Workplace Injuries

Construction Accidents and OSHA’s I2P2

Making laws to significantly reduce the number of workplace accidents and fatalities is one thing; enforcing and observing these is another. Thus, despite the passing into law of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) in 1970 and the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1971, OSH Act’s offshoot, workplace accidents, especially in construction sites, still remained quite high.

OSHA definitely had a major effect in the reduction of workplace accidents (about 60% compared to the number before it was created), but it appeared it was not enough since there were still employers and employees who either reluctantly observed its stipulations or were too stubborn to implement it in their respective companies, resulting to 4,500 fatalities and 4.1 million serious injuries every year for the past couple of years.

In the construction industry, 849 lives were lost in 2012 plus a preliminary count of 824 for the year 2013. The major causes of accidents, according to OSHA, are the “Fatal Four,” or top four, which include falls (falling from a high place), electrocution, getting caught between objects (like two heavy equipment), and being struck. Based on this OSHA data, the law firm of Hach & Rose, LLP, cites in an article (posted on its website) the big responsibility of manufacturers of machinery, general contractors and property owners, in making sure that all construction equipment and construction sites are safe from anything that can cause or contribute to causes of accidents.

OSHA’s dedication to ensuring safety in the workplace and health of workers led to the introduction of the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP or I2P2), which OSHA began requiring on employers in 2010. I2P2 is a simple, practical way of helping employers locate all possible workplace hazards and fix these before workers get hurt. The program includes management leadership, participation of workers, identification of hazards, hazard control and prevention, education and training, and evaluation and further improvement of the program. Employers who have implemented the program in their respective workplaces were unanimous in affirming the many positive results of the program, such as a dramatic drop in the number of workplace injuries, improvement in the quality of work, increase in productivity, higher level of worker satisfaction, and so forth.

In construction sites where accidents continue to happen due to employers still ignoring the stipulations of OSHA or because of very poor management style, workers sustaining any kind of injury may be eligible to apply for the Workers’ compensation benefit and may have the right to file a lawsuit against their respective employer if it can be proven that the accident was due to the employer’s direct act of negligence. Along this thought, it, therefore, becomes quite necessary for the injured worker to seek immediate assistance from a qualified Oklahoma personal injury lawyer to know and learn about the possible legal options he/she has. Furthermore, he/she will definitely need a strong argument and the best fight for his/her rights and interests, according to the website of the personal injury lawyers at the Abel Law Firm.

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Workplace Situations that Led to the Establishment of the Workers’ Comp

The need to establish a source of financial benefits for workers who got injured on the job or who developed a job-related illness became a major concern for the government during the early part of the 20th century, the time when industrial and construction workers became so much in demand due to the booming economy in the US. The one main drawback, though, that shrouded the industry’s growth then was the frequency of accidents that often resulted to the death and/or severe injuries of young and inexperienced workers, who received no proper job training before being required to use/operate or work in the midst of harmful dusts, hazardous chemicals, dangerous machines, and a messy heap of pulleys, belts and gears.

In connection to the accidents, an article titled, “Making Steel and Killing Men,” wherein journalist William B. Hard muckraked about the very high casualty of workers, was published in Everybody’s Magazine in 1907. In his article, Hard estimated that about 1,200 workers, from a work force of 10,000, were either seriously injured or killed every year.

An equally major concern, this time on the part of the injured workers, was how to cope with the necessities of daily living since being out of work meant having no pay; and besides the food on the table, they also either had to spend for medical treatment and medicine or suffer a longer time in bed. For the needed financial help, sustaining a job-related injury was usually followed by a lawsuit against the employer – a lawsuit, however, which the worker also usually lost.

It was due to this second major concern that the Workers’ Compensation law was established in 1908; its main purpose was to address the financial burden suffered by injured workers by providing them with fast financial assistance.

Workers’ Comp was an insurance benefit program designed to cover lost wages (due to absence from work), cost of medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and death (if the injury or the illness leads to it). The benefit is guaranteed to authentic applicants (workers faking injuries for fraudulent claims have been made in the past), regardless of fault/who caused the accident. Thus, even if the accident were due to the injured worker’s own carelessness or negligence, he/she will still be entitled to receive the benefit in its full amount – the same case even if the company were facing possible bankruptcy since this benefit is not dependent on the company’s or employer’s financial capability.

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