According to a report from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, the state reached an 11-year high in workplace deaths in 2017. The most recent data sets available at the time of the 2018 report revealed that there were 79,800 non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses in the state for the year, with 43,400 requiring that an injured worker miss days from work.
Construction sites are a common source of workplace accidents, simply due to the presence of heavy equipment, elevated locations in which work is taking place, and many different activities going on at once. If you’ve been injured in a construction accident, you are likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. An experienced Brockton construction accident lawyer can help you understand the process of obtaining this compensation to learn more read on.
Common Causes of Construction Site Injuries
The construction industry accounted for more than 20 percent of the nation’s 4,674 fatal workplace injuries in 2017, as noted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Most of these injuries occurred due to what is known as construction’s fatal four, which are:
- Falls: 381 out of 971 total workplace deaths in the construction industry were due to individuals falling from a height, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all construction accident deaths. In Massachusetts, falls, slips, and trips were the cause of a quarter of all workplace deaths.
- Struck by object: 8 percent of the nation’s construction accident deaths were caused by a worker getting struck by an object. In Massachusetts, 6 workers died from this cause at construction sites.
- Electrocutions: In 2017, 71 people across the nation lost their lives due to electrocution at a construction site. While none of these workers were in Massachusetts, electrocutions accounted for more than 7 percent of the construction accident deaths in the U.S.
- Caught in-between: 5.1 percent of fatalities from construction accidents occurred after being caught in or compressed by construction equipment or objects, or struck by, caught, or crushed in a collapsing structure, equipment, or material, OSHA reports.
In Massachusetts, the cause of more than 41 percent of all worker deaths was transportation accidents. Other causes of construction site deaths in Massachusetts in 2017 include exposure to harmful substances or environment and workplace violence. The number of deaths caused by workplace violence at the construction site in 2017, which was 5, more than doubled over the previous year.
OSHA is the federal agency responsible for regulating and overseeing safety procedures at work sites. The agency has 2,100 inspectors, including 29 in Massachusetts. This means that there is one inspector for roughly 115,863 workers statewide. Some of the most common citations that OSHA issues to businesses across the country are:
- Lack of fall protection
- Violations to the hazard communication standard
- Violations to general scaffolding safety standards
- Lack of respiratory protection
- Failure to control hazardous energy
- Improper or unsafe use of ladders
- Failure to observe powered industrial truck safety regulations
- Improper or inadequate fall protection training
- Safety violations regarding machinery and machine guarding
- Lack of proper eye and face protection
OSHA reports that in the more than four decades of the organization’s existence, workplace deaths have decreased from 38 a day in 1970 to 14 a day in 2017. With 10 regional offices and 85 local area offices, the agency conducted more than 32,000 federal inspections in 2018, along with nearly 41,000 inspections in accordance with state plans.
A Brief Look at Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation
If you suffer a work-related injury or illness in Massachusetts, your expenses will likely be covered by the state’s workers’ compensation program. Some benefits provided through this program include:
- Temporary total incapacity benefits: If your work-related injury or illness causes you to miss work for six or more full or partial days, which don’t have to be consecutive, you may qualify for 60 percent of your gross average weekly wage. This benefit maxes out at the state’s average weekly wage, which is determined by the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment. This benefit is available for up to 156 weeks, with compensation beginning on the sixth day of incapacity. You will not be paid for the first five days of incapacity unless your work-related injury disables you for 21 calendar days or more.
- Partial incapacity benefits: If your work-related injury allows you to continue working but not at the capacity that you worked before the accident, you may be eligible for this benefit, which will provide two-thirds of your average weekly wage or a minimum of 20 percent of the state’s average weekly wage as well as cost-of-living adjustments for as long as you are disabled.
- Medical benefits: If your work-related injury causes you to seek medical care, you qualify for this benefit, which will provide adequate and reasonable medical care for your condition, including reimbursement for prescriptions and for transportation to and from your medical appointments. For your first medical visit, you must see a care provider that your employer has designated. After the first visit, you may choose your own healthcare provider. Your employer’s insurer has the right to require you to see its preferred provider periodically to evaluate your incapacity.
- Permanent loss of function and disfigurement benefits: This benefit provides a one-time payment if your injury causes permanent loss of specific bodily functions or produces scarring on your face, neck, or hands.
- Survivors’ and dependents’ benefits: If you are the spouse or child of an employee who has died due to a workplace injury, you may be eligible for two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage or the maximum of the state’s average weekly wage at the time of the injury. These benefits are available to children who are under the age of 18 or enrolled as a full-time student, and to spouses who have not remarried. If a spouse remarries, each eligible child will continue to receive $60 a week.
Once you report your claim to the insurance company that provides workers’ compensation coverage for your employer, you will be issued a card with a claim number and contact information on it. Most medical providers will not treat you without this claim number.
How Can a Brockton Construction Accident Lawyer Help Me?
A Brockton construction accident lawyer can help you understand the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim, as well as determine if there is any other source of liability that may pertain to your case. If your claim is denied, your attorney can also help you through the appeals process. For a free consultation and case review, contact the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan online or by calling (508) 588-0422.