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Dangers of Working at Small Construction Companies: Attorney Explains

Pennsylvania workers' compensationSmall businesses are the backbone of our economy here in the Lehigh Valley and the construction industry is no exception. Working at a small company can have its benefits, but for construction workers, it comes with deadly risks.  

report by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) has found that the fatality rate for small construction companies was significantly higher than larger companies. We broke down the whole report to see how Pennsylvania workers are at risk 

A quarter of the workers, half of the deaths

According to CPWR, only 23% of the nation’s construction workers work at a company with under 10 employees. But in 2016, 53% of construction worker deaths involved employees at those small companies.  

Certain populations are even more at risk at small companies. At companies with 100+ people, Hispanic worker accounted for 22% of fatalities. This number shoots up to 32% at companies with under 10 employees. Small companies also reported higher fatalities among foreign-born workers and young employees.  

Small companies and the fatal four

The “Fatal Four” are the four types of construction accidents that cause almost 60% of worker deaths: falls, struck by object, electrocutions, and caught in between equipment. Construction companies with under nine employees report the most deaths in all four of these categories with falls and electrocutions rates being especially high. 

Falls are by far the most dangerous of the fatal four, resulting in 40% of fatalities. Companies with under nine employees report over 60% of these deaths. Some may assume that working for a smaller company means smaller jobs and less of a chance of big falls. But even small falls can be life-ending and small companies reported more deadly falls under 15 feet. 

Occupations and locations

Roofers are the most vulnerable employees at small construction companies. A shocking 73% of roofer deaths from 2011-2016 were reported from companies with under nine employees. Small companies also reported over 60% of the deaths involving painters, brick masons, drywall technicians and carpenters.  

Where do the most accidents occur? For small businesses, over half occur at industrial premises and residential construction sites. This is bad news for construction workers building apartment buildings and warehouses here in the valley.    

No excuses for PA construction companies

Why is this happening? CPWR says that smaller companies may not have the funds or time to implement safety training programs. We don’t think that’s a legitimate excuse. Running a small business is hard, yes, but there’s no excuse for cutting corners on worker safety. OSHA has made many safety resources for small business owners and it’s their responsibility to utilize them. The CPWR report speaks for itself – when leaders don’t put workers first, workers pay the price. 

If you work for a small construction company and have been injured at work, you might feel helpless. Suddenly you can’t work and provide for your family. Your company probably doesn’t have an HR department and insurance companies could be pressuring you to accept a lowball offer. 

That’s when you need to call Vellner Law. We have experience fighting for construction workers employed at companies of all sizes in Bethlehem and Allentown. You work hard every day. Let us work hard to recover the workers’ compensation you deserve. 

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