Construction’s “Fatal Four” are Claiming Chicago Lives

In a city the size of Chicago, there is a constant need for construction. Whether it is repair work to the existing roads, the erection of new buildings, or even retrofitting existing structures, construction is happening twelve months a year in this area and is the source of countless jobs. Construction is needed for the city to flourish but it also can be a safety hazard, placing those who are employed to do the work in dangerous situations that may lead to an on-the-job accident.

In 2014, 4,679 workers lost their lives in job accidents in the nation. That averages out to nearly 90 deaths per week or more than 13 deaths per day. Not only did these victims lose their lives but the victims’ families, friends, and loved ones suffered from these accidents as well, losing important members of their families and of our community and being forced to pick up the pieces after a tragic incident. Of all the deaths in the nation, the vast majority of them – 4,251 – occurred in private industry, and among those, construction workers were at particularly high risks for fatalities. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”), 874 of the private industry fatalities happened in construction settings which is just over 20 percent of all private industry deaths, or one out of every five fatalities.

These numbers reveal just how serious safety issues can be on construction sites and just how much of a risk construction workers undertake simply by showing up to do their job. To help understand why the construction industry continues to be so deadly, the “Fatal Four” have been identified by OSHA as the four incidents most likely to lead to death among construction workers. They are:

  • Falls: Falls make up the largest reason for deaths at construction sites. Blamed for 349 of the 874 deaths in 2014, or nearly 40 percent, falls can happen at any type of site and in many different manners. Often, a fall from a significant height is to blame for the loss of a worker, but in other cases, tripping and falling over something on the ground can be deadly as well. Keeping a safe and a well-cleaned work site is critical in the prevention of falls and fall-related injuries.
  • Electrocutions: Electrocutions are responsible for 74 of the 874 construction deaths in 2014, or 8.5 percent of all fatalities. Electrocutions happen where wiring or electricity is being run or altered but can also happen where no electrical work is being undertaken. Some electrocutions happens because water or another liquid is negligently used near existing current, enabling that current to run through the water and electrocute a worker nearby. There are strict requirements set by OSHA and other authorities to reduce the risk of electrocutions as much as possible but, unfortunately, not all employers abide by these regulations, leading to dangerous situations where their employees may be injured or killed.
  • Struck by an Object: Being struck by an object was cited in 73 of the 874 construction deaths of 2014, or 8.4 percent of incidents. These incidents can involve anything from a moving product being elevated by a crane colliding with a worker to a box or large object falling from a height and striking an employee. There are even some instances where employees lose control of the tools they are using and those tools go on to strike and kill other workers.
  • Caught-In/Between: Becoming caught in an area or between two objects was blamed for 12 of the 874 deaths in 2014, or 1.4 percent of all fatalities. These incidents commonly occur near moving machinery or moving products used in the construction site, like building material, metals, or debris from demolition sites. It can also happen if a worker becomes lodged between vehicles, including forklifts, or if one worker pins another in between cars.

Though many types of accidents happen on Chicago construction sites, the Fatal Four are the most likely to result in the loss of life of an employee, meaning that employers, employees, and others on a site should be particularly aware of the risks inherent in these activities.

If someone you love was killed on the job in Illinois, you may have the right to bring a wrongful death claim, a workers’ compensation claim, or both so that you and your family can get the relief you need to move beyond the accident, even though no amount of money can ever properly compensate you for your loss. If you have questions about your options, know that the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. are standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to take your call toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575. We offer a case consultation without cost or obligation to those who contact us and we keep everything discussed confidential. If we represent you in your case, we will advance all case-related expenses and we will never charge you a fee unless we are successful on your behalf.

If you have concerns about your options following an accident, call Abels & Annes, P.C. today and let us help you.

Prior Blog Entry:

How Does a Car Accident Claim in Chicago Work?, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published January 28, 2016.

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