Chicago Construction Accident Lawyers
Construction sites are often dangerous by nature. Whether the construction is on a home or a large office development, workers are around large equipment and dangerous tools. There are often several different types of construction occurring at any given time. If proper safety measures are not met, construction accidents can cause severe injury and even death.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, construction accidents accounted for nearly 16% of all fatal work injuries. In 2012, there were approximately 4,383 fatal construction accidents, the second highest number of fatal accidents among any profession. The most common construction accident injuries include being struck by equipment or vehicles, electrical related injuries, falls and trenching or excavation injuries.
Electrical Related Construction Injuries
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 350 construction workers are fatally electrocuted each year while on the job. Electrocutions are a major concern when working near electricity. Electrical accidents can be caused by contact with power lines, improper use of extension cords and lack of protection. Contact with high voltage currents can result in cardiac arrest, thermal burns or permanent muscle, tissue, and nerve damage.
Prevention: Overhead power lines often carry tens of thousands of volts, making them extremely dangerous to employees who work in their vicinity. When operating near power lines, workers should always assume they are energized unless told otherwise. Overhead and ground lines should be de-energized before work and non-conductive wood or fiberglass ladders should be used to further avoid electrocution. When using extension cords, 3-wire type factory-assembled extension cords should be used, along with ones designated for extra-hard usage when applicable.
Falls are the leading cause of work-related deaths and the leading cause of injuries in the construction profession. More than 360 workers are killed annually as a result of falls on-site. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2012, falls accounted for 36% of all work-related deaths. Falls can be caused by insufficient fall protection, misuse of ladders, and uncovered holes in walls, floors, or roofs.
Prevention: When workers are exposed to a fall distance of at least six feet, it is important to implement guardrail or safety net systems for their protection. Construction sites should be surveyed before work and dangerous holes should be covered. Also, ladders should be inspected for broken parts before use, and they should be positioned on level ground with the side rails extended approximately three feet above the landing.
Vehicle Accidents on Construction Sites
Nearly 10% of all construction accident fatalities are a result of workers being injured by vehicles or equipment while working. Construction workers also can be injured by falling objects.
Prevention: When utilizing mobile construction equipment, operators must ensure the equipment is in safe condition before use. Parking brakes must be set when stepping away from a vehicle, and loose pieces of equipment must be secured to ensure they will not fall. When working near public roads, workers must remain visible by wearing reflective gear and yellow or orange clothing. Also, traffic signs must be used to indicate worker positioning to oncoming traffic.
Trenching & Excavation
The fatality rate for excavation workers is 112% higher than the rate for general construction workers. Cave-ins are the most commonly feared trenching hazard, but other hazards such as asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen, inhalation of toxic fumes, and drowning are also serious dangers. Trenching and excavation accidents can occur due to a worker’s lack of protection, failure to inspect the trenching area, unsafe soil placement, and unsafe entrance/exits to the work area.
Prevention: Excavations are inherently hazardous because they are naturally unstable and prone to cave-ins. Prior to breaking ground, underground lines must be identified, traffic control must be planned, escape plans and emergency protocols must be finalized. Once work has begun tests for low oxygen and hazardous fumes must be performed, especially when working near gasoline, and adequate ventilation must be in place at the trenching site.