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Carpenter survey reveals reluctance to report injuries

No one has ever said carpentry was a particularly safe job, but new a new study sponsored by the Center for Construction Research and Training suggests that it may be more dangerous than previously thought. The study was ordered in response to concerns that carpenters may have been underreporting their injuries due to fears of punishment or termination. As the results of the survey show, those concerns were justified.

Out of an anonymous group of 1,020 carpenter apprentices, 58 percent stated that some sort of negative effect would occur if they reported a construction site injury. Some feared that they would suffer some sort of punishment, while others reported that their company had a safety incentive that would have been negatively affected by their reporting. Overall, these employees were 50 percent less likely to report a workplace injury.

In particular, workers feared that they would be replaced if they reported an injury on the job. Carpentry is a competitive field, and many workers felt that they would not be rehired if they reported an injury. It was a common belief that although the company would not fire the worker immediately, they may be reluctant to hire the employee for future projects.

The result, according to the study, is a culture of underreporting on construction sites. Unless this mindset is changed, many Pennsylvania construction site workers may be afraid to report their injuries and collect the worker's compensation benefits they are entitled to. Not only does this make it more difficult to cope with the financial effects of an injury, failing to report an injury also allows the culture of underreporting to continue, endangering all other construction site workers.

Source: EHS Today, "Union Carpenters: 'You're Pretty Much Screwed If You Get Hurt At Work,'" Sandy Smith and Laura Walter, Dec. 7, 2012

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