Cranes And Ropes And Falls, Oh My!
(U.S. Injury Law and generally) The construction industry is a common source of injuries. Relatively few older construction workers have not been injured at some point on the job. Most of these injuries are relatively minor; sliced fingers, sharp tools inadvertently stabbed into hands and thighs, and overly strained muscles from moving heavy materials are prevalent among workers. Ricocheting nails and cuts from errant screws are also common. Auditory impairment and tinnitus is frequently reported after decades of hearing concrete saws, jackhammers, and falling building materials. There are countless sources of minor injuries on construction sites everywhere. In some circumstances, injuries can result in serious injury or death.
Preventative measures taken by the employer and employees will help maintain site safety, low workers’ compensation premiums, and less need for employees to seek construction accident lawyers. Keeping a construction project on schedule is a major task; however, keeping employees protected and safe is important in keeping the job moving. Unfortunately, most construction projects are not without injuries because of the employer’s or employee’s failure to follow safety measures. The following are common construction site injuries:
Falls: Falls are the major source of fatal construction injuries and a common source of serious injuries. Workers often work in environments without safety guardrails and in elevated positions. In New York City, falls from scaffolding hanging adjacent to tall buildings causes a number of fatalities. However, many falls occur at much lower heights. A fall from a second story or the roof of a one-story building can be fatal in the right circumstances; even a fall that is not fatal can easily lead to a broken limb or ribs.
Falling Objects: Falling objects are another hazard on construction sites. Falling plates, tiles, roofing materials, and lumber can instantly kill someone without proper protective gear. Even if the results are not fatal, blunt force trauma to the head can result in long-term brain damage. Helmets are mandatory on most sites, but a relatively thin plastic helmet can only provide so much protection against heavy falling objects. Even an unusually strong helmet may simply distribute the force of the falling object onto the victim’s neck, which can cause other serious injuries including paralysis and nerve damage.
Heavy Equipment and Inattentiveness: High-visibility vests are another feature common on construction sites and for good reason. When operating a crane, front-end loader, or even a simple boom lift, it is imperative to know where all other workers in the area are at all times. Workers on foot who fail to provide heavy equipment operators with a reasonably wide berth can suffer serious injuries or death while heavy equipment operators who do not exercise reasonable caution in the performance of their duties can cause such damage. Failing to watch for a swinging arm or suddenly reversing piece of heavy equipment can have lethal results.
Assorted Long-Term Illnesses: Construction workers encounter carcinogens like asbestos on a regular basis. When working with hazardous materials, workers are supposed to take safety precautions. Particulate respirators or masks may be sufficient for most jobs, such as painting or cutting concrete, but some jobs will require protective suits with SCBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus). When safety precautions are taken, workers will rarely suffer injuries from exposure.
When safety precautions are not taken, workers will inhale potentially dangerous fumes or come into contact with hazardous chemicals. Some employers will not provide OSHA-mandated equipment, some employees will not understand the hazards that they face, and some employees simply choose not to wear certain protective equipment. When this occurs, employees can be at risk of cancer, respiratory illnesses, or skin problems.
Normally, liability for employers is limited to workers’ compensation coverage. Employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in all 50 states specifically in the event of a workplace injury. In the event of a construction accident that was not deliberately induced or caused by the victim’s gross negligence, the victim will be eligible to receive workers’ compensation payments from his or her employer. However, the construction industry routinely relies upon independent contractors for many smaller projects both as workers and as employers. As a result, many injured parties will be ineligible for such benefits.
When a victim is injured and unable to work as a result of another party’s reckless conduct and is ineligible for workers’ compensation coverage, the victim should consider filing a lawsuit. An experienced tort lawyer can represent the plaintiff in his or her claim for negligence against the reckless party. The reckless party’s employer, if any, will be vicariously liable for the actions of its employees if the reckless act was carried out while the employee was acting within the course and scope of his employment. The reckless party’s employer may have failed to screen employees or take corrective action after past incidents, thus making it liable for its own negligence. Anyone who was injured under such circumstances should consult an experienced personal injury attorney.
Kelly Dennie is a freelance writer and commercial realtor. The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., construction accident lawyers, are aware of negligent contractors, property owners or their agents with regards to handling client’s cases involving severe injuries. Steps must be taken within the law to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Workers’ compensation benefits may be the client’s only remedy. Therefore, every negligent party that is liable for the injury is responsible for paying appropriate compensation to the injured.