Improper scaffolding practices composed the third leading OSHA violation in 2016, resulting in some 3,900 citations. Every year, employers throughout Illinois and the rest of the U.S. pay out about $90 million in lost work days due to scaffolding injuries. Construction workers are especially prone to these injuries; approximately 2.3 million (or 65 percent) of them regularly work on scaffolds. Out of that, about 4,500 are injured every year. About 60 die.
Many construction workers in Illinois have to work in and around trenches, so they will want to know that OSHA has updated its National Emphasis Program on trenching and excavation. The updates reflect the need for increased enforcement as worker injuries and fatalities have gone up in recent years. Between 2011 and 2016, 130 workers died in trenching and excavation operations, and 49 percent of those fatalities occurred between 2015 and 2016 alone.
Falls, struck-by incidents, electrical accidents, caught-in-between incidents and exposure to hazardous materials: these are the five leading causes of death among construction workers in Illinois and across the U.S. 20 percent of all private sector employee deaths are composed of construction site deaths, and this is in spite of the fact that construction workers make up only 6 percent of the population.
Construction workers in Illinois are often at a high risk of workplace accidents due to the nature of the job. Dealing with heavy machinery, precarious and unfinished structures and arduous physical labor can lead to serious on-the-job injuries that lead to lifelong disabilities or even fatalities. While the nature of construction work poses its own dangers, these threats are significantly intensified when employers and work sites fail to follow best practices and federal guidelines for safety. One of the most concerning aspects of construction work can be labor in trenches and excavations with the attendant risk of collapses, cave-ins and falls.