In late December, two workers sustained critical injuries at a construction site in the western Chicago suburb of Westmont. A portion of a new apartment building under construction came crashing down in a cloud of dust during the early afternoon of Dec. 28. Authorities had not revealed details of the accident, investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Rescuers transported the two workers to a nearby hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening. Once again, such an incident highlights the risks and dangers faced by construction workers, who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry accounted for close to 20% of the work deaths that took place in 2019. Of the 5,333 U.S. workers to die that year, a total of 1,061 happened in the construction industry.
‘Focus Four Hazards’
OSHA maintains a close study on work-related injuries and fatalities reported to the federal agency. Each year, close to 60% of the construction industry’s deaths are attributed to the “Focus Four Hazards.” The list includes:
- Falls: Falls cause the most deaths in construction. According to 2018 statistics, falls contributed to 33% of construction deaths.
- Struck by an object: Workers who died after being struck by falling objects, vehicles and equipment contributed to 11% of construction deaths in 2018.
- Electrocutions: Contact with power lines and other electrical-infused objects contributed to 9% of the deaths. Construction workers face electrocution almost four times more than those in all other industries combined.
- Caught-in something or in-between objects: Fatal accidents involving situations such as trench collapses and equipment rollovers accounted for 6% of industry deaths.
Anytime someone sustains an injury or dies at a construction site, negligence is among the first thoughts that come to mind. Something went wrong for a reason. Was it human error? Did the workers lack proper training? Were there mistakes made by the construction company or a third-party?