Jan 2020

Why construction safety matters

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

The calendar year 2018 saw 4,779 worker fatalities in the private sector nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The construction industry accounted for an unacceptable 1,008 of those deaths, about one in five, or 21.1 percent.

The majority of fatalities – 58.6 percent – were in the “Fatal Four” categories. These include:

  1. Falling from a height: 338 deaths, or 33.5 percent.
  2. Being struck by an object: 112 deaths, or 11.1 percent.
  3. Electrocution: 86 deaths, or 8.5 percent.
  4. Caught in/between (getting caught in or crushed by equipment or objects): 55 deaths, or 5.5 percent.

That totals 591 worker lives for the year. The risk is greater for employees who work alone, according to the bureau.

Putting safety first

Too few construction companies see safety as an investment, but a safety program can boost morale and increase productivity. According to Occupational Health & Safety magazine, construction companies often fail in this area because:

  • They rely heavily on personal protection equipment to keep workers safe from harm. In many cases, the equipment is not adequate for the circumstances. A hard hat, for example, is not going to save a worker from injury in a significant fall. Additional measures should be taken to ensure worker safety.
  • They don’t have a monitoring system in place for employees who are working alone. Supervisors have no way of knowing when their workers need immediate medical attention.
  • There is a lack of an emergency response system to handle injuries in a timely manner. Companies must be prepared to respond to emergencies by having a plan in place. The plan should be clear, shared with employees at all levels and practiced on a regular basis.
  • They do not recognize or acknowledge that ignoring basic safety measures can be illegal. Maybe they don’t care. Maybe they’re incompetent. Regardless, companies can face major fines, lawsuits, and the loss of licenses and contracts.

When safety isn’t first

If you have been injured in a construction site accident, you may be facing a lengthy rehabilitation or permanent disability. You are unable to work, pay your bills or support your family. Your employer is unlikely to admit any responsibility. They may, in fact, blame you. Their insurance company will pressure you to accept a lowball financial settlement because they know you need money. The workers’ compensation system is seemingly designed to frustrate you at every turn. At worst, you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one.

The workers’ compensation attorneys at The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl have been handling cases just like yours in Rhode Island and Massachusetts since 1980. Let us put our decades of experience to work securing the future for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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