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Construction workers, contractors vastly underreport injuries

When a construction worker is injured at a Denver job site, he or she should be able to report his or her injuries and apply for workers' compensation. Just like any other profession, construction workers fall under the general rules and regulations protecting Colorado employees from injuries, and compensate them if they do become injured. Determining whether someone may qualify for workers' compensation and navigating the system, however, often takes the assistance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

While these programs are in place to help injured employees, workers must feel as if there will be no negative consequences associated with reporting an injury. If a construction worker believes that he or she will be fired for applying for workers' compensation there will be very few people who actually apply.

Sadly, a recent report found that there is a large problem of underreporting injuries within the carpentry field. Though the study did not look at Colorado carpentry unions, it is likely that union carpenters in the Denver area are facing similar dilemmas when they are injured on the job. The report found that there 58 percent of carpenters either received some sort of incentive for reporting an injury or faced some kind of negative consequence. It is unclear what the breakdown of negative consequences was, however.

Those who were punished for reporting an injury were 50 percent less likely to claim workers' compensation benefits than other carpenters. In addition, more than 30 percent of carpenters said injured employees never or nearly never reported injuries. When researchers dug deeper, they found that many carpenters believed that if they were to report injuries, they would be fired immediately. Others commented that they may receive workers' compensation, but when they returned to work they would be fired shortly after.

Anyone who is injured on the job should have access to workers' compensation, but it is ultimately up to employers to create the kind of environment that encourages employees to accurately report when they've been hurt.

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

To learn more about how construction workers can be injured at their job sites, please visit our workers' comp for construction workers website.

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Eley Law Firm
2000 S. Colorado Blvd. No. 2-740
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