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The top 5 causes of construction worker deaths

Construction workers in Illinois are probably aware that the industry they work in is one of the most dangerous around. OSHA states that there were almost 1,000 construction worker deaths in 2016 and that roughly 60 percent of these could have been avoided with proper training and equipment. It can be good, then, to recap what the most common hazards are in the industry.

Falls account for approximately one third of construction deaths. Workers often fall through holes or fall from an elevated surface that's slippery or unstable. Not wearing hard hats or non-slip work boots (or not getting them from the employer) can increase the risk. The unsafe use of ladders and scaffolding also results in falls.

Following this are struck-by incidents, especially those involving forklifts and cranes. Having clear vehicle routes is encouraged. Employers should also train workers not to position themselves between moving and fixed objects. The third hazard is electricity. Employees should take overhead power lines into account and know minimum safe distance requirements before using equipment.

Fourth are caught-in-between accidents, often caused in trench collapses. These can be avoided if trenches 5 feet or deeper have the appropriate safety measures and trench wall support. Lastly, employees can be harmed through exposure to toxic chemicals. Such chemicals should be part of a material safety data sheet.

In a construction accident, people who are injured are usually entitled to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault. In some cases, however, if the accident was due to the negligence of a third party, such as the manufacturer of a separate piece of equipment, a separate lawsuit could also be filed. An attorney can often provide guidance on these types of matters.

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