The construction industry accounts for about one-fifth (1/5) of all workplace fatalities in the United States. Some common causes are outlined below. They all have one common denominator: money. The construction industry is so competitive, a few dollars here or there could be the difference between landing a contract or not working. Frequently, construction companies view worker safety as an area to cut corners.
Illinois workers’ compensation benefits are usually available following a serious or fatal construction accident. These benefits include wage replacement and medical bill payment. For temporary disabilities, workers’ compensation usually pays two-thirds (2/3) of the victim’s average weekly wage until the victim can return to work. Workers’ compensation usually pays all reasonable necessary medical expenses, which includes both direct costs, such as doctor bills, and ancillary costs, like transportation expenses.
What Causes Construction Accidents?
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance, meaning injured victims do not have to prove fault or negligence. Therefore, the cause is mostly irrelevant, from a strictly legal standpoint. However, fault on behalf of the employer, which is normally present, makes workers’ compensation claims somewhat easier to resolve.
Generally, either equipment failure or a training failure is at least indirectly responsible for a serious construction accident.
Harnesses, rails, braces, and other safety equipment is readily available. However, as mentioned above, many employers want to save money and they reduce the amount of safety equipment their workers have.
On a related note, some equipment – like rotary saws, includes safety guards and other such devices. However, since they slow down workers, many construction foremen remove them, putting workers at risk.
Lack of instruction could be a problem as well. Illinois, like many other states, features a high number of LEP (Limited English Proficiency) construction workers. For the most part, these individuals are exceptionally good workers, however, their English is limited. LEP workers might not understand usage instructions and how important it is to use certain safety devices. If the general contractor pays for an interpreter, which is not very likely, important details often get lost in translation.
The Fatal Four
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the Fatal Four cause more than half of all fatal construction accidents in Illinois.
- Falls: Slip and fall and falls from heights are by far the leading cause of construction site fatalities. Some of the previously mentioned safety devices could effectively prevent falls, but as mentioned, these devices are often unavailable to workers. Making matters worse, many general contractors impose unreasonable completion deadlines on their employees, forcing them to take unsafe shortcuts.
- Electrocutions: At a busy construction site, it is difficult to tell the difference between a live wire and an inert one.
- Struck By: There is a saying at some construction sites that a hammer is like a gun. You should never take it out unless you intend to use it. A hammer or similar object dropped from a few stories above ground level could easily be fatal if it hits someone below.
- Caught Between: Elevators and lifts help workdays go faster. But they are also very unforgiving when someone gets caught in the wrong place.
Honorable mention, or perhaps dishonorable mention, goes to motor vehicle crashes, toxic exposure, chemical burns, and worker-on-worker assaults.
Rely on a Dedicated Attorney
Construction work is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. For a free consultation with an experienced construction accident lawyer, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.