As the economy improves, the backlog of on-hold building projects breaks loose. Construction industry owners and contractors are under financial pressure to speed production time. With more jobs available, conventional wisdom says it is a win-win situation. Is that true?

In high-risk jobs, the pressure to perform can mean dangerous short-cuts and long hours of work that impair judgment. Meanwhile, owners turn a blind eye to safety in an attempt to meet deadlines. Employees have the right to immediately file workers’ compensation claims for on-the-job injuries, regardless of the reason.

Recent work-related fatalities in Ohio

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows deaths rising nationally. A few of the safety violation accidents reported in Ohio include:

  • A freight company fatality happened when a worker fell from a load transferred into a trailer in May 2017.
  • An engineering firm employee died from a forklift-related crush injury in August 2017.
  • Following a worker fatality due to trench collapse in 2016, a second worker fatality occurred in a similar trench collapse in December 2017.
  • A worker employed by an unsafe company in March, 2018 died after a glass pallet and forklift crushed him. The company had recently incurred a massive OSHA fine for serious safety violations before this incident. Meanwhile, many employees had continued to complain about a lack of workplace safety. The complaints went unheeded.

OSHA reports increasing workplace fatality rates

The economy is recovering from a long slump. During an economic downturn, some of the first downsized positions are in safety oversight. Older workers with higher marketable skills may jump ship or retire early. When the economy recovers, employers restaff with young, inexperienced workers for a fraction of the cost they once paid.

There is a deadly interaction between less safety monitoring, inexperienced workers and pressure to work longer hours at faster speeds. It is not surprising that suboptimal conditions lead to increased injuries. Regardless of risk, employees take safety shortcuts when they know their jobs depend on speed and performance. Shortcuts are too often part of unspoken expectations.

An injured worker should file an immediate claim, particularly when the company pressured employees to engage in activities that presented a hazard. Accidents can occur from lack of safety precautions, worker fatigue or insufficient training. The company may suggest it is the worker’s fault, but this is not necessarily true. An injured employee should file a claim anyway. Additional factors recognized by an expert in workers’ compensation law can help base compensation awards on the total facts in the case.