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The construction industry has one of the highest injury rates among workers. Work conditions, lack of training and improper use of safety equipment often lead to serious injury and even death. Scaffolds, ladders, heavy equipment and dangerous chemicals greatly increase the risk of construction accidents.

Construction safety programs and equipment inspections and specifications help raise safety awareness on construction sites. The construction industry must also comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which is enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Workers’ Compensation

In many cases, a state requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, securing payment for lost wages and medical bills that result from construction-site injuries. Workers’ compensation laws were established to avoid litigation when a worker is injured on the job and to allow injured workers to receive medical treatment and lost wages without having to prove their injuries occurred because of employer negligence.

Injured employees are entitled to workers’ compensation for costs related to:

  • long- and short-term injuries
  • total or partial permanent loss of any body part
  • vocational training that allows an injured employee to perform another type of work if the injury prevents the return to construction work
  • physical therapy

If an employer challenges a workers’ compensation claim, the case is heard by a designated administrative agency. An administrative law judge determines whether an employee is entitled to receive workers’ compensation.

Construction Accident Liability

Because several individuals or organizations work at a construction site, many parties may be liable for injuries. Liable parties include the construction site owner, contractors, construction managers and engineering professionals. Manufacturers of construction machinery also may be liable for accidents.

Both general and subcontractors have legal obligations to provide a construction site that is reasonably safe and must warn employees of any hazards on the site or related to the type of work.

A general contractor is responsible for job safety on the entire site and must comply with all OSHA regulations. Although the general contractor ultimately is responsible for construction safety, any subcontractor brought onto the site also must ensure job safety and must comply with OSHA regulations.

Last update: Sept. 25, 2008

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