Construction Workers’ RightsLast updated on: December 16, 2020
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In 2019, over 11.3 million people were employed in the construction industry. Despite this number, those in the construction sector continue to face dangerous working conditions when workplace rights are ignored. As a result, construction workers may be injured in a fall, electrocuted, or struck by an object, among other worksite injuries.
The construction workers’ rights attorneys at Zinda Law Group have experience ensuring worksite rights for construction workers are followed. If you believe your rights were violated, let us help you. Call us today at (800) 863-5312 for a free attorney consultation with our experienced construction workers’ rights attorneys.
CONSTRUCTION WORKERS’ RIGHTS
Construction work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. To protect workers and reduce the many dangerous situations they regularly face on the job site, many safety laws have been passed to give workers the protection of the law.
Employers are required to provide their employees with safe working conditions, adequate safety training, and personal protective equipment, among other safety requirements. When employers fail to follow safety requirements, construction workers are more likely to end up seriously injured or killed in a worksite accident.
COMMON CAUSES OF WORKSITE ACCIDENTS
Construction sites can have heavy equipment, dangerous chemicals, and lots of moving pieces. All of which can increase the chances of a worksite accident. In 2019, 79,660 construction workers suffered from a non-fatal work injury. While there are many reasons an accident can occur, some of the most common causes include the following:
Falls are the leading cause of worksite accidents. Construction workers often work at extreme heights. When worksite safety is not enforced, falls are more likely to occur. This could include the failure to wear personal fall equipment, the failure to enforce perimeter protection, using ladders and scaffolds unsafely, and not securing floors and other openings. Falls can result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and death.
Struck by an Object
In 2018, 112 construction workers were killed after being struck by an object. There are numerous objects on a worksite that can cause serious injuries such as moving vehicles, falling debris, or swinging objects. Construction workers should wear high-visibility clothes near equipment and vehicles and avoid positioning themselves between moving and fixed objects.
Trapped Between Objects
When construction workers are caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, they can suffer serious injuries. The effects of these injuries can be even more serious when workers are struck and unable to avoid a collapsing structure.
Construction sites often have exposed wires and power lines, which can cause electric shocks or electrocution when workers come into contact with them. In 2018, 86 construction workers were killed from electrocutions. Injuries and deaths can be prevented when electrical safety standards and requirements are followed.
Overexertion and Exhaustion
Construction can require long hours under difficult conditions. A lack of sleep, repetitive motions, and difficult outdoor working conditions can increase the chances that a worker’s concentration slips for a second. With heavy machines, vehicles, and tools, the chances of injuring yourself or a coworker increase when a worker is exhausted. Workers have the right to take breaks. However, the type of construction and state law will determine the specific amount of time workers have to rest on the job.
Lack of Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment is intended to protect construction workers from injuries and illnesses that they come into contact with on the worksite. This could include contact with chemical, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Employers are frequently required to provide personal protective equipment to construction workers without cost to the employee.
CONSTRUCTION WORKERS’ RIGHTS TO KNOW
As a construction worker, you should know about your worksite rights. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, was created to ensure that all employees have safe and healthy working conditions. OSHA is responsible for monitoring and enforcing these workplace safety standards.
Above all, some important construction worker rights include the right to a safe work environment. Under OSHA, some of the worksite rights for construction workers include:
1. Receive Workplace Safety and Health Training in a Language You Understand
Safety training will not be effective if workers don’t understand it. For this reason, OSHA requires that employees receive training in a language they understand. Employers may also need to post warning signs, use color-coding, and provide ongoing safety training.
2. Work on Safe Machines
OSHA requires that any machine part, function, or process that can injure workers be safeguarded. When machines are not properly safeguarded, they can cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness.
3. Receive Required Personal Protective Equipment
Employers are required to provide personal protective equipment, and it is their responsibility to know when protective equipment is needed. Depending on the type of construction, this could include hard-hats, gloves, earplugs, respirators, or any other type of equipment needed to reduce exposure to hazards. In general, this equipment needs to be provided to workers free of charge.
4. Be Protected from Toxic Chemicals
OSHA requires that employers inform and train workers about hazardous chemicals and substances in the workplace. Additionally, hazardous chemicals need to be properly labeled and contain a hazard warning. Information must also be provided on the effects of toxic chemical exposure, how to prevent exposure, and emergency treatment if workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals.
5. Request an OSHA inspection
Workers have the right to request an inspection and speak in private to the inspector if they believe their worksite is unsafe and their employer has violated OSHA requirements. Importantly, if a worker requests or participates in an inspection, an employer cannot fire them in retaliation.
6. Report an Injury or Illness, and Get Copies of Your Medical Records
Construction workers have the right to report a work-related injury or illness without retaliation from their employer. Workers have a right to a copy of their medical records. Employers may also be required to test worker’s hearing if they have been exposed to excessive noise or test lung capacity if workers have been exposed to asbestos.
7. Review Records of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
OSHA’s record-keeping rules require employers with more than ten employees in high-hazard industries to keep accurate and complete records of work-related injuries and illnesses. Employers must then post a summary of the injury and illness log from the previous year in a location where employees can view it. Workers can also request a full copy of the log and employers must make copies available by the end of the next business day.
8. See the Results of Tests Taken to Find Workplace Hazards
Many OSHA standards require that employers test the workplace environment to determine if their employees are being exposed to harmful levels of dangerous substances, such as lead or asbestos. These tests could also include testing for high levels of noise or radiation. Workers have the right to view the results of these tests.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF AN OSHA RIGHT IS IGNORED?
If you feel unsafe at your worksite and believe your employer has violated any of the OSHA safety requirements, you can report these violations. OSHA offers several ways for workers to contact them with worksite safety violations. These include:
- Filling out the online complaint form
- Emailing OSHA the compliant form directly
- Calling your local OSHA office or 800-321-6742
- Visiting your local OSHA office in person
These safety violations should be done as soon as you notice a worksite hazard. The reports can be made anonymously in English or Spanish. Importantly, you have the right to make this report and be protected from whistleblower retaliation.
Inspections will be conducted without notice to an employer by a trained OSHA compliance inspection officer. If there is no authorized employee representative on the worksite, workers are encouraged to point out hazards, describe injuries or illnesses that occurred as a result of these hazards, discuss previous worker complaints, and inform the inspector of working conditions that are not normal during the inspection.
CONTACT A LAWYER WHO REPRESENTS CONSTRUCTION WORKERS
At Zinda Law Group, we believe that all employees should feel safe at work. Our construction accident attorneys have helped many workers seek the compensation they deserved after suffering an injury at a worksite where their rights were ignored.
Our firm also believes an injury victim should never have to worry about being able to afford legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you have been injured in a construction accident where your worksite rights were violated, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with one of our experienced construction workers’ rights attorneys.
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