Construction is a dangerous industry, as everyone in the industry knows. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction workers are more likely to die in workplace accidents. More than 1,050 construction workers died in on-the-job accidents in 2019. More than 200,000 construction workers were injured on the job that same year, with nearly 80,000 missing work as a result.

Some demolition accidents happen in full public view, such as the collapse of a 13-story condo in Miami Beach in 2018.

Samuel Tyrone Landis, 46, was killed in that accident when large pieces of concrete propelled by a progressive collapse struck and killed him.

Because demolition accidents often involve explosives and other powerful demolition equipment, the resulting accidents often result in a fatality or very serious bodily injury.

In the first half of 2021, six fatal demolition accidents occurred out of public view and were not recorded by cellphone cameras. Safety experts believe that proper planning and care could have prevented premature collapses or losses of support in these accidents as well.

According to a review by the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration, fatal demolition accident records for 2021, January started off badly.

Lincoln, Nebraska, was the scene of the first accident last year. Mason Mack Harris, 25, and another worker were employed by Midwest Demolition, also known as Mwe Services Inc., which was doing demolition work for an expansion project at a youth shelter. About 10 feet above the ground, the two were removing a concrete balcony slab on the second level.

Harris used a 2-gallon container spray pump to spray water on the surface to clear dust created by his co-worker, who was operating a masonry saw.

During the work, a 7-ft x 6-ft slab section broke free under Harris’ feet, and the concrete landed on top of him in the fall. He died from blunt force trauma and crushing wounds while his co-worker broke his leg.

Records show that OSHA cited Mwe Services for three serious violations and proposed a fine of $30,000, which was later reduced to $21,000-and an informal settlement was reached.

Injuries Caused by Defective Demolition

Demolition is one of the most dangerous aspects of construction. Employers, supervisors, and general contractors must comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules and regulations in order to ensure workplace safety.

OSHA defines demolition as “dismantling, razing, destroying, or wrecking any building or structure or any part thereof.”

In 2019, there were more than 20 demolition-related deaths. There was a significant decrease in this figure in 2020, but this may have been due to the overall decline in construction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than half of all demolition-related citations involved an employer’s failure to obtain an engineering survey prior to demolition. Three-fourths of the citations related to an employer’s failure to prepare for demolition adequately.

There is a level of precision required to demolish structures that is beyond what most people would expect. The public perceives demolition as simple; you just blow up or knock down a building. In reality, demolition is highly technical and involves a great deal of uncertainty.

Demolition, for instance, poses the following risks:

  • Interruption of the structural integrity of the remaining portions of the building or neighboring structures;
  • The remaining portion of the building falling out of compliance with state and local regulations;
  • Release of hazardous materials, such as lead, asbestos, silica, or other chemicals or heavy metals;
  • Stressing other parts of the building unnecessarily; and
  • As the building collapses, objects and rubble fall.

During demolition work, many construction workers suffer injuries due to these hazards. A faulty demolition can lead to the following types of injuries:

With proper planning, the right personal protective equipment, necessary training, and compliance with OSHA standards, demolition work hazards can be controlled and eliminated.

Getting Compensation for Demolition Injuries

The construction industry is often said to be the most dynamic in the world. Buildings are being erected every day across the country, while others are being torn down to make way for new ones.

However, demolition accidents are all too common and can be catastrophic for construction workers. Even if you’re represented by a union or have workers’ compensation, a demolition site injury can result in permanent or long-term disability, the inability to provide for your family, and the need to adjust to a whole new life.

Demolition accidents often result in injuries and deaths due to:

  • Explosive detonation before it is supposed to
  • Buildings or workplaces that collapse prematurely
  • Scaffoldings and workplaces pose a high risk of falls
  • Explosions and fires;
  • Accidents involving heavy equipment;
  • Defective equipment;
  • Slip-and-fall accidents.

The list above does not cover all possible reasons why a worker may suffer serious injuries on a construction site. Injury victims may pursue a personal injury claim against the party or parties responsible for their injuries regardless of how they were injured.

Many of these claims are complex and involve multiple liable parties. The first step to learning more about the process and options is to work with a dedicated construction site injury lawyer.

If workers are unprepared for an explosion or other form of detonation, the force or surprise may cause injuries even if the explosion did not cause the injury.

All types of construction accidents, including new construction, can result in catastrophic injury or death. Lawyers can file wrongful death lawsuits when construction workers or passersby are killed on or near demolition sites to provide financial support for grieving families while they move forward.

Preventing Demolition Accidents

The demolition of buildings, whether commercial or residential, is a very risky undertaking because of the materials involved. The use of explosives or wrecking balls can cause glass, cement, wood, and other projectiles to spray in all directions, injuring anyone who is not within a safe distance or without the necessary safety gear to prevent injury.

Employers and workers can prevent demolition accidents by implementing detailed safety procedures and training. Workers should be notified of demolition plans and given adequate time to avoid demolition zones.

A risk assessment should precede any demolition job to identify variables such as structural weak points, flammable materials, and any other factors that may harm workers or the general public.

Demolition Injuries and Safety Measures

OSHA supervises the safety of workers across all industries in the country. You can hold your contractors and supervisors accountable if they fail to follow certain rules and regulations. In their haste to bring down a building, many demolition project managers ignore safety protocols to save time, putting your safety at risk. The OSHA handbook contains detailed information about safety protocols.

Demolition Accident Lawsuits

Are you an injured demolition worker looking for representation anywhere in the country? Contact an attorney if you have been injured in a construction accident and believe your employer or another party caused it.

A workplace injury lawyer may be able to help you recover for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and possibly even punitive damages. You must contact an attorney before it is too late, as there are deadlines established by law.