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Workers’ Compensation – Benefits Injured Workers are Legally Entitled to Receive

All types of working environments present risks of accident-causing injuries to employees; however, risks of accidents, which can cause severe injuries or even death, is always so much higher in construction sites than in any other workplace in the US.

Hazardous substances, sharp and metallic heavy tools, heavy duty vehicles and machineries, great heights, hazards from ladders and scaffolds, electrical wirings and excavations and trenches – these are just some of the causes of dangers construction workers are exposed to everyday. Due to all these, plus the carelessness of some workers or employers and their failure to strictly comply with job safety laws, accidents, which could otherwise have been prevented, often occur. Examples of these “preventable” accidents include:

  • Workers falling from roofs, ladders or scaffolds (this is actually the most common form of accident in construction sites)
  • A worker getting electrocuted due to power lines, construction equipment and construction vehicles that are not insulated
  • Collapsing trenches burying or caving-in on workers
  • A worker getting caught and crushed in-between objects, getting hit by a construction vehicle that is changing directions or backing up, or getting hit by falling tools or cement-filled buckets.

In 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA was founded as an offshoot of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (also called OSH Act) of 1970. OSHA’s major task, since its foundation, has been to strictly implement OSH Act’s directives, which is for employers to provide all their workers or employees a safe and healthy working environment.

According to the US Department of Labor, for the past 40 years, OSHA, state authorities, safety and health professionals and advocates, and employers, have caused an impact where workplace safety is the issue. Since 1970, from 38 fatal accidents a day, deaths are down to 12 per day (based on 2013 records), while injuries and illnesses have been reduced from 10 per 100 workers to only 3.

For all the good results brought about by the strict implementation of workplace safety laws there are people whose efforts should be appreciated; however, it should escape the attention of authorities and employers that accidents still take place and a number of workers still get injured or die as a result.

Workplace injuries make victims unable to work, resulting in lost income and costly medical treatment that can very well put workers and their families in precarious financial situations.

Injured workers, the firm continues, can apply for the benefits (that they are legally entitled to receive) from their own state’s Workers’ Compensation department. While these will cover cost of medical treatment and a part of their monthly income, among others, (a very important financial assistance to injured workers, indeed), it cannot be denied that getting one’s application approved can be very challenging. Many insurers and employers unfortunately seek to prevent injured workers from receiving the benefits they are legally entitled to. One major reason, of course, is because insurers intend to rake in profits, not make huge payments.

Job Injuries, Job-Related Injuries and the Threat of Silicosis

On the afternoon of March 15, 2008, a tower crane being used in the construction of a 43-story concrete- framed building in New York, New York, collapsed, resulting to the death of six workers and one civilian. When the accident occurred, the workers were said to be setting lateral tie beams which were supposed to provide lateral support to the crane from the 18th floor.

Despite the damage wrought by this tower crane accident, it may still be considered minimal compared to the many other construction and industrial accidents in the past which claimed many lives, injured so many others and destroyed properties worth millions of dollars. The continuous occurrence of workplace accidents, despite their being preventable, only show that occupational dangers are still faced by all kinds of employees, regardless of the type of work they were hired to do and the workplace where they perform their job; it is also undeniable that some occupational dangers are much less serious than others, causing nothing more than minor injuries, while others are severe, able to cause major changes in the lives of those who get injured and their families.

Data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) show that, in 2007, worker death tolls were 5,488 for job injuries, which are injuries occurring in relation to one’s job, or injuries that arise due to, and during, employment, and 49,000 for job-related injuries, or injuries which may be sustained even outside of the company’s premises (in connection to this, the US Department of Labor considers as work-related any injury sustained by those working at home or working in a home office, so long as such injury or illness is directly related to the work they are being paid for); about 4 million workers were also reported to have suffered non-fatal work-related injuries. Most of these injuries involved workers in construction sites, where millions of workers are employed and regularly exposed to heavy equipment, sharp tools, toxic substances, and many other possible causes of bodily harm.

According to the website of The Law Offices of Jeff Benton, employers have the primary duty to see to it that their employees are protected from possible workplace mishaps, which can cause job injuries which, in turn, can result to loss of income, huge medical bills, reduced earning potential, and so forth. Due to these financially burdensome repercussions, the said firm informs those who may get injured of their right to pursue compensation for any injury they have unfortunately sustained.

Injuries are not the only concern of the government and employers, though, for hundreds of thousands of workers, many of whom are already retired and sick, also get diagnosed with illnesses that have developed due to prolonged and regular exposure to poisonous substances at work. One kind of substance that has caused serious lung disease in workers is silica (or crystalline silica), one of earth’s most common minerals and a basic component of granite and sand.

Foundry workers, miners and sandblasters are among those who are regularly exposed to silica and, therefore, the ones most in danger of developing silicosis, a serious lung disease, pulmonary tuberculosis or lung cancer, which can be caused by inhalation of silica particles.

According to the website of Williams Kherkher, there are three types of silicosis, namely:

  • Simple chronic silicosis – develops at least 20 years after having been exposed to low amounts of silica particles or dust
  • Accelerated silicosis – takes about 5 to 15 years to develop due to exposure to larger amounts of silica particles
  • Acute silicosis – the result of exposure to huge amounts of silica. This usually develops after weeks or months of exposure to silica’s toxic dust.

Silicosis, has no cure or particular treatment, other than bronchodilators, cough suppressants, and, if needed, oxygen. A person who is suffering from this type of lung disease can fall into deep financial problems fast due to the high cost of medical treatment alone. It is, therefore, important that he or she find a seasoned personal injury lawyer immediately for the possible compensation that he or she may be allowed by the law to receive.