As the novel Coronavirus continues to dramatically impact American jobs, manual laborers in the construction industry are being exposed to new workplace dangers. As workers flock to Texas state agencies with record-shattering unemployment claims, those of us who still have work are understandably grateful; however, workplace safety changes will need to be implemented to deal with new and different potential hazards. Without formal federal guidelines on construction during the pandemic, state and local governments are issuing their own rules, which is causing confusion.
Construction Work Is Teamwork
When work is being conducted on a construction jobsite, much of the day is spent in team meetings, huddles, eating lunch together, and more. Manual laborers commonly work and take breaks in very close proximity to each other. Unless their jobs require it, these workers are not wearing the type of personal protective equipment (PPE) that will protect them from transmission of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. In fact, in recent weeks, Vice President Pence and the White House coronavirus task force asked construction companies to stop ordering N95 masks and to donate what they could to their local hospitals.
The government deemed construction workers “essential,” which helps families maintain some job security; however, many of the safety measures needed to keep them and their families safe from COVID-19 are proving insufficient. The risks construction workers are facing—and the risks to public health—have some questioning what types of construction are in fact essential.
According to the Texas Tribune, in an attempt to keep construction workers safe, some employers are staggering shifts and providing hand-washing stations. Local governments have instructed site managers to keep six feet of space between individuals and take workers’ temperatures at the beginning of each day. But, as anyone who has been on a Texas construction site can tell you, the guidelines aren’t always followed. In fact, at most construction sites, workers routinely share cramped spaces, tools, and germs – leaving hygiene an afterthought.
Common Construction Workplace Dangers
In addition to the current coronavirus complications, construction sites are some of the most dangerous places to work in America. Roughly one out of every five work-related deaths occurs in the construction industry. And, each day, on average, two construction workers die of work-related injuries in the United States. Some of the most common workplace dangers in construction include:
- Accidents involving large trucks or machinery
- Failure to follow safety regulations
- Faulty, poorly maintained, or defective equipment
- Improperly lifting heavy objects
- Lack of safety equipment (goggles, gloves, etc.)
- Slips and falls
- Exposure to hazardous materials
- Being struck by falling objects or debris
- Scaffolding collapses
- Trench collapses
Texas Construction Injury Lawyer
Construction industry employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment, including providing supervision, keeping the worksite free of hazards, and training employees on safety equipment and procedures. If you or someone you care about was injured on a Texas construction site, contact John Flood today. He has successfully handled complex construction injury and wrongful death claims in Texas and across the country for over 30 years.