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Despite precautions, construction accidents can still happen

| Feb 3, 2015 | Workers’ Compensation

The Chicago Tribune reported in recent months a construction site accident involving four iron workers. Three workers had just finished connecting a steel beam using what the industry calls a two-bolt connection system. While standing on the connected beam after finishing that operation, the bolts sheared off. Without the bolts in place, the steel beam collapsed to the ground, taking the three workers with it. The magnitude of the fall was estimated to be between 14 and 20 feet. The falling debris injured a fourth worker.

This accident and the ensuing injuries took place despite the fact that required protections were in place. The three workers standing on the beam were tied to the beam and safety nets were positioned below them at the time of the accident. Notwithstanding, one of the falling workers fell into a hole ten feet underground and had to be removed in a basket by a crane. Three of the injured workers were in serious-to-critical condition following the accident, while one was in fair-to-serious conditions. The operation was shut down after the accident until the Occupational Safety & Health Administration could determine what went wrong.

Construction workers at risk

This accident illustrates what any injury lawyer in Chicago knows; namely, that construction accidents can happen even when the proper precautions are taken. According to OSHA, nearly 6.5 million people work at over 250,000 construction sites throughout the country on any given day. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a high rate of injuries among these workers. Over the past four years, annual data has consistently shown that, for every 100 construction workers, around four will sustain a workplace injury per year.

Making things worse, some of these injuries are fatal. The fatality rate for the construction industry, according to OSHA, is higher than the national average for all industries. In 2013, the last year full-year data is available, 824 construction workers were killed on the job. The average number of construction worker fatalities during the previous three years was 810.

Common hazards

As an injury lawyer in Chicago would be aware, the range of hazards at construction sites is diverse, but OSHA has disclosed some of those that commonly lead to workplace injuries.

  • Falling (from heights)
  • Trenches collapsing
  • Scaffolds collapsing
  • Electric shocks
  • Repetitive motion injuries

The agency also cited failure to use proper personal protective equipment as another common hazard to construction workers.

Construction workers who are injured on the job may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can help to cover damages for an injured worker, such as lost wages and medical bills. Consequently, these individuals may wish to consult with an injury lawyer in Chicago.