The U.S. is experiencing a residential building boom. That is good news for the millions of people who earn their living in the construction industry. However, it has also led to more worksite injuries and fatalities. Construction-related deaths rose by 5 percent in 2014.
One key reason, according to experts, is that the increase in construction projects has placed a strain on the resources of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The agency doesn't have enough people to properly oversee these sites to make sure that required safety measures are being followed and workers have the equipment and gear they need to prevent injury and illness.
Worker health and safety training is also suffering under this lack of supervision. This is particularly problematic in areas where many of the workers are from outside the U.S. and require training in another language. Consequently, they may not know what kind of safety measures should even be in place to protect them.
One attorney who deals with cases of construction negligence notes that Brazilian house framers in the southern New Jersey, who speak little English, "walk on beams with no harness, scaffolding or nets." He says that last year his cases, in addition to five fatalities, included "between 15 and 20 catastrophic accidents: Burns, brain damage, paralysis."
Further increasing the chances of injury or worse to construction workers, according to this attorney, is simply "profit motive." Since builders incur debt during the construction process, the faster the project is finished, the quicker they get paid. Therefore, "shortcuts are sometimes taken."
While all of those involved in the construction industry owe their workers the safest workplace possible, sadly, they cannot always be counted on to provide it. If you have concerns about the safety of a worksite you should report the issue to OSHA or a local regulatory agency. If you or a loved one has been injured or worse, it's wise to seek legal guidance to help ensure that you receive the compensation you need and that the parties responsible are held liable.
Source: Truthout, "US Building Boom Fuels Spike in Construction Worker Injury and Death," Eleanor J. Bader, Jan. 30, 2016