Any time a construction worker is required to work either above the ground or below it, the risk of death or serious injury greatly increases. The bereaved family of a Haverhill construction worker learned this sad lesson when their husband and father died in an unexplained fall down an elevator shaft.
Putting on a brave face after an injury is common among many people, including Massachusetts' residents. The injured person tries to take it in their stride and move on. Though this might seem like a good idea at the time, failing to take essential steps after a workplace accident could have serious legal repercussions that many people don't realize.
In a welcome move, the governor of Massachusetts signed a law that would designate cancer as a work-related injury for firefighters across the state. Under the new law, medical treatment costs for firefighters will be covered, along with the time they have missed because of their illness.
Many construction projects get underway during the summer in Massachusetts, including those to improve the roadways. Generally, the signs illuminating work zones are quite obvious-drivers are advised to slow their speeds and given various directions through different signage and these measures are taken not just for the safety of the drivers but also for the construction workers. Unfortunately, when the warnings are not taken seriously, construction workers can get injured in a construction site accident.
Much has been said about an employer's obligations to create a safe working environment for their employees. This means a working environment free from serious hazards, and one that follows the standards are rules created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA requires that employees find and correct safety and health problems. This is done by making changes to the working conditions, such as switching to safer chemicals, rather than simply relying on personal protective gear to reduce the risk of injuries or illnesses.
The construction site fall that left workers injured in Massachusetts discussed in last week's blog highlights one of the most common types of injuries suffered in construction site accidents -- those caused by falls. Construction workers experienced 4.3 non-fatal injuries and illnesses per 100 workers, amounting to more than 9 percent of the 3.3 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses experienced in a year. Of the reported injuries and illnesses, falls accounted for more than 22 percent. When a worker is injured at a worksite during the course of their employment, they may be able to file a workers' compensation claim to cover their medical expenses.
Though some workplaces are definitely more dangerous than others, this does not mean that an employer is excused from their obligation of removing hazards and minimizing risks in that place. Even where it is not possible to remove all possible dangers, employers need to take steps to educate their workers about them and train them as to how to avoid them. This is the employer's duty. The employer must create a safe working environment and when this duty is neglected, a workplace accident that could lead to serious workplace injuries is often the result.