On a yearly basis, the construction industry is one of the most dangerous in the United States. It leads to many accidents, injuries and fatalities. Part of this is due to the size of the industry; with so many workers, injury statistics are bound to be high. But the rates are also high, showing that there are inherent risks. What is it that makes the industry so dangerous?
Workers can get hurt in many ways, and every situation is different. The following is not a comprehensive list of risks by any means, but it does address seven of the biggest hazards to help explain why injury rates are so high.
1. Falls from heights
Workers at heights face great risks, as even a fall from a second story — eight to 10 feet in the air — can prove fatal. Workers on ladders and scaffolds may face even longer falls than that. Harnesses, ropes and other fall protection gear are a must.
2. Falls on the same level
Not all falls are from heights. Workers can suffer serious injuries in a slip-and-fall accident. Construction sites tend to be dirty, chaotic places to work, and the chances to slip or trip are numerous.
3. Scaffold collapses
Workers trust their tools and safety systems, but these can fail. A scaffold system is, in many ways, safer than a ladder. It offers a wider, broader working surface that often comes with rails and other protective devices. If it collapses, though, both workers on top and those below face significant risks.
4. Trench collapses
Working in a trench is dangerous, as the ground can be far more unstable than people realize. The sheer amount of weight is also greater than many workers know, and a collapse that completely buries a worker may mean that rescue teams only have a matter of minutes.
5. Repetitive motion injuries
Repetitive motion issues can lead to pain and discomfort or even a lasting disability. Workers may need surgery. Many specialized workers face risks because they perform the exact same tasks over and over again.
6. Electric shocks
An electric shock can cause injuries or be instantly fatal. Workers face risks both from the heavy machinery and power tools that they use and from live electric wires they have to install or work around. Miscommunication often leads to these injuries, when one worker thinks that a live wire is not live.
7. Not using personal protective equipment
All workers need to be issued proper protective gear. They also need to get training regarding how and when to use it.
If you get injured on the job, it can change your life. Make sure you know exactly what legal options you have in Illinois.