Posted Jun 2018
There is no doubt that construction is a dangerous industry. Fortunately, many workplace safety regulations have been put in place to protect construction workers from injury. Still, due to the abundance of hazards, not to mention the physically demanding nature of the job, accidents and injuries still occur at a high rate.
Because of the risks involved, injuries suffered on construction sites are not only more common, but also tend to be more severe when compared to workplace injuries at most other jobs. Hazards such as heavy machinery, working at significant heights, and exposed chemicals or electrical wiring all pose serious threats to construction workers and can lead to serious injury, disability, or death. The New York workers’ compensation system is designed to help construction workers who are injured on the job pay their medical bills and stay afloat if they miss work or cannot return to the same job. In the event of a work-related fatality, the law provides for death benefits for the worker’s family.
Common Injuries Faced by Construction Workers
Falls – Falls from significant heights, which are the leading cause of construction fatalities, are a common cause of injury, as construction workers often find themselves working on rooftops, ladders, and scaffolding. Workers may also get hurt falling down unfinished stairs or simply tripping over materials or tools on the construction site.
Burns and electrocution – Activities like welding and the use of high-powered machinery may lead to burns in the absence of adequate protective gear and precautions. Also, the presence of exposed electrical wiring creates a risk of electrocution, which typically results in a burn but can also lead to much more serious injuries including nerve damage and cardiac arrest.
Injuries involving heavy equipment – Construction workers rely on a variety of oversized vehicles and heavy machinery to get the job done. Operating heavy construction equipment requires skill and an extra dose of caution, as the size and power involved can lead to grave injury. Among the most dangerous pieces of construction equipment are forklifts, dump trucks, backhoes, and cranes.
Vision and hearing loss – When not adequately protected, the eyes are particularly vulnerable to injuries on the construction site, especially during tasks like welding and grinding, or whenever there are flying particles in the air. Likewise, construction workers must take care to protect their ears from extremely loud construction equipment.
Exertion injuries – Even when the obvious hazards are avoided, construction remains a physically demanding job that takes a toll on its workers. Construction workers, like anyone performing heavy lifting and manual labor, are susceptible to sprains, strains, slipped discs, and other muscle and joint injuries that can put them out of work for an extended period of time. Repetitive stress injuries like bursitis, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome may also affect construction workers who perform the same tasks again and again.
Safety is one of the top concerns in the construction industry and the primary focus of the laws that regulate it, but construction accidents still occur. If you are a construction worker and have been injured at work, it is important to know your rights under New York’s workers’ compensation laws. If you are injured on the job, you are likely entitled to have your medical bills paid, and you may receive cash benefits if you miss work or cannot return to work.