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Fatal accidents in roadway construction

Pennsylvania workers may know that road construction sites might be a dangerous place. Although the majority of worker fatalities involve individuals working at a specific construction site, others moving through the area also get killed in accidents. Adherence to safety standards is necessary to prevent such instances, and construction company owners are obligated to see that procedures are in place to prevent accidents.

Fatalities in roadway construction zones peaked in 2003 but have decreased significantly. In Pennsylvania, the number of construction site fatal accidents was lowest in 2013 and highest in 2004, 2005 and 2008. Fatalities may be categorized by the type of accident, and 69 percent of nationwide accidents in 2013 involved transportation. Occupations included construction and maintenance workers, truck drivers, workers operating construction equipment and supervisors.

Half of all roadway construction fatalities occurred when a worker was hit by an on-site vehicle or moving construction equipment. About 60 percent of the fatalities due to a construction vehicle involved a dump truck that was backing up. One difference was in workers transitioning through the construction site. In such cases, the most common type of accident involved a collision with a vehicle that was stationary or between two vehicles proceeding in tandem.

Finding ways to decrease the number of fatal accidents is necessary. When fatal accidents happen, a worker's family members may find themselves in a precarious financial position from funeral expenses and loss of the income the worker contributed to household expenses. The family may be eligible for death benefits under workers' compensation. Such benefits are state-specific, and eligibility and benefits vary. The worker's family may also consider filing a separate wrongful death claim if negligence on the part of a third party other than the employer was involved. Seeking the advice of an attorney may help the family in deciding on a course of action.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Highway Work Zone Safety", accessed on Jan. 20, 2015

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