Companies and employers are often focused on the bottom line more than anything else. This means that their goal to make a profit may come at the expense of other things, such as worker safety. For construction workers, risks often arise when the workers are pressured to complete a job more quickly to meet a deadline or when safety standards are not upheld. Unfortunately, construction accidents can have serious negative effects on employees, including severe injury and permanent disability or even death.
In June of this year, a subcontractor for an elevator company was killed while working at the site of the new 49ers stadum in Santa Clara, California. His death was caused by being hit by a counterweight of a freight elevator. As a result of his death, the elevator company was recently cited by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health for three safety violations. One violation related to the lack of a injury and illness prevention program. The other two violations related to failure to enclose and guard the counterweights, which exposed employees to dangerous hazards. In total, the violations carry a fine of $54,000.
When employers fail to implement safety programs, properly train employees, ensure that the worksite is safe and properly protect against hazards, injuries and fatalities often result. Workers' compensation benefits attempt to financially protect employees who are injured on the job, but it is not always easy to obtain the compensation that is needed or deserved. In addition, sometimes workers' compensation alone is insufficient to address the egregious nature of the employer misconduct or negligence that caused the accident.
When employees suffer an injury while at work, they often face financial difficulties in the aftermath of the accident. These financial challenges result not only from medical bills and the costs of long-term treatment or care but also from loss of income during recovery. A personal injury lawsuit related to a construction accident can enable an injured worker to come through an accident financially stable, but it can also help ensure that employers are held accountable. In many cases, personal injury awards serve as incentives to various different companies to ensure that their safety practices are in place and meet state requirements.
Source: KTVU.com, "Company 'surprised' about citations in worker death at 49ers stadium site," Dec. 11, 2013
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