On Monday, October 19, 2020, an Arizona man working at a construction site in north Phoenix near 35th and Peoria avenues was buried in a collapsed trench. Thankfully, firefighters quickly responded to the scene and were able to rescue him.
The construction worker, who was taken to a local hospital for treatment, was buried to the waist in a 12-foot trench. During the ordeal, he was able to breathe and speak with his rescuers. To extradite the man, firefighters lowered a ladder into the trench.
Out of an abundance of caution and to set up a perimeter, fire crews evacuated all the other construction workers.
There were no other injuries reported.
Construction worker safety
While this scenario had a happy ending, with limited risk to life and limb, being a construction worker is among one of the more dangerous professions in the United States.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), there were nearly 4,800 worker deaths in the private sector in 2018. Of those, more than 20 percent happened on construction sites. This means that 1 out of every 5 workers who die while on the job is a construction worker.
Types of construction worker injuries
OHSA breaks down common construction worker injuries into 6 main categories:
1. Electric shock
Construction workers are frequently required to handle electrical wiring, generators and power tools. This leaves them at a high risk of electrocution and/or electrical burns.
Being on a construction site can often involve working at heights, whether it be working on a tall building or a piece of machinery. Depending on the height, a fall could result in permanent damage or death. In fact, falling from heights is the most common way that workers can be injured on a construction site.
3. Heatstroke and/or fatigue
Arizona frequently experiences high temperatures. This means that working outdoors during intense heat can easily put construction workers at risk of heatstroke or becoming fatigued.
4. Inappropriate use of protective gear
Most construction sites require the use of protective eyewear and/or hardhats to protect workers from falling debris. Failure to wear the proper gear can result in serious injury or death.
5. Repetitive actions
Just like any profession that requires a worker to perform the same task repeatedly, workers can risk damage to muscles if they don’t prepare properly. In fact, OSHA names repetitive motion injuries among the most common ways that a construction worker can be hurt on the job.
6. Trench collapse
Working in a trench can put construction workers at risk of being buried alive, as the story of the construction worker in north Phoenix shows.
Workers compensation for Arizona construction workers
Since construction is such a dangerous profession, there is a specific set of laws in place to help ensure that construction workers receive compensation if they’re injured while on the job.
As with any workplace injury, your first concern should be for your own safety. This means if you’re injured on your construction site, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. As you seek treatment, you should take the time to document what happened to cause your injury and tell your doctor about any symptoms you’re feeling.
After you’ve dealt with your health and safety, you next need to inform your employer or supervisor.
Time is of the essence when it comes to workers’ comp claims. In fact, in Arizona, you only have 1 year from the time of your injury to submit a claim. The sooner you start, the better.
Your first step to filing an Arizona workers’ compensation claim is to fill out and sign a Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury (which happens at your doctor’s office) or a Worker’s Report of Injury. You can find these forms through the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) website.
The ICA will receive your paperwork and will process your claim by speaking to your employer’s insurance company. Their insurance company then has 21 days to respond to your claim. If your claim is approved, you’ll receive notification about their decision, as well as your compensation amount. If you’re denied, you’ll have 90 days to file a “Request for Hearing” (which must be done in writing).
Workers’ compensation claims can be complex. The last thing you need to worry about while you’re trying to recover from an injury is a complex claim. For this reason, it is vital to hire an attorney who is greatly experienced in workers’ compensation.
If you work in the Phoenix area and are hurt on the job, contact the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski today for your free consultation. We will work with you to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.