Construction Workers Face Greater Risk Due to the Coronavirus

Even before the additional threat to safety that came with the current pandemic, construction workers have always faced a more present danger than other occupations, especially those who do not belong to a union.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction work in 2018 accounted for 1 in 5 worker deaths. 

Though this comes as a frightening statistic to many outside of this industry, it is one that most of these workers are already aware of and plan around, reminding each other to “Be safe, keep your eyes open, and join a union” – a quote from Julia Rothman and Shaina Feinberg’s New York Times article “Going to Work with Danger, and Maybe Death, Every Day.” Read this article and hear firsthand accounts from construction workers:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/business/construction-death.html

How does coronavirus add to an already dangerous environment like construction?

While this may seem obvious, construction workers have faced an even greater threat than most workplaces since the start of the pandemic and shutdown orders. In many places and on several projects, construction was deemed essential work that was to remain open through the initial strike of the virus, putting workers and their families at greater risk. This prompted many unions to walk off projects, claiming that while “safety measures” were put in place to protect them and may have looked great on paper, they were not being upheld on jobsites.

Most of these complaints were voiced back in late March and early April in places like Seattle and Massachusetts, which you can read more on here:

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/construction-industrys-workers-divided-over-staying-on-the-job-during-coronavirus-shutdown/

https://www.bostonherald.com/2020/04/06/coronavirus-concerns-prompt-second-construction-union-to-walk-off-massachusetts-jobs/

So what happens now that construction projects have fully began to reopen?

Construction sites are said to have COVID-19 site supervisors put in place to oversee protection of workers and to make sure everyone adheres to guidelines, such as monitoring workers for signs of sickness, wearing face masks, staying six feet apart when possible, using staggered shifts, and providing hand washing stations and other PPE. More on Washington State’s guidelines for construction work here:

https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/COVID19Phase2ConstructionSafetyGuidance.pdf

We can only hope that the state is doing everything possible to see these requirements upheld, unlike issues that surfaced back in March and April; however, like a great percentage of people going back to work, many construction workers may be experiencing increased anxiety and fear being onsite amid a pandemic that could last through the foreseeable future. These distractions make the possibility for accidents and workplace injuries a lot more likely, which is why it is important to remind construction workers about their rights.

Important Facts to Know if You Are Injured in a Construction Accident

If you are a construction worker injured on a job site, you will have a workers’ compensation claim through Labor & Industries, AND may also have a third-party claim against any individual or party who caused or contributed to your injuries. Workers’ compensation lawyers and personal injury lawyers will work hand-in-hand to help you navigate the legal process. This means ensuring that your medical bills and wage loss are paid promptly through Labor & Industries, and helping you with your injury claim and getting monetary compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and future losses against the at-fault parties.  Worker’s compensation payments occur up front, but personal injury payment/recovery occurs at the end of your case. 

While it may be challenging to determine if you have a potential third-party claim to file, a personal injury attorney will be able to analyze your situation and make a determination for you. Our experienced personal injury lawyers have successfully resolved many cases related to construction injuries. Learn more here: https://www.glpattorneys.com/practice-areas/construction-accident-injury-lawyers/

If you have been involved in a construction site accident, please call 800.273.5005 or email our attorneys at attorneys@glpattorneys.com

 

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