The Illinois State Senate District 23 recently announced a measure that might prevent many occupational fatalities in construction zones across the state. Under the new law, the current maximum fine of $10,000 for third-party negligence that injures or kills workers in construction zones will increase to $25,000 when it becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2020. State Senator Tom Cullerton says the higher penalty might put an end to the epidemic and discourage distracted driving in construction zones.
Illinois workers in all industries -- from general to farming, construction and others -- face electrical hazards every day. Safety authorities say the highest number of electricity-related workplace accidents occur in the construction industry each year. Thousands of such incidents are reported annually, and although data is available to substantiate the numbers, secondary injuries, which would increase those numbers, are excluded. An example is when an electrical shock causes a worker to get hurt by falling off a ladder.
Safety authorities report that the number of trench-related fatalities nationwide, including in Illinois, increased at an alarming rate over the past two years. They say that most of these lives were lost in construction accidents on residential properties rather than in road construction zones and pipeline dig sites. Residential projects that involve repairs or laying new sewer lines or water pipes proved to be most hazardous.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently launched another campaign to address trench safety because of the high numbers of cave-ins. Trench collapses have claimed so many lives of workers in Illinois and elsewhere that it is almost unheard of for anyone to escape with a nonfatal workplace injury. However, miracles happen, and a construction worker was recently saved after a trench wall collapsed on him in Morris.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it has launched an investigation into an incident in Illinois that claimed the life of one worker and caused serious injuries to a co-worker. This appears to be one of the many preventable construction accidents that claim workers' lives each year. According to a police report, emergency services were called to a construction site in Evanston on a Tuesday morning earlier this month.
Workers in construction zones in Illinois and other states will always be vulnerable. Too many lives are lost due to third-party negligence when motorists fail to take due care as they travel through work zones. The accidents continue to happen despite calls by authorities for drivers to slow down when they encounter road construction zones.
Workers in the construction industry in Illinois may be smart not to put their safety entirely in the hands of their employers. Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration put the responsibility of workplace safety squarely on the shoulders of employers, profits are often prioritized instead. There are precautions to take for employees who are alert and aware to prevent workplace accidents.
Construction company owners in Illinois are responsible for the safety of their employees. This includes those who work at heights, each of whom must be equipped with a fall protection harness and lanyards to arrest accidental falls. Although these safety devices can prevent workers from falling to their deaths, suspension trauma hazards are a significant concern.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is once again underscoring the hazards posed by trenches. In fact, the number of trench-related fatalities is on the increase, with 23 such deaths recorded in 2016. Workplace accidents involving excavations happen nationwide, including in Illinois, despite the strict safety regulations that govern trenches.
Of all the different industries in Illinois, employees in the construction sector are at the highest risk. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the rate of fatal construction accidents exceeds the average rate of deaths in all industry sectors nationwide. What is concerning is the fact that most fatal injuries are caused by a few common types of accidents, which are all preventable by compliance with safety regulations.