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Construction worker drowns in pipe during downpour

Construction work can present numerous dangers and risk to workers' lives. From deadly falls from roofs and scaffolding, to being electrocuted, to being buried in a trench or run over by heavy equipment, workers must be constantly on guard to prevent work place accidents and injuries that can result in the need to file a workers' compensation claim.

Weather is often a factor, as parts of New Jersey still work to recover from the aftermath of Sandy. However, any sudden storm can create the risk of a deadly construction site accident, as an incident from Chicago this week demonstrates.

Workers were re-lining a sewer pipe. On Wednesday night, during a heavy rain, one of the workers attempted to enter a confined space and removed his harness, when strong currents in the sewer pipe carried him away.

A representative of the fire department, which attempted to rescue the man, noted that there was no explanation from the contractor why the men were working on a sewer pipe during a torrential downpour.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was investigating the fatal accident, and report that the company had previous worker fatalities, include three within an 11 month period in the late 1990's.

For the safety violations that led to those deaths, the company paid a total of $175,000 in fines. They had an improved safety record during the last 15 years, having only accrued $4,000 in OSHA fines.

Whether the cause was poor training or something worse, any time a worker dies, it is time to reevaluate company's processes and do what needs to be done to prevent a reoccurrence.

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