Personal injury attorneys in Rochester, New York frequently represent construction workers who’ve been injured on the job because someone else was negligent. Throughout the U.S., thousands of construction workers are seriously injured every year in job-related accidents.
What are the most common kinds of accidents and injuries on construction sites? If you are a construction worker in the state of New York, and if you are injured on the job, what legal recourse do you have?
If you’ll keep reading, you’ll learn the answers to those questions, and you’ll learn more about your rights if you are a construction worker and you are injured by negligence at a construction site.
What Are the Top Four “Categories” of Construction Injuries?
Construction is hazardous work. Construction workers suffer far more injuries than those of us who are employed in most other types of work. Inadequate safety practices, insufficient training, and outdated or defective equipment are among the many causes of construction site injuries.
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has identified four types of construction site accidents that are responsible for an overwhelming majority of construction-related injuries. These are injuries that are the result of:
- being struck by an object
- electrical hazards
- caught-in or caught-between accidents
What’s the Truth About Falls at Construction Sites?
Falls are the most common cause of construction site injuries. Falls can happen when workers step backward or sideways without looking or use stairwells that lack guardrails. Falls accounted for more than a third of all construction site fatalities (370 of 991) in the U.S. in 2016.
When the protection against falls is inadequate or completely absent at construction sites, the costs can be devastating. What can construction workers and their employers do to prevent falls and fall-related injuries at construction sites?
- Deploy guardrail systems, safety net systems, and personal fall arrest systems.
- Work areas must be well lit and free from clutter.
- Require proper footwear.
- Adhere to the safety rules for roofs, ladders, and scaffolds.
What About “Struck by Object” Injuries?
OSHA defines “struck by” injuries as injuries that are the result of a violent impact, such as a head injury caused by a falling tool. Most of these injuries are preventable when construction workers wear safety glasses and hardhats and remain alert to their surroundings.
“Struck by” injuries include tools and materials being knocked off unprotected edges. Construction workers must avoid areas where work is happening overhead. These areas should be cordoned off to protect workers.
Nail guns can cause “struck by flying object” accidents. Workers must stay clear of a nail gun’s “line of fire,” even on the opposite side of plywood or sheetrock. Nil gin misfires have the force to penetrate plywood and gypsum board easily.
Can Be Struck by Object Injuries Be Prevented?
What can construction workers and their employers do to prevent struck-by object injuries at construction sites?
- Never put yourself between fixed and moving objects.
- Materials must be stacked correctly to keep them from falling or sliding.
- Steer clear of suspended or lifted loads.
- Always secure all materials and tools so that they cannot fall.
- Wear the proper protective equipment over your head, face, and eyes.
What’s the Truth About Electrical Injuries?
While electrical shocks cause serious injuries such as muscle and nerve damage – and in some cases cardiac arrest – burns are the most common electrical injuries sustained on construction sites.
Proper insulation, electrical protective devices and safeguards, and safe work practices can help construction workers prevent electrical injuries. Construction workers who handle electrical equipment should heed these basic safety suggestions:
- Use the required, standard safety equipment.
- Use lockout and tag procedures for de-energized equipment.
- Keep some distance between yourself and any energized parts.
What Are “Caught-in” and “Caught-between” Accidents?
Construction workers sometimes find themselves surrounded – and for all practical purposes, trapped – by hazardous heavy equipment.
The Center for Construction Research and Training reports that from 2003 through 2015, caught-between and caught-in accidents at construction sites resulted in over a thousand fatalities and tens of thousands of serious injuries.
Caught-between and caught-in accidents happen when workers are crushed or caught between or in machinery, equipment, walls, and other objects – or when a trench or structure collapse.
How Can Caught-in and Caught-between Accidents Be Avoided?
Caught-in and caught-between accidents, injuries, and fatalities are preventable. To prevent these injuries, construction workers should never:
- put themselves between heavy equipment and immovable barriers or objects
- work inside the swing radius of equipment that rotates
- put hands, feet, or the head anywhere near moving parts
- work in an excavation with accumulating water
- wear jewelry, long sleeves, or gloves near moving parts
Does Your Employer Have an Injury Care Plan?
Employers in construction must insist on safety training and safe work practices. No exceptions. When an accident happens, having an injury care plan already in place ensures timely medical care, a quicker claims process, and a faster return to work for the injured employee.
Most construction employers ensure that construction sites, equipment, and machinery are as safe as possible. However, other construction employers are less conscientious.
How Are Injured Construction Workers Compensated?
If you are a construction worker in the Rochester area or anywhere in western New York, and if you’ve been injured at work by construction equipment or machinery – or if you’re injured in the future – discuss your rights promptly with an experienced Rochester personal injury attorney.
In this state, construction workers who are injured at the construction site are usually eligible for workers’ compensation, which covers medical costs and provides partial wage replacement payments to injured employees.
To obtain workers’ comp payments, injured construction workers do not need to file a lawsuit to sue or prove that the employer was in any negligent. Filing for workers’ comp is more like filing an insurance claim than a lawsuit.
Personal injury attorneys in Rochester, New York routinely help injured construction workers file their workers’ comp claims. This ensures that no misunderstandings or mistakes delay the payment of your benefits.
Can an Injured Construction Worker Sue for the Injuries?
If your workers’ compensation claim is rejected or if it is not being handled properly, speak to a Rochester personal injury lawyer at once. Injured construction workers are entitled to workers’ compensation under New York state law.
If a third party has any role in a construction employee’s injury, that employee may qualify to file a personal injury claim. If, for example, defective equipment causes an injury, liability could fall on the manufacturer or on a third-party responsible for equipment maintenance.
The legal questions in a third-party, construction-related personal injury case can become quite complicated. One reason for that is because, in the state of New York, construction is regulated by a complex combination of state, local, and federal regulations.
When Should You Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer?
In the Rochester area, an injured construction worker must have sound legal advice and guidance from a lawyer who knows the construction industry, who knows the regulations that govern it, and who routinely advocates for the rights of injured construction workers.
Many construction injuries are catastrophic injuries that will require the maximum available compensation. If you’re injured while doing construction work, you must speak with a good injury attorney, and you must arrange to speak to that attorney at once. That is your right.