Construction-related fatalities in the U.S. constituted more than twenty percent of all workplace-related fatalities in 2017. If you’re a construction worker and you’re injured on the job, you must discuss your legal rights at once with an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney.
What are the leading causes of accidents on construction sites in Indiana? Are these accidents preventable? And if you are a construction worker, what are your rights if you’re injured on the job in this state? Can you be compensated for your injuries? Will you have to file a lawsuit?
Keep reading – especially if you or someone you love is a construction worker – because those questions will be answered below. You’ll also learn where to get the help and guidance that you’re going to need if you’ve been injured while doing construction work in this state.
WHAT ARE THE TOP CAUSES OF CONSTRUCTION-RELATED INJURIES?
OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – has identified the four leading causes of accidents and injuries in the construction industry:
- being struck by flying or falling object
- being caught-in or caught-between machinery, structures, or other items
- electrical injuries
Construction workers are also at risk for exposure to toxic substances including toxic molds.
ARE FALLS PREVENTABLE AT CONSTRUCTION SITES?
Falls account for about one-third of all construction-related injuries and fatalities. Construction workers can sustain severe injuries by falling after slipping on debris, tripping over misplaced equipment, or falling from ladders or scaffolds.
Construction site falls are commonly caused by a lack of safety training or an employer’s failure to keep a worksite as safe as reasonably possible. Guard rails and harnesses must be used. Ladders and scaffolding must be replaced if they are aged, defective, or unsafe in any way.
When there’s little or no protection against falls at a construction site, the results can be tragic. Falls can happen when a worker steps backwards or sideways without looking or uses a stairwell that lacks guardrails.
HOW DANGEROUS ARE FLYING AND FALLING OBJECTS?
Falling objects – nails, tools, and heavier equipment – are the second-leading cause of construction-related deaths and a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among construction workers. Wherever there’s gravity, falling objects pose a genuine hazard.
Debris nets can reduce or even eliminate injuries caused by falling objects. Employers must supply hard hats, and construction workers must wear them at all times – no exceptions. Workers must also take responsibility for wearing the proper footwear and other appropriate safety gear.
Lanyards and wristbands, cinch attachments, D-rings, and self-vulcanizing tape can keep tools from falling without impairing a worker’s ability to use the tool effectively. Tools that weigh more than five pounds must be tied to a structure or to an anchor point.
WHAT ARE “CAUGHT-IN” AND “CAUGHT-BETWEEN” ACCIDENTS?
Caught-between and caught-in accidents at construction sites happen when workers are crushed or when they are caught in or caught between machinery, equipment, walls, other barriers, other objects, or when a structure or a trench collapses.
It’s not uncommon for construction workers to find themselves caught in or between hazards. The Center for Construction Research and Training reports that from 2003 through 2015, caught-between and caught-in accidents caused 1,059 fatalities at construction sites across the U.S.
Caught-between and caught-in accidents can cause catastrophic injuries including spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, nerve and muscle damage, paralysis, and limb injuries that require amputations.
WHAT ABOUT ELECTRICAL HAZARDS ON CONSTRUCTION SITES?
Electrocution and electrical injuries can happen at construction sites when a worker has contact, directly or indirectly, with live electrical equipment or wiring including junction boxes, control panels, light fixtures, transformers, and circuit breakers.
Construction workers are also at risk from power lines and from defective equipment including extension cords, power tools, and portable lights. Construction workers should never allow any electrical equipment to come in contact with standing or accumulated water.
If you are a construction worker, always shut down and lock or tag out electrical parts or circuits that you work on or near. Wear the appropriate personal safety equipment and use the right tools whenever you work with or in the vicinity of live electricity.
DO CONSTRUCTION SITES POSE OTHER RISKS AND HAZARDS?
Harmful dust, gases, and fumes are commonly found on construction sites. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that every year, about two thousand U.S. construction workers report lung and skin diseases that are linked to on-the-job exposure to toxic chemicals.
Construction workers who are exposed to high levels of sawdust, drywall dust, and silica dust may experience severe health problems. Fine dust particles can penetrate the lungs, and ultrafine particles can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
Toxic mold is also common on construction sites. Long-term toxic mold exposure can lead to temporary or even permanent disability, severe dysfunction of the immune system, and may even impair the functioning of the brain.
WHAT ARE A CONSTRUCTION WORKER’S LEGAL RIGHTS?
Employers in Indiana are obligated to keep construction sites “reasonably” safe. If you’re injured at a construction site, you will almost certainly be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
And in some cases, if a party other than your employer played any role in the accident that injured you, you may also qualify to file a third-party personal injury claim. As a construction worker in the state of Indiana, your legal rights include:
- reasonably safe and hazard-free construction site conditions
- information and training about hazards at the site and dealing safely with those hazards
- the right to submit a request to OSHA for a construction site safety inspection
- the right to report a safety violation or consult a lawyer without fear of retaliation
HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP YOU?
If you are injured while you’re working at a construction site in Indiana, have an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney help you complete and file your claim for workers’ comp benefits. Your attorney will ensure that no mistakes or misunderstandings delay your payments.
Your attorney will also determine if you qualify to file a third-party personal injury claim. If you do, your attorney will negotiate privately for an acceptable settlement offer.
That’s how most personal injury claims are resolved in this state, but if a reasonable settlement amount isn’t offered, your attorney may recommend taking your personal injury claim to court and asking a jury to order the payment of the compensation you need and deserve.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONTACT AN INJURY ATTORNEY?
Construction work is risky work, but construction workers have substantial legal protections including the right to be compensated for work-related injuries. Of course, compensation isn’t simply handed to you. You’ll need an attorney’s guidance and advice.
If you need workers’ comp benefits – or if someone other than your employer caused your workplace injury – get legal help as soon as you’ve obtained medical treatment. If you are injured at work, it’s imperative to make the call at once. Your future could depend on it.