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Top Causes of Construction Accidents Put Chicago Workers at Risk

August 5, 2014

A worker was killed at a construction site in May, causing a shutdown until safety issues could be addressed. The Chicago Tribune reported on this fatality, which occurred at the World Cup Stadium in Brazil.  Unfortunately, construction deaths also frequently occur closer to home within the City of Chicago.  Last year, for example, ABC reported on a man killed in an Englewood construction accident while the Chicago Tribune reported on the death of a Palos Park native at a construction site in the north suburbs.

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous, and those who are injured or who lose loved ones on the job should consult with a workplace accident lawyer in Chicago.   Construction workers should also be aware of the top causes of construction accidents so they can take steps to reduce the dangers.  Ultimately, however, it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that construction sites are safe and that the danger to workers is minimized even in this high-risk setting.

Top Causes of Construction Accidents

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified four top causes of construction accidents that result in death. Dubbed the ‘Fatal Four,” OSHA has also provided tips for preventing these types of incidents, which include falls; being struck by objects; being caught in between objects, and electrocution.

Tips to prevent falls include:

  • Using appropriate fall arrest equipment. This should be provided by employers and utilized by employees at all times when working at high elevations.
  • Maintaining perimeter protection. Employers should install this protection and ensure it is designed to be effective.
  • Covering and securing floor openings. Floor opening covers should be labeled.
  • Using ladders and scaffolds safely. They should be inspected before being used, and workers should never climb to the top rung of the ladder.

Tips to prevent being struck by objects include:

  • Avoiding getting between moving and fixed objects.
  • Wearing high-visibility clothing when near vehicles or equipment.

Tips to prevent being caught in or between two items include:

  • Staying out of unprotected trenches or excavations.  Workers should never enter excavations that are five feet or deeper unless they have a protective system in place.  Shallower trenches may also require a protection system.
  • Ensuring that shield systems, shoring, sloping, or benching is used in all trenches or excavation to prevent workers from getting crushed.

Tips to prevent electrocutions include:

  • Locating utilities prior to starting a job.
  • Identifying the location of any overhead power lines before equipment is operated.
  • Staying a safe distance away from any power lines.
  • Avoiding the use of portable electronic tools except for tools that are double insulated or grounded.
  • Utilizing ground-fault circuit interrupters.
  • Observing the workspace to see if there are any electrical hazards before using a scaffold, ladder or other platform.

By following these tips, hopefully worker deaths can be prevented on construction sites. In Illinois, 24 workers died just from falls in 2012 while another 17 lost their lives due to contact with objects or equipment according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of these deaths could be prevented with appropriate precautions. 

A Chicago accident attorney can help after an injury. Call Coplan & Crane at 800-394-6002 to schedule your free consultation.