There are risks inherent in any profession, but the construction industry has more than its fair share of hazards. It can be extremely dangerous for Illinois construction workers to operate heavy equipment, use power tools and work around unstable structures. Most workplace accidents in construction fall under a category known as the “fatal four.”
The fatal four, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, are responsible for at least 631 construction worker fatalities across the country each year. In 2017, 971 construction workers died on the job, which highlights the significance of injuries related to the fatal four.
What exactly are the fatal four? The following points illustrate these accident types:
- Falls – often from great heights, such as from scaffolding or into an empty elevator shaft, or into an excavation pit
- Struck-by incidents – by construction vehicles or heavy machinery, or by debris falling from above
- Electrocution – coming into contact with a live electrical cable or using defective power tools
- Caught-in/between accidents – moving machinery parts pinning a worker or an excavation cave-in trapping workers
Respectively, these accident types accounted for 39.2%, 8.2%, 7.3% and 5.1% of all construction deaths in 2017. It is important that employers properly train construction workers in the machinery they will operate, as well as provide them with the appropriate safety equipment, including head protection and harnesses to protect from falls, when necessary. Construction companies and supervisors should never cut corners or encourage workers to take risks to save time or money.
Unfortunately, safety violations occur regularly in the construction industry, whether by willful negligence on supervisors’ part or insufficient training and knowledge by employees. Authorities investigate serious injuries or fatalities when they occur, to determine if negligence was a factor and whether they should penalize a company or take additional preventative steps to avoid future accidents. Injured construction workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation after a workplace accident.