It does not take long to find a group of trade workers dangling from the raw beams of a skyscraper under construction downtown or a crew working in the subterranean depths of a trench in Cambridge. Most citizens of the Commonwealth walk by these sites and remark to themselves how dangerous that looks, and then continue on their way, safely out of the danger facing construction workers every day.
It should come as no surprise that construction trades consistently rank among the most dangerous occupations in the United States, and this year is no exception. Citing the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Forbes ranked construction laborers as the tenth most dangerous profession last year. According to the article, occupational hazards include “heavy machinery, dangerous tools and equipment.” Because of the well-documented risks, building and construction companies have the added responsibility of keeping their workers safe under more hazardous situations than the traditional office environment. A recent investigation by CBS Boston exposed the hard truth that numerous companies are willfully neglecting the safety of their laborers and putting profits ahead of the lives of their workers.
The report focuses on workers operating in trenches, which is one of the most dangerous places to work on the job. The federal and state governments have enacted very strict guidelines for reinforcing and ensuring the structural integrity of the walls in an effort to curb the heightened risk for serious injury and death. However, not all companies adhere to these guidelines and the results can be catastrophic. Last fall, an incident in Ipswich, MA caused the walls in a trench to come crashing down on a worker, trapping him up to his chest and taking emergency crews almost two hours to free him. He sustained serious, but not life-threating injuries.
CBS Boston quotes Dave Knops of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health as urging that more needs to be done to protect trench workers. “A cubic yard of soil weighs over 2 tons, so when that collapses down on these workers, it could crush them,” he said. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that that there were 775 fatal construction accidents in 2012. While some of these incidents may have difficult or impossible to prevent, the organization believes that more than half of construction-related deaths are preventable, only increasing the pain and suffering felt by victims and their loved ones. The fundamental responsibility of a workplace is to provide the safest and healthiest work environment possible in any situation. When companies cut corners on safety just to save a few pennies, the workers suffer.
Proper safety measures are must be followed in any construction zone, especially those located in trenches or other areas where outside factors present additional hazards on top of the dangers already faced by workers. Special precautions need to be taken to prevent serious injury or death.
Life Saving Equipment
• Occupational foot protection: steel-toe boots, water-resistant boots • Head protection: hard hats and helmets capable of withstanding high voltage electrical shock and burns • Hearing protection: in-or-over-ear headphones • Eye and face protection: googles, face shields for welding • Respiratory protection: gasmask, respirator
• Safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards capable of supporting a minimum dead weight of 5,400 pounds • Safety nets (Source: OSHA)
If you or a loved one was injured as a result of an employer’s or company’s negligence or refusal to follow safety guidlines, you may not only be entitled to filing a workers’ compensation claim. The most effective course of action in these cases is to consult with a legal professional about your options, and how to proceed. At the law offices of Altman & Altman our team of seasoned attorneys has nearly 50 years of experience handling all types of workers’ compensation and personal injury claims and we have helps clients across the Commonwealth obtain millions of dollars in compensatory damages and settlements.
Call or email our office today to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation with one of our esteemed lawyers.
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