When you think about construction site deaths and catastrophic industries, what comes to mind? Most people answer falls from height, building site collapses or some kind of mechanical failures that put workers in harm's way.
But in reality, construction sites are inherently dangerous workplaces, and disasters and even deaths can occur abruptly without any warning. Consider this tragic case that occurred a few years ago across the river in New Jersey.
He never saw it coming
A 58-year-old man delivering drywall to a construction site was killed when a tape measure weighing a pound fell on top of his head from 50 stories above the street. The man did not have on a hard hat, and succumbed to his injuries.
The Somerdale man had his hard hat stashed in his truck but had not thought to don it before entering the construction site. Had he been wearing it when the tape measure came crashing down on him, he likely would have survived the incident.
Likewise, had the worker 50 stories above taken the time to tie off his equipment to his tool belt, the accident could have been avoided entirely.
Assume danger is always present
If workers take the position that the moment they step onto the job site they should prepare for danger, they can be much safer. Wearing hard hats, steel-toed boots and always tying off when working above ground can prevent many accidents from becoming tragedies.
Company owners have a duty to their workers to prevent egregious safety lapses that can harm them on the job. That means employing safety personnel to review and monitor the sites throughout the day to alert the foreman to any potential safety violations.
But workers should also be proactive about their own and their co-workers' safety. The old adage "if you see something, say something" is applicable here. If you see a co-worker beside you on the scaffold who isn't tied off, remind them of this serious safety lapse.
When injuries occur
By law, most on-the-job injuries must be covered by workers' compensation benefits. This is not to say that a company might not try to contest a worker's claim, however.
After a workplace injury, your first priority must be to seek treatment. Once your condition has stabilized, you will need to formally notify your employer of your injury and the circumstances surrounding it. Your medical bills and treatment costs should be covered by workers' comp. After a brief waiting period, you may qualify for cash benefits as well.
Learning more about your right to seek compensation can give you the confidence you need to prevail in your claim after an on-the-job injury.