Construction is often reported as one of the most dangerous careers in the U.S.; workers are consistently exposed to great heights, hazardous chemicals, heavy equipment, and unprotected but live electricity. The impact of these dangers is seen in the number of work-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths within the construction industry. The Georgia construction industry saw 31 deaths in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It also experienced a rate of 3.1 reportable cases of nonfatal illnesses or injuries within every 100,000 workers in 2014. If you are one of the workers injured in Georgia, contact the Augusta workers’ compensation attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. right away.
Types of Construction Accidents
Construction can be a safer industry if workers and supervisors follow all necessary safety precautions – those that are called for by state and federal law as well as those that just make sense. However, in addition to the inherent risks of the work, the likelihood of certain types of accidents increase when workers and supervisors are forgetful or reckless in regard to safety. Common construction work accidents that lead to worker injuries include:
- Falling: Slips and falls or falling from a significant height are two extremely common causes of construction-related accidents. Workers have to be particularly careful to keep the floors of their work sites free from clutter or slick substances. Small debris, equipment, and cords littered around a work space increase the risk of slipping or tripping. When workers are on a higher floor of a building or scaffolding, there must be fall protections such as personal harnesses or railings and netting.
- Equipment-related: Construction workers handle small to large equipment each day. If the workers mishandle these objects, are not trained on how to use them properly, or the equipment is not well-maintained, then workers are at risk for an accident. For instance, nail guns may seem like a simple tool, but if a worker sets one down without the safety on or if the worker keeps his finger on the trigger while it is aimed toward a person, a deadly accident could happen.
- Electricity-related: Another common issue with equipment is ensuring the electrical connections are all safe and protected. If the cords or another part of the tool are damaged, a worker risks shock or electrocution. Additionally, workers often need to use generators or extension cords to bring power to various work sites. This need to be used per manufacturer’s instructions to ensure no one gets hurt.
- Vehicle-related: Construction workers often drive trucks, forklifts, bulldozers, backhoes, excavators, pavers, and more. They drive vehicles that require special licenses and special training because they are extremely large, heavy, and dangerous. If workers are not particularly careful, they may hit a coworker who is in a blind spot or who is behind the vehicle when it is backing up.
- Falling objects: Construction workers are at risk of being hit in the head from an object or debris falling from a higher platform on a site. The falling object can be sent into flight by a careless worker, a lack of netting protection around the edge of the site or from an object breaking away from a crane. This risk is particularly high if workers are demolishing a building and regularly throwing debris down into a dumpster.
- Fire and chemicals: Workers often work with hazardous and flammable chemicals such as zinc, iron oxide, carbon monoxide, methane, ammonia, and chlorine. These can cause skin, eye, and lung injuries. Additionally, some chemicals on construction sites are highly flammable if in the presence of other chemicals or near sparks. Chemicals must be properly labeled, stored, and handled to reduce the risk of accidents.
- Repetitive motions: When workers are placed on a task where they must perform the same movements over and over for hours, they are at risk for particular injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Repetitive motions are necessary in construction, but it is important that workers have the proper breaks or variety of tasks on a project.
- Weather hazards: Construction workers increase their risk of injury by heading to work in unsafe weather conditions. When the work site is particularly hot and not well ventilated, workers are at a higher risk of heat stroke. In the reverse situation, and overly cold site without heating can lead to frostbite.
- Workplace violence: Of all of the 148 fatal work injuries in Georgia in 2014, 32 of them were from violence. Construction workers are at risk of workplace assaults and homicides by their coworkers and other who come onto their work sites.
Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance System
For employees covered by workers’ compensation, they need to notify their employer of any work-related injury or illness right away in order to receive benefits. It is best to notify an employer as soon as possible, but workers have up to 30 days to tell their supervisor or boss.
Once the employer has been notified, which may come from actual knowledge of an accident, it will tell the insurer. You will need to submit a form to properly file a claim for benefits. While notification needs to take place within 30 days of the illness or injury, you have up to one year to claim benefits. However, most workers make a claim quickly in order to have their medical expenses covered and receive wages.
Your Legal Options
The premise of workers’ compensation insurance is that injured workers can have their medical costs paid for and receive some wages while they are off work or disabled, but in turn, they cannot sue to hold their employer responsible. Employers are immune from personal injury and tort suits. Instead, workers may only be able to file a lawsuit if the employer acted intentionally to cause injury or was egregiously negligent.
Call an Augusta Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If your workers’ compensation benefits were denied, you should contact the experienced Workers Compensation attorneys in Augusta GA at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. immediately. Your best option may not be to try to head to court. Instead, you may just need a strong attorney to help you appeal your denial and fight for your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
Additionally, an attorney can advise you on whether you have a claim against a third party. While you cannot sue your employer, you may have a personal injury claim against a third party who came onto your work site and caused your injuries. Contact our law offices today to learn more.