Construction sites are virtually always full of dangers. Despite restrictions on what workers can wear, including hard hats and steel-toed boots, there are many other potentially dangerous situations that cannot be entirely prevented by protective clothing. It is for this reason that the federal government created the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA). Working together with state and local governments, OSHA’s primary goal is to protect workers as they do their jobs and help employers prevent workplace accidents and take workplace safety seriously. Construction workers can take action if they believe that a workplace hazard exists and their employer is not taking the appropriate steps to protect them. Specifically, a worker has the right to file a complaint with OSHA if their employer refuses address their safety concerns. Employees are also protected against retaliation for complaining of potential violations, which means that an employer cannot punish an employee merely for bringing a safety concern to the employer’s attention.
Types of Construction Accidents
The top 10 types of construction safety violations reported by OSHA are ineffective fall protection, poor hazard communication, faulty scaffolding, ineffective respiratory protection, industrial truck accidents, lockouts, ladder problems, faulty electrical wiring, poor machine guarding, and general electrical faults. By addressing these areas, employers can significantly decrease the potential for workplace accidents.
While OSHA is a federal agency, it has jurisdiction over all private sector workplaces, federal agencies, maritime employers, and military facilities throughout the State of Illinois. The Illinois Department of Labor’s Safety, Inspection, and Education Division, based in Springfield, has jurisdiction over all public sector employees in the state. According to OSHA, 3,929 private industry workers died on the job in 2013. Of those, 20% were in the construction industry, which means that one in five construction workers is at risk of dying when he or she goes to work. Lake County had over 35 road and bridge construction projects planned for 2014, which are in various states of completion, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. For each of these projects, OSHA’s state counterpart was responsible for overseeing the safety of the workers on those projects.
OSHA and its partners continually take steps to help employers prevent workplace accidents, such as conducting site inspections to look for faulty equipment, monitoring compliance through mandated reporting, and educating the industry on how to make construction sites safer. Specifically with regard to road and bridge projects, the public also must be made aware of the dangers faced by construction workers. While it may take a few more minutes to get to their destination, drivers need to abide by the safety zone speed limits and other instructions to ensure those men and women working on the road get home safely at the end of their shift.
Construction accidents account for a large percentage of serious workplace injuries and fatalities every year. Taking steps to prevent these accidents is key to the protection of construction workers. If an employer fails to take the required steps to protect its workers, then it is the duty of those workers to alert the appropriate individuals before an accident happens. Furthermore, if you have been injured in a construction accident, contact a Woodstock personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. for assistance filing a civil lawsuit.