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.
Any Illinois workers who move about below others at higher levels will be at risk of being struck by falling tools. Even a small tool dropped from a significant height can cause a deadly workplace injury. However, it is not only workers on high-altitude work sites such as scaffolds and masts that must take care. Those on elevated areas of warehouses and other workplaces also have to be careful.
The Construction Safety Week 2018 that runs between May 7 and May 11 nationally will aim to elevate awareness of the importance of creating safe work environments in Illinois and elsewhere. Workers must receive adequate training and personal protective equipment to keep them safe and healthy. An insurance company that is one of the sponsors of the stand-down urges companies to pay particular attention to training and onboarding. The insurer says claim data indicates that more than half of the injuries are suffered in construction accidents within worker's first year on the job.