El Paso, Texas construction workers and the dangers they face in the workplace
There is some level of risk of suffering occupational injuries and illnesses in nearly every profession and field throughout Texas, and New Mexico. For some, however, the danger may be greater. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, the construction industry has a higher average fatal injury rate than that of all other industries. This is because of the hazards that construction workers face in the workplace.
According to an NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth report, two workers were killed in separate incidents on the same construction site in Argyle recently. A 36-year-old worker died following the collapse of a metal frame for an indoor practice facility. Less than a week later, a 22-year-old man was killed in an accident involving an 18-wheeler. Although details have not been confirmed, it appears that his foot became trapped underneath the large vehicle’s rear axle as it was being driven. Unfortunately, these are just two of the many work-related deaths that occur on construction sites each year. In El Paso, Texas this past February, 2015 a Midwest Steel, Inc. employee died at the new William Beaumont Army Medical Center construction site following a work-related accident.
Common construction site hazards
Although there are strict regulations in place, construction sites can be hazardous work environments. Some of the most common dangers construction workers face on the job in El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico include the following:
- Scaffolding and trench collapses
- Being Crushed by falling materials
- Electric shock
- Injuries from loading and unloading trailers
- Falls from significant heights
- Fork Lift Accidents-Including being struck by a Fork Lift
- Getting stuck in or struck by equipment
- Heavy Equipment Accidents
- Neglecting to use the appropriate personal protective equipment
- Tripping and falling from construction material
- Burns caused by equipment and material
Furthermore, using tools, such as jackhammers, and performing certain tasks may result in repetitive motion injuries for construction workers.
How can work-related injuries and deaths be prevented?
While some construction accidents are unavoidable, there are steps that people can take to reduce their risk for injury while working at construction sites. Construction workers may prevent falls by using the correct personal protection equipment, as well as by using scaffolds and ladders safely. Furthermore, covering, securing and labeling floor openings may also help prevent workers from falling. OSHA points out that locating utilities and being alert to electrical hazards can help people avoid electric shocks while working at construction sites.
In addition to wearing the proper personal protection equipment, construction workers should also wear high-visibility clothing. This may help them avoid getting struck by equipment or vehicles at the worksite. Additionally, avoiding positioning themselves in between moving or fixed objects may aid in preventing struck by equipment accidents. Construction workers should also ensure that trenches and excavation sites have the proper protective systems in place before entering them. However it is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe place to work with proper safety training and proper workplace warnings for dangerous conditions.
Working with an attorney
When construction workers in Texas and New Mexico are injured on the job, they are generally entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In some cases, however, navigating the state’s workers’ compensation process may be difficult. As such, those who have suffered occupational injuries may benefit from consulting with an attorney. A lawyer may explain their rights, as well as help guide them through the claims filing process. Also, it is important to talk with a knowledgeable employment attorney. When you are injured on the job there are many employment laws that must be navigated. These include the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Disability Law, OSHA regulations, Workers’ Compensation, Employment Retirement Insurance and Security Act (ERISA). Also, many times in Texas your employer may not actually carry Texas Workers’ Compensation but may have their own work injury benefit plan. In this case you may have claims against your employer for workplace injuries. Also in many workplace injuries there may be third parties who may have liability to an injured worker for their injuries. If your employer does have Texas Workers’ Compensation then you generally cannot sue your employer for injuries you sustain in the course and scope of their employment (this is known as the Texas Workers’ Compensation bar). However if they have their own work injury benefit plan they may still have liability. Also when your doctor releases you to return to work on light duty, your employer may have an obligation to accommodate your light duty status and take you back to work. To navigate these intricate and related statutes you may need an experience employment lawyer.