Unique Conditions For Construction Site Injuries
In most American workplaces, workers’ compensation is the only option available for financial assistance after a work-related injury. However, liability for construction site injuries is more complex. Unlike an office workplace, many of these job sites involve workers with different employment situations. There may be one company handling the ironwork duties, while several independent contractors and subcontractors work with them in other roles.
If someone with a different employer acts negligently and causes an injury, the injured party could hold them liable in a personal injury lawsuit. Examples include property owners, architects, and equipment manufacturers. Determining liability for construction site accidents is much more complex than liability in other work injury cases. It’s usually necessary to enlist the guidance of an experienced work injury attorney who can investigate your claim and determine who was responsible.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit will not affect your ability to receive workers’ compensation. These claims are separate from work benefits and are meant to provide additional compensation for noneconomic expenses, such as pain and suffering.
Ironworker Occupational Hazards
Construction is widely known as one of America’s dangerous industries, and ironworkers have one of the highest injury rates across all industries. According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 ironworkers ranked 5th in fatal injury rates.
In such a dangerous occupation, it’s vital to stress the importance of following safety rules. Many of these injuries and deaths could be avoided if worksites were run more safely. The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union (AFL-CIO) has identified the following as the most deadly occupational hazards for ironworkers:
- Falls – Workers are at risk of falling through unprotected floor openings, during installation of floors and roof decking, from collapses of unsecured open web steel joists or unsupported columns, and inadequate fall protection.
- Contact with objects and equipment – Hazards include falling objects, tools, materials.
- Cuts and lacerations – Ironworkers routinely work with sharp objects and tools, which could lead to serious lacerations.
- Muscle strains and repetitive motion injuries – These workers frequently lift, carry, and transport heavy materials. The physically demanding nature of the work can cause muscle strains and injuries which build up over time due to repetitive tasks.
- Caught between machinery or structures – These are some of the most severe work accidents and involve crushing injuries when caught between objects, such as a steel beam and a piece of heavy machinery.
- Impalements – These accidents usually occur due to unprotected reinforcing dowels. Ironworker safety standards specifically outline protections against impalement hazards.
- Electrical hazards – Ironworkers frequently work in close proximity to high-voltage power lines. If a worker makes direct contact or a piece of heavy machinery makes contact with one of these lines, a serious electrical accident could occur. Defective or poorly maintained electrical equipment also poses a serious risk to workers.
- Heat illnesses – This type of work is done outdoors, which means exposure to dangerously high temperatures during the summer. Employees should have access to plenty of water and take regular breaks in the shade to avoid conditions like heatstroke.
- Toxic exposure – These job sites frequently involve the use of chemicals which can cause occupational illnesses if inhaled. Other airborne hazards include asbestos and lead, which can lead to debilitating and fatal illnesses like mesothelioma and lead poisoning.
Remember that workers’ compensation benefits are available for any injury or illness which was caused by your job duties. This includes both accidental injuries and slowly building ones, as well as occupational illnesses due to toxic exposure.
Do Injured Ironworkers Need Lawyers?
In order to give yourself the best chance of recovering the full compensation you’re entitled to, we recommend hiring an experienced work injury lawyer. Legal counsel will be useful throughout the process of filing a claim for benefits. A respected attorney can help you get through the process quickly without facing resistance from your employer’s insurance carrier. If your claim has been denied, your lawyer can help you get through the appeals process.
Additionally, he or she can determine if you qualify for other forms of benefits like Social Security disability and if you have a solid personal injury case against a negligent third party. If you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal ironworker accident, our legal counsel is here to help you pursue a wrongful death claim.
Because nearly every ironworker is employed in the construction industry, these cases are usually complex. It will often require a thorough legal review of your case in order to uncover all possible options for compensation.