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Safety for construction workers and truckers sacrificed for profit

Cherry Hill, NJ workers' compensation attorneyIncreasingly, working on construction sites or driving a truck can kill or maim you.

Two construction workers fell down an elevator shaft in St. Louis last year and died working on a $25 million hotel project.

A trucker who had been driving 23 hours without sleep crashed into a van carrying Tracy Morgan in 2014 in a New Jersey accident that injured the actor-comedian and killed his friend.

As the economy thrives, being on the job for construction workers and truck drivers can be dangerous.

Risk factors in the gig economy

Factors leading to an unsafe atmosphere for construction workers and truck drivers include a shortage of trained workers, age, obesity, paucity of skills and companies skimping on safety measures, according to CBS News.

In the St. Louis workers’ deaths, officials said the workers were inside a basket that was harnessed to a safety cable but that their harnesses were attached to the basket and not the cable itself.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined that a subcontractor failed to train the workers to do elevator work and failed to do regular inspections of the scaffold.

One problem is that an estimated 75 million workers are part of the so-called “gig economy,” workers who go from job to job with no permanent employment. (“Gig” comes from the slang for engagement, or scheduled performance, coined by jazz musicians.)

In the roofing and electrician trades, for example, people with little experience and less training work for small firms that hire and fire on a day’s notice. That can lead to more accidents than is the case when workers have gained skills over time and received proper training.

Health concerns among construction workers

Another problem is age. The economy booms and lures people into jobs they probably should not be doing, because their age may cause slower reaction times.

Construction workers’ injuries often involve young workers who have been on the job less than three months or workers who are older, more fragile and less agile than others.

A shortage of healthy workers in the construction and truck driving trades is another factor.

A report in 2018 by clinical laboratory Quest Diagnostics found drug use by the American workforce to be at its highest in over a decade driven by increases in cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Workplace overdoses due to alcohol and drugs have increased.

The rise in Americans’ obesity isn’t helping either, especially considering the prospect of an overweight worker maneuvering on a scaffold or roof.

Immigrants are an important part of the workforce, but those unable to speak English or who struggle with the language can face another barrier when it comes to safety training. Also, immigrant workers can be reluctant to report injuries until they become extreme and require hospitalization.

The healthy economy can mean unhealthy results for truckers. The desire to reap the boom’s rewards can mean they drive longer and farther with less sleep. Some truck drivers in a survey admitted to nodding off or falling asleep while on the road.

A study of long-haul truckers by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that compared to other U.S. workers, truckers had:

  • Higher body mass
  • Current cigarette use and years of smoking
  • Lower prevalence of annual influenza vaccination
  • Lower physical activity levels

Contact Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen of New Jersey today for help in cases of construction workers and truck drivers placed in unsafe workplace conditions.

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