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Protecting the Rights of Injured Workers

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Older workers less likely to report on-the-job injuries

What may seem like a young person’s field — construction — is becoming increasingly grayer. Regardless of the reason, having a larger number of older individuals in Colorado construction raises questions about their safety. Surprisingly, however, there are far fewer reports of on-the-job injuries among older construction workers and older workers are also less likely to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. There is concern, however, that many of these men and women are just not reporting injuries, not that they are less likely to be injured.

It is true that there are federal protections for older employees, but it is believed that many workers are afraid that if they report injuries that they may face some kind of retaliation. Whether that would be reduced hours, dismissal or some other kind of consequence, older workers may not be willing to tell supervisors that they sustained an on-the-job injury.

On the other hand, some note that older workers likely have a higher rate of unionization, which would allow them to select the companies that have a better safety record. Some also think that older employees may not believe they will get much in workers’ compensation benefits.

Even though employees may have concerns about reporting an injury and filing for medical malpractice, these resources are available for employees who are injured at work. Consulting a workers’ compensation attorney is a good way to determine whether a construction worker would be eligible for benefits and how to protect oneself when filing a claim of an on-the-job injury.

Source: Engineering News-Record, “Senior Moments: Are Older Workers at Greater Risk of Injury?” Erin Richey and Johanna Knapschaefer, March 28, 2013

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