Road construction workers who build and maintain our streets and highways are at high risk of sustaining work-related injuries.
The work-related hazards come from heavy equipment, work vehicles, and drivers passing through work zones. Workers’ compensation benefits are available to road construction crew members who get injured on the job.
How Common Are Road Construction Crew Accidents?
These types of accidents are common and each year over 100 workers are killed on road construction sites. Another 20,000 workers are injured on-the-job. The injury rate for street, highway, and bridge construction workers is 1.8 per 100 workers.
Types of Work Zone Accidents
The top causes of road construction crew injuries are:
- contact with equipment or objects
- slips, trips, or falls
- exposure to harmful environmental substances
- transportation incidents
The most common cause of work zone accidents is equipment and vehicle incidents. Workers are as likely to be struck by a construction vehicle as they are by a passing motor vehicle. Almost half of all accidents involving pedestrian worker deaths are the result of vehicles backing up. Other causes of road construction crew injuries include:
- falls from structures or machinery
- contact with overhead power lines
- being struck by falling objects or materials
- gas line explosions
Causes of Road Construction Crew Accidents
Road construction crew workers face injury risk from both equipment in the construction site and passing motor vehicles. A large number of accidents can be attributed to inadequate safety measures. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), these collisions are primarily caused due to poor visibility around construction equipment. Most of the construction equipment and vehicles have large blind spots that limit visibility of pedestrian workers. Some of the most frequently cited Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) violations in the industry involve:
- fall protection
- protective systems
- hazard communication
- signs and tags
Work zone accidents and deaths that are caused by drivers can be largely attributed to driver error. Some of the key factors on work zone accidents involving motorists are:
- distracted driving
- drug and alcohol use
- drowsy driving
Common Dangers of Road Construction Work
Working on or near busy roads is one of the most dangerous aspects of road construction work. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, over 100 worker fatalities were caused by vehicles striking workers working on highways.
One of the most common ways these accidents happen is when a construction worker is struck by a vehicle that’s veering off the road. This can happen for several reasons, but it’s often due to distracted driving or driver fatigue. Also, a lot of construction work kicks off during summer while more teen drivers are on the road. Unfortunately, since most teen drivers are inexperienced, they may veer off the road and hit a construction worker.
Another common danger of road construction work is being struck by construction equipment. This can happen if a piece of equipment, like a bulldozer, rolls over on top of a worker. It can also happen if a worker becomes entangled in the machinery. These accidents often occur because workers are not properly trained on using the equipment or because the equipment is not properly maintained.
Thirdly, road construction workers face exposure to hazardous materials. These materials can include things like asphalt, concrete, and silica dust. If workers are not properly protected from these materials, they can suffer serious health problems like lung cancer and silicosis.
Construction workers are also at risk of being hit by debris that’s dislodged from passing vehicles. This can include everything from rocks and gravel to pieces of metal and even tools that aren’t properly secured.
Preventing Road Construction Worker Fatalities
There are several ways to prevent road construction worker fatalities. One is by increasing awareness among drivers. This can be done by placing signs along the road that warn drivers of the potential dangers ahead.
Also, construction workers should always wear brightly colored clothing so that they’re more visible to drivers.
Another way to prevent worker fatalities is by ensuring that all construction equipment is properly maintained. This includes everything from regularly inspecting the machinery to ensuring that it’s being used correctly.
Also, workers should be properly trained on using the equipment before they start their shift.
Finally, construction companies should have safety protocols in place in case of an emergency. This includes having an evacuation plan and first-aid supplies on hand.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Road Construction Crew
Workers who get injured in a work zone accident are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, which covers their medical expenses and a part of their weekly wages. If the work zone accident is a result of third-party negligence such as a defective product or equipment, the worker may be eligible for recovering additional compensation from the at-fault party as well. The amount that can be recovered from third-party lawsuits is usually much larger than what a worker can receive through workers’ compensation benefits.
If you have been injured in a work zone accident and you are finding it difficult to get the benefits you deserve, contact a St. Louis workers comp lawyer.
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