A construction fatality in Minnesota late last year, once again, showcases the dangers faced by the more than 11 million people who work in this industry. In December, the construction worker was run over by a large forklift while a crew prepared to build an oil pipeline.
As a result of the accident, Minnesota regulators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Wisconsin-based Precision Pipeline $25,000 for a safety violation and fined the company $25,000. Still, such a penalty does not seem to be enough to help the family of the Utah-based construction worker who left behind nine children.
Nearly 1,100 construction workers died in 2019
More than 5,300 U.S, workers died in the workplace in 2019, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Deaths in the construction industry accounted for nearly 20% — 1,061 – of those deaths. The number of construction-related deaths increased by 5 percent compared with 2018 and represented the highest total the industry has seen since 2007.
In the above-mentioned incident, the state of Minnesota declared that the pipeline company violated a rule that requires employers to hire competent industrial truck operators. Such workers must complete specific training and evaluations.
The driver of the forklift told investigators that he never saw the victim, who was in a blind spot. The operator backed up the forklift and nearly right away struck the construction worker, who wore a reflective vest while checking a list of construction materials.
Protecting workers and assuring their safety is a critical rule that must be followed by employers. There is no room for negligence in the construction industry.