Fatal Construction Incidents in California

Construction work regularly involves massive, powerful mechanical equipment for moving materials. The forces involved with construction equipment and materials has the capacity to easily injure or kill workers. As a result, construction sites must adhere to strict safety to protocols to avoid accidents that would otherwise end in life-changing injuries or even death. This article discusses recent fatal construction accidents in California.

Documented Construction Fatalities Since 2017

Whenever a construction accident results in death, the incident is reported to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and corresponding state agencies. A comprehensive record of fatal construction accidents since 2017 can be found online at OSHA’s official website for fatality inspection data.

According to OSHA records, there have been 2,251 work-related fatalities in the United States since 2017. In California alone, there were 206 cases of construction and other work-related deaths. Nearly ten percent of those cases occurred in the San Francisco Bay Area. A significant number of California’s work-related deaths occurred on industrial or construction sites.

Of the 206 fatalities, 45 involved a violation of state or federal safety regulations resulting in thousands of dollars in penalties. A substantial portion of these violations concerned the use of industrial equipment, construction materials, electrified equipment, and workers falling from heights.

Safety violations that merit monetary penalties are classified as serious, willful, repeat offenses, “other-than-serious” violations, and “unclassified” violations. For example, last August a worker in Coronado who specialized in amphibious construction operations died after scuba diving to mark the location of an anchor. The diver eventually became entangled in his regulator and air tank, causing him to suffocate and drown.

An investigation into the safety issues ultimately connected the diver’s death to five serious safety violations, prompting his employer to incur approximately $66,000 in penalties. According to OSHA, a “serious” safety violation involves cases where the employer knew or should have known that a situation presented “a definite chance of causing serious injury or death” and fails to take steps toward remedying it.

Compensation for Victims of Construction Accidents

Most work-related injuries, including deaths, are covered by Workers’ Compensation benefits. Workers’ Comp provides victims and their families with financial benefits to cover losses that arise from the injuries, disabilities, or death of a worker due to an on-the-job incident. As a result, employers are not directly liable for most workplace accidents, even if the accident involved negligence.

However, if a work accident was a consequence of the employer’s willful or reckless disregard for a workers’ safety, the employer might be liable for the workers’ resulting in catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. Moreover, a willful safety violation that causes a fatality can be considered a criminal offense punishable by fines of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for corporations, and up to six months in prison.

Additionally, often the injury or death is attributable to a person or entity who is not the employer of the injured or killed worker, such as a subcontractor at a construction site. These people or entities can be civilly liable for their negligence in causing the accident.

Consult a Construction Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a construction accident, you should retain the professional services of a Walnut Creek personal injury attorney with experience in construction accident cases. At Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook, we have years of experience handling personal injury litigation, including construction injury cases involving life-changing injuries and wrongful death issues. We proudly serve residents and families from Walnut Creek and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Call Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook at (925) 275-5592 or contact us online for a free consultation regarding your personal injury case today.

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