Common Causes of Heavy Machinery Accidents on Construction Sites

The equipment that makes massive construction projects possible is the same equipment that is involved in numerous severe and fatal injuries every year. From cranes and backhoes to forklifts, heavy equipment can be extremely dangerous to construction workers.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured while working on a construction site, we can help you learn more about your legal options. Call Weaver Tidmore at 205-980-6065 to set up a consultation now.

Equipment Commonly Involved in Accidents

Heavy equipment is one of the most common causes of construction accidents in the United States. This category includes equipment like:

  • Articulated and backend loaders
  • Forklifts
  • Bulldozers
  • Backhoes
  • Dump trucks
  • Front loaders
  • Paving machines
  • Road graders
  • Excavators
  • Hydraulic excavators
  • Compactors
  • Cranes

Backhoes and trucks are among the most dangerous pieces of heavy construction equipment. Per the Journal of Safety Research, backhoes and trucks are involved in half of all heavy equipment-related deaths. The primary type of accident leading to death is equipment rollover.

What Causes These Accidents?

A wide range of mistakes and malfunctions can lead to severe or fatal heavy machinery accidents. Some commonly reported accident causes include:

  • Worker getting caught behind vehicles as they back up; this is particularly common for large vehicles that have sizable blind spots.
  • Falling while trying to get on or off machinery.
  • Getting pinned between a wall and a piece of machinery.
  • Getting your clothing or limb caught in a machine and being dragged by it.
  • Getting run over by a large vehicle or moving piece of machinery.
  • Being crushed underneath a structure.

Research from the Journal of Safety Research indicates that getting hit by equipment or being hit by equipment loads are two of the most common causes of death for construction workers.

These accidents may be a result of a malfunctioning machine or human error. Malfunctioning machinery may be an issue when items are designed, produced, or marketed incorrectly. These errors can lead construction workers to use them incorrectly, leading to breakdowns and other issues.

Human error is a common component across many construction site injuries. There may be misunderstood communication or hand signals between workers and machine operators, an operator without sufficient experience or training, or a failure to check for people around the machinery before using it. Accidents can also happen when operators use machinery inappropriately or at the wrong angle.

Injuries Sustained in Construction Accidents

Unfortunately, the injuries caused by heavy machinery accidents can be life changing. They often leave victims with chronic pain, limited mobility, and a loss of independence.

  • Crush injuries. Crush injuries occur when employees are pinned between two surfaces, leading to their bones, soft tissues, or spinal cord getting crushed. These injuries are often so severe that the impacted body part cannot be saved, and doctors simply have to focus on limiting damage to other parts of the body.
  • Broken bones. Broken bones are extremely common on construction sites. Depending on the type of fracture and the location of the bone, victims may have a stress-free healing process or a months-long road to recovery.
  • Amputations may occur during an accident or they may be done medically after an accident to limit damage to surrounding body parts.
  • When vehicles or machines have an electrical malfunction, nearby workers may suffer electrical injuries. Electrocution may cause burns and damage to various parts of the body.
  • Traumatic brain injuries. TBIs vary significantly in duration and severity. One accident victim may have a concussion that goes away in a matter of days, while a more severely injured victim could be left unable to walk or communicate verbally for the rest of their life.

How Employers Can Make Workplaces Safer

These numbers are startling and highlight a serious need for safer construction worksites across the country. Much of this responsibility falls to employers, who are obligated to provide employees with a safe workplace and proper training. Recommended practices include:

  • Requiring the use of protective equipment on worksites and enforcing it. On some worksites, standards tend to drop as employees get comfortable with equipment and with each other. Employers must create an environment where safety gear is non-negotiable.
  • Using proper guardrails and other safety equipment to minimize risks. Again, these protocols often fall by the wayside in smaller companies. Employers may trust their employees enough to skip additional safety steps, particularly if those steps involve expensive equipment that the company doesn’t own. However, it isn’t a matter of trust—it’s a matter of doing what is right for employees.
  • Offering full and ongoing training. A lack of training, especially with regard to safety protocols and heavy machinery, can leave employees at an elevated risk of a traumatic brain injury. Some companies speed through the training process to get employees working more quickly, but this puts employee in danger. Companies must prioritize full and thorough training.

Since heavy machinery accidents can be so devastating to an individual’s future, job prospects, and independence, it is important to talk to an attorney after a workplace accident. You may be entitled to compensation for your lost wages and medical expenses.

Turn to Weaver Tidmore for the Help You Deserve

After a workplace accident, you deserve to know your rights and seek compensation. We can help. To find out more about your legal options and plan your next steps, call Weaver Tidmore at 205-980-6065 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.