More Construction Workers Taking the Fall for Lax Workplace Rules
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on October 3rd, 2014
Sometimes it’s expensive for companies to keep their workers safe, but frankly, that’s just the cost of doing business.
Problems arise, and workers are injured or killed, when companies don’t follow laws that are aimed at protecting workers and when companies don’t spend the money to provide improved protections for workers.
This tragic situation was just covered extensively in a Sept. 28 story in The Wall Street Journal, which described ongoing battles in the roofing industry between companies that don’t want to step to ensure employee safety and victims who are being maimed or killed due to roof falls from building in the workplace.
The story described how one worker, 64-year-old Jose Olvera, fell eight feet from the roof of a one-story home in Hereford, Ariz., earlier this year and died because he wasn’t wearing a harness or other system that could have stopped his fall. Olvera, an experienced roofer, died on the scene from a head injury, the report said.
“Many contractors say such protection is too expensive or can create new problems,” according to the story. “But other contractors say such protection can saves lives. With a growing number of residential construction workers dying from fatal falls in recent years, the federal government has started requiring fall protection even for one- and two-story buildings as part of an initiative to address problems on residential construction sites.”
At the same time, though, “many contractors and officials in seven states, including Arizona, have refused to comply, setting off a fight between the federal and state governments,” the story reported.
In August, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration “took the unprecedented step of formally proposing to take over construction workplace safety in Arizona because it said the state doesn’t require proper fall protection,” the Journal reported.
Arizona’s state workplace enforcement agency believes that the state’s requirements are adequate, a spokesperson told the Journal. “Contractors have long argued that measures such as training and monitoring of workers constitute appropriate fall protection.”
But that’s just not right.
On-the-job deaths among residential construction workers totaled 190 in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That marked a 23 percent increase from 2011, when 154 workers were killed in such incidents. Fatalities in commercial, municipal and industrial construction went up comparatively by 4 percent during the same period, according to the story.
The problem is that even though residential contractors generally work at lower heights than workers in commercial construction, they tend to be killed in falls more often because their employers typically provide fewer safety protections, the story reported.
That has to change.
Yes, protections aren’t necessarily cheap. Harnesses with retractable ropes can cost up to $300 per worker and can be complicated to use while working, the story said. That can add up to a lot of money depending on how many workers a roofing company employs.
The human cost when such devices are not used, however, is far, far greater if roofers or other construction workers die from falls that could have and should have been prevented at work sites across the United States.
These tragedies underscore the consequences that occur every day across the United States in busy construction sites when profit and indifference replace worker safety. Too often, workers are hurt when companies fail to take the proper precautions for worker safety all in the name of saving time or money.
Workers who are seriously injured on the job should immediately talk with a competent, professional and compassionate attorney about their case to protect themselves and preserve their legal rights. You have a myriad of legal options, including filing for Workers’ Compensation or filing a lawsuit to recover damages if your case warrants additional legal action.
The best way to review your legal strategy is to know your legal options from the start so that you can make the best choices for you and your family.
In the meantime, in the workplace, you can be you own best advocate. If you or someone you love is asked to do something in a workplace that appears to be dangerous or life-threatening, then you need to thoroughly and completely discuss it with the person asking you to perform the dangerous task. You need to be sure that all safety procedures are being followed to the letter and that you are minimizing any and all risks to yourself and others.
And if you still have concerns, then you need to discuss them immediately with others in the workplace until you get a satisfactory reply regarding safety and proper procedures.
If you or someone you love is suffers a workplace injury, you certainly know that a serious work-related accident can be deadly or debilitating for the rest of your life, affecting your personal mobility, earning potential and your livelihood. That’s not something that you want to take lightly.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or someone you love is ever seriously injured in a worksite, workplace or construction accident anywhere in the United States. At MyPhillyLawyer, you can consult with a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney to explore all of your legal rights.
We represent the families of victims who are killed in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.
Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-(866) 352-4572 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.
When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.