Construction Accidents on the Rise

In the wake of a number of construction accidents in the U.S. over the weekend, experts are asking, “how can construction accidents be prevented?”

Eight people have died in construction-related accidents this year, according to New York City’s Buildings Department. Not since 2008, during the height of the last building boom, has the number of construction accidents been so high, when a rash of episodes, including two falling cranes, claimed 19 lives.

Firefighters at the site where a 12-ton heating and air-conditioning unit broke free from a crane at 38th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan
Firefighters at the site where a 12-ton heating and air-conditioning unit broke free from a crane at 38th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan

Nearly 5,000 construction workers are killed on the job in the United States each year, or about 12 people per day. For an industry that’s seen little reform in recent decades, fixing the problem seems to be a complex situation.

Construction unions and contractors that use union labor contend that the rise of cheaper, nonunion labor, an increasingly common practice in one of the most expensive real estate markets, is to blame for the rise in accidents. Qualified construction workers are nearly impossible to find nowadays – is this the root cause of all these construction accidents? In an industry where a small mistake can have a big impact, this should be a big factor to take into consideration.

In an industry where safety should be a prime consideration, poor safety training could be the catalyst to the high number of construction accidents. According to safety experts, most construction accidents occur due to: falls, scaffold collapse, electric shock, trench collapse and impact.

Ultimately, the task of instilling better contractor education is the responsibility of contractors, unions, and employers.

Having protocol and the proper mindset in place is key to minimizing injury without holding up project completion. Most of the time workers make fatal or life changing mistakes when they rush their work, or enter the job frame of mind in a frustrated or agitated state. In addition, fatigue and competency are two other factors that can compromise a contractor’s ability to work safely.

The question is, are companies looking for any symptoms of poor work ethic beforehand?

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