By their very nature, building sites are some of the most dangerous places to work.
According to Safe Work Australia statistics, 182 people were killed at work in 2020, of which 21 worked in the construction industry. By mid-September, 2021, 84 Australians had died at work, of which 11 were in construction.
Only workers in the transport, postal and warehousing industries post higher fatalities.
Many workers, of course, experience injury as a result of working on a construction site. From cuts to crush injuries, fractures, slips, electrocution, exposure to the sun, chemicals or other materials, and soft tissue injuries caused by slips and trips, the potential hazards on a building site are many and varied.
Risks remain high despite the focus in recent years on safer workplaces.
Like any other worker, those injured on a construction site will be able to access workers’ compensation to help them recover from their workplace injury and get back to work.
They will also be able to make common law work injury damages claim if they suffer a serious injury and believe their employer’s negligence was the cause of their injury.
If the injury is more incapacitating, preventing a return to full-time work or being able to work in the same job again, a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD claim) may also be an option.
Workers’ compensation claims
As with any other industry, someone injured on a construction site should first attend to the immediate treatment of their injury.
On most building sites, there is usually a fairly standard process for reporting the incident to a supervisor, manager or health and safety officer, and the subsequent filling out of a detailed incident report.
A worker should inform their health care provider as soon as practicable after the incident, while an employer should contact its workplace insurer.
Safe Work NSW should also be contacted if the injury is serious or results in a fatality.
Under NSW’s workers’ compensation scheme an injured construction site worker can access weekly payments to compensate for lost income while they recover.
They can also access payments to cover the costs of medical, hospital, ambulance and rehabilitation treatment. A work-related injury or illness that results in permanent impairment may also entitle an injured person to a lump sum compensation payment, depending on the degree of their impairment.
Weekly compensation amounts are capped and indexed twice a year in April and October. The duration and number of payments are calculated on work capacity as an injured person begins to return to work, up to 260 weeks. After that period, whole person impairment – a scale used to measure the extent of your injuries – greater than 20% is required to continue to receive weekly payments.
Work injury damages claims
A work injury damages payout in the form of a lump sum payment is a full and final settlement of the entirety of an injured person’s rights and entitlements under the Workers Compensation Act.
This type of claim to cover loss of past wages and loss of future earnings capacity requires a worker to demonstrate negligence on the part of the employer as the cause of the injury. Advice of legal professionals with expertise in compensation law is highly advised in making this sort of claim, given the volume of evidence required to support it.
In NSW, to be eligible to claim for work injury damages, an injured worker must have an assessed whole person impairment (WPI) of at least 15%.
Additionally, the requirement for medico-legal assessments of the injury or injuries, as well as handling the investigation into the incident conducted by the insurance company, are factors that mean proper legal advice should be sought.
Common causes of injuries on construction sites that may result in an injury giving rise to a work injury damages claim to include:
- improper or inadequate warning signs alerting workers to hazardous materials or conditions;
- faulty equipment, for which it was the employer or someone else’s responsibility to maintain, and/or
- inadequate safety equipment or procedures to prevent injury on-site.
Speak with compensation experts
Seeking compensation for a work injury can be a lengthy and sometimes complex process, made more challenging by the fact you’re still recovering from injury.
Moreover, strict time limits apply to making a claim, as well as other steps in the claims process, including when the insurer needs to respond by.
By placing your trust in an award-winning firm of expert compensation professionals, you can avoid a lot of the stress and worry involved in making a claim for compensation.
BPC Lawyers will do the tough, detailed work in putting your claim together, and manage all negotiations with the insurer to get you the best possible result to compensate for your work injury on a construction site.