Working in the construction industry can be a rewarding and lucrative opportunity. Unfortunately, it is also dangerous. Whether you routinely work on large-scale sites, in commercial developments or on home projects, your face serious risks each and every day. So what are you supposed to do if you suffer injuries at work?
In most cases, a person who is hurt in a workplace accident can get compensation for their injuries. Workers' compensation benefits cover things like medical bills and lost wages. While hopefully you will never have to experience an accident for which you need compensation, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Construction injuries are common and complicated
Unlike other industries, construction work is a highly physical job that involves lots of dangerous equipment. You could be working on a piece of scaffolding that fails. Falling machinery might strike you on the way down. Electrocution, asbestos exposure, machinery failure and more can all happen in the blink of an eye.
Nearly everyone understands the dangers of construction work, but that does not mean accidents are always straightforward. Factors such as your employer's compliance with safety standards and OSHA -- Occupational Safety and Health Administration -- could also play a role in your claim if you choose to pursue workers' compensation benefits.
What are OSHA regulations?
OSHA has been around since 1970 and sets out safety regulations for workplaces to which employers must adhere. Even though the physical site might change daily, OSHA includes construction sites in its definition of workplace. However, the fluid nature of construction sites can make it somewhat difficult to pin down who is responsible for a violation of an OSHA safety standard that resulted in injury.
In general, OSHA will hold whoever was in charge of the construction site at the time of the accident responsible for any non-compliance. Because of this, both general and sub-contractors could be responsible. Property owners often establish their own safety rules in addition to OSHA's standards, so it is important to see whether the person in charge of the site at the time of the accident also violated any of those rules. That information can be important when applying for benefits.
Workers' compensation can help
Construction site injuries are usually severe. If you were hurt on the job, you are probably dealing with significant medical bills on top of lost wages from missing work. You might feel tempted to return to work before you are ready, but there are other options.
In New Jersey, victims who suffer injuries at work can apply for workers' compensation benefits. While these benefits can be an essential financial lifeline, the application process can be daunting and initial denials are not uncommon. If you need help applying for benefits or appealing a denial, an experienced attorney can provide invaluable guidance on the matter.