Keeping Maryland construction sites safe for workers

Federal and state safety regulations provide a comprehensive framework for safe practices.

Everyone knows that construction workers face potential harm every day on the job. The nature of the work is hazardous, involving industrial machinery, work from heights and below ground, electrical currents, power tools, loud noise, exhaust and chemicals, and other dangers.

For example, in early November 2016, four construction workers were injured on a Silver Spring construction site when they fell 15 to 20 feet because the elevated scaffolding on which they were working collapsed, according to FOX 5 News. Unfortunately, headlines like this are common, underscoring the responsibilities of employers and contractors to follow best industry practices and comply with safety regulations.

Construction injuries by the numbers

Construction-site safety is a question of life and death. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports that of the 4,821 fatal work injuries in the country in 2014, the highest number were in the construction industry: 899 or 9.8 percent of all work-related deaths. Maryland construction workers also suffered 4,000 nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses that year, according to the agency.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA has long publicized the top four causes of construction-related worker fatalities: falls, struck-bys, caught-in or caught-betweens, and electrocutions. Keeping these in mind, consider advice from ConstructConnect for workers and employers to keep construction sites safer.

Safety tips inspired by commonly violated standards

ConstructConnect reviewed the top ten most frequent violations of federal regulatory safety standards on construction sites and provided related common-sense tips. Of course, employers must know, understand and implement federal and state safety laws and manage construction sites professionally and without negligence or recklessness. For example:

  • Provide required fall protection systems like guardrails and fall-arrest systems.
  • Provide and require the use of proper, undamaged safety gear like hard hats, eye and face protection devices, and others.
  • Use safety systems like barricades and canopies to protect workers from hazards.
  • Be sure competently trained personnel erect and inspect scaffolding, ladders, aerial lifts and similar equipment, and remove for repair or replacement damaged equipment.
  • Provide and require attendance at safety training (and retraining) sessions.
  • Follow proper communication, warning, labeling and storage laws regarding hazardous substances.
  • Keep construction sites clean and organized.
  • Use locking and tagging systems for tools and machinery and remove anything that is noncompliant with safety requirements or in need of repair or replacement.
  • Follow strictly electrical safety practices.
  • And many more.

When injury occurs, seek legal counsel

Construction workers in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland who have been injured on the job are normally eligible for workers' compensation benefits in order to account for lost hours and the need to pay for medical expenses. It is important to consult an attorney not only for help with the workers' compensation claim, but also to explore whether the injury may qualify the victim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, known as SSDI.

In addition, a lawyer can investigate the circumstances to determine whether a third-party claim may be appropriate. For example, the owner of the premises may have allowed a dangerous condition to exist on the property that contributed to the injury or a manufacturer of heavy equipment or a power tool may have sold a defective product harmful to the end user.

Seek legal counsel as soon as possible after the injury as there are deadlines involved in all potential legal remedies.

With five Maryland offices, the attorneys of Cohen, Snyder, Eisenberg & Katzenberg, P.A., represent injured construction workers across the state.