04/08/2021

Unsafe Construction Worksite Conditions: What to Know and How to Avoid Injuries on the Job

by Shulman & Hill

For much of American history, workplaces have been dangerous and unregulated environments rich in potential for dangerous accidents. However, by the late 1960s, workplace safety became an issue too big to ignore. In fact, 14,000 workers were dying every year in workplace accidents. Thousands more suffered from occupational illness and disabling injuries.  A public outcry […]

We have helped thousands of New Yorkers recover more than $250 million in compensation

We have helped thousands of New Yorkers recover more than $250 million in compensation

We have helped thousands of New Yorkers recover more than $250 million in compensation

Home > Blog > Unsafe Construction Worksite Conditions: What to Know and How to Avoid Injuries on the Job

For much of American history, workplaces have been dangerous and unregulated environments rich in potential for dangerous accidents. However, by the late 1960s, workplace safety became an issue too big to ignore. In fact, 14,000 workers were dying every year in workplace accidents. Thousands more suffered from occupational illness and disabling injuries. 


A public outcry for a “safety bill of rights” for workers led to the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The act ensures the health and safety of working people in America. But 50 years later, not every employer operates in the spirit of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. 


Too often, we read tragic headlines about deadly and preventable workplace accidents. The death of New York City construction worker Mario Salas, who was killed while repairing a reportedly unsafe facade, is just one recent example.  


Accidents like these can happen when negligent employers try to cut corners to get work done faster and cheaper. The Harvard Business Review found that workplace injuries are more common when companies are facing financial pressure. Managers under pressure are more likely to make employees work longer hours and give workers bigger workloads. The study also notes that they also cut down on safety-related expenditures.


For construction workers who do risky but essential work, any compromises to worksite safety can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one in every ten construction workers is hurt on the job each year. Of the 5,333 workers who died on the job in 2019, 20 percent were construction workers, OSHA reports.


Knowing what makes a construction site safe or unsafe can be a lifesaver for construction workers. Read on to learn about the tell-tale signs of unsafe construction worksites and how you can avoid injuries while on the job.


What Are Employers Required to Do to Make Workplaces Safe? 


To protect workers from injuries, all employers are required by OSHA law to keep their workplaces safe. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, some of these responsibilities include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Providing a workplace free from hazards
  • Examining workplace conditions to ensure they meet OSHA standards
  • Providing the proper tools and safety equipment to employees and regularly maintaining said equipment
  • Clearly communicating potential hazards to employees through posters, labels, or signage. 
  • Providing employee safety training in a language and vocabulary that all workers can understand
  • Maintaining records of all employee injuries that occurred in the workplace and work-related illnesses
  • Informing employees of their rights as workers by placing a poster listing these rights in a prominent location within the workplace


For some industries like construction, there are additional hazards to consider. For example, employers that handle hazardous chemicals in the workplace are required to have a hazard communication program and train employees on said hazards.


What Are the Most Common Workplace Hazards on Construction Sites?


Unfortunately, not all employers follow the guidelines established by OSHA. Some unscrupulous companies may put their workers’ lives at risk by failing to invest in or maintain the proper safety equipment.


Others may try to save time and money by skipping important employee safety training. The Construction Industry Institute shows that for every 1 percent of the construction project budget that is invested in training, worker productivity increases by 11 percent. Despite these benefits, some companies continue to offer insufficient safety training.


Reluctance to embrace training procedures can create a workplace full of hazards and accidents waiting to happen. This is especially true for construction sites that are already inherently dangerous. Some of the most common hazards on construction sites, according to OSHA’s constructive worker safety series, are: 

Working From Heights Without Sufficient Protection


Many construction jobs require workers to work from heights on ladders or scaffolding. Employers are supposed to take preventive measures to protect workers from falls like installing safety nets and guard rails. They are also supposed to make sure scaffolds and ladders are properly secured and maintained. When employers fail to do this, workers are at risk of falling from great heights. 

Falls are the top cause of fatal injuries on the job for construction workers. Workers may be at risk of falling even if they are not working from heights. Stairways and walkways that are littered with debris and dangerous objects are another major contributor to slips, trips, and falls on construction sites. 

Unprotected Trenches


Many construction jobs require excavation and trenching to install pipelines, conduits, and cables. Employers are responsible for inspecting trenches for signs of collapse risk. They are also tasked with fully securing trenches and providing exits (such as ladders or stairways) for workers to exit the trench. However, not all employers follow these protocols. 


Unprotected trenches can be extremely dangerous. In fact, it is not uncommon for trenches to collapse while workers are inside them. This is why trenching is widely considered to be one of the most hazardous construction jobs.

Exposure to Asbestos


Although the use of asbestos is limited in the United States, it is technically not banned. When demolishing older buildings, construction workers can be exposed to the deadly mineral. Because asbestos was a common building material in past decades, workers still come across asbestos on a daily basis without knowing it.

Without proper protective equipment, construction workers are at risk of breathing in the deadly asbestos fibers. These asbestos fibers can become embedded in the lungs and eventually cause mesothelioma—a fatal and incurable form of lung cancer. Mesothelioma often develops years or even decades after the worker was initially exposed to asbestos. 

Lack of Personal Protective Equipment 


Protective equipment is not only important for protecting construction workers from asbestos, but also from toxic dust in the air. Exposure to this dust can lead to asthma, lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchitis. Workers should wear masks, safety glasses, and face shields when exposed to these chemicals. 

Noise is another safety hazard on construction sites. The loud noises of power tools and equipment can cause hearing loss if workers are not provided equipment like soundproof headphones. Employers can be fined for failing to provide workers with the proper protective equipment needed for the job. 

Exposure to Electricity 


Electricity is a huge workplace hazard for construction workers. When workers work from heights, they may be at risk of making contact with live powerlines. Excavation jobs also bring their own electrocution risks. Excavation workers may come into contact with underground powerlines. 

Workers can also be put at risk of electrocution when working with poorly maintained tools or equipment that have frayed or damaged wires. Employers are responsible for conducting the necessary maintenance to keep all tools and equipment in good working order. They are also responsible for providing the proper equipment to prevent electrocution. This includes safety glasses, insulated gloves, and grounded or double insulated electrical tools.

Lack of Protection From Falling and Moving Objects 


Falling objects and debris are a serious danger on construction sites. Even small objects can injure or even kill someone if dropped from great heights. Employers must provide tethering to prevent tools and equipment from falling. As one might expect, employers are also tasked with implementing mandatory safety training. This training is designed to emphasize the importance of properly securing objects on the job.


Another common hazard for construction workers is moving objects like cranes, forklifts, and other equipment with moving parts. If not properly executed, a worker can be pinned between or crushed by heavy machinery. This can lead to amputations and even death. Employers are responsible for providing proper safety training to reduce the risk of crush injuries. They must also ensure that all workers are given access to adequate protective equipment such as high-visibility vests. 


Many of these hazards contribute to the leading causes of death on construction sites. These hazards are often referred to as the “fatal four” and include: 

  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Struck-by moving objects
  • Caught-in/between objects 
  • Electrocutions 


Remember, your employer is legally obligated to provide a safe working environment to all employees. If you see any of these work hazards on your construction site, speak to your supervisor immediately. 


If your employer continues to ignore the dangerous condition or hazards on your construction site, you can file an anonymous OSHA complaint or call 1-800-321-OSHA and request a workplace inspection.

Have You Been Injured at Work? We Can Help


Shulman & Hill has helped many New Yorkers who were injured on the job receive compensation for their losses. Our attorneys have a proven track record of success in recovering compensation for construction workers injured at work. 

In fact, the attorneys at Shulman & Hill successfully obtained a $485,000 settlement for a 61-year-old construction worker who suffered a partial amputation of two fingers while cutting wood with a circular saw. They also secured $300,000 for a 50-year-old construction worker who injured his shoulder at work.


If you were hurt on the job due to your employer’s negligence, call 212-221-1000 to speak with a workplace injury attorney about your legal options. You can also schedule a free case consultation online.

Our History of Success

Testimonials

"The treatment received by Shulman & Hill was extremely excellent. They treated me like I was part of their family and that gave me a lot of confidence in them. I would recommend them one hundred percent because they are very trained in your area. I congratulate you and ask God to fill you with blessings. Gracias for your support."

Ramon E.

"I would like to thank The Shulman & Hill Law Firm in Brooklyn for their outstanding representation on my worker’s compensation case. The monetary reward exceeded our expectations and Alex worked closely with me to meet and exceed my goals."

John S.

"To anyone in need of a worker’s compensation lawyer, I highly recommend Alex Shulman and his team. They went above and beyond to best accommodate me during my time of injury. All my questions and concerns were answered in a timely manner and with the utmost professionalism. In addition and most importantly they fought to make sure I was correctly compensated for my injuries at time of settlement and didn’t rush to get paid. I will be recommending their firm to anyone and everyone in need of their services."

Chaim L.

"I am both satisfied and relieved with the results this extremely professional and reliable firm did. They lead me through the entire process, they never gave me any issues. They handled everything on their own, and always put a great deal of effort to ensure my comfort and best interest. They were always reachable and answered all my questions, and gave me information even when I didn’t know what the right question to ask was.  They turned a grave dilemma into something very manageable and repairable. They are efficient and do not linger with any paperwork, I was truly amazed at the results and the short time it took. I highly recommend them to anyone, and will seek their counsel in the future."

Akila B.

"I really appreciate the service I received with Shulman & Hill.  They walked me through the process and kept me informed every step of the way.  They would call and leave a message and when I called back, I was connected with a person who knew exactly what my call was about.  I was very satisfied with my settlements. Thank You!"

Aaron R.

"Alex Shulman did a wonderful job walking me through all the process of my case…making sure I understood all the legality and severity of all my hearing. I highly recommend their firm to handle any and all worker’s compensation cases. They strive for your wellbeing health-wise as well as aiming for the financial max."

Altagrace G.

"Schulman & Hill was my very first choice I chose for my WC case . I am very pleased with the outcome of my case. I would highly recommend them to friends. They are very professional and kept me informed during every step of this process. Should I ever need a WC attorney again, God forbid, Shulman & Hill it is, hands down . Thank you ."

Cheryl M.

"I had a great experience with Shulman & Hill. They have a great team and were very understanding and helpful from day one. I felt like I was in good hands and the outcome on my case overreached my expectations! I highly recommend this firm. You can be rest assured that they will fight for you rights."

Anna G.

"My experience with the Shulman & Hill lawyers during this process time was excellent, they are competent and very professional lawyers, they worked quickly with my case and they kept me informed of the whole process all the time. Shulman & Hill’s fans recommend them with closed eyes, thank you very much Shulman & Hill."

Carolyn G.

"Shulman & Hill is the best firm out there. They help you understand....since walking into Shulman & Hill, they have guided me...to get a win. I am completely happy with my compensation. What brought me to Shulman & Hill was their expertise in workers compensation and personal injury cases. What I found value in was in their mission to provide compassionate service..."

Jason S.

"I went to the Internet to find a lawyer to assist me to navigate worker’s compensation process. Shulman & Hill was my first choice  and I have no regrets. I was impressed with the prompt response to my case. I must comment on the office environment and office staff being  friendly, professional and prompt. A big thanks to the lawyers that represented me at the hearings and Valeria who helped to lessen my anxiety are dealing with legal issues. I have no hesitation in recommending this law firm to anyone that requires legal services."

Ita L.

"The best law firm in NYC! They explain everything to you and they are very generous and helpful. The lawyers are excellent and very respectful as also is the receptionist. I highly recommend the Shulman & Hill law firm."

Davis C.

"Excellent lawyers. Excellent service. I will recommend them as my first choice. They helped me with my case since day one. They know exactly how to work on a case and win it. They worked fast and were always in communication with me.  I won my case with a very high amount. Thanks to all the staff, I wish them my best. They will always be in my heart."

Grace B.

"Had a very positive experience working with Shulman & Hill in the worker’s compensation case. Everyone is very professional and competent. Received the maximum possible settlement in court. I am sincerely grateful to my lawyers and personally Alex Shulman for the work done. I wish you further success and prosperity."

Dmitry M.

"I am so glad that I chose Alex Shulman to represent me in my worker’s compensation case. I have definitely recommended him to some of my coworkers and friends who needed an Attorney. I am so happy with the service I got from him and his paralegals. Thank you very much to the entire staff at Shulman & Hill for everything!"

Ilya K.

"Shulman & Hill have been tremendously helpful in resolving my case. They are extremely professional and thorough. I would recommend them to anyone working to resolve a difficult case."

James M.

"I was very pleased with the work of this firm. They made sure I understood my case and I was never left out of the loop. They were professional and very friendly. I would recommend them to anyone looking for someone who is going to fight for you to the very end."

Jennifer D.

"Do not waste time looking for better. There is no better than Shulman & Hill. I am very happy I got introduced to them by my good friends. Definitely THE BEST there is."

Arian K.

"Shulman and Hill are the absolute best: JJ, Alex and Christine are powerhouse attorneys who get the best results for their clients. I feel like these guys took care of me like family. When you’re dealing with a worker’s compensation case, you’ll want a pit bull to represent you: Shulman & Hill is the firm you need."

Chelsea W.

"Wonderful service quality by the group of professional advocates in the law firm of Shulman & Hill! I did not expect that I will find a proper solution regarding my worker’s compensation. However, it has been possible by the experts and they have made the task easier over the period. Thanks to them for their help."

Corey A.

"I would definitely like to thank Mr. Alex Shulman and his entire staff at Shulman and Hill for their exceptional work in helping me with my Worker’s Compensation case. Their entire staff was courteous and professional from start to finish and all work was done in a timely fashion. I was previously with a different law firm who were not as informative, and they made me feel like I was a mere money to them. I personally recommend the law offices of Shulman & Hill for any injury/ worker’s compensation case you may have. They strive to get you a maximum reward for your injury, while maintaining the utmost courtesy and professionalism."

Dain J.

Testimonials

Explore Our Locations

Manhattan Headquarters

One State Street Plaza, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10004 Details

Brooklyn

26 Court Street, #2216, Brooklyn, NY 11242 Details

Queens

92-03 Jamaica Ave, Woodhaven, NY 11421 Details

Bronx

369 East 149th Street, 7th Floor, Bronx, NY 10455 Details

Long Island

265 Sunrise Highway, Suite 31, Rockville Centre, NY 11570 Details

Staten Island

Westfield, NJ

111 Quimby St, Suite 9, Westfield, NJ 07090 Details

Free Case Consultation

Get your free, immediate case evaluation

Consultation
By submitting you agree to our Terms & Privacy Policy.