Crush accidents — also known as caught-in/between accidents — are one of the deadliest of all types of construction accidents, accounting for one of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Focus Four construction hazards. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), crush accidents make up about 5% of all construction-related deaths, placing fourth behind falls, struck-by accidents, and electrocution. While other types of construction accident fatalities have been on the decline in recent years, crush accidents have remained relatively constant, indicating that more work needs to be done to protect construction workers from these accidents. Workers who are injured in crush accidents may be eligible for workers’ compensation and other benefits with the assistance of a New York crush accidents attorney.
What Are Crush Accidents?
Crush accidents are those that cause injuries as a result of a person being squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects or between parts of a single object. It can include situations in which individuals get caught or crushed in operating equipment, between other mashing objects, between a moving object and a stationary object, or between two or more moving objects. It generally does not include transportation accidents in which at least one vehicle was in normal operation.
The following could all be considered examples of crush accidents:
- A worker whose thumb is amputated when caught in a saw
- A worker is pulled into a machine when his clothes become caught on a projecting screw
- A worker whose arm is fractured when it is pulled into a conveyor belt
- A worker who becomes buried when a trench wall collapses
- A worker who is crushed under the tires of a road grader
The Causes of Crush Accidents
The causes of crush accidents are myriad. In some cases, they may be the result of improper training or negligence. In others, they could be caused by faulty equipment or environmental hazards. Construction sites can be busy and chaotic places, and with so many moving parts, it is easy for something to go wrong and cause a crush accident. Some of the most common causes of crush accidents include:
- Machinery with unguarded moving parts
- Wearing loose-fitting clothing or jewelry
- Scaffold collapses
- Improper seatbelt usage
- Cave-ins caused by unprotected trenches and excavations
- Collisions between moving equipment and stationary objects (such as walls)
- Materials stacked too high that fall over
- Runaway vehicles and equipment that were not secured in place
- Heavy equipment that falls over on the non-level ground
- Unsecured loads that fall off of moving equipment
- Equipment that is improperly powered off during periods of non-use or repair
While some crush accidents arguably are due to negligence on the part of the employee, many such accidents are the direct result of negligence by the employer. Construction employers have a legal obligation to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards and complies with certain industry standards. They are also required under New York law to ensure that their employees have received the proper training before they begin work on a construction site. Failure to adhere to any of these state, local, and federal regulations can result in OSHA violations and other civil penalties.
Injuries Caused by Crush Accidents
Construction workers and even bystanders can be seriously injured by crush accidents. Even if the worker’s entire body is not crushed, any portion of the body that is crushed can lead to serious complications and negatively impact the worker’s ability to work for the rest of his or her life. Furthermore, non-fatal crush injuries can easily become fatal if they are not treated immediately.
Some of the most serious consequences of crush accidents include:
- Amputation: Crush accidents, such as those that occur with the use of unguarded machinery, can result in the amputation of fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet, legs, and any other appendage that comes into contact with moving parts.
- Compressive asphyxia: Compressive asphyxia occurs when the expansion of the lungs is prevented by pressure on the chest, such as can occur in cave-ins and other burial-type crush accidents.
- Tissue damage: Crush injuries disrupt blood flow, which can cause tissue to become oxygen-deprived, eventually leading to tissue damage or the death of the tissue
- Compartment syndrome: Compartment syndrome is the body’s response to trauma, which causes extreme swelling in the limbs. The fluid that fills the area can squeeze tissue, nerves, and blood vessels together, limiting the flow of oxygen to the area.
- Crush syndrome: In some cases, the trauma and shock response from a crush injury can result in kidney failure, a condition known as crush syndrome
Any of these injuries can result in lifelong complications and significant medical expenses; if you have suffered an injury from a crush accident, please consider contacting a New York crush accident attorney.
Options for Recovery After a Crush Accident
Workers who are injured in crush accidents have several options for recovery.
Construction workers who suffer work-related crush injuries may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits include both cash benefits (equal to 2/3 of your average weekly wage multiplied by the percent of your disability), and all necessary medical care. The workers’ compensation system is also no-fault, which means that workers may still qualify for benefits even if they were at fault for their injuries.
One major downside of workers’ compensation is that it generally prohibits injured workers from suing their employers for damages directly. However, workers may be able to pursue lawsuits against any non-employer third parties who were at fault for their injuries. Third-party claims such as these are common in the construction industry, where accidents frequently are caused by parties other than the worker’s employer, such as a contractor or subcontractor.
Get Started on the Road to Recovery with Help from a New York Crush Accidents Attorney
If you have suffered an injury in a crush accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or damages. To discuss your options for recovery, please contact a New York crush accidents attorney at Turley, Redmond & Rosasco by using our online form or by calling us at 877-693-2529 (New York City), 516-745-5666 (Garden City), 631-582-3700 (Ronkonkoma), or 631-399-0400 (Shirley/Riverhead).