David O’Donnell Died In Chicago Construction Accident

David O’Donnell, 27, of Oak Forest, Died After Falling 9 Stories From Scaffold In Hyde Park, Chicago Construction Accident

David O’Donnell Died In Chicago Construction Accident

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (June 7, 2024) – A 27-year-old construction worker identified as David O’Donnell has tragically died in a Hyde Park, Chicago construction accident.

Cook County officials are saying that the accident took place around noon on Thursday. Construction was underway at a site located on the University of Chicago Medical Center campus by East 57th and South Drexel Avenue.

David O’Donnell was on a scaffold with another worker when a gust of wind caused it to become loose. Both workers fell from the scaffolding onto a concrete structure below.

Paramedics were called to the scene in order to help both of the victims. Despite life-saving measures, David O’Donnell was pronounced dead at the scene.

The second worker was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center with critical injuries. Neither of the two workers had safety harnesses or were tethered to anything at the time of the incident.

The nearest weather station measured winds in the area at 33 miles per hour. A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.

Liability For Chicago Scaffold Accidents

Falls remain the leading cause of workplace injury and death in the United States. Many of these accidents involve workers falling from scaffolds. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “An estimated 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds frequently. Protecting these workers from scaffold- related accidents would prevent 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths every year […].” OSHA has a number of guidelines related to the use of scaffolds.

  • Scaffolds must be designed to support their own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load (29 CFR 1926.451(a)(1)).
  • Guardrails must be installed along all open sides and ends of platforms when they are more than 10 feet above the ground (29 CFR 1926.451(g)(1)).
  • Construction workers must be provided with personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) when scaffolds are 10 feet or more above the ground (29 CFR 1926.451(g)(1)(vii)).
  • Employees must be trained by a qualified person to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used (29 CFR 1926.454(a)).

Depending on the facts of any case, there could be numerous sources of liability for any scaffold accident. Construction sites are typically made up of a large blend of different entities that must all work together. A general contractor could face liability for a scaffold accident if they failed to maintain a job site in a relatively safe condition. For example, they may not have adequately inspected a scaffold or otherwise failed to provide workers with fall protection. Scaffolds should not be used when wind speeds exceed 25 mph for a two-point system.

It is also possible that the manufacturer of a scaffold could be liable for an accident. In general, companies are liable for the design, manufacturing, and marketing defects associated with their products. One of the anchor points on a scaffold could fail mid-use and cause a worker to be thrown off. It is important that any scaffold involved in an accident be thoroughly examined. Several other steps should be taken after any scaffold accident.

  • Eyewitnesses should be interviewed.
  • Surveillance footage of the accident should be sought.
  • Medical records related to the accident should be preserved.
  • A police report of the accident should be created.
  • The report of the accident created by OSHA should be examined.

The vast majority of scaffold accidents are preventable and involve some amount of negligence. Part of the problem is that construction companies will often cut corners in terms of safety. These companies may push workers to complete tasks on unrealistic timelines. In far too many situations, they push workers to perform their duties in hazardous conditions. This will inevitably lead to accidents.

Investigating Chicago Scaffold Accidents

We at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates extend our deepest condolences to the family of David O’Donnell. It is our sincere hope that the other worker will be able to make a full recovery. This was a tragic and preventable accident that should have never taken place. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what went wrong so that similar accidents can be prevented. No person should ever fear for their life in order to work and provide for their family.

Do you need more information about a Chicago scaffold accident? Our team of workplace safety advocates is here to answer any questions that you may have. We are committed to helping workers understand their rights and holding construction companies accountable for unsafe working conditions. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident, we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (312) 564-4256.