While many people don’t like to think about what will happen if they suffer a fatal injury at work, construction workers often take a small comfort in purchasing life insurance. After all, they are just being responsible and practical providers. Their jobs are inherently dangerous, and if anything happens to them, they will at least be able to provide enough for their families to keep their homes.

However, these workers’ lives may be derailed if they suffer a back injury on a construction site. After surgery, rehabilitation, and a long recovery, workers can be faced with mounting debt and a permanent inability to earn a living—usually because of an employer’s oversight.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, back injuries account for about 25 percent of all lost workdays for construction employees. These injuries are also the main cause of forced retirement or job change from the construction industry, forcing employees to take less physical jobs that will often not pay as much as their previous careers.

  • Falls – About a third of all construction back injuries are the result of slips, trips and falls. This can be a fall from a height—such as a ladder or scaffolding—or a trip at ground level that slams the worker against a hard surface.
  • Building collapse – Many back and head injuries have occurred after a half-completed structure collapsed or as repair work on an older structure caused a cave-in.
  • Repetitive stress – Construction workers must constantly bend, twist, and lift heavy objects day in and day out, leading to disc degeneration and increasing the odds of eventual surgery.
  • Falling debris – While hard hats may protect a worker from suffering head trauma from falling objects, there is nothing to prevent a worker from suffering paralysis if a heavy object falls on his back.
  • Machinery malfunction – Construction workers depend on backhoes, cranes, dump trucks and other machinery to do their heavy lifting, but a broken belt or skipped maintenance appointment can be deadly for the machine operator.
  • Safety violations – Many slips or falls are a result of easily preventable safety violations, such as lax cleanup procedures or failure to remove snow and ice from the walkways of a building site.
  • Transportation accidents – Workers who routinely drive between job sites are more likely to suffer a car accident while in the course of their employment.

If you know a construction worker who suffered a serious back injury on the job, feel free to share this article with them on Facebook or via email. If they are having trouble getting payment for their injuries, you can also send them a link to download our free report, What the Injured Worker Needs to Know: Your Workers Comp Guide.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer