Starting on January 1, 2015, employers had new reporting requirements for workplace injuries. Under the new rules, employers had to tell the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within 24 hours if a worker lost an eye, suffered an amputation, or was hospitalized due to a work injury. More than a year after the new requirement went into effect, OSHA has published a report about the serious injuries suffered among workers. Unfortunately for those in the construction industry, construction workers were second only to manufacturing workers in the number of hospitalizations and amputations which occurred over the course of the year.
Working in construction can be dangerous for lots of reasons. Employees often have to do high work, so there is a risk of falling. Heavy machinery and equipment is present throughout construction sites, and dangerous tools and machines are regularly used. Items can fall onto workers, and workers can become trapped in trenches or suffer injuries due to overexertion. Whatever the specifics of the causes of injury, the fact is that construction workers remain at significant risk of getting hurt.
Compounding this problem is the fact an injury can make it impossible for construction workers to continue doing their jobs. Construction work is physical labor and the loss of a limb or other damage to the body can effectively end a career. The high risks of a permanent reduction in wages due to a workplace injury make it especially important for workers to understand their rights after a construction accident.
The Risks to Construction Workers
OSHA's report revealed there were 10,388 incidents over the course of 2015 in which severe work-related injuries had to be reported. These reports came only from states under federal OSHA regulations and not from states administering their own health and safety programs. Of the 10,388 incidents, there were 2,644 incidents in which workers suffered an amputation and 7,636 incidents in which workers were hospitalized.
Manufacturing was the most dangerous industry, with 26 percent of hospitalizations and 57 percent of amputations happening in that field. Construction, however, was the second most dangerous of the professions. In total, 19 percent of the people hospitalized were working in construction and 10 percent of the amputations occurred among construction workers.
While these numbers are bad enough, OSHA believes as many as 50 percent of severe injuries aren't being reported despite the fact the agency is supposed to be alerted. There are many reasons for injuries to be underreported, including small- and medium-sized employers who are not aware of new OSHA requirements, or employer concerns about triggering penalties. Some employers may also feel the cost of non-reporting is low and the risk of OSHA finding out about the failure to report is small due to understaffing of the agency.
Whether employers report injuries or not, employees should alert their employers when they get hurt so they can maintain the right to make a workers' compensation claim if their employer has opted into the workers' comp program. If the employer isn't participating in workers' comp, construction workers could file a civil suit after an accident.
If you were injured or a loved one was injured or killed in an accident, contact us today. The Law Office of John R. Solis has experience protecting the rights of accident victims in Del Mar, Hillside, Nye, Laredo and across Texas. Call 866-465-9093 for a free case consultation.