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Construction Accidents Are a Leading Cause of On-the-Job Injuries and Deaths

Construction sites are notoriously dangerous places. Construction workers are killed and injured on the job almost every day of the year. While employment in the construction industry accounts for only 4 percent of total employment, construction workers constituted 21 percent of workplace fatalities in 2015. Injuries also are more common in construction than any other industry — nearly 72,000 construction workers suffered on-the-job injuries in 2015. And in 2016, out of the 4,693 employee on-the-job deaths in private industry, 991 were in construction – once again, about 21 percent of all on-the-job fatalities in the private sector. In other words, one in five employees in the private sector who suffered a fatal accident on the job during 2016 was a construction worker.

Construction workers face tough odds when it comes to injuries. Almost all construction workers will suffer some sort of injury over the course of a career in construction, often more than one. The risks of on-the-job injuries for construction workers include:

  • Ten percent of construction workers are injured to some extent on the job every year.
  • During a 45-year career, the odds of a construction worker suffering a fatal injury is 1 in 200.
  • The industry is particularly hazardous for young people – 60 percent of workplace injuries in the construction industry occur in the first year on the job, and the industry ranks second for fatal injuries suffered by workers younger than 18.
  • From 2002 through 2012, 19.5 percent of all workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry.

Causes of Construction Deaths and Injuries

There is no doubt that a construction worksite is a hazardous place. Potential causes for injuries – minor, serious, or even fatal – abound. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that other than highway collisions, four major categories account for the vast majority of construction deaths. These are:

  • Falls
  • Being struck by an object
  • Electrocution
  • Being crushed between or by objects. This includes being run over by a vehicle, trapped in a collapsing structure or tunnel, or crushed between vehicles or pieces of equipment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that these leading causes of death for construction workers also ranked among the leading causes of injuries, although with some differences. The four most common causes accounted for more than two-thirds of construction-worker deaths in 2015 and a similar proportion of serious injuries. Of those causes, though, falls are the greatest cause of fatal construction injuries and the third-leading cause of non-fatal injuries. In addition, the most-violated Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations involve fall protection measures.

However, not all of the leading causes of fatal construction accidents rank among the leading causes of non-fatal construction accidents. The leading cause of non-fatal injuries resulting in time lost from work is over-exertion. While almost never fatal, exertion was the top cause of lost-time injuries in 2010, accounting from more than a third of the lost-time injuries that year. As noted above, falls lead the non-highway related fatalities, but are third in non-fatal injuries. Still, falls accounted for one in four lost-time construction injuries in 2010. Highway-related accidents accounted for 26 percent of construction fatalities in 2010, but only 4 percent of non-fatal injuries. Being struck by an object caused one-third of non-fatal injuries in construction in 2010, but only 18 percent of fatal injuries. While exertion was the leading cause of days away from work (DAFW), being struck by an object was the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in the construction industry in 2010.

A lesser source of construction injuries in terms of total numbers involves workplace injuries that result in amputations. While these accidents represent less than one percent of all construction accidents, they account for a disproportionate amount of time lost from work and costs per claim. From 1992 through 1999, construction workers suffered 171 fatal construction site amputations and more than 88,000 non-fatal construction site amputations. These injuries tend to be more severe and result in more lost time from work as well as higher claims costs. In 1996-97, amputation injuries were the most costly claims by injured workers, averaging more than $18,000 per claim. These injuries also resulted in more lost work time, averaging 18 days of DAFW for non-fatal amputations, compared to just 6 days of DAFW for all other injuries and illnesses combined.

The BLS estimates there are thousands of non-fatal workplace amputations each year. Primary causes include defective machinery and workplace negligence, as well as improperly maintained heavy machinery, poorly manufactured heavy machinery, and improper employee training and supervision.

The construction trades are dangerous. The jobs that make up the construction industry entail the use of heavy equipment, potentially dangerous tools, working far above the ground where the risk of a fall frequently carries the risk of death, and many other potentially dangerous situations. The death and injury statistics show that the perception of danger in the construction industry is, in fact, reality. While statistics on leading causes of construction-site accidents often purposely omit highway-related accidents, highway accidents also constitute a significant risk to construction workers.

Worksite accidents are almost never the sole fault of the injured employee. When a construction worker is injured on the work site, even if the only recourse is workers’ compensation, the construction worker almost always has recourse to recover compensation for his or her injuries. In instances where employer negligence plays a role in the injury, the options for recovery can expand beyond workers compensation. No matter what the circumstances of your injury, you should consult with an attorney to determine what your options are and to protect your rights to just compensation for your losses.

If You Have Been Involved in a Construction Accident in the Chicago Area, Contact the Attorneys of Abels & Annes

If you have been involved in a construction accident, you may have legal options available to recover compensation for your injuries. The attorneys of Abels & Annes can help. You can reach us at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.

Construction Accident FAQs

Over 216,000 people work in the construction industry throughout Illinois, more than half of whom work in the Chicago area. Many more people work as contractors on construction sites and may not be included in the above statistics. This means that hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of being involved in a construction accident on any given work day. The following are a few frequently asked questions about construction accidents in Illinois.

What are the most common construction accidents?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following are the four most common construction accidents that result in serious or fatal injuries:

  • Falls
  • Electrocutions
  • Being struck by a vehicle or object
  • Getting caught in between two objects

Any of the above can cause severe injuries, including head or brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, burns, broken bones, and more.

Who can be held responsible for my construction accident?

There is no straight answer to this question, as the answer will depend on the circumstances of your accident and who or what caused the accident. For example, many construction accidents may be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, which can pay for your medical treatment and reimburse you for some lost income.

In some cases, however, you may also have the right to file a legal claim for personal injury following a construction accident. This may be the case if your accident occurred because of the negligence of a third party, such as the manufacturer of defective equipment or an independent contractor working at the site. The best way to answer this question is to consult with an attorney.

What should I do following a construction accident?

After a construction accident, you should always report the accident to your employer and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once your injuries are stabilized, you should not delay in contacting a construction accident and injury attorney to determine the best course of action for seeking compensation.

Discuss Your Case with a Chicago Construction Accident Lawyer Today

At Abels & Annes, our personal injury and workplace injury attorneys help injured construction workers in and around the Chicago area. Call our office at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation today.

Common Injuries at Construction Sites

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),1 the most common fatal accidents at construction sites are falls, electrocutions, being struck by something, and being caught in between two objects or vehicles. Even if a construction worker survives these accidents, they will still likely face a lengthy recovery for serious injuries.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – Construction workers can sustain a TBI if they hit their head in a fall, get hit by a falling object or piece of equipment, if they are near blasting sites, and other similar incidents. Direct trauma to the head or extreme vibrations can damage the brain tissue, leading to a variety of effects2 depending on the location and severity of the TBI. Brain injuries can often result in lifelong cognitive and/or physical impairments.

Broken bones – Broken bones are common injuries in general, however, they can be particularly serious if a construction worker falls or has an accident with a power tool or heavy machinery. Many construction workers suffer compound fractures that require surgery to insert several pins and rods to replace the broken bone. In addition, if a worker is caught in between something, a bone can get completely crushed and may not be repairable.

Spinal cord injury – Any direct trauma to the spine can cause damage that may disrupt a number of bodily functions. Depending on the completeness of the injury, a spinal cord injury victim may be temporarily or permanently paralyzed from the point of injury down. This can lead to a reliance on wheelchairs and other assistance for the rest of their lives.

The above are only some of the many serious injuries sustained in construction zones and others may include burns, severed digits, and lacerations, among others. Anyone who has been in an accident should seek medical attention immediately and should discuss their legal rights with an attorney.

Contact Our Chicago Construction Injury Attorneys for Help

The legal team at Abels & Annes, P.C. in Chicago knows how a construction injury can change your entire life and we know how to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Please call for a consultation with a construction accident lawyer at (312) 924-7575 today.