A construction worker’s recent traumatic injuries while working at a SouthPark apartment site highlight just how dangerous working in the field can be. The 796 fatalities last year in construction accounted for the highest number of deadly working injuries of any sector, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Out of 3,929 worker fatalities in U.S. private industry last year, 20.3 percent, or one in five worker deaths, were in construction.
The leading causes of deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by being struck by an object, electrocution, and being caught in or between equipment or materials. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for more than half, 58.7 percent, of the construction worker deaths in 2013, the department said.
The N.C. Department of Labor said three things will trigger an investigation into labor practices: a worker’s death or the hospitalization of three or more workers. An employer is obligated to inform the department within eight hours of either scenario. Sometimes, the N.C. DOL receives information of a serious accident from media reports or referrals from other agencies, such as the fire department.
Investigators will seek to determine several factors, including:
- The cause of the accident.
- Whether a violation of Occupational Safety and Health Division standards related to the accident occurred.
- What effect, if any, the violation had on the accident.
- If OSH standards should be revised to correct the conditions that led to the accident.
An investigation, which can take weeks to several months, involves department officials going to the accident site to collect evidence, including photographs, and interviewing witnesses, employees and management. Citations and penalties, if issued, can be released to the public.