OSHA Identifies the “Fatal Four” Causes of Death in Construction Injuries

The Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA), tracked 4,674 worker deaths in 2017 that occurred in private industry, and found that 21% of those deaths were in construction.  Of those, OSHA identified the “fatal four” that caused most of the deaths on construction sites: falls, struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in or caught between objects. https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html

All construction workers have the right to work on a safe work site. Washington law provides significant safeguards for construction workers in order to minimize or eliminate on-the-job injuries. When those safeguards fail, a worker has the right to pursue the responsible party for compensation for their injuries. This right is in addition to the benefits a worker will receive from the Department of Labor & Industries (DLI).

A claim for injuries can be made against the general contractor or a subcontractor, as long as the general or subcontractor is not the injured person’s employer.  Pursuant to Stute v. PMBC, 114 Wn.2d 454, 788 P.2d 545 (1990), a general contractor has a non-delegable duty to assure safety on the job site, and has the ultimate responsibility under Washington law for job safety and health at the job site.  The Stute case was a milestone in establishing a high bar for construction site safety in Washington State, as outlined by the Department of Labor and Industries, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) in a Directive:  https://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Rules/Policies/PDFs/WRD2700.pdf

When you are injured on the job, in addition to having a workers’ compensation claim claim that compensates your for your medical bills and time loss (as well as other benefits), you may also have a third party claim against an entity that caused your injuries. If there is the potential that you have a third party claim, this should be investigated by an attorney immediately so that all evidence can be obtained to prove your case. A third party claim can be made to help you recover the full damages for your injuries to include claims for pain and suffering damages for which workers compensation plans like that from the Department of Labor and Industries do not cover.


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