A relatively high number of construction workers in Ireland suffer injury and sadly in some cases death on building sites. More recent statistics from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) tell us approximately 800 non-fatal injuries were recorded on construction sites in Ireland and sadly in the region of 40 people have died in construction accidents each year. Of all the work-related fatal accidents that are recorded over a 27-year period from 1989 to 2016, over 25% of these fatal accidents involved the construction sector. These of course are so much more than statistics and each death leaves a trail of grief and devastation behind and we are conscious that each one of these deaths is a tragedy for each family.
Evidence tells us that the single most common cause of injury and fatal accidents in construction result from a fall from a height; either the victim was standing on a structure that collapsed or they suffered a fall themselves. Other significant causes of injuries include crushing type injuries from machinery, being hit by a heavy object, trenches collapsing, electrocution and drowning.
Other types of Construction Accident Claims
There are some perhaps less obvious injuries that can be caused through construction work, such as asbestosis which is a chronic lung condition caused by the prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres in the air. Some injuries can result from repetitive strain type injuries including vibration white finger (WVF), which is a long-term debilitating condition on the hand which is triggered by continuous use of vibrating hand-held machinery. It affects the blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. It causes much complications such as numbness in the fingers, change of colour of the fingers and loss of manual dexterity and can have a serious effect on a person’s quality of life.
How is your employer meant to protect you at work?
There are a number of legal obligations that an employer is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of its employees, contractors or visitors to a construction site. Below are some of the main legal obligations on employers:
- General duties of employers – to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of the employee, to manage and conduct work to ensure it is safe and to prevent any improper conduct that might cause harm, to ensure that the entry and exit are safe, that all machinery is safe, ensure systems of work are planned and organised, to provide instruction, training and supervision, to provide suitable clothing and equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Information to employees – the employer must identify hazards and risks and what is being done to protect and prevent harm and communicate that with his or her employees
- Instruction, training and supervision of employees – the employer must ensure employees receive suitable instruction and training of the risks in the workplace
- Emergencies and serious and imminent dangers – the employer must provide suitable plans and procedures to be followed and measures to be taken in case of emergency
- Hazard identification and risk assessment – the employer must identify all hazards in the workplace and make a written assessment of the risks associated with each hazard
- Safety statements – the employer must prepare a safety statement based on hazard identification and risk assessment which details how they are going to manage and secure the safety, health and welfare of all employees
- Consultation with employees – employers must consult with employees for the purposes of making and maintaining safety arrangements
Clearly employers have certain obligations to their employees to provide a safe place of work and things like scaffolding should be kept in good repair with regular maintenance, the building site should generally be kept in order and free from any obstructions to walkways and fire escapes and personal protective equipment should be supplied such as hard hats, high-viz jackets, safety boots and dust masks where appropriate. All of these are provided in order to safeguard your health and wellbeing. If they are not provided or are provided but defective and you suffer injury then there would normally be good grounds to take a successful compensation claim.
Our personal injury compensation claims solicitors
If you have suffered injury on a construction site, and you feel your employer has failed in their obligations to provide you with a safe place of work or appropriate equipment and training, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. You may also be able to make a claim for compensation where you suffered an injury due to the negligent act of a colleague as the employer is supposed to provide suitably trained co-workers. It is important you seek advice as soon as possible to protect your legal rights. We believe in putting you our client first and we are committed to achieving the best result possible while all the time remaining sensitive to your needs. Please feel free to reach out to us below and will be pleased to discuss your case and offer no obligation advice.