Several recent deadly Georgia construction accidents have worker safety advocates nervous that the resurgence in the housing market may jeopardize the lives of those who earn a living doing construction. With recent reports showing double-digit increases in house prices in metro Atlanta and a newly active commercial building sector, it seems the construction industry might finally be coming back to life. Though it’s good news for unemployed workers, it may also spell trouble.
In mid-May a workplace accident left a construction worker at the new Chamblee Charter High School just outside of Atlanta dead. In that case, a worker fell off the roof of the new building and was pronounced dead soon after due to the severity of his injuries. Inspectors with OSHA say the case remains under investigation and they do not yet know how the worker came to fall from the building.
In another case earlier this year, a worker in Alpharetta died when a backhoe at a construction site on McGinnis Ferry Road backed over him. Police in Alpharetta say that the 49-year-old was working for a subcontractor installing water lines along the busy road when the deadly accident occurred.
Each of the recent cases is a terrible tragedy for the families who must now find a way to cope with the sudden loss of their loved ones. Unfortunately, cases like these are not as rare as many people might hope. According to recently released statistics from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 30 individuals died in Georgia last year in on-the-job accidents.
According to data from OSHA, the construction and manufacturing industries were responsible for the most deaths, with 12 each. After that, agriculture and landscaping saw four deaths, while two Georgians died doing maritime work. OSHA says that the most common reason for workplace death was when an object or a vehicle struck an unsuspecting worker. Falls were the second largest factor in workplace fatalities, followed by electrocution, burns and chemical exposure.
OSHA noted that the total number of deaths is lower now than it was several years ago. While this is certainly good news, many experts point out that the slow economy, not safer workplaces, should be credited with the decline in on-the-job deaths. Those who are familiar with the issue say that as the economy rebounds it is likely that the number of workplace deaths will also begin to increase again. The two industries responsible for the most deaths are the two that were the hardest hit in the recent economic downturn. Many people fear that as the housing market slowly begins to recover, booming Atlanta construction sites will once again lead to a spike in construction-related deaths.
Unions and other organizations dedicated to protecting workers have said that one way to keep workplace injuries on the decline is to provide OSHA with the resources it needs to do its job of monitoring workplaces across the country. The safety agency is notoriously understaffed, with less than 2,500 inspectors in charge of monitoring eight million workplaces and looking after the welfare of 130 million American workers. According to a recent report commissioned by the AFL–CIO, it would take OSHA nearly 130 years to inspect all the workplaces under its jurisdiction given current staffing levels.
If you have been injured in a construction site accident in Georgia, or if you lost a loved one due to an on-the-job injury, please contact the Georgia catastrophic injury attorneys at Pope McGlamry P.C. today to schedule a free consultation.
Source: “Authorities investigate fatal accident at Chamblee Charter,” by Eden Godbee, published at 11Alive.com.
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