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One worker dead and another injured in construction accident

One man is dead and another injured after being hit by falling concrete at a demolition site in Vernon Hills. The 25-year-old Palos Park man died of crush injuries, including internal bleeding and a crushed pelvis, at Advocate Condell Medical Center. He was reportedly working to remove a layer of brick from an outer wall. The concrete pieces appear to have fallen from the roof line of the building.

The incident happened at the Westfield Hawthorn mall around 11 p.m., and rescue workers arrived within minutes, according to police. Other construction workers had already cleared the debris off of the three injured workers. The 25-year-old and a second worker, who suffered minor injuries, were taken to the hospital by ambulance. The third man was apparently unharmed.

The demolition was part of a $50 million project to renovate and expand the Westfield Hawthorn mall, which currently occupies almost 1.5 million square feet of space.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating to determine what might have contributed to or caused the incident. Unfortunately, construction accidents like these are all too common, with OSHA reporting 775 construction fatalities in 2012. The number one cause of these deaths was being struck by an object.

While initial reports suggest that this construction accident was just that, it is possible that other factors may have contributed to the fatality. Construction sites often include various heavy machinery, scaffolding, ladders and other equipment that require careful operation and maintenance to protect against injuries.

If the other injured worker incurred medical expenses or lost wages due to time taken off to heal, he may be eligible for workers' compensation. Those injured on the job should discuss their options with a qualified lawyer to determine the best course of action.

Source: Daily Herald, "Worker dies from injuries at Vernon Hills mall" Paul Valade, Dec. 27, 2013

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