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Are construction workers being injured in preventable accidents?

Construction is an important industry in Palm Beach County and throughout Florida. In fact, the Florida Bureau of Labor Market Statistics predicts that building construction will be among the fastest growing industries this year. Unfortunately, a recent article questions whether safety practices are keeping pace with the growth in the construction and shipping industries.

As context, Florida lawmakers acknowledge the potential dangers associated with operating heavy equipment. For that reason, all employers in the construction industry must provide workers’ compensation coverage. Despite that measure, there are around 34,900 serious forklift injuries every year across the country, as well as over 80 fatalities.

Although it may be unrealistic to expect that accidents will never happen, the article asserts that most of the country's annual forklift accidents could have been prevented. Said another way, companies that utilize forklifts may be taking inadequate safety precautions.

In a specific example of one shipping company with nationwide operations, inspectors from the U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration filed an administrative complaint. The case settled before the administrative judge issued a ruling. As part of the settlement agreement, the company will hire an independent third-party monitor to oversee forklift operational procedures.

Minimizing the risk of on-the-job injuries should remain the priority of all employers, and there is no excuse for failing to comply with OSHA safety regulations. Yet employees may be afraid to come forward to report unsafe workplace conditions. Similarly, an employee who is injured in the workplace may not understand the claim procedure. In both instances, our Florida workers’ compensation law firm can help employees protect their rights.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor, “Putting the Brakes on Unsafe Conditions – Wherever We Find Them,” Michael Felson and Scott Miller, Dec. 7, 2016

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