As a driver you probably see road construction every day.  The construction and maintenance of Virginia’s roads and highways is essential, and construction crews work day and night to keep up with the demands of the job.  As they work near existing roads, construction workers are in danger every time they arrive at the job site.  The dangers are numerous:  speeding cars, inattentive drivers, intoxicated drivers, and of course dangers from the work itself.  There could be problems with equipment like scaffolds, ladders, excavation and heavy equipment, and injuries like burns, explosions, poisoning and electrocution are not uncommon.  All of this threatens construction worker’s safety and their lives.  Can you imagine what it would be like if you went to work every day in that kind of environment?

Recently, a construction crew ran into trouble when a gas line was accidentally broken.  This accident highlighted some of the dangers that construction workers face on the job.  In Suffolk, Virginia Route17 was closed for over four hours as crews worked to cap a gas leak caused by a nearby construction accident.  No injuries were reported and the workers were able to successfully contain the leak.

The workers involved in this accident were fortunate.  Many times workers involved in an accident do not walk away without injury.  Construction workers earn their living doing a job most would consider extremely dangerous.  From gas leaks to falling objects and falls to electrical accidents the life of a construction worker is fraught with danger.   

Construction work can kill

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics fatal highway accidents accounted for one in four fatal work injuries.  In 2006 alone 1,329 workers lost their lives on America’s highways.  While many were struck by passing vehicles, on-site construction accidents are common as well. 

For every construction worker killed hundreds are injured on the job.  Construction workers miss an average of ten days of work after an on the job accident.  This is the second highest rate among all injured workers.  When you see statistics like this, it’s a wonder construction companies can find people willing to do this kind of dangerous work.  The loss of experienced construction workers in the coming years due to the retirement of many baby boomers is only going to make it more difficult to find skilled workers.

Reporting injuries – a double-edged sword

Even a sprain or strain, which may seem like a minor injury at the time, can worsen as a worker continues on the job.  Fearing loss of position on the crew or loss of wages workers may not report an injury, making re-injury very likely.  Not only is re-injury an issue, but if a worker does not report an injury they can’t receive compensation for it.  This fear leads not only to a lower number of reported injuries but an increased rate of more serious injury down the line.

If the injury is not reported immediately it may not be covered as an on the job injury, forcing the employee to work through their pain or to lose pay as they heal.  Even if the injured worker reports an incident to their employer they may not receive the time they need to recover.  Construction workers may be pressured into working before they are fully healed.  If they do not return to work they may lose wages or their position within the company.

What to do if you are injured on the job

The first thing you should do if you are injured on the job is let your immediate supervisor know that you have been injured and that this condition is a result of your work.  If you have a union representative, you should let them know as well.  Whenever possible, put the details of your accident in writing.  This will ensure that nobody will “forget” about your injury and neglect to record it in an injury log as required by OSHA.

In addition, make sure that you seek medical attention for your injury.  Don’t try to “tough it out” or “be brave” – this can just lead to further problems for you and your health.  If your injuries are serious or if you are concerned that you aren’t being treated fairly by your employer, then don’t hesitate to contact an attorney who specializes in Virginia worker’s compensation and construction accident litigation.

If you have been injured on the job you need time off to heal.  Though it is unfair, employers may not give you the time and pay you need after an on the job accident.  They may deny that you were hurt on the job or dispute the severity of the injury.  In this case you need an attorney who knows your rights and will fight to get you get proper compensation for your injuries. 

Contact Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas today, and let our attorneys fight for your rights. 

Carl N. Lauer
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Representing injured persons in Virginia. Workers' Compensation Claims.

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