Every day, 14 construction workers in the United States die, on average. A third of these deaths are falls, more than any other category of injury in construction accidents. As we head into the winter months, workers should be aware of the dangers on job sites and their legal options if an injury happens on the job.
You can’t give up your job just because it’s winter in Illinois – but for some working construction, construction sites in the ice and snow may make them wish they could just hibernate until springtime jobs.
Following safety guidelines and knowing who to get in touch with should an injury occur is the best way to protect yourself from the damages of construction accidents.
Your Employer Should Protect You
Your employer has a responsibility to protect you and your team. This not only means keeping your site safe and providing safety equipment, but also staffing and scheduling issues. Your team should never be so understaffed or scheduled that accidents occur.
There should be someone in charge of safety which you can reach out to easily, as well as a way to discuss concerns with the project manager or foreman. Don’t keep quiet about safety that can prevent things like slip and falls.
What to Do If Safety Is Not Observed on the Job
Ideally, a worker would always be able to seek out a safe job. However, safety situations may deteriorate after you have been with a company for some time or even when you simply can’t leave the job out of necessity.
If you are staying in a job that has an unsafe environment at construction sites that may result in slip and falls, make note. Document these when possible with dates and photos.
If you have a safety officer, reach out to them. Should you feel the safety officer is not responsive, you may be able to reach someone higher up in the organization.
You can always file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Act office near you. There are many ways to file this, including by e-mail or in person.
If you are concerned about filing an OSHA complaint under your name, you may file anonymously. Whistleblower reports are designed to be filed by those who have been disciplined for making a report. File these within 30 days of the retaliatory disciplinary action.
For urgent safety issues, you can reach out for emergency help at 1-800-321-OSHA or call your local office.
Speak to Others Concerned about Safety at Work
When there are serious safety issues on a construction site, reach out to your co-workers to gauge their level of concern. Encourage them to also make reports. The more documented concern about the issues, the more likely it is to be fixed.
In the case of an accident, back-documentation can help a worker win their case against an employer. Coming forward as a group to make note of safety issues is in all of your interests.
If you are unionized workers, reach out to your union representative. They are there to bargain for your safe work conditions. Make use of them and the dues you pay into the union to prevent accidents.
Safety Tips to Follow
Safety tips for ice and snow aren’t surprising, but mentally reviewing them each day can keep them fresh in your mind for when you need them most. Though your employer should bear responsibility for a safe construction site, you can take some steps to protect yourself, too.
All harnessing equipment provided by your employer and required by safety regulations should be worn at all times. Though these may hamper some efficiency on the job, when it comes to safety on roofs, scaffolding, and ironwork, harnessing is absolutely necessary.
As workers move into the winter months, exterior work on the high locations may mean moving across open spaces that have ice and snow. They may also need to remove some ice and snow before beginning work. Preventative safety is essential in these situations.
Observe safety instructions about appropriate ice and snow removal techniques to protect workers up high and workers on the ground.
When moving about the construction site in ice and snow, extra care should be taken. Organization is always a goal on a site, but there are often plywood pieces, cords, nails, bricks, and more left in unexpected areas. When covered by snow, these can be dangerous stumbling blocks.
Making sure to both keep a site neat as well as paying close attention to the ground while moving around after snowfall is necessary.
Slip and Fall Avoidance
Mud around construction sites is nothing new for workers, but the fact that this mud turns to ice in the winter is one of those things everyone forgets about until Joe falls on his rear.
Puddles that turn into slicks of black ice overnight and interior flooring that stays wet from all the feet going in and out are all winter hazards on a construction site.
Replacing your boots before the winter can give you the best treads to prevent slipping on ice. Alternatively, add crampons if permitted by your employer to get extra traction.
Remember that when you are carrying things (lumber, tools, drywall) your hands will not be available to catch you in a fall. Adjust accordingly and remind co-workers to go slow when you are working together.
When an Accident Happens
If you or a co-worker are the victim of a slip and fall at an icy construction site, remember the rules of basic first aid. Don’t move someone who has fallen on their back, head, or neck, especially if they are experiencing sudden numbness.
If possible, immediately document what caused the fall. Was there a patch of ice that should have been treated? Did a piece of safety equipment fail? Take photos and upload them to the cloud or an e-mail that you’ll have access to later.
Get checked out. There’s no shame in going to the doctor. Injuries, like head injuries, often feel okay immediately after they happen but then suddenly worsen later.
In the case of head injuries, concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can have long-lasting effects. Without immediate medical care, these can be dramatically worsened.
Report this to human resources or your on-site officer as soon as possible. This establishes a timeline in case you need to claim worker’s compensation, bring a lawsuit, or take leave. Get a copy or keep the e-mail showing your report in case you need proof of it later.
It is also important to document any accidents that happen. If many injuries are occurring on the site, documentation may help the safety officer or higher-ups look into what is going wrong on the site.
If you believe your accident happened due to negligence on the part of your employer or failure to provide safety equipment, don’t wait to get representation. A serious injury could change your life. Your employer should be held responsible for their part in this.
The Eames Law Group understands how disruptive a work-related slip and fall can be to your life. Injuries to your head, neck, and spine can take a long time to heal.
In the meantime, you may be dealing with pain, rushing between different doctors, lost income, and a drain on your savings that makes it difficult to pay your bills.
Seeking fair compensation from your employer after you slip and fall at an icy job is not about being vengeful – it’s about making sure you have the financial coverage to recover from your construction injury and return to a life you can live successfully. It is only fair for you to seek compensation for your medical bills and the cost of being out of work.
If you now need to file for disability in the state of Illinois, we can assist with this as well.
Appeal Decisions and Increase Settlements
With an experienced legal team and accurate documentation, we can work to appeal decisions and increase settlement offers. You deserve fair compensation, and the Eames Law Group has the experience to get it for you.
We have secured over $2.6 million (based upon life expectancy) for our clients in work injury settlements. Get representation and make it work for you.
Get Justice After Construction Accidents
Illinois construction accidents are all too common during wintery months. If you have been injured on a construction site due to a slip and fall, contact attorney Brent Eames for a free consultation.
Together, we review your case and look for the best path forward to getting compensation for your injury. We treat your case holistically, assisting with workplace needs as well as disability filing. This way you retain consistent legal advice throughout the aftermath of your workplace injury.
Reach out today to submit information about your injury and case. We look forward to working with you.