Towards the end of October, the results of a study were published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. The study involved an interview of 1,200 carpenter apprentices that were in three different union training programs. The purpose of the study was to get a better understanding of whether safety incentive programs resulted in workers’ being discouraged from reporting work injuries. Unfortunately, the results of the study revealed that underreporting of work injuries is a major problem.
Our Raleigh workers’ compensation attorneys want to draw attention to the problems raised by this new study and to encourage construction workers to understand their legal rights. Workers’ compensation laws protect workers who are injured at work and no worker should ever be afraid to get the benefits that the law guarantees.
Study Shows Construction Injuries Underreported
The results of the study on injuries in the construction industry focused on the impact of programs that either reward supervisors for good safety records or that impose penalties to punish for injuries.
The purpose was to determine whether these programs discourage the reporting of work injuries- and it turned out that they do create a significant disincentive. In fact:
- 58 percent of the carpenters who responded to the survey reported that there was either a safety incentive at their current job or that there were policies in place to punish or discipline workers as a result of work-related injuries.
- In situations where workers were disciplined for injuries, workers reported their workplace accidents and injuries 50 percent loss often than when such policies did not exist.
- Almost 30 percent of those responding to the survey indicated that workplace injuries were either rarely reported or never reported at all.
Based on the responses to the surveys, the researchers indicated that they had discovered considerable evidence that workers feared consequences or some type of retaliation if they reported their work injuries to their employers.
Unfortunately, the results of the survey also indicated that even when workers knew that they had the right to report their injuries, they were still discouraged from doing so in many cases as a result of subtle pressures from employers, union leaders or co-workers. Employees, fearing that they might be fired or disciplined or otherwise subject to negative consequences would thus not report injuries even if they knew they were supposed to have legal rights.
Protecting Your Access to Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you suffer a workplace injury and do not report it, you could jeopardize your right to receive workers compensation benefits. This could become a major problem, especially if your injuries become worse or if you do not get better and you are not able to work. Workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to provide a safety net in these situations and to ensure medical bills are paid and disability benefits provided. Unfortunately, your employer could argue that you aren’t eligible if you didn’t come forward and tell the truth about your injury from the start.
If you have been hurt at work and fear consequences for making a workers’ compensation claim, you should speak to an attorney for more information on how to enforce and protect your legal rights.
If you or your loved one has been injured on-the-job, contact the Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Call 1-800-887-1965.
Protecting Your Rights as a N.C. Employee, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, Sept. 11, 2012