Construction work is truly a never-ending process. Workers create new buildings, renovate old ones, and handle repairs. They can also be found on roads, streets, and highways, fixing deteriorating structures and building new ones. With all this work constantly going on, it is no surprise that there are so many construction-related work accidents. The fact that this work is so dangerous only adds to the problem. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) claims that more than 25 percent of construction workers suffer from job-related injuries due to the high risks involved. Construction workers regularly work with dangerous machinery, around toxic materials and chemicals, and at great heights.
The increased risks are also related to the fact that construction sites are unstable by nature, according to the BLS. They are packed with activity, with workers frequently moving around to different areas, large objects being hoisted, and sharp tools being used. Basically, construction projects are in constant states of flux, unless they are shut down. This makes them more unpredictable than other places of employment. Yet, even with all these risks, many construction workers do not wear the protective personal equipment (PPE) recommended or required for their work. Neglecting to wear a hardhat, goggles, safety harnesses, or respirators can lead to life-altering consequences. This also contributes to the high numbers of accidents, injuries, and fatalities on construction sites.
What are the Fatal Four?
The most common type of construction accident is falls from heights. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) places this as one of the Fatal Four most common construction accidents. Roofers and other construction workers fall off rooftops due to faulty equipment, unsafe ladders, inadequate scaffolding, and not wearing PPE. OSHA’s second most common construction accident is being struck by an object. This can happen in different ways, such as when material is separated from a machine or tool, or a heavy item falls from a warehouse shelf.
The third is electrocutions, which can result from overheated power lines, deteriorated extension cords, or exposed wiring. Caught in/between accidents, the final of the Fatal Four, also occur when employees get caught in/between trenches, tools, devices, or machines. Additional reasons for construction accidents include slip and falls, machinery accidents, getting hit by vehicles, burns, explosions, and a building collapse. Construction workers can also be hurt from overexertion. Long hours working outside can lead to dehydration, frostbite, or stroke.
Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Construction workers who are injured from job-related accidents may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, and there are certain guidelines that apply when making a claim. Injured workers do not need to prove that their employer or another party was responsible for causing the injury. The worker only needs to show that they are injured, and that the injury happened in the course of their employment.
Different state laws may apply to the claim. In New Jersey, all employers not covered by federal programs must have Workers’ Compensation or approved self-insurance for their employees. Approved claims generally cover medical expenses, lost wages, and partial or permanent disability benefits. The disability payments can be temporary or permanent, depending on the injuries.
Am I Eligible for a Civil Suit?
It is possible to pursue a civil suit against an entity other than the employer after receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits. This depends on where the accident occurred and the circumstances surrounding it. Another person or vendor could be held partially liable for the injury, such as smaller contractors, architects, and manufacturers, among others. If a construction worker fell from a defective scaffold that was manufactured by a large company, that company could be responsible for workers’ injuries.
Another example of a civil suit could be a construction worker who suffered a broken foot after a delivery driver dropped a heavy package on them at the job site. In essence, if the construction worker is hurt due to a third-party’s negligence on the premises, that worker may have a valid claim for damages against that entity. In order to successfully prove this type of claim, the construction worker must prove negligence by showing:
- The person/entity had a duty to act in a reasonable, safe manner
- The person/entity failed to perform their duty
- This negligence caused the injury
Keeping Construction Workers Safe
Construction workers keep things going by building and improving hospitals, apartment buildings, schools, roadways, and other essential structures. Companies should host special events to retrain employees and provide the tools needed to maintain a safe work environment. Motorists should also slow down when approaching construction sites and be respectful and patient when construction employees are working nearby.
Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC Advocate for Construction Worker Safety
If you or someone you care for was injured in a construction accident, reach out to a trusted Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC. With offices in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, and Vineland, New Jersey, as well as Trevose, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas. For a free consultation, call us at 856-751-7676 or complete our online form.