While injuries can occur in many professions, they are, unfortunately, significantly more prevalent in the construction industry due to the dangerous nature of the work. As with employees in other fields who are hurt on the job, injured construction workers are eligible for workers' compensation coverage while they recuperate. FindLaw's Construction Site Injuries subsection covers the basics of construction safety, OSHA regulations, and workers' compensation claims. You'll also find articles covering topics such as scaffold injuries and construction workers' rights to a safe workplace, and information for consulting with an attorney is provided.
Common Types of Injuries
Common injuries to construction workers include falls, heat stroke, broken bones and lacerations from falling objects, and injuries caused by repetitive motions such as from the handling of a jackhammer. Some workers suffer respiratory ailments from dust or from chemicals used in building materials, and in extreme cases, a structure or trench may collapse, injuring trapped workers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in a recent year, over 800 construction workers were killed on the job. Half of these deaths were caused by falls, falling objects, electrocution, and being crushed by a vehicle or other large object. Statistics on injuries are tougher to come by, but the Department of Labor estimates that 4 of every 100 construction workers are injured in some way every year.
OSHA and State Regulations
Both the federal and state governments have created regulations to protect construction workers. Federal regulations are drafted and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and many states have created their own regulations and standards that may be more stringent than federal ones. Under OHSA's regulations, construction workers have the right to review safety regulations and guidelines at the workplace, to request an OSHA agent to inspect a job site for safety, and to file anonymous complaints for possible safety violations against an employer. OSHA regulations also require employers to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards, to ensure that employees are properly trained in the use of safety equipment, and to inform workers of applicable health and safety standards.
Recovery Options for Injured Workers
If a construction worker is injured, he or she can file a claim for workers' compensation, which is a form of employer insurance. Workers' compensation benefits are meant to provide injured workers with a quick and (relatively) simple way to obtain insurance payments during the recovery period, so that mortgage payments and other bills can be paid on time. Note that workers' compensation benefits are usually available to a hurt worker even if he or she was responsible in some way for the injury's occurrence. Also, keep in mind that compensation benefits are capped and usually decrease over time as the employee heals and transitions back to work. If an employer acted in a manner that clearly disregards worker safety, an injured employee can choose to file a lawsuit rather than a workers' compensation claim.
How an Attorney Can Help
An attorney can help you to understand your rights to a safe workplace. He or she can explain OSHA and your state's regulations to you, and help you to file a workers' compensation claim if you've been injured. In some situations, a lawsuit may make more sense, and an attorney can explain the pros and cons of both workers' compensation claims and lawsuits so that you can decide the best course to take.