If you work in construction, you know better than anyone that job sites are dangerous, and there is seemingly endless potential for construction site injuries. In fact, according to a recent study on injuries in the U.S. construction workforce, there were roughly 3.1 work-related injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2017, including 1,013 fatalities.
Despite these disheartening numbers, the reality is that many construction injuries can be effectively avoided by employers simply posting clear warnings on the building site. In fact, it is the employer’s legal responsibility to adequately warn workers of potential hazards that could lead to injuries (also known as “Duty to Warn”). In this article, I’ll describe when an employer is legally required to warn of potential dangers. I’ll also discuss how a Buttafuoco & Associates construction accident lawyer serving New Jersey can help if you find yourself in this situation with your employer.
What is a Duty to Warn?
When an accident occurs because there was an obvious hazard the employer failed to inform employees about, this is called Failure to Warn. There are a number of common hazards on job sites that your employer or site manager has a legal responsibility to notify workers about by providing clear warnings and signage for hazardous conditions. Some common examples include:
- Falling Hazards. These can include trenches, barriers, and guardrails, anywhere a worker might fall; keep in mind that falling even a short distance can result in serious injuries.
- Electrical Hazards: Many construction sites involve power lines or exposed wires. These are obviously dangerous and should be marked accordingly.
- Wet or Slippery Surfaces: This can be especially problematic in rainy or snowy weather and in areas where water might gather, such as trenches. Simple warnings of potentially slippery surfaces can save the trouble of a slip and fall.
- Chemical Hazards: Chemicals used on building sites can cause a variety of injuries, including chemical burns, respiratory disease, and asphyxiation. This often includes obviously dangerous chemical hazards, like carbon monoxide, industrial cleaners, and hot tar. However, things like paint and black mold could be considered hazardous chemicals.
- Fire or Explosion Hazards: Often construction sites have flammable and combustible materials, such as fuel for tools and vehicles or dynamite used in demolition projects. This can also be relevant with gas lines.
Unfortunately, just because your employer fails to warn you of a danger, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be able to hold them liable for your injuries. If, for example, it has just rained and a sign has not yet been posted or an accident was entirely or partly due to your own negligence, you could face some legal challenges. This is why it’s a good idea to consult with a construction accident attorney in New Jersey if you have been injured on the job. Insurers will almost always try to get out of paying what you are due, and in the case your injuries are the fault of your employer, there can be even more complications. Buttafuoco & Associates has handled many such cases, and our experienced team can answer your questions during a free consultation.
Other Duty to Warn Situations
While the list above covers many situations where an employer has a Duty to Warn, it’s not simply about posting proper signage and labeling hazardous materials. An experienced New Jersey construction accident attorney will tell you in many cases, an employer’s Failure to Warn manifests as a failure to provide training or instruction regarding equipment jobsite safety. Some examples of an employer’s responsibility can include:
- Training on the proper use of construction equipment
- Training on relevant safety regulations
- Training to handle and dispose of against hazardous chemicals
- Instruction on applicable safety laws
- Training on the proper use of safety gear
If you are facing an injury due to a training issue, get in touch with an attorney right away.
What an Attorney Can Do
If you think your on-the-job injury is a result of your employer’s Failure to Warn, get in contact with a New Jersey construction accident lawyer; they will be able to help build a case showing it was your employer’s responsibility to warn you (the employee) about a potential risk, and your injuries were a direct result of this lack of warning.
As I mentioned above, Failure to Warn can take many forms, and at Buttafuoco & Associates we have the legal expertise in construction injuries to know how best to build your case.
Get in touch with us for a free consultation today at 1-800-NOW-HURT.