Construction workers in South Carolina, as elsewhere, are at a high risk for on-the-job accidents, many of which can be fatal. About 20 percent of all private sector employee deaths are composed of construction site accidents. OSHA stated that 1,000 construction deaths occurred in 2016 and that 60 percent of them were preventable. These are the five leading causes of construction deaths.

First are falls. Workers can slip on unstable work surfaces or fall through holes, so they should be provided with non-slip boots, hard hats and other protective equipment. Employers must also comply with guidelines regarding guardrails, safety nets and other fall prevention equipment.

Struck-by objects are the second hazard, as workers are too frequently struck by cranes and forklifts. Such incidents could be avoided if vehicles travel clear-cut routes and if workers do not position themselves between moving and fixed objects. The third hazard is electrical. Workers should be provided with portable tools that are either grounded or double insulated, and they should know where all utilities are before starting a project.

Caught-in between deaths, often caused by collapsing trenches, can be avoided with sufficient safety measures and trench wall support. The last hazard is exposure to toxic materials. Employees should be able to consult material safety data sheets before using a toxic material, and they should be given adequate respiratory protection.

Those who incur on-the-job injuries can file a workers’ compensation claim and, if successful, be covered for medical expenses, short- or long-term disability leave (if applicable) and a percentage of their lost income. They could even opt for a lump-sum settlement, though it must be approved beforehand by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. In either case, they might benefit from having a lawyer at their side to ensure that things go smoothly. Filing for benefits does not require them to prove that anyone was negligent.