Construction workers are at a high risk of work injury because the trade has inherent risks and physically taxing occupational requirements. Overall, trends in workplace injuries and deaths are decreasing. Still, the construction industry accounted for approximately 20% of worker fatalities in the private sector in 2019. Accordingly, one in five worker deaths that year involved a construction worker. At D’Amore Law Group, we have a history of helping workers and their families assert their rights to workers’ compensation. If you face rising medical costs, long-term disability, and cannot work, let us handle the details. We will manage your claims so you can focus on recovery.
Causes of Construction Site Injuries
In the United States, employers are responsible for following safety standards issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA enforces these rules by issuing citations, regardless of whether an incident occurs. In 2021, OSHA’s top 10 violations included:
- Fall protection,
- Respiratory protection,
- Hazard communication,
- Fall protection training,
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout),
- Eye and face protection,
- Powered industrial trucks,
- Machinery and machine guarding.
These violations are common because the hazards are present in many workplaces. Think of all the times workers use stairways, ladders, and scaffolding. Construction workers have to navigate unprotected floor holes and wall openings. They commonly labor on an elevated work surface. While these are the top violations, any injury or illness attributed to your workplace is eligible for benefits. Your lawyer will help you understand your rights under the law.
By publishing this list, OSHA expects employers to be aware of and fix these hazards at their workplace. Employers must take steps to prevent injuries or face legal consequences, like fines, closures, and court cases. Best practices also include encouraging employees to report workplace hazards and unsafe conditions and training employees to recognize hazards. Regardless of OSHA regulations, inspections, and citations, you deserve compensation and support if you are injured on the job.
Health Risk Behaviors in Construction Workers
In addition to occupational hazards, one study indicated that construction workers are significantly more likely to show health risk behaviors. Consider the impact of the construction work culture, including manual labor, outdoor work, long commutes to work, and motor vehicle operation as part of work. In particular, construction workers are more likely to report:
- Using smokeless tobacco,
- Binge drinking,
- No physical activity during leisure time,
- No sunscreen use, and
- Not always using a seatbelt.
The study further showed that construction site managers had “elevated prevalences” for smoking, smokeless tobacco use, binge drinking, and not always using a seatbelt. Additionally, roofers, electrical power-line installers, and repairers had “significantly elevated prevalences” for binge drinking. Although these habits vary among construction occupations, their presence is likely to increase a worker’s risk of injury. For example, the CDC reported that smoking could worsen the hazardous effects of other workplace exposures.
Workers’ Compensation in Oregon
Each employer in Oregon must carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay for employees’ workplace injuries. Workers’ compensation is no-fault. This means an injured employee can receive benefits regardless of whether they are fully or partially responsible for the accident. Disability benefits include receiving payments for missed work and medical bills.
Filing a Claim
The first step to receiving benefits is to report your injury to your employer. In Oregon, you and your employer should complete Form 801, “Report of Job Injury or Illness,” to alert the insurance company to the incident. When you visit your doctor, tell them it is an on-the-job injury and complete Form 827, “Worker’s and Health Care Provider’s Report for Workers’ Compensation Claims.” Your doctor should forward this form to the insurer to receive payment. They should not bill you directly.
Once the insurer receives your claim forms, it has 60 days to accept or deny your claim. It will communicate the decision to you in writing. The letter will explain why and outline your appeal rights if your claim is denied. Before the insurer pays your claims, you may need to undergo an independent medical examination to value your damages.
If Your Claim Is Closed
Claim closure is a natural progression of a workers’ comp claim (they expect you to get better!). The Workers’ Compensation Division will close your claim if you are no longer eligible for benefits. At that time, you will receive a Notice of Closure with the amount of any final permanent disability award. Your claim might be closed because:
- You are medically stationary, which means your doctor has determined that no further significant improvement from medical treatment or the passage of time is reasonable;
- Your workplace injury is no longer the primary source of your disability; or
- You miss medical appointments.
If you disagree with your claim closure, you have 60 days to appeal in writing. You can dispute issues of:
- When your condition was medically stationary;
- Whether your claim was closed incorrectly or before it should have been;
- How long the Division authorized you to receive temporary disability benefits; and
- Whether it awarded permanent disability and, if so, the award amount.
If the insurer denies your appeal, you have 30 days to request a hearing with the Hearings Division of the Workers’ Compensation Board. If you need to appeal, an attorney can help you understand the details and present a convincing, cohesive picture of your injuries.
D’Amore Law Group: Assisting Construction Workers and Their Families After a Workplace Accident
The data shows that construction workers are at a higher risk for accidents. Regardless of the risk of construction work, you have the right to receive compensation for your workplace injury. An attorney experienced in Oregon and Washington workers’ comp laws can help you make your claim, negotiate benefit awards, and appeal a denial. At D’Amore Law Group, we will work until you receive fair compensation for your injuries. With decades of experience and resources, we provide every client with regular updates on their case, same-day callbacks, and 24/7 availability. Contact D’Amore Law Group for a no-cost consultation and start taking back control of your life today.