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Top Causes of Fatal Construction Accidents – And How Companies Can Prevent Them

Top Causes of Fatal Construction Accidents – And How Companies Can Prevent Them

bronx scaffolding accident lawyer

Given all the daily dangers that construction workers face, many of us forget that those who accept these jobs are often motivated by a desire to support their local family members and those back home. In fact, one New York City government report noted that unlike other major metropolitan areas, immigrants often fill close to fifty-three percent (53%) of New York City’s construction jobs during some years.

All construction workers deserve full protection against serious and fatal injuries

Elsewhere in New York, immigrants only hold 18% of these jobs. And in the rest of this country, these workers frequently hold only 24% of each major city’s construction jobs.

Given this trend, it’s crucial for all New York City officials and state legislators to make sure that these brave workers are fully protected by proper safety regulations. After all, newcomers to America don’t often have all the resources that others can rely upon after they’re suddenly injured on the job. Fortunately, newer legislation like Carlos’ Law can now benefit both foreign-born and American workers. Yet we still need far more preventive safety regulations to benefit workers before they suffer serious or deadly injuries.

The following information addresses the most common types of personal injury claims our Bronx construction accident law firm files on behalf of our clients. Facts are also shared concerning better safety practices that can help decrease the number of major accidents.

Serious personal injuries can occur on Riverdale and other Bronx construction sites

As expected, the “Fatal Four” types of construction site accidents keep claiming far too many lives. Roughly 20% of all workplace deaths occur within the construction industry. In the past, those fatalities have often ranked second behind jobs involving materials handling and the transportation industry. However, a 2024 New York Times article states that construction work now has the highest “on-the-job” death toll of any American industry.

What OSHA (the Occupational and Health Safety Administration) refers to as “The Fatal Four” include the following types of accidents or injuries.

  • Falls. As most construction workers learn during training, they must use some type of fall protection when working six (6) feet or higher above the ground. Construction site supervisors can use strong nets to break the falls of workers or require each employee to use appropriate PPE (personal protection equipment). Sadly, too many non-union employers fail to offer such safety equipment – or fail to properly maintain it.
  • Frequently, construction workers are forced to work close to live wiring while completing assigned tasks. Other problems include improper grounding, poorly maintained tools and equipment, electrical outlets installed above or near wet or damp conditions — or damaged insulation. Worker training sessions must remind all employees to only use ladders at a safe distance from any suspected live wiring.
  • Being struck by specific objects. Often, these types of accidents occur when workers accidentally drop tools or building materials from higher levels. However, they can also happen when trucks with loads of lumber and other goods sticking out from their sides directly strike workers as the vehicle passes by them. Nearly 75 percent of “struck by” construction site injuries involve heavy trucks, cranes, and other large objects.


Sadly, crane operators sometimes accidentally drop large loads of materials on the heads of employees working on the ground.

  • Getting caught in between things. Workers can be struck as two vehicles pass too closely by each other — or get trapped between large machine parts and other objects. And this can also happen during a trench collapse, when a worker gets caught between (or below) two falling trench walls.
  • Other related accidents to the “Fatal Four.” Too often, workers suffer major injuries after a forklift or other heavy vehicle backs into them – or directly hits them on a loading dock (or elsewhere on a construction site).

Construction workers suffer many injuries that can require multiple surgeries

Most injured construction workers report one or more of the following types of bodily damage.

  • The skull or other parts of the head are often injured. If cognitive thinking is affected, the workers may not be able to return to work – or only after a lengthy time spent undergoing rehabilitative therapies. Over 2,000 construction workers died of their traumatic brain injuries during one seven-year period.
  • Many accidents result in damage to the cartilage in workers’ necks and other joints.
  • Fractures of the knee, leg, and elbow are common
  1. Other, specific body part injuries

Sadly, many workers fail to take these types of injuries seriously. Without proper rest after this type of harm, workers are far more likely to fall on the job or suffer other injuries due to new balance problems. Many workers suffer this type of harm after falling off various levels of scaffolding.

  • Whiplash events. These can inflict so much strain on the neck, back, and spinal column that it becomes hard for workers to manage even simple job tasks.
  • Nerve damage. Chronic pain is often the first symptom, along with loss of bladder control. Workers can also develop less range of motion in different limbs.
  • Soft tissue tears. Many of these are not caught quickly and can lead to numbness in the hands, arms, and legs.
  • Bruising, cuts, and lacerations
  • Spinal cords injuries (SCIs). Sadly, when injured construction workers fail to visit ERs immediately after being hurt, they may limit the degree of recovery available to them later. Paralysis is often a result of this type of harm.
  • Internal organ injuries. These often prove quite severe, especially since they do not always cause early, noticeable symptoms or pain.
  • Diverse types of burn injuries. In some cases, workers can inhale poisonous gases that harm their lungs and require lengthy rehabilitative treatments. Other people suffer serious skin burn injuries that can result in lengthy hospitalizations. Extremely severe burn injuries can require painful skin graft procedures and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
  • Amputations. When heavy objects fall on workers, they may need to have part of a limb, or a few fingers removed.
  • Visual and hearing damage. Malfunctioning nail guns can inflict major eye injuries. Proper noise cancellation headphones are required to prevent extreme hearing loss.
  1. Mental health injuries
  • PTSD. Many construction workers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after they see a co-worker suffer a catastrophic or fatal work accident. Sadly, most of these employees don’t have adequate health insurance to help them obtain the type of psychotherapy or other treatments they may need to fully heal.
  • Anxiety and depression. While construction workers are usually paid high wages, they must often endure extreme weather temperatures, and do all they can to avoid catching COVID and other ailments from co-workers. Once they suffer serious injuries, many struggle with depression or anxiety.
  • Substance abuse. All construction site supervisors should regularly schedule unexpected drug tests to keep their workplaces safe. One recent New York Times article clearly indicates that construction workers battling addictions put everyone’s safety and best health at risk.

Many construction site injuries or due to falls off ladders – or improper use of ladders

All construction site workers must receive basic training on the proper use and handling of ladders. There are three main types:  stepladders, straight ladders, and extension ladders. Here are some of the key lessons that employees must be taught when using distinct types of ladders.

  • They must first determine if the ladder is currently in good working order. No one should ever use a ladder that is missing any parts or has clear cracks or other visible damage. When necessary, supervisors should tell workers whether they need heavy duty, extra heavy duty, or special duty ratings on their ladders.
  • Most ladders need to be tied to fixed points at the top and bottom while in use.
  • Workers must avoid carrying any tools or building materials while climbing up or down

a ladder. Instead, pulley systems can help move specific items where they are needed for each work project. Those who carry anything in their arms while on ladders usually fall.

  • Whenever possible, it’s best to have another worker steady a ladder for you when you’re climbing up or down.
  • Always wear a toolbelt if you must carry certain items with you while using a ladder.

Improper use of scaffolding contributes to many serious or deadly fall injuries

Highly responsible construction site supervisors will always provide their workers with proper training on how to skillfully construct and use scaffolding. Here are some crucial safety guidelines that can reduce scaffolding fall injuries.

  • A “competent person” as defined by key construction safety standards, must always be available to instruct workers on how to properly put scaffolding together or move it.
  • No when should be allowed to climb up on scaffolding until it has been properly inspected before every new work shift.
  • Scaffolding should only be used if it can fully support — without failure — its own weight and four times its intended load. That means that an employer must add together the total weight of all employees, tools and materials that will be placed on the scaffold.

Numerous other OSHA standards govern the specific sizes of most scaffold platforms and how they must be safely used.


If you have suffered serious injuries after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you need to contact our Bronx construction accident law firm. We will carefully investigate all the facts of your case, review all your medical records, and then fight hard to win the maximum compensation available to you. We want every client to fully recover for all lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other losses.


1. What are the most common causes of injuries and deaths for construction workers?

The “Fatal Four” leading causes of construction worker injuries and deaths are falls, electrocutions, being struck by objects, and getting caught in between things. See the section on “Serious personal injuries can occur on Riverdale and other Bronx construction sites” for more details.

2. What types of injuries do construction workers commonly suffer?

Construction workers often suffer injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, damage to joints and cartilage, fractures, concussions, whiplash, nerve damage, soft tissue tears, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, burns, amputations, and vision/hearing loss. See the section “Construction workers suffer many injuries that can require multiple surgeries” for more details.

3. Why are ladder-related injuries so common among construction workers?

Many construction site injuries are due to falls off ladders or improper use of ladders. Workers must be properly trained on inspecting ladders before use, securing them properly, maintaining three points of contact, and not carrying items while on ladders. See the section “Many construction site injuries or due to falls off ladders – or improper use of ladders” for more details.

4. How can scaffolding-related accidents be prevented?

Proper training, inspection, load calculations, and compliance with OSHA standards can help prevent scaffolding accidents. A competent person should oversee scaffolding construction and use. See the section “Improper use of scaffolding contributes to many serious or deadly fall injuries” for details.

5. What mental health issues can construction workers face after an accident?

Injured construction workers often deal with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse following serious work accidents. Support and treatment resources are limited due to lack of health insurance. See the section “Mental health injuries” for more information.

6. Why do immigrant workers hold a high percentage of NYC construction jobs?

Statistics show immigrants hold 53% of NYC construction jobs, much higher than other major cities, often to support families locally and back home. As vulnerable workers, they need full safety protections. See the opening section for more on this.

7. What can be done to improve construction site safety?

More rigorous safety regulations and enforcement, proper training, maintenance of safety gear, and a workplace culture prioritizing safety over speed can reduce construction site dangers. Safety nets, fall protection, and new laws like Carlos’s Law also help. See opening and “Fatal Four” sections for related info.

8. What types of compensation can injury victims recover?

Injury victims can recover damages for medical bills, lost income, pain/suffering, and other losses. Our construction accident law firm thoroughly investigates cases and aggressively pursues maximum compensation. See concluding section for more.

9. How can construction firms improve safety proactively?

Frequent drug testing, proper training, adequate protective gear, rewarding safety over speed, and investing in newer safety technologies can help firms prevent injuries proactively. See “Mental health injuries” section mentioning drug use risks.

10. How does inadequate healthcare access impact injured workers?

Limited health insurance hinders access to urgent and long-term care, including surgeries, therapies, PTSD treatment, etc. This exacerbates health issues and economic hardships. See “Mental health injuries” section for related info.