The ‘fatal four’ construction site accidents and how to prevent them

There are four major events that are most likely to lead to a fatality on an Illinois construction site.

The construction industry is a vital part of the Illinois economy. Unfortunately, it is also work that comes with serious risk. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics points out, in 2015 (the most recent year for which data is available), private construction accounted for the largest number of workplace fatalities. Thirty-eight people lost their lives that year.

The BLS also notes that falls were responsible for the most amount of these deaths. That falls in line with research that points to four accidents that are most likely to lead to fatalities on a construction site. Those are the following:

1. Falls

Falls are by far and away the most common way that workers on construction sites lose their lives. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has outlined the "fatal four" events on a construction site. It states that 38.8 percent of the total construction deaths in 2015 was a result of a fall. This could include a fall off a ladder or scaffolding.

OSHA states that falls may be prevented by the proper use of fall arrest equipment as well as perimeter protection. Workers must all be trained on how to use ladders safely. Lastly, any floor openings should be clearly secured and marked.

2. Struck-by events

OSHA notes that 9.6 percent of fatalities in 2015 were due to an event in which a worker is struck by an object. This could be the result of an item falling on a worker or a piece of equipment hitting a worker.

People on construction sites should always wear clothing that is highly visible, such as reflector vests and bright helmets. Additionally, they should never be positioned between falling and fixed objects.

3. Electrocutions

Electrocutions were responsible for 8.6 percent of construction deaths in 2015. There are a number of ways that someone could be electrocuted, such as touching loose wires or digging into an area with grounded power lines.

Prior to working on a site, all power lines - both buried and overhead - should be identified through working with a utility company. All portable electric tools should be either double insulated or grounded.

4. Caught in or caught between

Lastly, caught-in or caught-between incidents accounted for 7.2 percent of fatalities in 2015. An example of such an event would be a worker in a trench who is buried or trapped when the trench caves in.

One way to prevent such an event would be to ensure that sloping, benching, shoring or trench shield systems are in place before workers enter into them.

When these incidents happen, injured workers or survivors of the deceased may have rights to compensation. Anyone with questions about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Illinois.