OSHA investigates fatal Chicago construction accident

A recent construction accident in Chicago resulted in the death of a worker, who was pinned against a building by a crane.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating a recent Chicago construction site accident that resulted in the death of one worker in late January. According to the Chicago Tribune, the worker was crushed when part of a crane pinned him against the side of a building that was under construction. He suffered severe injuries to his upper body and later died at a nearby hospital.

Now, OSHA has stepped in to find out if there were any safety violations that led to the worker's death. Initial reports indicate that the operation of the crane may have been a significant factor in the accident, although OSHA will have six months to determine if the company in charge of the site violated any federal or state safety regulations.

According to local ABC affiliate WLS-TV Chicago, "tall tower" cranes like the one involved in this recent incident feature many moving parts and are susceptible to safety issues related to inclement weather and the transfer of weight. Reporters with WLS-TV also found that the site's general contractor was involved in a 2006 personal injury claim related to a crane accident at a different worksite.

Crane and construction accident issues

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 717 worker fatalities stemming from contact with equipment and objects in 2013, a number that actually presented a slight decrease from the year before. Of this number, 105 workers died due to being caught in or pinned against machinery, equipment or large objects.

Overall, construction remains one of the most dangerous fields, as it regularly has the highest number of worker deaths each year in the United States. However, these fatalities appear to be on the decline, as BLS numbers show a substantial 42 percent decrease in 2013 compared to 2006, when there was an all-time high of 977 construction worker fatalities. Improved safety practices and a lower amount of construction projects overall due to a sluggish economy are cited as the primary reasons for these improved statistics.

Another report from the BLS details the most common causes of crane accidents. Topping the list at 42 percent are workers being struck by falling objects from cranes, followed by falling from heights, being caught in equipment or machinery and transportation-related incidents. Other common issues stem from workers being struck by equipment and being exposed to electrical currents.

Although most construction workers understand the inherent dangers of their work, it's still important for general contractors to ensure their employees are as safe as possible at worksites. This means following strict regulations from OSHA and other federal and state agencies. If you or someone close to you has been seriously injured or killed in a construction site accident, be sure to consult an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney.

Keywords: Chicago, construction, accident, crane