Authorities issued a number of citations for unsafe working conditions at a Jacksonville home building site.
Inspectors found 17 violations at the Abby Glen subdivision, including roof sheathing installation being done without fall protection, failure to provide a proper extension ladder, and failing to properly equip workers operating as high as 18 feet. Several of the citations were for willful and repeated violations. All told, the citations total $144,830.
Occupational Safety and Health area director Brian Sturtecky said “this inspection is another example of multi-layers of construction management turning a blind eye to safety in the name of production.”
The Economics of Workplace Safety
Residential construction is definitely on the uptick, as building permits (13.5 percent), housing starts (1.8 percent), and housing completions (8.4 percent) all increased significantly from their January 2015 levels. More business means new contractors and smaller contractors, both of which can survive with lower profit margins. So, with every dollar counting even more, contractors look to trim expenses in any way possible.
The housing boom also means an expanding workforce. For the most part, that is good news for construction workers. But some contractors may not hire additional supervisors to keep up with the workers. As a side note, many of these workers have limited English proficiency, so they may not understand how to use safety gear without a translator or one-on-one instruction.
Similarly, contractors may not buy additional equipment. They may reason that the well-worn safety rails can make it another few months without replacement, but they do not take into account the additional wear and tear that comes from more workers on the jobsite.
All these factors combine to create a dangerous situation for workers. Unfortunately, at the same time, politicians are rolling back the cash benefits available for injured workers.
Workers’ Compensation System
By law, workers’ compensation is supposed “to assure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to an injured worker and to facilitate the worker’s return to gainful reemployment at a reasonable cost to the employer.” For the most part, except for the bit about lowest cost to the employer, the system does not work, unless the injured worker has an aggressive advocate.
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance that reimburses injured workers for their economic losses, including:
- Lost wages,
- Doctor and hospital bills,
- Prescription drugs, and
- Rehabilitation expenses.
To obtain these benefits, an injured worker must file a claim form within 30 days of the injury, in most cases. After the claim is filed and medical treatment is mostly complete, most cases go to mediation. If the two sides (insurance company and injured victim) cannot reach a settlement, the matter goes before a hearing officer. If the hearing officer denies the claim or unreasonably reduces benefits, which is often the case, the case can be appealed to the 1st District Court of Appeals.
Assertive Advocates Who Are On Your Side
To guide your claim through the system and obtain the most compensation possible, contact an experienced Tampa workers’ compensation attorney right away. You have a limited amount of time to act.