What are the Causes of Crush Injuries at Construction Sites?

By Peter DePaolis

A crush injury on a construction site occurs when a worker’s entire body, or a part of their body, is caught between two components and crushed. These injuries can be fatal. Even when they are non-fatal, the victim can suffer from a lifetime of disabilities and complications. Workers injured on the job have rights, particularly if a crush injury prevents them from ever returning to work. They need compensation for the wages they have lost and the suffering they have endured.

How a Crush Injury Occurs

Large objects, whether moving fast or slow, encounter the victim and pin them between either two components of machinery – or the machinery and a fixed object. The victim may suffer everything from broken bones to internal organ damage and internal bleeding.

The most common causes of crush injuries on a construction site include:

  • Large Machines – Construction sites are filled with large machines, including pistons, cranes, and heavy equipment. If the machine moves over a worker with enough force, it can lead to a crush injury. Any employee operating these types of heavy equipment must be cautious and alert at all times.
  • Falling Objects – Falling objects, such as materials, collapsing structures, and even tools can lead to crushing injuries. Hardhats may protect the workers’ heads, but they do not protect other vulnerable areas of their body, including appendages.
  • Runover – Being run over by large equipment, such as a bobcat or forklift, is another cause of crushing injuries on the job site. These pieces of equipment weigh thousands of pounds and can cause fatal injuries.
  • Trench Collapse – Construction work relies heavily on digging trenches for utility lines, footings, and foundations. When the site does not shore and secure these trenches properly, the sides of the trench can collapse and crush anyone caught inside of them. Typically, trench collapses are fatal. Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 271 workers died in trench collapse accidents from 2000 to 2006.

Understanding the Dangers of Crush Injuries

Even if the victim’s entire body is not crushed, the portions that are crushed could lead to serious or fatal complications. A minor crush injury could result in lacerations, bruising, and pain. A major crush injury often carries serious complications – some of which are not immediately apparent.

  • Damage to the Tissues – Crush injuries disrupt blood flow, which means that the delicate tissues depending on blood for oxygen become deprived, damaged, and die.
  • Infection – Crush injuries carry a high risk of infection, especially in the damaged tissues and muscles. Layers of skin might be removed from the impact, which exposes deeper tissue to the elements and increases the risk for infection.
  • Compartment Syndrome – Compartment syndrome is a very serious complication. Compartment syndrome starts with pain, the skin swells with blood, and the area may become paralyzed. This syndrome can lead to tissue and muscle death – and often requires amputation to correct.
  • Crush Syndrome – Known as Bywater’s Syndrome, this medical condition results in a major shock to the organs and renal failure. Crush syndrome can show in as little as one hour – and sometimes takes up to six hours.

When Crush Injuries Happen at Work, Can You Get Compensation?

Crush injuries can be especially traumatic. They leave victims mangled, in severe pain, and often unable to enjoy life as they did before the accident. When crush injuries happen on the job, workers have the right to seek compensation. Workers’ compensation is there to help with medical costs and lost wages, but if the crush injury occurred because of faulty equipment or gross negligence, the worker may have other options for compensation too.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury on the job, contact the attorneys at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP now. We offer free case evaluations at all three locations, and you can request your appointment online.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.