New York City has recently been tightening its oversight on construction sites after a recent surge in worker injuries. According to The New York Times, construction injuries have soared from 472 in 2015 to 761 last year. That’s a 61% increase.
During this same period, the number of annual construction fatalities has remained constant at 12. The surge in worker injuries comes at a time when the city is undergoing its biggest building boom in over 50 years. But when it comes to worker safety, more construction is no excuse for more injuries.
Changing the game
Prior to 2019, New York City officials typically dispatched building inspectors to construction sights for scheduled visits or in response to possible violations. Now, building inspectors are dispatched without prior notification to get construction site violations under control.
“It’s a total game-changer,” said Melanie La Rocca, the commissioner of the New York City Buildings Department. “This is the first time that we’ve had a unit dedicated to 100 percent proactive visits to larger construction sites.”
Proactive inspections are helping
New York City officials say the surprise inspections have been reducing the number of construction site injuries. In the first nine months of 2019 when the surprise inspections were carried out daily, the number of construction injuries declined by 26%.
However, despite these numbers, construction workers say construction sites are still one of the most dangerous places to work in the city. More needs to be done to reduce accidents on the job.
Workers say they’re at risk of injury not only because of the hazards in the site itself but also because of a lack of coordination among different contractors. Other issues include time and job pressures, which often lead to shortcuts and inadequate enforcement of safety training.
Can I make a workers’ compensation claim?
As is the case with most occupations, you’re most likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you’ve been injured won the job. However, it’s important to keep in mind that workers’ compensation systems vary from state to state.
Most states have a “no-fault” system for benefits. This means only need to prove that you were injured while you were on the job.
Every employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. It’s through this insurance that your benefits will be paid. A claim typically covers medical expenses, lost wages, and partial or permanent disability. If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, it may be in your best interest to speak to a workers’ compensation attorney.
Be wary of your prescriptions
It’s important to be careful if you’re prescribed opioid medications after you were injured on the job. Workers’ compensation claimants are at greater risk of opioid addiction because of their need for pain management. Ohio providers wrote 63.5 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people in 2017 compared to the average U.S. rate of 68.7 prescriptions.
Unfortunately, opioid prescriptions can not only put you at risk for addiction but they can also delay your return to work and compromise your safety and the safety of those around you. That said, talk to your doctor about opioid-alternative treatments for chronic pain and contact a workers’ compensation attorney if there’s a conflict with your claim.