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Work zone workers’ fatalities rise every year

| Sep 16, 2014 | Workers’ Compensation

A highway work zone can be an extremely dangerous workplace. Statistics compiled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health show a steady increase in the number of fatalities at road construction sites between 2008 and 2012. Over 30 Illinois employees were killed in work zones in 2012, and the number continues to rise. By learning about the risks and hazards of highway sites, work zone workers can decrease the danger of death or injury on the job.

Why are highway work zones so dangerous?

Modern highways are relatively safe places to drive because the direction, flow and speed of traffic is carefully regulated. In work zones, many of these safeguards are removed. Traffic is forced to slow down and speed up at short notice. Lanes are blocked or rerouted. Construction vehicles must back up and make other awkward maneuvers. Highway work often takes place at night, resulting in stress and fatigue for workers whose natural sleep patterns are disrupted. All of these factors combine to cause a large number of work zone accidents every year, many of them severe or even fatal.

Using awareness to help make work zones safer

Highway work will always come with inherent dangers, but proper prevention strategies can cut down on the number of serious accidents. Supervisors and employees should be aware of all the following issues:

  • Blind areas around trucks and other heavy equipment used in road construction
  • Sleep deprivation, fatigue and decreased alertness
  • Collision hazards in and around work zones
  • Visibility issues, especially at night
  • Long-term damage from exposure to noise and toxic materials

By striving for improvement in these areas, work crews can make their sites safer.

Fighting the trend of work zone fatalities in Illinois

Recent developments in Illinois law are designed to cut down on the number of fatal accidents in work zones. Speeding in a construction zone is subject to additional penalties, with a fine of $375 for the first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses. This law requires that signs be present to warn drivers of the hazards they face in work zones. Stricter regulations also protect workers from the hazards of nighttime work and heavy traffic.

Injured workers in the state of Illinois have the right to legal representation and full compensation for their injuries. If you have been hurt in a highway work zone, speak with an attorney today to find out more about your options.