In 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) received reports of fatal work-related accidents numbering to 4,585 and 4,679, respectively. Though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has worked hard to significantly reduce the number of workplace injuries and deaths since its establishment in 1971 (from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 13 a day in 2014), fatal accidents in work environments still happen.
Every workplace has its own type of dangers; however, of all types of workplaces, construction sites remain to be among the most dangerous due to all the possible sources of injuries workers are exposed to every day, like falling objects, the presence of heavy machinery, risk of electrocution, and risk of falls, especially among those working on roofs and scaffolds and those who always use ladders. Aside from these, many workers in construction sites are also regularly exposed to chemicals which can cause deadly and chronic illnesses.
The effects of accidents can never be undone; however, there are ways to prevent these (through strict observance of OSHA safety rules) and ways to make sure that workers who get injured on the job are never left to carry by themselves the financial burden resulting from the injury. This is because injuries will definitely render a worker unable to work, which will mean no pay during the whole duration of treatment and recuperation – just at the time when the financial needs of an injured increases, it is this same time when his/her means of earning is cut.
To remedy this dilemma suffered by injured workers, the government passed into law the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program, a state- mandated and administered program designed to provide immediate financial help to workers who sustain injuries while performing their job or who develop an illness due to exposure to toxic chemicals at work. Workers’ Compensation or Workers’ Comp covers lost wages, cost of medical treatment, disability, rehabilitation, retraining, and death (this may include payment of benefits to survivors of workers killed on the job).
Workers’ Comp pays benefits to injured workers regardless of who was at fault in the accident (there is no need for an injured worker to file a case in court just to avail of the benefits); however, if the injury was self-inflicted, was sustained because the worker was drunk, or was a result of actions in violation of OSHA law or company safety policy, then a worker’s application for a claim will be denied.
By allowing workers to receive compensation for any accidental injury without a trial, the problem of a lengthy and expensive court procedure is removed. Most employers are required by the law to carry Workers’ Comp coverage. However, there have been many occasions when injured workers have been denied in their application. While injured workers can freely decide to take care of their application on their own, it may prove a lot more advantageous if they would entrust the handling of the procedure to an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney who knows what documents to prepare, what forms need to be filled out and within what time frame application for claims should be submitted.