According to the latest statistics available from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), construction workers are three times more likely to suffer a fatal injury than the rest of the workforce in the United States.
The construction industry also had three of the top ten occupations known to have the highest fatality rates. Roofers had 34.7 fatalities per 100,000 workers, structural and steel workers had 30.3 fatalities per 100,000 workers and laborers had 18.3 fatalities per 100,000 workers.
Falls are one of the primary causes of fatal occupational injuries in the construction industry. They constitute a persistent hazard in or around a construction site, whether they result from walking on slippery and uneven surfaces, climbing a ladder or falling from a beam. Construction workers accounted for almost half (48%) of all fatal falls.
The second leading cause of fatalities linked to construction was some transportation related event (25%), followed by body contact with equipment or some other object (19%) and exposure to some harmful substance or the environment (16%).
Injuries and fatalities are bound to happen on construction sites, simply because of the work environment. The area is covered with workers of many different trades working for different employers, cranes, heavy equipment, 18-wheelers, cement trucks, scaffolding and clutter. Even under the best of circumstances, people are injured and lives lost.
When workers are injured or lose their lives because of a work related accident, they are by law entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are paid to the worker or his beneficiaries, even if his negligence caused the accident, as long as he was performing his duties in the course and scope of his employment. These statutory benefits include medical care, weekly temporary compensation benefits and possibly a settlement based upon the extent and duration of any disability sustained from the injury.
More importantly, an injured worker or the family of a deceased worker might have a third party claim. A third party claim is a claim against some other party than the employer who caused the injury or death due to negligence, carelessness or the failure of some equipment or other defective products. These claims are separate from a workers’ compensation claim and will often result in the recovery of higher monetary damages than those allowed under state compensation law.
If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or lost a loved one due to a construction site accident, you need to talk to an Illinois attorney who is experienced in handling workers’ compensation cases. In addition to advising you about your statutory benefits, he will know what to look for to determine if there is a possibility for a third party action, so that an investigation can be conducted and any evidence is preserved.