Contractor with collapsed scaffolding had prior safety violation

Four employees suffered serious injuries when a scaffold collapsed at a construction site on Route 130 North in New Jersey. One employee was in critical condition after falling about 50 feet. As reported by the Cherry Hill Courier-Post, the contractor previously paid a fine for failing to provide employee protections as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA requires that all contractors provide their employees with safeguards to protect them from falling at a construction site. The right equipment includes safety gear, ladders and harnesses. The employer must also ensure that all workers receive training in the proper usage of the onsite safety gear.

Workers’ compensation claims for construction accidents

Employees injured while working on a construction site can file a claim for workers’ compensation. Falling from scaffolding, for example, may result in a very serious injury requiring surgery, months of recovery and long-term physical therapy. The intent behind workers’ compensation insurance is to provide financial support for an injured employee’s medical expenses, rehabilitation and a portion of lost wages.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA statistics, 20.7% of workplace deaths occurred at construction sites in 2017. Deaths due to falling were the number one reason, followed by workers struck by an object and electrocution. The most frequently issued employer violations are failing to provide fall protections to construction employees. While a contractor may incur fines for OSHA violations, preventing an injured employee from filing for workers’ compensation benefits may result in severe penalties.

Employers may not retaliate or fire an injured employee

A legal action may take place in the event that a contractor attempts to stop an injured employee from filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. An employer may also not fire workers hurt on the job if they need to take some time off to recover. If an employee suffers a fatal accident while working on a construction site, workers’ compensation may provide some benefits to the surviving dependents.