Construction Sites’ Fatal Four

Construction Sites’ Fatal Four

Jun 29

Besides being mandated and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ensuring employee safety and health in the workplace is also an obligation that common law imposes on all employers. These OSHA mandate and common law obligation are being highlighted due to the still high rate of workplace injuries and fatal accidents in working environments, especially construction sites.

Based on the 2013 record of the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, working environments accounted for 4,405 deaths; 796 of these deaths (this number is a preliminary count) were in construction sites, with the top four causes being: slips, trips, and falls; getting struck by a heavy or moving object; electrocution; and, being caught between objects – also known in the construction industry as the “Fatal Four.”

Falls, which account for about 40 % of all construction site injuries and deaths, are frequently due to poorly maintained or assembled scaffolding and work platforms, elevated surfaces or uneven floors, improper use of ladders, unnoticeable ramps and excavations, unprotected sides and edges, overhanging steel bars, lack of training on observance and strict implementation of safety measures, lack of protective gear and/or equipment, and so forth.

Being struck by a heavy or moving object is the next leading cause of injuries and deaths in construction sites. Getting hit by falling tools or construction vehicles are examples of this, while resulting injuries can include injuries to the head and/or neck, brain injury, back injury, etc.

The third most common cause of harm among construction site workers is electrocution. Damaged high voltage wires and lack of ground fault can cause severe injuries (or even death) to unsuspecting workers, many of whom have suffered serious burns, disfigurement or limb amputation.

Disfigurement or a limb getting amputated is also common when a worker gets caught or wedged between heavy or sharp objects, resulting to injuries that require days away from work. Some injuries are also severe enough to leave a worker disabled and unable to work again.

The many different dangers construction workers are made to face every day contribute to why failure to comply with safety and health standards that will result in a lack of employee protection against accident hazards or illness is a violation of the OSHA mandate to which an employer can be held totally liable.

And, if proven guilty, he or she can be ordered by the court to compensate the injured worker. According to personal Injury lawyer, Ali Mokaram, This compensation is completely different from the benefits an injured worker will receive from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance benefit.

The Jones Act: Providing Compensation to Seamen Who Suffer Job-related Injuries or Illnesses While at Sea

The Jones Act: Providing Compensation to Seamen Who Suffer Job-related Injuries or Illnesses While at Sea

Apr 16

Unlike regular workers or employees (whose work is land-based), those whose job description qualify them to the title “seaman” are not covered by the State-required and regulated Workers’ Compensation, a program that provides financial benefits to workers who sustain injuries while performing their job or who develop work-related illnesses. They are however, covered under the Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a federal law designed to protect American workers who get ill or injured, or who die at sea. Under this Act, seamen who suffer injuries at sea are legally allowed to recover compensation from their employers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, water transportation workers usually work for long periods and can be exposed to all kinds of weather.

Though the law does not distinctly define just who may be identified as a “seaman,” it is clear that not all those who work on or near the water qualify for the benefits provided under the Jones Act. This concern leaves maritime lawyers consulting texts of court decisions in order to determine whether a crew member may indeed be identified as a seaman (based on court definition, a seaman is someone who works on a vessel or fleet operating in navigable waters, that is waterways that are being used for interstate or foreign commerce).

The ability to file a lawsuit (based on negligence) is probably the most important benefit the Jones Act ensures those who qualify. Failure to prove employer negligence, however, can result to freedom of an employer from being fully accountable for the injury or illness suffered by his or her workers.

A court may rule that an employer (or a co-worker) is guilty of negligence if he or she takes unreasonable risks which result to a worker getting injured. If negligence is proven, the injured seaman can be awarded economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages covers cost of medical treatment, lost income and loss of earning capacity; non-economic damages, on the other hand, pay for the pains and sufferings of the injured.

Sometimes, rather than a direct act of negligence by an employer or a co-worker, injury or illness turns out to be a consequence of an employer’s failure to improve a vessel’s substandard condition, making the vessel “unseaworthy.” Under the Law of Unseaworthiness, shipowners who fail to provide their workers a seaworthy vessel, a vessel that is appropriate for their intended use, will be held liable for personal injuries sustained by their crew. This law otherwise implies that shipowners have a legal responsibility in ensuring that their ship is manned by a competent crew, is properly equipped and, most important of all, in safe working order.

Besides compensation for economic and non-economic damages, the law firm Williams Kherkher mentions in its website another compensatory benefit that injured crew members can collect: compensation for maintenance and cure. Maintenance refers to the monetary benefit paid to the injured crew member. This benefit in meant to cover room and board expenses or necessary household expenses, like mortgage and utilities. Cure, on the other hand, is meant to cover medical and rehabilitative care until the injured makes as complete a medical recovery as possible. This maintenance and cure benefit is very much like the Workers’ Compensation benefits; it is awarded to injured crew members without taking into account the conduct of the employer or ship owner.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

What is Workers’ Compensation?

May 02

Worker’s compensation is the primary safety net for employees that endure injuries while on the job. It is a procedure that outlines the necessary steps a business must take to ensure that an injured employee receives adequate financial compensation. This compensation could be for lost wages or medical bills acquired from the workplace injury.

Filing for workers’ compensation is similar to filing for any other insurance claim. The request for benefits is not a lawsuit against the employee’s company. States outline specific obligations that companies have when their employee is injured on the job. This most often includes reimbursement for medical care, temporary disability, permanent disability, or rehabilitation.

Medical care includes any medical expenses that an employee may require to treat their injury. Most workers’ compensation includes access to the company physician for up to 30 days. After this, the injured party may choose to use their own doctor. Often, workers’ compensation even includes round trip mileage to the hospital to receive treatment or medication.

More serious injuries may require temporary or permanent disability leave. When an accident results in a physical injury that inhibits an employee from working, they may be entitled to a fraction of their lost wages while they recover. When the injury is severe enough to completely remove the employee from working or competing for jobs in the work force, they may be entitled to significant financial reward. Permanent disability payment takes into consideration an employee’s occupation, age, extent of injury, and wages at the time of impairment.

Vocational rehabilitation is another option for employees with debilitating injuries. Some workers’ compensation programs will include aid in finding a replacement job. This may include financial assistance during the time of unemployment, similar to temporary disability payments.

Workers’ compensation is a necessary financial aid that injured employees rely on during their time of need. If your employer is wrongfully denying access to your workers’ compensation after sustaining an injury at work, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area to discuss your legal options.

Preventing Workplace Injury and Disability

Preventing Workplace Injury and Disability

Jun 08

Employers and employees alike prefer not to have to claim for workers’ compensation for workplace injury and disability. Employers have to pay higher premiums when employees make a claim against workers’ comp, and high rates of absenteeism and employee turnover is detrimental to productivity. Also, in general no employee wants to be injured or disabled. Many employers rely on professional pre-employment screening services to ensure would-be employees have the physical and mental capacity for certain tasks in prevent workplace injury and disability. In a significant number of cases, this works out well for both employers and employees.

However, some injuries or disabilities cannot be reasonably foreseen or prevented. It could be a slip and fall, equipment malfunction, or medical problems inherent to certain types of work i.e. repetitive motion injuries for data encoders. In such cases, pre-employment screening would be less than effective, and workers’ compensation insurance kicks in.

In general, Texas falls below the nation’s average in terms of workplace injuries in the private sector. However, it tops the list in certain industries such as construction and since the state (the only one in the U.S.) does not require private employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage, this means that employees who get seriously injured on the job face a grim future. It is even grimmer if the injury leads to permanent disability.

Of course, injured workers who face disability that will last at least 12 months may be eligible for benefits under Social Security. However, it is a long and complicated process. The best solution to avoid a lot of problems and possible litigation is for private employers in Texas to ensure that the workplace is safe more than any other state because of the lack of workers’ compensation insurance.