A total of five construction workers have lost their lives while working on the I-4 Ultimate construction project, which began in 2015. The construction efforts encompass a 21-mile stretch of interstate from west of Kirkman Road in Orange County to State Road 434 in Seminole County.
Central Florida drivers have also been impacted in the form of increased traffic congestion, dangerous road conditions, which have resulted in more auto accidents. The increased dangers along the 21-mile construction zone have put innocent motorists’ lives at risk. In fact, I-4 motorists’ chances of crashing have increased by 12 percent, with fatalities and injuries jumping even more since the construction started. The type of auto accidents that have increased the most are sideswipes, according to state data.
For construction workers out amid the chaos, the situation has been life or death. Since construction began on Central Florida’s busiest stretch of interstate, five workers have died and more than 160 injuries have been reported to federal authorities, records show. Approximately, 25 of those injuries have been serious enough for workers to miss time on the job, including eight who were admitted to the hospital, according to data provided by Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in response to a public records request.
At least 16 workers have suffered broken or fractured bones, nine suffered burn injuries and two employees severed fingers, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The data and descriptions of the injuries come from monthly reports that SGL Constructors, the project’s main contractor, sends to the FDOT. One of the more recent construction deaths took place on September 28, 2019. The incident involved falling construction materials, a leading cause for many on-site construction injuries. This specific accident involved a metal beam falling and crushing an I-4 construction worker who was working near downtown Orlando, resulting in his death. Another worker was seriously injured in the accident.
Another death occurred in early 2019 when a 59-year-old worker was struck in the head by an 18-inch by 20-foot iron pipe while working on a construction site near the intersection of Wymore Road and Riddle Drive. He suffered a significant head injury and eventually lost his life due to the severity of his injuries.
A 56-year-old ironworker died after a load of steel being carried by a crane fell on him as he worked near the westbound on-ramp to I-4 on South Street. Given the nature of the incident, SGL Constructors, the contract company leading the I-4 construction efforts, ended up conducting a four-day safety review. Prior to that incident, another SGL Constructors subcontractor was killed after he was struck by a steel stand that was used to hold up a piece of equipment.
These tragedies demonstrate the dangerous conditions on the I-4 Ultimate Project and the seriousness of the injuries from these accidents, many of them resulting in fatalities. A change in protocol has been strongly recommended for the safety of I-4 Ultimate construction workers and Central Florida drivers who travel this dangerous stretch of highway daily. The I-4 Ultimate construction is not planned to be complete until 2021. Updates are regularly posted regarding construction progress, as well as detours and updates.
A civil trial attorney with the firm Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis, P.A., Mr. Damaso concentrates on cases involving personal injury and wrongful deaths and solely represents individual victims and consumers. He takes his clients' cases personally and is committed to their best possible outcome. His strong sense of community has led to his support of numerous charities in the Orlando area.