It’s no secret that construction workers face danger on a daily basis. Construction work remains one of the most hazardous jobs in the country. As an example, consider the recent incident in which a 2,000-pound boulder struck a construction crew member while working on an erosion prevention project along Lake Michigan in the Milwaukee suburb of Shorewood.
Authorities were still trying to determine whether the worker was struck at the bluff’s top, which would have caused him to tumble 60 feet down the hill, or if he was struck by the boulder while standing at the bottom of the bluff. While the worker survived, he did sustain leg injuries, leading to a hospital stay after the March 9 incident.
Nearly 1,100 construction workers died in 2019
Due to the rugged and muddy terrain along Lake Michigan and the worker’s injuries, rescuers relied on a rope-and-pulley rigging system to bring him to safety. The rescue effort took a half-hour. In this situation, the man survived. However, not all construction workers are so lucky after being involved in a workplace accident. The recent incident involving the one-ton boulder could have had different results.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), roughly 20% of the more than 5,300 U.S. worker deaths reported in 2019 were attributed to the construction industry. Construction workers accounted for 1,061 of those deaths. In Wisconsin, a work-related death results in a “dependent” (generally a spouse or child under 18) being able to pursue a death benefit claim, which is equal to four times the worker’s annual wages.
The Shorewood construction incident falls under the category of “struck by an object,” which is considered one of the industry’s leading causes of accidental deaths. It has the dubious distinction of being part of construction’s “Focus Four Hazards” as cited by OSHA. This quartet, which includes falls, struck by an object, electrocution and caught-in or in-between accidents account for nearly 60% of the annual fatalities in the construction industry.
Remember that a catastrophic or fatal injury can occur while working in the construction industry. And, sometimes, negligence on the part of the construction company or third party plays a role in these potentially avoidable accidents. In these situations, a worker may even be able to pursue a personal injury claim as a result.