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Study says construction workers fear reporting injuries

It is an unfortunate fact that sometimes, here in North Carolina, workers who are injured on the job are fired after reporting the injury. Injured workers should not have to fear the consequences of reporting a workplace accident or injury, whether it was their own fault or that of someone else. However, because sometimes employers do illegally retaliate against workers who report injuries or file workers' compensation claims, other injured workers are apprehensive about coming forward.

A recent anonymous survey of 1,020 carpenter apprentices in three different union training programs found that almost 60 percent of them thought there was a retaliatory consequence or disincentive related to reporting an injury at their current jobsites. Due to this, about 30 percent of surveyed carpenters said that injuries are rarely, if ever, reported.

This is a very disconcerting trend because injuries need to be reported for two very important reasons.

  1. By reporting an injury the worker is generally entitled to seek workers' compensation benefits for medical expenses and any lost wages incurred during the recovery process.
  2. When employers have information about the types and natures of injuries workers are subjected to, they are better able to put together policies and safeguards to protect workers from avoidable injuries.

The very nature of construction work, according to the researchers involved in this survey, may make workers hesitant to report injuries. Because the work is generally project-based, workers who file injury reports or workers' compensation claims worry that they will not be hired for the next project.

Workers in Charlotte have the right to report injuries and seek workers' compensation benefits. However, the reality is that in some industries or workplaces, workers feel a very real sense of intimidation when it comes to such issues. Workers who have been retaliated against after reporting an injury, or are wary about reporting an injury, may benefit from seeking legal counsel.

Source: EHSToday.com, "Union Carpenters: 'You're Pretty Much Screwed if You Get Hurt At Work'," Sandy Smith and Laura Walter, Dec. 7, 2012

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