Construction has for many years been one of America’s most dangerous industries. Every day in West Virginia and across the United States, construction workers face serious injury or death. Many construction accidents are preventable, and some occur as a result of workplace violations.
According to Electrical Construction & Maintenance, the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration conducts inspections on 10,000 construction sites a year. Officials say it is rare to inspect a site that has no safety violations at all. The most common construction violations can also be the deadliest. They include violations in scaffolding structures, electrical grounding and excavations. Construction workers often face dangers ranging from falls off scaffolding to electrocution and being buried alive or suffocated in trench collapses.
One shocking tragedy occurred in 1978 at a Willow Island power plant cooling tower jobsite, and is still considered one of the worst industrial accidents that ever happened in West Virginia. According to Gendisasters.com, a scaffolding structure constructed around the inside of the tower collapsed, killing all 51 workers who had been on the scaffold. It was reported that a few workers had concerns that the project was being rushed. Supervisors, however, claimed that only the scaffold was to blame for the deaths.
West Virginia workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job. In the event an accident results in a death, the surviving family members may have a claim to receive lost wages and other types of compensation. The claims process is often complex, which may necessitate legal assistance.