expose workers to toxic fumes.
  • Formaldehyde: A preservative used to treat the wood for construction.

How Do Chemical Injuries Occur in the Construction Industry?

Chemical exposure on construction sites can happen in different ways. Dangerous chemicals can be present in solid, liquid, or gas form, such as dust, fibers, mists, and fumes. They can travel through the air and be breathed in, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin. Some chemicals release toxins as they break down. Others become even more threatening when they come into contact with heat and fire.

New construction may require the handling, cutting, or welding of materials containing hazardous chemicals. Demolition of older buildings can release high volumes of toxic smoke and gases when they are deconstructed, including substances that have deemed too dangerous for further use.

Workers can be injured by chemicals through exposure to materials that they use every day, such as industrial solvents, primers, and soldering agents. However, construction accidents involving chemicals can also seriously harm workers.

Preventing Chemical Injuries in the Construction Industry

OSHA has mandatory procedures to clearly identify and safely store hazardous chemicals and requires that employers train workers on how to safely handle them. Additionally, employers must provide safety equipment to workers at risk for toxic chemical exposure, including eye protection, air filtration, and gloves.

Proper ventilation is essential for protecting workers from the unseen threat of exposure to and absorption of chemicals being used in construction. Emergency escape routes must be planned and posted so that workers know what to do in the event of a fire or the release of toxic chemicals.

Training must be given in a language that the worker can understand to ensure they fully comprehend the health risks associated with the chemicals in their environment. They should know how to use the personal protective equipment (PPE) associated with each task.

Workers’ Compensation for Construction Workers

Construction workers who are injured on the job are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, however, those with serious and life-threatening injuries or illnesses may need more than what their benefits provide. Depending on the circumstances, there may be more legal options available for compensation. While the Workers’ Compensation system prevents employers from being sued for workplace chemical injuries, if another party’s negligence contributed to the toxic chemical exposure, they could be held liable. Examples of third-party liability include:

  • A chemical manufacturer or distributor who failed to disclose and warn of the safety hazards associated with their product and the types of PPE needed.
  • A property owner of the construction site where the toxic chemical exposure happened failed to follow OSHA regulations and safety guidelines.
  • A subcontractor who failed to follow OSHA regulations and safety guidelines for working with toxic chemicals.
  • A manufacturer or distributor who failed to properly warn of the dangers to workers operating the machinery.
  • A manufacturer of PPE that was faulty and failed to keep workers safe from exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • A storage company who failed to properly store the toxic chemicals.

A successful third-party claim can recover compensation for the types of non-economic damages not included under Workers’ Compensation, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. Consult with an experienced lawyer to determine if you are eligible to file a claim for benefits.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Construction Workers Suffering From Chemical Injuries

If you are a construction worker who suffered chemical injuries on the job, our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help. Our experienced team can answer all of your questions. To schedule a free case evaluation today, call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online. We have offices in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, and Lewes, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.

Wilmington Construction Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Assist Injured Welders.

What Are Common Injuries Sustained by Welders in Construction?

Welding is among the most highly-regulated professions in the United States, yet workers in this industry continue to face serious dangers on the job. The tools and materials welders use in construction make them vulnerable to accidents and injuries. Proper safety training, equipment, and procedures are essential for protecting welders.

Listed below are common injuries seen in welders.

Eye and Face Injuries

Welders wear extensive equipment to protect their eyes and face from heat, chemicals, and airborne debris. If shields, helmets, safety goggles, and other gear are not provided, or if they are defective, workers may experience painful lacerations, burns, and other trauma to the upper body.

Electrocution and Burns

Electrical injuries are skin or internal bodily injuries caused by contact with low-voltage and high-voltage sources. This occurs in several ways. Contact with a live conductor can cause electric shock. Electrical welding injuries also occur when the welder unknowingly creates a bridge between the live welding supply (electrode) and the return (workpiece).

Burns are the most common, nonfatal, electrical injury. Burns happen when an individual makes contact with energized electrical wiring or equipment. Musculoskeletal injuries, broken bones, and amputations are some complications of electrical injuries.

Welder’s Flash

Welder’s flash, or arc eye, is a painful eye injury that occurs when the unprotected eye is exposed to UV rays. Welding flames and arcs produce intense, visible UV and infrared radiation. If the eyes are unprotected, UV radiation damages the outer corneal cells of the eye, damaging the nerves underneath. This painful injury is like a sunburn on the eyes.

Hearing Damage

Among all of the construction trades, welders experience the highest rates of noise-related hearing impairment. A high noise level is considered to be above 85 decibels as perceived by the human ear. Air carbon arc gouging, flame cutting, and other welding tasks may produce noises levels up to and over 100 decibels.

Because it has no real symptoms, noise-induced hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated until it has progressed and is more resistant to treatment. Unfortunately, in some cases, hearing loss is irreversible.

Chemical Exposure

Welders are also exposed to a range of metals, gasses, and decomposition materials on the construction site. Acute exposure to these substances may result in temporary eye, nose, and throat irritation, dizziness, and nausea. More severe conditions include ulcers, cancers, and organ and nervous system damage.

Workers’ Compensation for Welders

Every worker should be able to do their job in a safe and hazard-free environment. However, some occupations come with a higher risk of injuries. Welders who are injured in a construction accident may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation to cover their medical costs, lost income, and other expenses.

Workers’ Compensation benefits cannot make injuries go away, but they can provide some peace of mind knowing expenses are covered.

Wilmington Construction Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Assist Injured Welders

If you are a welder and have a work injury, contact one of our Wilmington construction injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow for legal assistance. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, and Lewes, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.

Wilmington Construction Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for the Rights of Injured Workers.

What Are Common Amputation Hazards on Construction Sites?

Construction work is dangerous. Without proper safety precautions, workers can easily get injured on the job. One of the most devastating and life-changing injuries is amputation. According to a report by the Amputee Coalition, about three in every 20,000 construction workers suffers from an amputation injury.

Whether a worker loses a body part immediately in an accident or at a later point in time, it can mean having to find another way to earn a living or dealing with chronic pain afterwards. Construction workers should be aware of the following safety hazards that can result in amputation:

  • Falls from heights: Falls are extremely common on construction sites and a frequent source of injury. Falls can result in injuries to fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet, and legs that can eventually require amputation of the injured area.
  • Caught in/between accidents: Workers are at risk of crushing injuries if they get caught in running machinery or between two objects, such as a truck and a wall.
  • Being struck by an object: Falling debris or work materials are hazards on construction sites that can lead to amputations. Workers can also be struck by moving cranes or pulleys and other heavy equipment.
  • Machinery: Construction machinery used to bend, pinch, or shear materials is highly dangerous. This type of machinery is required to have safety guards that should never be removed except to clean or repair the machine.
  • Explosion of flammable materials: Explosions can be caused by improper storage of flammable materials or by electrical sparks. Severe burns and other injuries from explosions can necessitate amputations.

Preventing Amputation Injuries Among Construction Workers

Many injuries and Workers’ Compensation claims can be prevented by following safety regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and eliminating amputation hazards through methods such as:

  • Inspecting equipment regularly: Equipment should be regularly inspected for missing safety guards, worn or broken parts, frayed cords, and other signs of wear.
  • Routine maintenance: Performing routine maintenance on equipment can ensure that it is working properly and will not malfunction while in use.
  • Good housekeeping practices: A clean work site reduces the risk of debris or materials falling and injuring workers. It also eliminates many of the hazards that can cause workers to slip and fall.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): PPE should be worn when necessary, such as gloves, steel toed boots, and fall protection systems.
  • Training: Workers should be trained to recognize amputation hazards and how to avoid them as well as the safe and proper way to use machines on site and using PPE.
  • Marking vehicle paths: On a construction site, vehicle paths should be clearly marked. Trucks should have working backup alarms, and in difficult situations, use of a flagger should be employed to ensure no one is behind a vehicle going into reverse.

Wilmington Construction Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for the Rights of Injured Workers

If you are a construction worker who has an amputation injury, contact one of our Wilmington construction injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow for legal help right away. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, and Lewes Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we represent injured workers throughout the state.

Delaware Construction Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Get Benefits for Injured Construction Workers.

Poor Mental Health Leads to Construction Accidents

The construction industry has a reputation for being a competitive workplace full of tough, strong men. In this kind of environment mental health issues are rarely discussed or dealt with openly. Studies show that workers who suffer from mental health disorders or psychological distress are more at risk for a workplace accident. Physical symptoms of mental illness include loss of appetite, lower quality of sleep or insomnia, and a decreased ability to focus. On a construction site, this endangers not only the worker suffering from mental illness, but the workers around them and can lead to serious and devastating injuries.

Mental Health Issues in the Construction Industry

What are the factors in the construction industry that lead to mental health issues? It starts with the fact that construction is a male dominated industry and men are less comfortable talking about their mental health, with “strong and silent” is the prevailing archetype for “manly” men. Add to that the stresses of work being unsteady in that it is often seasonal, the threat of layoffs during economic downturns, long hours, and weeks on site away from family, and the result can be loneliness and isolation, depression, anxiety, or chronic stress.

The link between mental health and accidents is somewhat of a vicious circle. The illness and injury rate in construction is the highest of any industry. Construction workers who are injured in a workplace accident may suffer psychological trauma and chronic pain as a result. Chronic pain conditions can lead to substance abuse, which in turn increases the risk of a workplace accident. Construction workers who distracted by pain or contending with mental health issues may also become careless or forgetful about safety protocols and use of personal protective equipment, leading to more accidents.

Common Accidents and Injuries in Construction

Construction requires the use of power tools, heavy machinery, motorized vehicles, scaffolding, and electrical equipment to name just a few of the safety hazards. Common accidents that happen in construction work include:

  • Falls: falls from scaffolding, ladders, or roofs can cause serious head injuries, back injuries, spinal cord injuries or death
  • Struck by object: Examples of this type of accident are materials falling from upper levels of construction, a crane or forklift losing its load, or debris from power tools striking a worker. Head and eye injuries, lacerations, contusions, and broken bones are all common injuries from struck-by accidents.
  • Caught in/between: Workers can get caught in or between moving vehicles or equipment and suffer crushing injuries, amputations, or internal organ damage
  • Electrocution: Open wiring and working near power lines are safety hazards that can cause severe burns and fatalities

The above accident types are known as “the fatal four” kinds of accidents that kill construction workers on site. However, more construction workers die by suicide than the combined rates of all “fatal four” deaths.

Preventing Accidents Related to Mental Health

Employers need to take the lead in creating a work environment in which workers feel it is safe to talk about the mental health issues they may be facing. A healthy work environment involves caring for workers as well as profit or the company’s bottom line. Employers should provide training and education about mental health issues as well as counseling services and resources for workers to get help instead of suffering in silence.

Delaware Construction Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Get Benefits for Injured Construction Workers

For questions about benefits for construction injuries or help filing a claim, contact the experienced Delaware construction injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. We will fight to get you the maximum benefits available to you. Call 302-427-9500 today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation about your case. With offices in all three counties of Delaware we represent injured workers throughout the state.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Uphold the Rights of Injured Workers.

Bridge Construction Accidents

The United States has tens of thousands of bridges in need of repairs or replacement. Those that are in reasonably good condition require maintenance to keep them that way. The work of a bridge construction worker is dangerous and has one especially obvious hazard – falling. Whether working 5 feet off the ground or 150 feet or higher, gravity poses a constant danger that has claimed the lives of bridge construction workers since bridge building first began.

Gravity is just one of many constant dangers that affect construction workers. The following shows several of the most common accidents that could injure or kill workers while building, maintaining, or repairing bridges throughout the United States.

Scaffolding Problems

You cannot build, repair, or maintain a bridge without enabling workers to reach the superstructure. Scaffolding enables bridge workers and virtually any other construction worker to perform important work on bridges.

Unfortunately, scaffolding accidents are a leading cause of workplace injuries and deaths throughout the construction industry. Workers could slip, trip, and fall to their deaths. They might accidentally drop objects that endanger workers below. Scaffolding also can weaken or become loose at many different points in the structure.

It is important to closely inspect scaffolding prior to the start of any work shift and initiate measures to help prevent falls or objects from falling onto workers below. Using safety harnesses can help to catch workers who might slip and fall off of scaffolding. Safety nets also can help to catch items that might fall onto others down below.

Construction Crane Collapse

Bridge construction often requires the use of barges with cranes to hoist heavy and large pieces to where workers can install them. Cranes also are placed on land to hoist very heavy items to their intended locations within the structure.

When a construction crane fails, it could cause a devastating loss of life and extensive damage to the bridge’s structure. Bridge workers often have little protection against a crane collapse.

When cranes are in use, it is crucial to ensure they are in good operating condition. They need to be well-anchored and placed to enable their relatively safe use when building, repairing, or maintaining any structure.

Quickly Spreading Fire

Fire is an ever-present danger on just about any construction site, including bridges. Many bridges have wooden elements or other materials that could be highly flammable. When a fire occurs, it could spread quickly and trap workers in vulnerable spots.

The materials used during bridge construction, repair, or maintenance could become especially dangerous when exposed to fire. Gas torches, asphalt, and sealant are just a few of the potentially flammable items that could become very dangerous if they catch fire.

It is important to isolate flammable materials and ensure workers are fully informed of their safe handling. Many fires start by accident, but can quickly become deadly infernos when safety measures are not in place or workers ignore them.

Falling Beams

Gravity causes more than workers to fall and small objects to drop. Metal and wooden beams that greatly outweigh workers and are much larger than them could fall when improperly secured.

A falling beam could cause serious injuries or deaths to multiple workers in just a couple of seconds. Beams must be properly secured when lifted to their locations and secured in place to make them safe.

Unfortunately, human error can also cause a beam to become loose and fall onto workers below. Beams may fall even when no work is underway.

Incorrect work done to secure them in place commonly contributes to beams falling. So could improperly anchored cranes that are used to hoist the beams into place.

Design Flaws Weaken Bridge Support Structure

Architects and engineers generally are very talented, but they are not flawless. When someone designs a bridge but unknowingly includes a flaw in the design, that design flaw might claim many lives and injure many more.

The bridge does not have to be especially large or tall to cause serious injuries or death due to a design flaw. A good example is the infamous pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University-Sweetwater in 2018.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said a design error occurred when engineers miscalculated the amount of slide resistance provided by the design. Shortly after the bridge opened, the span across an eight-lane highway collapsed. The engineering disaster claimed six lives and injured 10 others. NTSB investigators said several entities reviewed the design and at least partly were responsible for the bridge collapse.

Demolition Accidents

Many bridges across the United States have fully lived their practical service lives. Replacing them is the only viable solution to improve upon the old design, and that means demolishing what is left of the old bridge.

Like any demolition, the procedure creates a potential danger to workers and anyone else who might be in the vicinity. It is important to cordon off bridge demolition projects and work as safely as possible when demolishing a bridge.

A bridge demolition might occur by removing pieces and sections in a methodical manner. It also might include using explosives to demolish part of the superstructure.

No matter how a bridge goes down, the process creates many potential dangers against which the demolition team must take measures to protect workers and others. When mistakes happen, the demolition could cause injuries and claim lives.

Workers’ Compensation Protects Bridge Construction Workers

Bridge construction workers should have workers’ compensation protection in place because virtually all employers are required to provide it. If you suffer an injury while working on a bridge or another project, your employer and the insurer underwriting the coverage should pay for your medical costs and any extended time away from work.

You might suffer an injury that causes a permanent disability. Workers’ compensation also should cover those costs up to policy limits.

When you accept workers’ compensation coverage, you give up the right to sue your employer, but not other parties. Many times, third parties are liable for injuries caused by bridge construction projects.

An experienced construction accident lawyer can help you to obtain workers’ compensation if it is wrongfully denied entirely or in part. An attorney also can help to identify possible third parties against whom you could file claims.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Uphold the Rights of Injured Workers

If you suffer an injury while working, the experienced Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help to enforce your rights and file claims against liable parties. You can call 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at one of our law offices in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, or Lewes, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we service clients throughout the state.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Injured Clients.

What Causes Scaffolding Accidents On Construction Sites?

Millions of American workers in the construction industry perform their jobs on scaffolds. Unfortunately, builders and construction companies do not always follow all necessary safety protocol to keep their employees out of harm’s way. Although scaffolding accidents are preventable, they are more common than many people realize. The injuries that can be suffered in scaffolding accidents can be severe and life-altering for workers and their families. In the most devastating cases the outcome of a scaffolding accident can be fatal.

A scaffold is a temporary work platform used by over 2 million workers in about 65 percent of the construction industry. Construction workers use scaffolds to elevate themselves, equipment, and materials. When these complicated systems of metal of aluminum pipes are not used properly, the consequences can be deadly.

What are Common Causes of Scaffolding Accidents?

Although there are ways to stay reasonably safe when working on scaffolds, there are numerous issues that can lead to scaffolding accidents on construction sites.  Some of the most common causes of scaffolding accidents include the following:

  • Defective scaffolding: A high number of scaffolding accidents are the result of a problem with the scaffolding itself. If scaffolding is improperly designed, manufactured, or assembled, it can be considered defective and dangerous. When a scaffolding defect causes an accident and subsequent injury, the companies that designed, manufactured, and sold the scaffolding may all potentially be held liable.
  • Improper scaffolding maintenance: It is important that scaffolding be properly maintained in order to preserve its structural integrity and prevent scaffolding accidents. Failure to replace old scaffolding and inadequate maintenance can lead to safety hazards that often result in serious injuries. Slipping or tripping on scaffolding due to factors such as slippery surfaces or lack of guardrails is also a common occurrence that can have serious consequences.
  • Inadequate planking: Sturdy planking is essential to protect workers on all types of scaffolding. Scaffolding is supported by fabricated frames, posts, mast climbers, pump jacks, and other mechanisms. If planking on scaffolding is weak and inadequate, workers can be exposed to fall risks that result in severe or fatal injuries.
  • Poor work training: The construction of scaffolding and working on scaffolding both require specific training. Workers who erect scaffolding must be properly trained in the construction methods and safety standards of the specific type of scaffolding. Equally as important is employees who work on scaffolding must be properly trained on the specific risks involved. According to OSHA, inadequate training regarding fall protection is a common construction site violation.
  • Inadequate access to safety equipment: Scaffolding accidents can occur even when scaffolding is properly designed, manufactured, and constructed. Therefore, it is crucial that construction workers be provided access to appropriate safety equipment. Lack of access to safety equipment is a leading cause of preventable injuries and fatalities on construction sites. When construction workers are forced to perform their jobs on scaffolding without adequate fall protection, they can face extreme risks and potentially fatal injuries.
  • Failure to protect workers from falling objects: Builders and construction companies are also required to protect workers against injuries from objects that can fall from overhead. Falling tools, construction materials, debris, and other dangerous objects can cause serious injuries for construction workers. Scaffolding should be covered whenever possible and necessary to prevent these injuries.
  • Negligent co-workers: Many individuals work alongside each other on construction sites. Co-workers who are untrained or unexperienced, or are careless about safety risks, can cause dangerous circumstances. A co-worker’s mistake when working on scaffolding can have severe consequences. When a worker or family member is involved in a scaffolding accident caused by another worker’s negligence, then that worker’s employer may be fully liable for the accident-related losses.
  • Ignoring safety standards: OSHA has established extensive and thorough safety standards for scaffolding, which builders, construction companies, contractors, and sub-contractors must comply with. In addition, many private organizations publish scaffold safety standards. When established and applicable safety requirements are not followed, multiple issues can lead to serious or fatal scaffolding accidents. Examples of these dangerous issues include overloading scaffolding and placing scaffolding too close to hazardous energy sources.

What Are Common Scaffolding Accident Injuries?

As scaffolds are used to access significant heights, many scaffolding accidents result in serious injuries or death. A fall from the height of a scaffold, whether it be due to an incorrectly maintained platform or a lack of proper safety gear, can result in a devastating outcome.

There are numerous injuries that can result from scaffolding accidents, some of which include:

  • Amputations
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Fatalities
  • Head trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Joint, muscle, and tendon injuries
  • Lacerations and scarring
  • Paralysis
  • Paraplegia
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries

Individuals other than workers can be seriously injured in scaffolding accidents. Pedestrians and visitors to a construction site can be serious harmed or even killed when scaffolding collapses or objects fall from their great heights.

What Should I Do After Being Injured in a Scaffolding Accident?

It is highly advisable to seek legal counsel from an experienced construction accident lawyer if you or a loved one has been involved in a scaffolding accident. Following a scaffolding accident on a construction site, it important to discuss your rights with a knowledgeable construction accident lawyer who can help you navigate what can be a complex legal process. Additionally, if you lost a loved one due to a scaffolding accident on a construction site, it is essential to consult with a dedicated construction accident lawyer. You may be eligible for and other benefits to help you manage expenses and loss.

An experienced construction accident lawyer will know how to negotiate with insurance carriers and other representatives, investigate the accident site, consult with experts, and help you understand why the accident happened. It is important that you have a skilled construction lawyer to work with you and pursue the fair compensation you need and deserve. Going through the necessary steps after a devasting scaffolding accident can be overwhelming and complicated. Having a construction lawyer to assist with the necessary details of your case will allow you to recover from your physical injuries and emotional trauma.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Injured Clients

If you have been injured because of a construction accident, whether as a worker, bystander, or family member, you will want an experienced Wilmington construction accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow to assist with filing all necessary claims so that you can be compensated for the damages and loss you suffered. Call us today at 302-427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. With offices in Bear, Milford, and Wilmington, we serve clients throughout Delaware.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Represent Workers Injured in Accidents at Construction Sites.

Construction Worker Fatigue

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous fields for workers, and one with the highest level of worker fatalities. Construction work is physically and mentally demanding, and without periods of adequate rest, workers can suffer fatigue, which can be especially risky in such a dangerous environment.

For each hour of physical exertion without appropriate periods of rest, the effects of fatigue begin to manifest, causing decreased alertness, slower reaction times, inability to concentrate, loss of dexterity, and impaired motion. On a construction site, this can be a recipe for disaster leading to serious accidents and injuries.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 75 percent of construction workers report being tired at work, often due to rotating shift work, long shifts, and sleep loss. Many construction workers report feeling fatigued “to the point they had safety concerns” following three to four consecutive days of 10-hour work shifts.

What Is Fatigue?

Fatigue is mental or physical exhaustion that occurs when the body is low on energy due to exertion. Fatigue can result from many other factors as well, including sleep disruption, emotional stress, chronic health conditions, and poor diet.

Fatigue is reported to be a contributing factor in one-third of all occupation injuries as it causes lack of focus and concentration, sluggish memory, slows reaction times, and the ability to make decisions. Multiple studies have demonstrated that the performance effects of fatigue parallel those of alcohol impairment. OSHA reports that 12-hour work shifts pose a 37 percent increase in the risk of injury.

A study by the NSC concluded that a staggering 100 percent of all construction workers experience at least one risk factor due to fatigue while working. The work demands inherent in the construction industry make the field more susceptible to fatigue, including:

  • Constant communication regarding complex tasks
  • Irregular and rotating shiftwork, including early morning or nighttime shifts
  • Less than 12 hours of recovery time between work shifts or days
  • Physically demanding labor and repetitive tasks
  • Shifts consisting of 10 or more hours per day
  • Working 50 or more hours per week

Additionally, long commutes, frequently changing schedules, and complications requiring additional extended on-the-job hours to fix before quitting further contribute to worker fatigue.

The study further revealed that perceptions regarding fatigue differ between management and workers. Nearly 98 percent of construction employers consider fatigue a safety issue compared to only 75 percent of workers. The NSC reports the disparity is likely due to the workers’ belief that fatigue is “just part of the job,” due to the physical demands and long hours.

What Are Some Common Causes of Fatigue?

In the construction industry, nearly every aspect of the work can result in workers experiencing fatigue at some point. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Inadequate breaks: Fatigue is a sign that your body needs a break to rest and recover, even briefly. Workers who push through fatigue either by choice or by force from supervisors, run the risk of having or causing serious injury to themselves and coworkers.
  • Overtime: As work hours increase so does the risk of fatigue-related accidents. Repeated days of working extended hours increases fatigue and stress that, over time, can result in serious or chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders, digestive problems, depression, anxiety, and diabetes.
  • Night shifts: Evening and overnight shifts require your body to be awake during times that it is prewired to be sleeping, known as circadian rhythm. Disruptions to the rhythm’s rest schedule reduce the body’s ability to fully recover before the next exertion, making workers fatigued and at a much higher risk of accident and injury.
  • Lack of training: Employers are required to implement safety measures and train all employees on procedures and how to identify potential hazards. In the construction field, employers should include training workers on how to identify signs of fatigue and drowsiness, the importance of adhering to mandatory shift breaks, and best practices to reduce mental and physical fatigue.

In the construction industry, weather is also a significant contributing factor in worker fatigue. Exertion in hot temperatures causes mental and physical fatigue more rapidly, leading to reduced performance and slower reaction times. Coupled with dehydration, worker fatigue during hot weather can drastically increase the risk of accidents and serious injuries.

Lack of sleep is another significant contributor in worker fatigue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans does not regularly receive the recommended seven hours of continuous sleep each night. While we sleep, the body restores energy and repairs damaged muscles and tissue, a critical element in preventing fatigue.

What Are Some Steps to Prevent Worker Fatigue?

The first step in addressing worker fatigue is education – training the work force to recognize the dangers of fatigue and how to spot when a coworker may need a break to avoid an accident. While fatigue cannot be completely eliminated in the construction industry, there are steps both the employer and the worker can implement to help lessen its effects, such as:

Employers:

  • Include fatigue management in the planning stages of each job
  • Develop work schedules that allow sufficient resting periods by:
    • Shorter schedules during night shift
    • Require a minimum number of rest hours for workers after 10 or more hour shifts before reporting to work the following day
    • Place limits on the number of consecutive hours of night shift an employee can work
  • Establish procedures for monitoring and managing fatigue risks
  • Provide a method that workers can use to anonymously report work schedule problems and concerns
  • Include fatigue as an option in root cause investigations

Workers:

  • Be responsible during time off and allow for rest and recovery before returning to work
  • Protect your sleep time by not taking extra work that reduces resting and sleeping time; maintaining a regular sleep schedule with at least seven consecutive hours sleep; allowing an unchanging four-hour “anchor” sleeping time and take supplemental naps as necessary; arranging your sleeping area to better accommodate sleep and change household routines, if necessary, especially during periods of night shift work; and avoiding alcohol and caffeine before sleeping.
  • Monitoring yourself and coworkers for the early signs of fatigue, such as eye rubbing, frequent blinking, staring blankly, or fidgeting and restlessness.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Represent Workers Injured in Accidents at Construction Sites

Long hours coupled with physical labor can deplete construction worker’s energy, reaction times, decision making abilities and more, increasing the risk of accident and injuries significantly. If you have been injured in a work site accident, our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow have extensive experience representing construction workers. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

The Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Injured Construction Workers from Ladder Falls.

What Causes Ladder Accidents on Construction Sites?

Working in the construction industry is not an easy thing to do – with the fast-paced environment of many people doing different things at the same time, it is no wonder that the construction industry ranks near the top in terms of workplace accidents every year. Ladders are commonly found in the construction industry, but they are especially dangerous, particularly when not used properly. The construction industry has the highest rate of injuries related to ladder falls compared to any other industry.

Ladder falls are quite serious as they can lead to debilitating injuries and even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that over 40 percent of fatal falls that happen every year involve a ladder, including 15 percent of all work-related deaths. The CDC also found that almost half of all fatal ladder injuries resulted from a head injury; nonfatal injuries were injuries to the lower and upper extremities.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ladder accidents are not inevitable and are 100 percent preventable. With proper safety training and equipment, ladder falls could be at a minimum, saving billions of dollars in workers’ compensation claims, as well as thousands of injuries and hundreds of lives.

  • Use the right ladder – There are various ladders available, each performing specific tasks. It is important to always use the right ladder for the job at hand, as each one has certain weight limits, height, and function. Never repurpose a ladder; if the ladder is either too short or too tall it will likely cause overextending which is very hazardous. Overloading a ladder is dangerous and may cause it to break, so always check to make sure you are using the appropriate ladder that can handle the height and weight needed for the job.
  • Level ground – All ladders need firm level ground in order to be used safely and properly. Anything else other than flat and sturdy ground, including soft and shifting ground, is unsafe and will likely lead to a fall. Make sure the ground the ladder on is also dry and free of any obstructions. It is highly recommended to use a ladder with someone else at the bottom keeping the ladder steady and secure.
  • Check the ladder – Before using the ladder, be sure that it is free of any damage, and it is in good condition. Do not use it if it is old and is worn in anyway.
  • Always use properly – Never use a ladder in a way in which it is not meant to be used. Only one person should be on the ladder, and do not use it if you feel ill or dizzy. Face the ladder when going up and use rungs of the ladder to help you climb, not the sides. Never lean or overreach and keep three points of your body on the ladder at all times, whether it be two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand. Employers should provide proper safety training for all their employees, so they are sure of what is and what is not safe ladder use.

The Cost of Ladder Falls

For a worker who has suffered an injury from a ladder fall, the cost could be enormous, both physically and mentally. Medical treatment and rehabilitation, time away from work, and maybe a career change or disability are all possible outcomes for an injured worker’s future. Although a ladder can cost a few hundred dollars each, the average construction industry injury can cost more than $27,000.

About the majority of ladder-related falls result in a trip to the hospital.  The average fall distance among construction workers is seven and a half feet. Serious injuries do occur in falls of that height. Falls from ladders make up over 80 percent of hospitalized construction workers, while in other industries ladder falls only account for 20 percent. Of those injured workers who end up in the emergency room, 14 percent are admitted to stay overnight. This is nearly three times the overall hospital admission rate.

The average copay of a worker is $250 with insurance; without insurance, costs of hospital visits can get quite expensive, spanning upwards of thousands of dollars. If an ambulance is needed, it will get even more expensive.

Not only are medical visits and hospital stays expensive, but so are the lost days at work. They not only affect the employee’s pocket, but their employer’s productivity as well. In the span of a year, over 15,000 ladder-related injuries caused workers to miss at least one day of work. Falls that led to serious injuries resulted in more than five days of work, as well as costing the construction industry over $2.5 billion in workers’ compensation costs. Falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims in the construction industry, which is the most across all industries.

Ladder falls lead to a myriad of injuries, but even ladder use can strain a worker’s back and knees. All joints are getting fatigued while using a ladder – knees, back, shoulders and arms. When fatigue sets in, the body becomes tired which increases the risk of a fall. It becomes even worse if the worker is carrying something up and down the ladder or is stretching to reach something. Constant fatigue to the body can lead to improper use of the ladder and will likely lead to a fall.

A good solution to costly ladder-related injuries in the construction industry are the use of push-around lifts. With a low-level lift, workers can work with both hands and have a full range of motion while on an enclosed platform, minimizing the need to stretch, bend or overreach. Push-lift use also helps eliminate muscle fatigue. In a three-year span, there were only 360 injuries from slips or falls stemming from a push-lift, compared to the industry’s average of 93 ladder injuries per day.

The Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Injured Construction Workers from Ladder Falls

The risk of suffering a ladder fall injury in the construction industry is high compared to all other industries. If you have suffered an injury at work, then you must contact the Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow immediately. Our knowledgeable team has years of experience with these types of injuries and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 302-427-9500 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we service clients throughout the state.

construction slip and fall

Slip and Fall Accidents at Construction Sites 

Construction sites can be cluttered, busy, and have lots of potential dangers for workers. Slip and fall accidents are common causes of injuries at construction sites. According to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) slip and fall accidents account for about a third of all reported worker injuries at construction sites. They also account for about 40 percent of construction site fatalities. 

OSHA says 320 construction workers died from injuries suffered in slip and fall accidents in 2018, or nearly one death every day. 

OSHA says construction workers who suffer injuries from slip and fall accidents miss more work than when hurt by other injury accidents. The average slip and fall accident causes a construction worker to miss 50 percent more time from work than other workplace accident injuries. 

Two Types of Construction Site Slip and Fall Accidents

The nature of construction work creates two general types of slip and fall accidents at construction sites: “same-level falls” and “falling to a lower level.” 

Falling on the same level commonly occurs outside of construction worksites as well as within them. If you ever slipped and fell while shopping in a grocery store or while trying to negotiate an icy section of a walkway, that is a same-level fall. 

Many construction sites also experience falls from one level to another. Falling to a lower level can be much more dangerous than a same-level fall. It happens often when workers are elevated on scaffolding to accomplish their jobs. 

Same-level falls could result in serious injuries, including death. Falling to a lower level increases the chances of suffering catastrophic injuries and death.

How Slip and Fall Accidents Commonly Happen at Construction Sites

The potential exposure to weather, scattered equipment, and debris makes workers at construction sites especially vulnerable to slip and fall accidents. The higher up the slip occurs, the more injurious the fall could become. 

Fortunately, it is possible to identify and correct common sources of slip and fall accidents at construction sites. Among conditions that commonly cause the accidents are:

  • Damaged or broken handrails
  • Exposed electrical cords and wiring
  • Lack of safety equipment and training
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Wet and slippery surfaces

Electrical cords and exposed electrical wiring pose a constant danger of slipping or tripping that leads to falling. Many construction tools require electricity or lighting to use. So electrical cords and wiring are ever-present and readily capable of causing a slip and fall accident. 

Workers who use scaffolding might lose their balance when a handrail or a poorly-secured plank becomes unstable. An uneven surface on scaffolding, the ground, or inside the structure that is under construction could cause a slip and fall accident. 

The exposure to weather and the potential for liquid spills also could increase the risk of slipping and falling. So could improper use of safety equipment that is designed to protect workers against falls and other mishaps while working. Thorough training and checking on workers will help to ensure they use safety equipment properly.

How to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents at Construction Sites

It is very important to be proactive at addressing possible workplace dangers. Regular inspection of the worksite can help to identify debris, loose handrails, and other common causes of slip and fall accidents at construction sites. 

It is important to ensure that workers are wearing work boots that enable better traction. It also is important to provide them with safety equipment and training in proper use to reduce the possibility of injuries due to slip and fall accidents. 

Workers should have access to ice melt, sand, or kitty litter that they can scatter onto icy or slippery walkways to improve traction and safety. 

Scaffolding should undergo a thorough inspection prior to the start of each work shift. Regular inspection can identify loose handrails or planks that could cause a worker to slip, trip, or fall from the scaffolding or other platforms.

If the worksite has multiple floors, workers might use lifts to get up and down. It is very important to ensure only workers who know how to operate a lift have access to the controls. Workers who do not know how to operate them are more prone to making errors that cause someone to fall. 

Whenever workers have to work up high, they should have safety harnesses that they use and prevent them from falling to the ground. Those safety harnesses will not work if the workers do not know how to use them. Training is what makes them effective.

Training and simple observation are the two best tools for reducing slip and fall injuries at construction worksites. Workers should be trained in proper safety procedures and continually reminded to ensure a high rate of compliance. 

Workers also can be trained to take a few minutes to investigate their respective work areas. If anything is amiss, it should be addressed right away. That will help to reduce the work hazards that could cause slip and fall accidents and other mishaps while on the job. 

Workers’ Compensation for Construction Site Slip and Fall Accidents

If you suffer an injury due to a slip and fall or other accident while working at a construction site, Workers’ Compensation insurance should cover your medical costs and time away from work if you miss more than three days. 

With slip and fall accidents so common at construction job sites, filing a claim should be relatively easy, but it always helps to immediately notify your supervisor either before or just after obtaining medical treatment. Your employer or the insurer might try to deny your claim in part or in whole. If so, an experienced construction accident lawyer can help you to build and file a strong claim for benefits. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, your attorney could help you to hold your employer and Workers’ Compensation insurer accountable for your injuries and damages. 

Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow

If you suffered an injury while working at a construction site but your Workers’ Compensation claim was denied, our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help. You can call us 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Wilmington, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we service clients throughout the state.

power tool construction

Are Construction Workers at Risk of Power Tool Injuries?

While any worker can get injured, construction workers face some of the most serious injuries on a daily basis. The use of power tools can cause serious injuries if they malfunction or when they are not used correctly.

Unfortunately, these injuries can leave workers with serious injuries and ongoing medical needs, while also keeping them out of work and unable to earn a living. The good news is that if you have been injured at work, your employer has an insurance policy that will probably apply.

What Types of Injuries are Common with Power Tools?

There are many injuries which can occur from the misuse of a power tool or when a power tool malfunctions. Injuries range from painful but quick recovery to life-altering.

  • Laceration: Lacerations, cuts, and puncture wounds are some of the most common injuries from power tools. When a sharp object pierces the skin, it can cause a quick jolt of pain but can also lead to an infection if not properly treated.
  • Repetitive Motion: Power tools allow construction workers to perform certain tasks quickly and effectively. But those same tools used over a long period of time can cause painful damage to a worker’s muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Repetitive motion injuries are extremely painful but can heal well if caught and treated early.
  • Electrocution: On construction sites, electrocution hazards are always present. If a socket is not properly installed or if there is a faulty wire in the power tool, the worker could get an electric shock. This can cause painful burns and be permanently debilitating. Sometimes fatal, electrocution can make a worker’s heart stop and cause brain damage.
  • Tripping: Tripping is another always present hazard on construction sites. When a power tool is used, they require an outlet, but there is not always one nearby. Workers sometimes need to use long extension cords and, if not properly secured, could present tripping hazards where workers could suffer sprains, strains, and even broken bones. In the worst-case scenario, a worker could trip and fall from a height, causing serious injury or even death.
  • Eye Injuries: When using power tools, workers should wear protective eye gear. And not just workers using the power tools, but all workers nearby. Especially when using nail guns and other power tools that shoot items at high speeds, workers can instantly suffer eye injuries if they are not properly protected. This could cause permanent blindness and other types of eye damage.
  • Hearing Loss: Construction sites are noisy workplaces. It is estimated that nearly half of all construction workers suffer some level of hearing loss during their careers. Much of this hearing loss comes from power tools. These tools are very loud and often used very close to the worker’s ears. Hearing loss and other ear injuries are not life-threatening, but can be life-altering.
  • Be Crushed: One of the most devastating injuries a worker could suffer is getting crushed. Whether from large construction equipment or from a heavy power tool, when some item falls on a worker, it can cause life-threatening injuries. These could include injuries which require amputation.

Workers’ Compensation

Under Delaware law, all employers, with a few exceptions, must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This insurance provides compensation to workers like you who get injured while working. It is no fault insurance, which means that you are entitled to benefits, unless you intentionally injure yourself. Even if you caused the accident, so long as you did not intend to cause yourself any harm, you would still be entitled to benefits.

To collect workers’ compensation benefits, you need to report your injury to a supervisor as soon as possible. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will require a full report within a very short period of time. You cannot delay reporting this to them.

Workers’ compensation benefits only cover medical bills and lost income. So non-economic damages like pain and suffering are not included. But, depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may have other legal options to collect compensation for your injuries and your suffering.

Other Legal Options

If your workplace injuries fall under your employer’s workers’ compensation benefits, you will not be able to sue your employer for additional compensation. However, you can file a third-party claim if another party contributed to your injuries.

One place to look for additional liability is the manufacturer of the power tool. Sometimes, power tools are defective and that can have disastrous consequences, leading to serious injuries for workers.

For example, if you are a construction worker using a nail gun and the nail gun malfunctions and launches debris into your eyes, it is possible that the nail gun was improperly manufactured. This means you could file a claim against the company who manufactured the nail gun and attempt to get additional compensation from that company to compensate you for your injuries and suffering.

If you are working on a construction site and a contractor leaves a power cord out which you trip over, fall, and break your leg, you may be able to file a claim against the contractor and their employer. While filing a personal injury claim may be the last thing on your mind after suffering a workplace injury, it can be a good way for you to try to collect compensation for your injuries, above and beyond the workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to receive.

The Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help You Get the Benefits You Need

Getting injured at work can cause serious issues not only for your ability to earn a living but also get collect compensation for your injuries. When you are injured at work, your employer’s workers’ compensation policy will apply. But that does not cover everything you may need. To determine your legal options, speak with our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Call us today at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with our experienced team. With offices in Wilmington, Delaware, we proudly serve our neighbors across Delaware.

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