What Are the Risks of Working in Chicago’s Construction Industry?

Construction is major business in the Chicago area and all across the state, for that matter. New buildings, roads, infrastructure changes, and open spaces are always being crafted, designed, and put into action, necessitating the help from the men and women who make their livings in construction. The general public understands that there is some amount of risk associated with this profession, but few people truly grasp what may be at risk if you work in the field.

In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that construction workers had nearly a three times greater risk for dying on the job than did the average employee in the United States. Similarly, during this same time period, 4.3 of every 100 construction workers employed were injured while working and construction laborers were the 7th highest group to miss days away from work due to work injuries.

The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (“OHSA”) is tasked with keeping tabs on workplace accidents and injuries in the nation and part of their work centers around trends that appear. By identifying trends, action can be taken to stem as many repeat injuries or dangerous activities as possible, thereby limiting the harm that results to workers.

OSHA determined that 4,251 workers were killed in 2014 in on-the-job accidents, and among those individuals, 874 worked in construction. That means in excess of 20 percent of the total fatalities in our county came from the construction industry in one year.

OSHA further breaks down these fatalities in what it terms the “Fatal 4,” or the four forms of accidents that claim the most lives in construction. Falls bear the biggest cost as 349 construction deaths, or nearly 40 percent of all construction fatalities, were caused by falling. Electrocutions were blamed for 74 deaths (8.5 percent), struck by an object was blamed for 73 deaths (8.4 percent), and caught in/between accidents claimed 12 lives (1.4 percent). The remaining fatalities happened in other types of accidents.

By simply eliminating the Fatal 4 forms of construction accidents, more than 500 lives could be saved annually, based on 2014 numbers.

Unfortunately, construction accidents lead to work injuries and other harm every single week in Illinois, and many people suffer as a result. The workers themselves, their family members, loved ones, friends, coworkers, and neighbors may all feel damage from a work injury. Further, employers themselves are harmed by an on-the-job incident as their employees may be forced to miss time from work and their productivity may decrease as a result. Eliminating construction accidents is in everyone’s best interests yet not enough is being done to make that a reality.

While it is best to prevent accidents, employees who are hurt are protected by the law and are promised certain rights, including the right to seek relief for their damages.

Prior Blog Entry:

Death Claims are the Most Commonly Settled Hospital Claims in U.S., Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 16, 2016.


Construction Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published February 8, 2011.

Commonly Used Statistics, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, United States Department of Labor.

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