California Construction Sites: A Hotbed for Personal Injury Claims?

by Staff Blogger | August 14th, 2023

With a constant flurry of activity, towering structures, and a chorus of machinery and tools, construction sites can be some of the most dangerous workplaces in California. They represent a complex intersection of human labor, heavy machinery, and high-stakes projects often racing against time. This combination makes construction sites a potential hotbed for personal injury claims.

If you work in construction in California, you have the right to seek compensation if you’re injured on the job. Our construction accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you understand your legal options after an accident and help you recover fair compensation.

Identifying Construction Site Hazards and Risks

According to OSHA statistics, the construction industry accounts for 47.4% of all fatal occupational injuries, with 976 workplace deaths in 2020. In 2021, California saw 81 fatal workplace injuries in the construction sector, with 24 deaths among construction laborers.

Identifying hazards and risks on construction sites involves recognizing potential sources of accidents and injuries. These include fall hazards from scaffolding, ladders, or other elevated platforms, striking hazards from falling tools or machinery, and electrocution risks from power tools and wiring.

Hazards may also arise from improper handling of materials, inadequate safety procedures, and a lack of proper protective equipment. Some common construction site hazards include:

  • Slipping and tripping: Many construction sites require workers to operate on uneven or unstable surfaces in and around debris and other obstacles. Falling, tripping, or slipping are among the most common risks for construction workers.
  • Falling from heights: Many construction sites use scaffolding, ladders, and other elevated surfaces. However, working at height presents the risk of falling, which can seriously injure or kill construction workers. According to the CDC, fatal falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers.
  • Noise levels: Construction sites generally feature a range of equipment that can generate unsafe noise levels. Prolonged exposure to construction noise can cause permanent hearing damage, disturb a worker’s ability to focus, and potentially lead to other injuries.
  • Electrical hazards: Construction equipment includes various power tools and devices, often connected with exposed wires and cables. Operating in these environments exposes workers to various electrical hazards, such as exposed power lines, ungrounded equipment, or tool misuse.
  • Harmful materials: While construction workers must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), work sites routinely expose them to harmful airborne particulates, such as concrete and silica dust, lead, wood dust, or asbestos. PPE also protects against struck-by injuries from objects such as nails or wood, but if it is not working or ill-fitting, it places workers at risk of an accident.

Duty of Construction Site Owners and Contractors for Safety

State and federal laws require construction company owners, project managers, general contractors, supervisors, and site property owners to ensure safety on a construction site.

Construction site safety rules and standards in California are defined, taught, and enforced by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), better known as Cal/OSHA.

The primary responsibility of construction site owners and contractors is to ensure the site complies with all applicable OSHA and Cal/OSHA safety measures. They must also monitor construction sites and minimize or remove safety hazards.

Examples of safety tasks they must perform include providing appropriate PPE, installing code-compliant guardrails to prevent falls, regularly conducting inspections of equipment to ensure they are safe to use, and general cleaning and site organization to remove trip and fall hazards.

Pursuing Personal Injury Claims: Holding Responsible Parties Accountable

If you are injured on a construction site in California, the site owner, contractor, or another party responsible for maintaining safety may be liable for your damages. Additionally, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP 3294), the state may award punitive damages if the responsible parties’ conduct at the time of the accident was malicious, oppressive, or fraudulent.

Steps to Follow After a Construction Accident

If you suffer injuries on a construction site, follow these steps to preserve your health, safety, and rights.

  • Seek medical attention. No matter the extent of the damages or injuries, seek professional medical attention after an accident, even if you don’t feel pain. Many types of construction site injuries, such as concussions from minor falls, are not immediately apparent yet worsen over time if left untreated.
  • Keep medical records. Always keep detailed records of your interactions with medical professionals, such as EMTs, doctors, and hospitals. They can prove the full extent of your injuries.
  • Report the accident. All construction site accidents in California should be reported to Cal/OSHA, and for serious injuries typically within 8 to 24 hours. Reports ensure your accident is documented, known to the proper authorities, and investigated. If your employer fails to do so, you can visit the Cal/OSHA website to file a complaint with your local enforcement district office.
  • Collect evidence. Gather information, witness statements, and photo and video evidence of the accident. These details are critical for building your case and proving your injuries.
  • Contact a lawyer. A qualified California construction accident lawyer can represent your rights and interests. They can assist you, provide legal advice, and help you understand your options to file your personal injury claim.

Consult a California Construction Accident Lawyer Today

Berg Injury Lawyers has represented the interests of injured construction workers in Northern California for over 40 years. Our firm is dedicated to providing you with the legal representation, expertise, and compassion you need when you are most vulnerable.

We will handle your injury claim and fight for maximum compensation, letting you focus on healing and rebuilding your life. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.