Craig Rosenbaum | July 2, 2023 | Construction Accidents
Construction work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Construction accidents account for thousands of injuries and deaths each year. However, is there a difference in the dangers workers face between union vs. non-union construction sites?
What Is a Union?
A labor union is a group of employees who join together to advance their common interests. Unions work to improve safety, wages, benefits, and other working conditions. They also work to ensure employees have health insurance, paid time off, retirement, and paid sick leave. Unions can be very powerful and effect substantial change in many industries.
Can Being in a Union Reduce the Risk of Injury for a Construction Worker in New York?
Potentially. A report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) analyzed the safety of construction sites. The study found that the construction industry in New York City and the rest of the state is much more dangerous for workers than elsewhere in the country.
Common types of construction accidents on New York job sites include:
- Electrocutions, explosions, and fires
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Building collapse
- Heavy equipment accidents
- Ladder accidents and scaffolding accidents
- Crane accidents
- Trench accidents
- Welding accidents
- Roofing accidents
The report also non-union construction job sites were more dangerous for workers than union job sites. Over three-fourths of worker deaths occurred on non-union worksites.
One reason could be that union workers have greater protection from employer retaliation than non-union workers when they report workplace safety concerns. Therefore, safety and health law might be enforced more at union worksites than at non-union worksites.
Union vs. Non-Union Workers’ Compensation Claims
There is evidence that union workers might have an easier time getting workers’ compensation benefits than non-union workers. One of the reasons is that these workers have support from their union. If they have questions, they can get help filing their claims.
Non-union workers may be discouraged from filing claims or reporting accidents on construction sites. Accidents and injuries are reported to OSHA, which could trigger an inspection. OSHA citations can be costly for a construction company.
Union workers are not discouraged from filing workers’ comp claims. On the other hand, non-union workers might fear retaliation and termination if they report an accident or injury on a construction site.
Filing Workers’ Compensation Claims and Third Party Complaints for Construction Workers
Regardless of whether a construction worker belongs to a union or not, they have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for an on-the-job injury. They also have the right to consult with a New York City workers’ compensation lawyer.
Union and non-union construction workers injured on the job can receive workers’ comp benefits that include:
- Medical benefits include payment of all medical bills for necessary and reasonable care after a work-related injury. However, workers must use a doctor authorized by the workers’ compensation board.
- Lost wages benefits to help injured construction workers who cannot work after an injury. Wage benefits equal about 2/3 of the worker’s average weekly wages before the accident.
If a construction worker dies, the family members can receive death benefits through workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation insurance companies do not care if a worker is a union member or not. The companies are more interested in reducing their liability for claims. Therefore, union and non-union construction workers can benefit from legal advice from a New York workers’ comp attorney after a construction accident.
Can Union and Non-Union Workers File Third-Party Claims for Workplace Accidents?
If another party caused your injury, you could have a personal injury claim against that person. Third-party claims can provide substantially more compensation for a construction worker than workers’ comp. You can file a third-party claim in addition to receiving workers’ comp benefits.
An example of a third-party claim is a product liability claim against a manufacturer for injuries caused by a defective tool. Another example would be suing an at-fault driver for causing an accident while you were on the job.
A third-party personal injury claim could result in reimbursement for all lost wages instead of only 2/3 of average weekly wages. Third-party claims also include compensation for other economic damages not included in a workers’ comp claim. The injured worker can receive compensation for pain and suffering damages, which are not covered by workers’ compensation.
If you are unsure what to do after a construction accident, talk with an NYC workplace injury lawyer. An attorney can advise you about your legal rights and the various options for receiving compensation for your damages.