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Safety measures and your rights as a demolition worker

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2017 | Blog, Firm News

Construction workers bear the brunt of some of the most dangerous, but necessary, work. These men and women do much more than just put up new buildings or roadways — they must also take on the task of demolishing existing structures, many of which are incredibly unsafe and have hidden dangers within their walls.

If you are part of a demolition crew, you probably are well aware of the fact that you will often face an even greater level of danger on the job. In many cases, your safety and well-being could completely rely on your employer’s ability to implement all necessary safety procedures. Unfortunately, some construction companies prioritize their bottom line over worker safety.

What safety precautions should I expect my employer to provider?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration — OSHA — requires that all employers provide a reasonably safe workplace. As demolishing existing structures is notoriously dangerous, OSHA has standards that specifically apply to demolition hazards.

Refusal to adhere to these guidelines creates extremely hazardous working conditions, and crews in Connecticut are usually the ones who pay the price for their employer’s negligence. Workers have been seriously harmed and even died because of employer negligence. Extensive planning is required before any type of demolition project can begin. Demolition crews should expect their employers to handle the following items in order to ensure as safe of a working environment as possible:

  • Locate and notify nearby utilities
  • Create a fire prevention plan
  • Complete a health hazard assessment
  • Perform a complete engineering survey

These simple planning measures can bring attention to unsteady structures that could cause a collapse, and they can allow the discovery of hidden toxic materials and other dangerous situations, preventing any construction workers from being placed in harm’s way. However, it is not enough to merely warn workers of possible danger. Employers must also provide necessary safety equipment after informing workers of the situation, which can include:

  • Protective gear, especially for the head, hands and feet
  • Fall protection, commonly referred to as Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • Protective clothing

Employers are also responsible for training workers on the proper use of all safety gear. It is not worth much to have gear for breathing or hearing protection without knowing how to use it properly.

What if I still get hurt?

Whether an employer shirked legal obligations to provide a safe working environment or followed every standard perfectly, there is a chance that you may still suffer serious injuries on the job. Fortunately, when hurt while carrying out your work duties, workers’ compensation benefits are available regardless of whether or not the incident was a result of employer negligence. Without compensation for medical bills and lost wages, many Connecticut workers might have to risk returning to work before they are physically ready, potentially putting themselves in position to suffer further harm.

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Verdicts & Settlements

36-year-old laborer for landscaping company fractured wrist when fellow employee hit him with truck. Claimant received in excess of $30,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for total disability and medical expenses and settled with automobile insurance company for fellow employee for $95,000.

1989 workers’ compensation claim settled for $125,000. Claimant originally sustained a low back injury when she slipped and fell at local grocery store resulting in low back surgery in 1989. Several years later, claimant exacerbated her low back injury. Claim was reopened and settled with carrier for $125,000 in 2006.

47-year-old deli clerk sustained low back injuries at work for local supermarket. Carrier originally denied claim on the grounds that the injury was pre-existing. After formal workers’ compensation hearing carrier accepted claim and paid all total disability benefits and medical expenses in excess of $100,000. Case then settled for an additional $100,000 after injured person received a permanent disability rating.

34-year-old male roofer sustained multiple injuries to his shoulder, neck, back and hip when he fell from roof during work. Claimant was provided workers’ compensation benefits in excess of $100,000 and settled remaining claims for an additional $55,000.

40-year-old male working for cleaning company sustained neck and low back injuries when he fell on defective staircase while cleaning local museum. Claimant recovered over $95,000 in workers’ compensation benefits and resolved claim against museum for $85,000.

26-year-old laborer sustained fractured foot when a cast iron pipe was dropped on his foot. Employer and workers’ compensation carrier denied claim on basis that injured worker was an independent contractor. After a series of informal and formal workers’ compensation hearings, carrier conceded that claimant was an employee and settled case for $85,000.

24-year-old waitress sustained back injury while working at Outback Steak House. Workers’ compensation insurance company initially denied the claim. After a series of informal hearings, carrier accepted claim paying medical expenses and total disability benefits. In addition to those benefits paid, claim settled for an additional $75,000.

Delivery truck driver sustained right wrist fracture in rear-end motor vehicle accident while in the course of his employment. Claimant recovered in excess of $40,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses and total disability benefits. Claimant settled case against at-fault driver for $105,000.

22-year-old male working as stocking clerk at “big box” retailer sustained herniated disc in low back. Workers’ compensation carrier refused to accept the claim. After formal workers’ compensation, hearing commissioner ordered carrier to pay over $35,000 in past total disability benefits and pay for surgery and all related medical expenses. Case settled for an additional $35,000 for a total recovery in excess of $100,000.

Rear-end collision on entrance ramp to Merritt Parkway resulting in 49-year-old woman sustaining mid-back injury. Case settled at mediation after filing suit for $300,000.

28-year-old passenger sustained multiple herniated discs in automobile accident in New York state. New York no-fault carrier paid for extended period of disability from work and medical expenses, including expenses for surgery. Case settled against driver of vehicle for $300,000 policy limits shortly after filing suit.

54-year-old man sustains shoulder injury when hit from behind by uninsured motorist on New Jersey Turnpike. Case settled for $135,000 prior to trial.

CT Transit bus driver sustained torn meniscus in collision with another vehicle. Claims made against at-fault driver, workers’ compensation carrier and client’s underinsured motorist policy. All claims settle for a recovery in excess of $100,000.

68-year-old woman sustained neck and back injuries in rear-end collision and required extended course physical therapy, but was not a surgical candidate. Case settled for $100,000 prior to filing suit.

34-year-old woman sustained concussion and neck and back injuries in hit-and-run accident on a New York highway. Claimant settled uninsured motorist claim for her $100,000 policy limits.

80-year-old woman sustained right foot fracture when her foot was run over in a parking lot. Case settled for at-fault driver’s policy limit of $100,000 prior to filing suit.

38-year-old nanny sustained right femur fracture when she fell down defective stairs in home of her employer’s neighbor. All medical expenses and lost wages reimbursed and case settled for an additional $150,000.

Claim against landlord for defective staircase in multi-family rental house. Claimant sustained a right femur fracture. Case settled for $125,000 prior to filing suit.

$95,000 judgment obtained against bar and nightclub for assault by one of its patrons against another patron.

47-year-old woman sustained a broken left wrist when she fell from porch stairs at house she was renting. Case settled for $95,000 shortly before trial.

26-year-old male bitten on leg by German shepherd. Claim against dog owner settled for $65,000 plus payment of all medical expenses.