Construction workers already face many dangers on the job, but the risks are amplified when they must work on or near the road.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas leads the nation in fatal occupational injuries on roadside worksites, and many more construction workers are severely injured in work-zone accidents each year.
But what is it that makes these worksites so dangerous for the men and women who get the job
done on our streets, roads, and highways every day?
What Causes Worker Injuries on Roadside Worksites?
There are a lot of things that can go wrong when working near public traffic and heavy equipment. Whether the worksite is on the highway or near a city street, the risks are real, and it’s worth understanding why and how so many roadside workers get hurt or killed.
Although it's hardly an exhaustive list, here are some of the most common risks that roadside workers face:
- Traffic accidents. Traffic accidents are the most obvious—and often most deadly—cause of injuries on roadside worksites. Flaggers and nearby workers are put in danger when drivers break traffic laws or get confused by reduced lanes or detours. Workers might also be struck by cars, trucks, and heavy mobile equipment used by their employers or other contractors on the site. While it’s still important for employers to take steps to reasonably protect their workers, even high-visibility clothing and posted warnings may not be enough to prevent injuries and deaths.
- Falls. Falls at work can be even more dangerous when working near traffic, and falls from equipment or scaffolding into the roadway can quickly become tragedies. Workers on bridges and overpasses may rely on harnesses and other safety measures to protect them from falls from great heights. And the usual fall dangers on construction worksites—uneven surfaces, unattended spills, or slippery conditions—also contribute to accidents on the roadside.
- Electrical accidents. Overhead and underground power lines often run along roadways, posing an extra risk for construction workers who are digging or operating tall equipment. The use of extension cables, portable generators, and other power sources needed for roadside work can also make electrical accidents more likely. The potential for an accident increases when workers aren’t trained for electrical safety or an employer fails to adhere to appropriate safety procedures.
- Unsafe worksites. Roadside worksites can be unpredictable, and there are a lot of factors unique to these work zones that increase the risk of injuries. This might include issues with the weather, unstable ground, trench collapses, improperly used or maintained equipment, and lack of appropriate safety measures. Work on roadside sites may also involve working with hot asphalt or other harmful substances that can cause serious injuries when something goes wrong.
Not all accidents on a construction site can be prevented by careful planning and forethought, but employers have a duty to protect their workers from harm. Unfortunately, employers across the nation routinely break OSHA safety rules and put their workers at risk. While the law provides certain protections for workers who have been hurt on the job due to negligence or safety violations, the reality is that those rules and rights are extremely complex.
If you think your employer or another person or company contributed to your injury, then it’s extremely important to talk about your situation and investigate your rights with an experienced attorney.
Get Help After You Are Hurt on the Job
The aftermath of an accident at work can be overwhelming, especially for workers in Texas who aren’t protected by workers’ compensation coverage, or were hurt by the negligence of their employers or another company.
If you have questions about something that happened to you or a family member, reach out to McGartland Law for help. In a free, no-obligation case review, you can get the answers and support you need from an attorney who has experience helping workers with construction accident cases.