Tennessee Construction Accident Lawyer
Construction occupations can expose workers to many dangers – electrical shock, heights, and heavy machinery, to name a few. Extraction jobs, which include mining, boring, and excavating, pose a risk of entrapment in enclosed spaces or injuries from collapsing tunnels or channels. Despite safety systems and technology designed to keep workers safe, many construction and extraction workers are killed or seriously injured on the job every year.
Last year, 885 people died while working in construction and extraction jobs. That’s the highest number of deaths for this occupational group since 2008. Of those deaths, 611 were people working in construction trades, such as carpentry and masonry – the highest number of trade worker deaths since 2009.
When a worker is seriously or fatally injured on the job, families may struggle with medical bills and a sudden loss of income. In some cases, injured workers can’t even qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits, if they were hired as independent contractors. But when an employer’s carelessness is the cause of a worker’s injury, families may be able to recover compensation.
At the law offices of John R. Colvin, we’ve helped many Tennessee Valley families seek justice in construction accident cases. We know that lawyers for construction firms may try to intimidate injured workers or their families and lead them to believe they don’t have a case. But we’re not intimidated by these tactics.
If you need someone to stand up for you or a member of your family, call our offices today: (844) 684-5320.
Construction Industry Oversight
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration oversees most businesses in the United States and ensures they follow federal safety guidelines. Tennessee administers its own state-level version of OSHA, modeled after the federal office, and any time a fatality occurs on the job, TOSHA launches an investigation.
In February 2012, TOSHA investigated the death of a worker at the Gatlinburg wastewater treatment plant. The man was fatally injured when he was cutting into the base of an unsecured earthen wall and it collapsed on him. His death was the third at the plant since 2011, and TOSHA subsequently fined a North Carolina construction company $7,200 for safety violations that contributed to the man’s death.
For a large company, a TOSHA fine is just a minor setback, and possibly not large enough to discourage unsafe practices. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see companies fined repeatedly for safety violations.
The Dangers of Falling
Many statistics about construction accidents focus on fatalities, but injuries sustained on the job also disrupt many lives. Falls, even those from low heights, can cause disabling head and spinal injuries, and they are the most common type of construction-related injury.
TOSHA follows the federal OSHA law regarding fall protection, which requires employers to provide some type of fall protection for workers who are positioned at heights above six feet. That could mean providing a harness, guardrail system, or safety nets, or a combination of those protections, depending on the job. But on any given day, you can see workers outside, perched precariously on ladders or walking across rooftops, with no visible fall protection.
A lack of fall protection is the number one reason OSHA cites companies for safety violations. It’s a trend TOSHA has noticed, too. In an effort to reduce falling deaths, TOSHA participates in National Safety Stand-Down week. The event aims to raise awareness among construction occupations about how falls occur and how they can be prevented.
An unscrupulous employer may try to get away with not supplying protective equipment, in order to save money. Employers may also take advantage of immigrant workers who don’t understand their rights or wouldn’t know how to seek help if they were injured on the job. Being aware of one’s rights may help workers stay safe.
The Construction Industry Research and Policy Center at the University of Tennessee has developed a smartphone app that may help keep roofers safe. Available in English and Spanish, the app guides users through fall-protection standards, so they can determine whether they are adequately protected.
Protection for Workers
Public awareness campaigns, TOSHA oversight, and innovations like UT’s smartphone app could contribute to a safer work environment for the men and women employed in Tennessee’s construction industry. Inevitably, though, there will be companies that care more about saving a few dollars than spending money on safety equipment for workers.
If you or someone in your family suffered a serious injury in a construction accident, we may be able to help you assert your rights and bring an employer to justice. Don’t wait – call us today for a no-obligation consultation at (931) 962-1044, or fill out our online contact form.