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Roofers regularly churn out long hours of hard labor in hazardous work conditions. They bravely work from high elevations and in extreme temperatures to help keep our homes, businesses, and other buildings safe and secure. In doing so, they risk their own safety.
It should come as no surprise that roofing is one of the most dangerous occupations. Strictly following safety standards can help greatly reduce the risk of injury, but accidents still happen. When roofing employees get injured on the job and are forced to miss days from work, they’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for assistance with medical bills and a portion of lost wages.
What Types Of Injuries Are Covered By Worker’s Comp?
Virtually all New York employers are required to provide all of their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. These benefits are available for any work-related injury or occupational illness. Workers’ comp is a no-fault form of insurance, which means you’re entitled to benefits even if your injury was caused by your own mistake. In return, your employer is usually protected from lawsuits by injured workers, even if employer negligence caused your injury.
This coverage doesn’t only apply to injuries incurred in work accidents. Because of the physical nature of roofing work, it’s common for roofers to slowly develop muscular and skeletal injuries, such as chronic pain or tendinitis. These injuries are also covered, but it’s important to seek medical treatment so a doctor can establish that your condition is directly linked to your job duties.
Work injury circumstances are different for independent contractor roofers and those who work on construction sites. Independent contractors don’t have employer-provided workers’ comp insurance, but they may choose to insure themselves. In either case, injured roofers do have the option to file personal injury lawsuits if a negligent third party (someone other than a co-worker or employer) caused an injury.
If you’re working on a construction site, you’re most likely sharing the site with workers from several different employment sources. You may be working in close proximity with independent contractors, subcontractors, and employees from other companies. While workers’ compensation generally prohibits injured workers from suing their co-workers and employers, they do have the option to sue anyone else if their negligence causes an injury.
Examples of construction site negligence which could lead to a roofing accident include:
Failure to provide proper fall protection, such as guardrails and harnesses
Failure to address roofing hazards, such as uncovered openings or slip, trip, and fall dangers
Electrical hazards, such as scaffolding or ladders being too close to power line
Accidents caused by workers failing to follow safety procedures, such as dropping unsecured tools
If your injury is severe enough to prevent you from working again, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. In some cases, you may qualify for both SSD and workers’ comp. However, your total payments may not exceed 80% of your average weekly wage.
Compensation For Surviving Families Of Fatal Accidents
Losing a family member in an unexpected work accident is one of the most painful things you could go through. While the emotional scars may never heal, your family at least deserves to feel financially secure without the support of your loved one. Workers’ compensation provides death benefits for families in this situation. Additionally, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit for fatal accidents caused by another’s negligence.
Roofing Work Hazards
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As we mentioned above, many roofing work injuries could easily be prevented by following safety standards closely. Occupational hazards which frequently cause accidents and lead to injuries include:
Falls are the most common cause of serious injuries and fatalities among roofers, accounting for 75% of roofing industry fatal work injuries. It’s extremely important for project managers, property owners, and roofers to all be aware of possible fall dangers and to take the proper steps to avoid them.
Place guardrails around roof edges, skylights, and roof openings
Make sure employers are trained in fall-arrest systems and use them consistently
Cover roof openings as soon as possible
Make sure work surfaces are free of debris and other trip and fall hazards
Follow all official Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations
A fall can lead to severe and sometimes disabling injuries, such as:
Back and spinal cord injuries
Traumatic brain injuries
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Roofers are often required to work long hours of physical labor, which involves working from awkward positions and repeating the same motions over and over again. Over time, this can cause various musculoskeletal injuries to slowly build up. Examples include:
Roofers often work nearby electrical sources which can cause serious and fatal injuries if an accident happens. Most fatal roofing accidents involve contact with overhead power lines. Other accidents may involve contact with wiring or transformers and being struck by lightning.
Roofers may not work in heavy rain or snow, but they do work year-round and in extreme temperatures. Exposure to intense heat or cold can lead to serious illnesses, such as heatstroke or frostbite. It’s important for all roofers to take the appropriate safety precautions to reduce this risk. In the summer, frequent hydration, breaks, and sunscreen are all musts. In the winter, properly insulated clothing and breaks to go indoors and warm up can help keep roofers safe.
Power Tools, Machinery, & Equipment
Roofing projects require the use of power tools, heavy machinery, and other equipment. Improper use of these tools can cause injuries, and sometimes defective products lead to accidental injuries. Manufacturers of defective products may be sued for injuries under product liability.
Do Injured Roofers Need Work Injury Lawyers?
Workers in virtually all industries often find themselves in need of a work injury lawyer. This is because the workers’ compensation system is complex and involves powerful insurance companies who specialize in denying claims. It’s often necessary to have your own experienced legal counsel who is prepared to go toe-to-toe with these companies and their lawyers.
Construction work injuries are much more complex because of third party liability concerns. A lawyer can help you determine if you have a strong case for a personal injury claim against a negligent third party, in addition to helping you secure your workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, some workers may also require Social Security disability benefits.
A lawyer can evaluate your accident and injuries and help you seek all available forms of financial compensation. This legal guidance is often the best way to secure every penny you need and deserve while you’re recovering from your injuries. At Banville Law, we’ll happily evaluate your claim in a free consultation, and we only ask for payment if and when we help you secure compensation.