Construction projects are composed of varying levels of supervisory capacity. At the very top is the owner of the building or land that hired everyone. Beneath that person is the general contractor hired to manage the construction of the site itself. Beneath the general contractor come the various sub-contractors. Some of them will be large, like soil grading companies and others will be small one-man operations like electricians or forklift operators.
Contrary to what you might believe, sub-contractors are entitled to workplace safety and workers' compensation, usually. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is part of the Department of Labor and is tasked with implementing safety and health regulations to reduce workplace hazards. Per OHSA regulations, the operator of a construction site must ensure that the workplace is as safe as possible. This includes safety training, training on equipment and easy to access medical kits. General contractors must also appraise their sub-contractors and employees of these rights with prominent signage.
If you believe that you are working in an unsafe environment, you may file a claim with OHSA to investigate the matter. Additionally, you are entitled to have your name withheld from the investigation to protect your anonymity. Furthermore, if you are injured, you are entitled to receive workers' compensation. The one narrow exception is for sole proprietors, and even then, the general contractor must submit sufficient paperwork to prove that the sub-contractor is exempt from workers' compensation. An attorney can review your employment records to clarify if you are protected by these laws.
If you believe that you were injured because your employer cut corners regarding safety, then consulting with an experienced employment law and personal injury attorney is helpful for clarifying your rights. Working on construction sites is incredibly dangerous. The injuries you sustain are serious. Don't sacrifice your right to compensation for your injuries. By hiring an attorney, you can let them handle the paperwork while you focus on recovering so you can get back to work and your family.
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