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Fatal head injury proof of inadequate safety training

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reported that the number of fatalities in the construction industry in 2017 was lower than in previous years, but the number of deaths resulting from falls remains a concern. The agency reported that 366 construction workers nationwide, including Illinois, fell to their deaths in 2017. OSHA cited one particular fatal head injury as an example that underscores the importance of adequate safety training.

The incident occurred on the site of a newly constructed residence where contractors arrived to install gutters. The four workers were said to be specialists in this field. One of them positioned a ladder on the roof of the residence's porch, and stood on the ladder to take the measurements for the gutters to be installed. As he climbed down from the ladder after completing the task, the ladder's base slipped.

Losing his balance during this incident, the worker fell more than 10 feet to the ground. His employer found him in an unresponsive state after his head struck the ground. Emergency services rushed the injured worker to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries later that day. OSHA investigators determined that lack of safety training and hazard recognition were the primary causes for the gutter installer's death.

When a life is lost due to a fatal head injury -- or any other work-related injury in Illinois -- the surviving family members will likely be eligible for survivors' benefits through the state-regulated workers' compensation program. The benefits typically cover the costs of a funeral and burial along with a wage-replacement package. Legal counsel can be retained to assist with the legal and administrative steps of the benefits claims process.

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