Construction workers in California and nationwide face particularly dangerous jobs due to the general lack of safety protection, equipment or training. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that fatal injuries on construction sites increased by 5 percent in 2014, for a total of 874. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of work injuries reported and about a million workers’ compensation claims are filed each year.
Working in construction involves such positions as carpenter, bricklayer, electrician, plumber, painters, framers, laborers and more. OSHA, which is the federal watchdog agency to oversee compliance with safety rules, is known to be severely understaffed and unable to investigate each incident. The massive numbers of claim petitions filed are related generally to the nationwide boom in the construction of new residential buildings and office buildings. When there is an oversupply of work to be done, there is extra pressure on builders to cut corners and get done faster, which puts workers in jeopardy.
Therefore, the main cause of the very large numbers of work injuries is the lack of onsite construction control or safety measures. This includes a paucity of safety gear despite the fact that the employer must provide such protective devices by mandated state and federal law. It is also recognized in the industry that non-union sites are in general not as safe as union sites, which are more regularly monitored.
OSHA in California and elsewhere must stretch itself extremely thin to keep even a faint eye on the construction industry. Generally, the agency will work with those companies that show an interest in becoming compliant. For workers who suffer workplace injuries, they may file a workers’ compensation claim if it appears that their benefits have been stopped or changed arbitrarily by the insurer. Whenever an employer is not cooperating or is stalling in some way on the payment of benefits, it is advisable to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney, in order to obtain accurate information and to have a knowledgeable professional pursuing the worker’s benefits.