How to get maximum compensation if you’re injured while working at a construction site
According to a study by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), construction jobs contributed $887 billion to the U.S. economy in 2019. In South Carolina alone, the construction industry contributed $12.6 billion that year, which was about 5 percent of the state’s total gross domestic product (GDP).
Construction jobs pay well too. According to the AGC, 4 out of the 5 most numerous construction jobs in South Carolina had a higher median pay than the median pay for employees working in other industries in the state in 2019.
Currently, there are about 10,000 construction companies operating out of South Carolina, employing more than 100,000 workers. And while work in the construction industry is flourishing, the job doesn’t come without risks.
In fact, according to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction jobs account for approximately 20 percent of all workplace fatalities, even though these workers only make up about 5 percent of the U.S. workforce.
Common construction hazards
Given the nature of construction work, construction sites have considerable hazards that can lead to serious injuries or death. Below are the most common construction hazards that result in worker injuries.
Trenches are one of the most dangerous places to work on a construction site. Severe injury or death can occur in trenches because the soil is susceptible to collapsing in certain conditions.
Falling from heights
Falls from ladders, stairways and scaffolding are the number 1 cause of accidents and injuries at construction sites, resulting in injuries from broken bones to serious head trauma.
Construction workers are vulnerable to electrical accidents because they work with power tools, machinery and electrical wires. Electric shock injuries often result from poorly-fitted or poorly-maintained electrical wiring or other components on the construction site.
When a building is constructed, scaffolding is often used to provide stability and protection from the elements. The scaffolding can collapse if it’s not appropriately erected or if the ropes or chains used to secure it break, causing workers on the scaffolding to fall and those working underneath to be crushed.
Cranes should be inspected regularly and utilized appropriately to ensure safe working conditions. Crane injuries can result if the crane tips over or a worker is accidentally struck by the load.
Lack of protective gear
Safety gear, including hard hats, safety goggles, ear protection, and flame-retardant clothing, is necessary to protect workers on construction sites. Misusing these items or ignoring them altogether is not only a violation of OSHA guidelines but also increases workers’ risk of injury or death.
Common occupational illnesses in construction
In addition to injuries such as broken bones, lacerations and head trauma that result from 1-time accidents on the job, workers on construction sites could also be affected by occupational illnesses.
An occupational illness or disease is a health condition that develops over time after working in a particular industry or environment. Below are some common occupational illnesses experienced by construction workers.
According to OSHA, about half of hearing loss cases in the U.S. population result from noise exposure on the job. Exposure to excessive noise can result in tinnitus and deafness, and it may take years before the symptoms become apparent.
These can include conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Many of these diseases result from the inhalation of harmful chemicals or dust on the construction site that can cause irritation, inflammation and permanent damage to the respiratory system.
Dermatitis is a common skin ailment that may result from exposure to certain types of chemicals on the job site, such as wet cement and solvents.
Musculoskeletal disorders are common occupational illnesses experienced by construction workers. They often result from repeated motions, lifting heavy objects, and muscle strain.
Many construction sites contain carcinogenic materials such as asbestos and lead, which can lead to cancer after prolonged exposure. OSHA has put in place regulations requiring employers to conduct regular air monitoring to ensure the safety of their workers against these substances.
Stress and mental health disorders
Working construction can be dangerous, particularly in remote areas or at high altitudes. Workers often experience isolation and stress while on the job site, which can result in mental health issues. Injured workers are also at significant risk of developing depression and anxiety due to trauma.
Workers’ compensation benefits
If you suffer a work injury in South Carolina, you may be entitled to benefits, including reimbursement for lost wages and medical expenses. They include:
- Medical care reimbursement. All medical care required after an injury should be covered by workers’ comp benefits. This includes doctor’s visits, hospital stays, medications, rehabilitation, medical supplies (like crutches) and artificial members.
- Wage replacement. Injured workers are entitled to reimbursement for lost wages while they recover from their injuries. This amount is typically two-thirds of their average weekly wages for a period of time that depends on their disability.
- Death benefits. If a worker dies as a result of their work-related injury or illness, their dependents are entitled to certain benefits.
The total amount of benefits you receive is determined by a number of factors, including work history and disability level. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you calculate what your claim should be worth.
How to secure workers’ comp benefits
There are certain steps you need to take after a work injury to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
Step 1: Seek medical care
After you suffer a work injury, it’s essential to visit a doctor as soon as possible so your injury can be tied to an event at work. Failure to seek immediate medical treatment may cause your claim to be denied.
A doctor will conduct a physical examination to ascertain the extent of your injury. Be sure to provide them with as much information as possible about the incident and notify them of any discomfort you may be experiencing, even if it seems minor.
Step 2: Report the Injury
You should notify your supervisor of the incident as soon as possible, but you have a maximum of 90 days from the date of injury. Your supervisor will then file a report with the South Carolina Department of Labor.
Step 3: File a compensation claim
To obtain worker’s compensation for construction injuries, you must file a worker’s compensation claim within 2 years of the date of your injury.
Step 4: Consult an attorney
Unfortunately, legitimate workers’ comp claims are denied every day. If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. You should contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney for assistance with the process to ensure your rights are protected.
Contact the experienced workers’ comp attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. for help with your claim
If you’ve been injured on the job in South Carolina and are having trouble getting the benefits you deserve, you need the assistance of an experienced workers’ comp attorney who can fight for your rights.
At Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A., we can help you navigate the complicated workers’ comp process and negotiate with your employer and their insurance company so you get the maximum benefits to which you’re entitled. Our firm has more than 30 years of experience fighting for injured workers in South Carolina. We’ve recovered over 300 million dollars for our more than 9,000 satisfied clients, and we’d love the opportunity to help you too.
Contact our office today for your free, no-obligation consultation.