Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

A career site’s list of the best and worst jobs for 2010 reveals something Baltimore County work accident attorneys have known right along: The physically most demanding jobs are also the most dangerous and can lead to serious personal injury, lifelong medical problems, and even death.

Recognizing the risk to life and limb when construction accidents occur, job search site ranked construction as the no. 8 worst job to pursue this year. The no. 1 worst job was “roustabout,” which includes oil rig and pipeline workers, followed by lumber jack and iron worker. The site considered the following factors while conducting research to rank the jobs: Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress and Physical Demands.

Construction Worker made the list due to the physical demands, higher rates of injury, and low median income, though the hiring outlook is “moderate.” And Maryland, while our stevedores (dock workers) weren’t in the bottom 10 jobs, they weren’t far behind — stevedores ranked 185 out of 200 jobs analyzed, with a hiring outlook of “poor” (besides the challenging work conditions if you can get a job as a dock worker on the Baltimore and Maryland waterfront).

What would you guess are among the most dangerous jobs in Maryland? Construction? Roofing? Electrical work? You’d be right on all those counts, but some of the top causes of fatal occupational injuries in Maryland may come as somewhat of a surprise. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), of the 59 people who lost their lives due to work-related accidents in Maryland in 2008…

> Transportation accidents (which include air, rail, highway transportation including freight trucking accidents, nonhighway transportation, and being struck and killed by a vehicle, e.g., construction site worker pedestrian accidents) accounted for 17 deaths;

> 9 fatalities resulted from Assaults and Violent Acts (including self-inflicted injury);

The Baltimore County City Council passed an act concerning speed cameras designed to thwart motor vehicle accidents and pedestrian accidents that occur in school zones. Bill 61-09 Speed Monitoring Systems, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2009, authorizes county law enforcement, in consult with other agencies, to use and enforce citations issued by speed monitoring systems in school zones.

The bill defines “speed monitoring systems” as “a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors producing recorded images of motor vehicles traveling at speeds at least 12 miles per hour above the posted speed limit.” Drivers will be subject to a $40 fine. An amendment to the bill limits the number of cameras to 15. The one councilor who dissented felt that more police — not speed cams — was a better way to address the problem.

In addition to the county bill targeting speeders in school zones, a separate state law now allows speed cameras at work zone sites; two have been placed in Baltimore County — one on I-695 at Charles Street and another on I-95 between I-895 and White Marsh Blvd.

People get hurt at work in the course of performing their jobs, whether it’s unloading cargo on the docks at the Port of Baltimore, working on a factory floor, or performing white collar jobs in downtown Baltimore office buildings. As Maryland Workers Comp lawyers who’ve served the people of Baltimore County and neighboring communities for decades, we’ve seen a wide spectrum of work-injury cases as a result of everything from heavy lifting to heavy typing.

Fact of the matter is, while certain occupations — construction, for example — are more hazardous than others, you don’t have to fall off scaffolding or have an accident as such to suffer injury as a result of your work. We can break down types of work related injuries into two broad categories: Accidents and Occupational Disease. We’ve discussed what to do if you are injured in an accident at work (see our Workers Compensation webpage for more, as well as our Work Comp blog archive). Let’s discuss occupational disease here.

Maryland Law & Occupational Disease / Work Related Injuries

State and city officials are looking at ways to curb Baltimore, Maryland car accidents caused by speeding. In May, Maryland legislators passed a law which allows speed cameras to be posted within one half mile of schools and construction sites. Now the Baltimore City Council has voted an initial thumbs-up to installing speed cameras in those vulnerable places. If the measure passes, the speed cameras could start going up around Baltimore construction sites and schools by October.

Maryland law requires that signs be posted alerting motorists that the speed cameras are in use. Speed cameras snap photos of license plates of motorists going more than 12 miles per hour above the posted speed limit. A $40 ticket would then be sent to the address connected to the vehicle’s license plate registration. The hope is the cameras will deter speeding drivers, who can cause fatal Maryland traffic and pedestrian accidents.

Baltimore and Maryland Speeding Fatalities

In our work as Maryland Workers Comp attorneys, we hear this all the time: People who are hurt on the job will say, “My employer said that I don’t need to file for workers’ compensation because we have disability insurance.” Or, “They said they would pay me under the table while I take time off to recuperate.” Or, “They said they would continue to pay me legitimately (i.e., on the books) while I’m off.”

Those are the BIG 3 EXCUSES we hear employers using to discourage injured workers from filing Maryland Workers Comp cases. What happens in those scenarios, inevitably, is the employee gets paid for the time that they’re off, but they really get shorted on the two most important things:

1. They don’t get compensated for any permanent physical problems they’re having.

With the goal of reducing Md. construction injuries and deaths, the state has added teeth to what are already among the strictest crane regulations in the country.

New regulations went into effect for Maryland earlier this month following several serious construction crane incidents, such as a fatal Anne Arundel County accident that occurred in April 2008. According to a Baltimore news report, workers in Annapolis Towne Centre were dismantling an end section of a crane when an accident occurred, crushing a construction worker between two sections of the crane 200 feet up. Another worker was injured.

The new regulations will require all construction workers operating cranes as well as those who load and signal them to receive intensive training on the equipment, to avoid serious and possibly fatal Maryland construction accidents. Employers are now required to carry out daily inspections and to keep training records. Maryland Labor and Industry Commissioner Ronald Julius told a local news outlet that state inspectors will be checking on projects where construction cranes are in use.

Earlier this month, I talked about how the Maryland Workers Comp system is tilted in the employer’s favor, and how important it is for injured workers to take charge of their situations right away. (See “Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer on Maryland Workers Compensation System,” March 18, 2009, below.)

My partner and I have handled personal injury cases for injured workers in Maryland for more than two decades. We’ve seen all kinds of work comp cases, from people who throw their backs out lifting something heavy, to typists who develop carpal tunnel syndrome, to a client who got bit by a mosquito and contracted malaria while on a sales call to a foreign country. We’ve seen industrial accidents resulting in burns and other serious injuries, and people who suffer shock and psychiatric problems as the result of a traumatic event at work, like a robbery.

Advice for Injured Workers in Maryland

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