Demolition is dangerous, and accidents are too common in Ohio. However, knowing how to spot potential hazards - like unstable structures, dangerous heavy machinery, explosives, and exposure to harmful substances, such as asbestos and lead - can help workers stay safe.
Here are 10 of the most common causes of demolition accidents and hazards to worker safety.
10 common causes of Ohio demolition accidents
Demolition is the dismantling, razing, destroying, or wrecking of any building or structure, or any part thereof. Demolition work involves many of the hazards associated with construction. However, demolition involves additional hazards due to unknown factors, which makes demolition work particularly dangerous, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
- Falls. Construction sites are often cluttered with debris and unstable structures, creating a dangerous hazard for workers trying to move around and do their jobs.
- Work-related car accidents. Demolition workers often drive heavy machinery and trucks in unfamiliar and changing environments.
- Lack of training. Employers are responsible for training demolition workers on safely using equipment, including jackhammers and power tools. When companies don't, demolition accidents often occur.
- Not providing employees with safety equipment. This includes safety goggles, hard hats, and hearing protection devices, including construction-grade earplugs and noise-canceling headphones.
- Improperly secured ladders or scaffolding. An unsafe ladder or scaffolding setup can result in a ladder falling over or a scaffolding accident.
- Toxic exposure. Hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead, are common on demolition sites. Inhalation can cause cancer and other severe and long-term health problems.
- Falling objects. Demolition workers are often at risk of being hit by falling objects when walls, ceilings, or other structures collapse.
- Struck by equipment. Cranes, derricks, and hoists in motion can cause serious injuries to workers.
- Electrocution. Workers may be electrocuted by making contact with power lines or using power tools.
- Trench collapse. When walls cave in due to improper excavation, weather events, or another type of destabilization.
Demolition accidents in Ohio
Specific data on the number of demolition accidents in Ohio is not readily available. However, as an Ohio work injury law firm with more than 150 years of combined legal experience, we can safely say that construction and demolition workers face serious injury risks every day.
In 2016, the risks to demolition workers in Ohio and other Midwest states grabbed the attention of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA increased inspections of buildings being razed or significantly altered in areas serviced by their Cinncinatti, Columbus, and Toledo offices. The safety agency has the approval to keep up this extra focus on safety through September.
Still, demolition is one of the most dangerous industries for workers in Ohio and across the U.S. Locally, recent demolition accidents include:
- Four workers were injured this April at Eramet Marietta, Inc., when a portion of a furnace crucible collapsed, releasing hot, gaseous dust during demolition.
- Although no injuries were reported, a vacant GE building in Columbus caught fire in December while a demolition crew was doing grinding and welding work. Multiple fire departments were needed to extinguish the blaze.
Common injuries from demolition accidents
Demolition work can cause serious and long-lasting injuries and illnesses for employees. Some of the most common demolition injuries include:
- Repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and other types of nerve damage are often caused by the use of heavy machinery and tools.
- Shoulder and neck pain or muscle soreness can be the result of many job-site activities, including lifting heavy objects or being in awkward positions for extended periods.
- Burns can be caused by contact with hot materials, such as fire, molten metal, cement, or electricity.
- Bone fractures are common due to falls, being hit by falling objects, or being crushed by collapsing structures.
- Knee injuries are caused by falls, twisting motions, or being hit by falling objects.
- Blindness or vision loss happens due to objects striking or penetrating the eye.
- Hearing loss occurs due to jackhammers and other dangerous, loud demolition equipment.
- Internal organ damage happens due to blunt force trauma.
- Mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other illnesses are caused by exposure to toxic substances like asbestos or silica particles.
Help for injured demolition workers in Ohio
Employers are legally required to provide employees with safe work environments and personal protective equipment (PPE), but accidents still happen. And although help is available to workers who are injured in Ohio demolition accidents through workers' compensation insurance, getting those benefits can often be a challenge.
If you have been injured in a demolition accident, it is essential to contact the Ohio workers' compensation attorneys and work injury lawyers at Hochman & Plunkett Co., L.P.A. We have extensive experience representing workers who have been injured in demolition accidents.
Don't delay reaching out - Strict deadlines apply to work injury claims and lawsuits in Ohio. Contact us today for a free consultation.