Working in a highway construction zone can be an extremely dangerous job. All workers compensation lawyers in Chicago are acquainted with cases of Illinois employees who have been hurt or killed while working on highway repairs. While the risks cannot be eliminated, they can be reduced with proper education and safety measures.
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Why are construction zones hazardous?
Highways are not unusually dangerous areas in themselves. In fact, they are among the safest places to drive in America because the flow of traffic, the speed of vehicles and the direction of travel are all strictly regulated. When construction employees work on highway repairs, these three safety measures are compromised or removed entirely. Drivers must stop or slow down at short notice. Work vehicles are required to back up or drive in unusual ways. Multiple lanes may be rerouted or blocked. Workers compensation lawyers in Chicago can name many situations in which these conditions cause injury or death among construction employees.
Nighttime work is an extra hazard
Many highway repairs are done at night. This practice is logical because of the decreased flow of traffic and the lower risk of congestion, but it can be highly dangerous for employees. Shift workers must perform demanding tasks that interfere with normal sleep patterns. Safety issues and hazards are more difficult to observe in the dark. When weather is rainy, snowy, icy or otherwise problematic, nighttime work is even more dangerous.
Learning about major risks
Highway workers in Illinois should be aware of the major risks they face in maintenance and construction zones, including all of the following:
- Fatigue and sleep deprivation, especially during nighttime work
- Visibility problems
- Exposure to toxic materials or excessive noise
- Collision hazards
- Blind spots
Recent amendments to Illinois law have tightened penalties for violation of safety regulations in all of these areas.
Fatalities are decreasing
There is good news for highway workers in construction and maintenance zones. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths and serious injuries in these zones has continued to decline for more than a decade. The fatality rate reached its height in 2003 with 1,095 deaths. During 2012, there were only 609 deaths, a decrease of nearly half. As workers and supervisors become more conscious of the risks they face on the highway, the trend shows signs of continuing.
Workers compensation lawyers in Chicago know that road construction can be dangerous. Injured employees may want to consider speaking with a personal injury attorney.