The recent release of the preliminary Industrial Commission’s 2015 Annual Report holds some troubling news. They show a dramatic 34% jump in lost workday claims in the construction industry between 2011 and 2012, leading one to wonder if the trend has continued and construction accidents are on the rise.While the Commission report doesn’t provide more recent data, here is a look at why construction accidents may be rising and how to protect yourself if you are injured in a construction accident.
Why Construction Accidents May Be on the Rise
There are a lot of reasons that can lead to an increase in construction accidents. Some have to do with personnel, and others are simply a circumstance of the current economy. Here are some reasons why construction accidents may be increasing:
- More Construction. As the economic recovery continues, especially in the housing sector, there is simply more construction going on. This is a good thing. It means people are buying homes, and new areas are being built. However, simply by increasing the number of workers completing construction, it also increases the number of construction accidents.
- Strict Deadlines. As a result of the increase in construction overall, companies don’t have as long to build a particular building or repair a road. The tighter deadlines are resulting in everyone working faster, which can sometimes mean that dangerous shortcuts are taken. It’s also easier to simply forget an important safety step when you’re in a hurry.
- Untrained Workers. Unfortunately, not every construction company runs a tight ship with everything done as it should be. When work needs to be done quickly, some companies hire untrained workers and simply hope they’ll learn on the job. The result is that workers are unnecessarily put at risk because proper training doesn’t happen.
- Lack of Safety Equipment. While most construction companies provide proper safety equipment, there isn’t always enough to go around. Also, sometimes a supervisor decides that certain equipment isn’t as important, or workers simply fail to use the equipment they have with them. When safety equipment isn’t properly distributed and used, more construction accidents happen.
- Fear of Reporting Safety Violations. No one wants to be the “bad guy” on the construction site, and if workers are untrained or undocumented, they especially don’t want to draw attention. As a result, sometimes safety violations are not reported by construction workers or their supervisors, which means that unsafe work continues and leads to an increase in construction accidents.
What to Do in a Construction Accident
If you are involved in a construction accident, there are specific steps that should be taken right away. Some of these are to ensure that you aren’t hurt further and that other workers are not endangered. Other actions help protect your rights to worker’s compensation and legal reimbursement. Here’s what you should do if you are involved in a construction accident:
- Report the Accident. You may want to brush off the accident and any injury as being minor. To seem strong, you may not want to report the incident to anyone. However, it’s vital to report construction accidents to your supervisor right away so that proper steps can be taken regarding medical care. The last thing you want is time off, or doctor’s appointments, and not be able to get them covered because you didn’t report the accident!
- Accept Medical Care But Get a Second Opinion. Your employer will certainly offer you medical care on the site of the accident, and may take you to a clinic covered by worker’s compensation. That’s great, but be sure you see an independent doctor afterward as well. It’s important to have an impartial assessment of any injuries.
- Get Copies of Paperwork. There will be a lot of paperwork as a result of your accident. Make sure you get copies of all incident forms, photographs, witness statements, and other papers that result from the incident. They can be important if legal action is required.
- Don’t Sign Away Your Rights. The construction company and the insurance company will be in a hurry to get you to sign a settlement offer or a promise that you waive your rights to a lawsuit. You don’t want to sign away your rights. Make sure that you have an independent attorney and that all legal matters are settled before you sign anything.
- Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer. Be sure to speak to an independent lawyer who has worked with construction accidents in the past. Let him or her know about the accident, the injuries, any missed time, and how worker’s compensation was handled. If you are due any additional compensation, a construction accident lawyer will be sure you receive it.
Being in any accident is scary, and construction accidents are no exception. There may be peer pressure or pressure from your boss to pretend everything is fine. However, it’s essential to protect your health and your legal rights. To learn more about construction accidents, or for a free legal consultation, contact Allen & Associates today!