What causes transportation accidents in the construction industry? How dangerous are trucks, bulldozers, and other heavy equipment? Thousands of construction workers each year are injured or killed in transportation accidents. In 2015, there were nearly 5,000 transportation related injuries in the construction industry. The enormous size and weight of construction vehicles makes it easy for them to inflict serious, potentially life threatening injuries. Across all industries, transportation accidents caused 2,083 fatalities in 2015 making it the most common cause of death on the job.
Highway vehicles including freight haulers and machinery carriers caused 4,260 injuries in the construction industry in 2016. Many of these accidents occur while in transit to and from construction sites. Excavating machines including backhoes and bulldozers were responsible for approximately 760 injuries. These include vehicles rolling over individuals, or the vehicles rolling over as they traverse uneven ground or steep angles. It's estimated that up to 75% of injuries and fatalities caused by bulldozers and other excavators are caused by the vehicle rolling over. Material handling machines including cranes and lifts caused 1,060 injuries. These can occur when these machines are overloaded and topple or if cables snap and drop loads on individuals beneath the machinery. Since 1997, there have been 818 crane related fatalities which is an average of 42 per year. Of these, approximately 80% are caused by equipment malfunctions which often boil down to operator errors.
The most dangerous vehicle construction workers or material handlers come into contact with are forklifts. Nationwide, these caused just under 97,000 injuries and approximately 85 fatalities in 2016. Of these, just under 35,000 were considered serious. That is roughly one injury or fatality for every ten forklifts in the country. Of the total number of accidents, 42% were caused by the vehicle toppling over, 25% were crushing injuries wherein the operator or individual was caught between the vehicle and a hard surface, and 10% were caused by the forklift running over the individual.
The loud volume inherent to construction sites caused by the operation of machinery, traffic, etc., often makes it difficult for workers to hear approaching vehicles. Moreover, the limited visibility and often cramped conditions of a construction area mean that individuals have to work in close proximity to vehicle operators that may not see them. These factors increase the risk of having a transportation related accident on the construction site. Site managers and construction foremen who fail to properly mark construction sites, create zones of travel adequate for the volume of traffic on the site, or fail to properly license and train vehicle operators, they negligently place workers in danger.
We recently helped a family where a construction company driver drove over a motorcycle that was legally stopped on the street behind him. This driver was given a signal by another worker who told him it was clear to back up. The driver backed up over the motorcycle rider and did so twice, thereby killing him. We brought a survival claim and a wrongful death claim for the family.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulates vehicles and heavy equipment used for the transportation or construction materials, the excavation of construction sites, machinery used in the building of structures including cranes, and material handlers including forklifts. These regulations govern everything from the brake and emergency brake systems to the heaters, lights, seat belts, and audible warning devices the vehicles must be equipped with. When these systems are not properly maintained and serviced, operators and other individuals in the construction industry are at considerable risk of suffering personal injuries or wrongful deaths as a result.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents construction industry workers who have suffered a transportation related accident in Kansas City, Olathe, Salina, Wichita, Garden City, Newton, Wellington, Liberal, Dodge City, Colby, Emporia, Manhattan, Lawrence, Hutchinson, Winfield, Coffeyville, El Dorado, Great Bend, Enid, Guymon, Kearney, Lincoln, Oklahoma City, Elkhart, Tulsa, Springfiield, St. Louis, Warrensburg, Joplin and elsewhere in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois, and Missouri. Individuals who are injured may pursue claims for damages caused by the negligence of construction site managers, fleet managers, construction companies, trucking companies, etc. whose actions created the unsafe conditions that caused the accident.
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