How to receive compensation if you’ve been injured on the job in Georgia
Excavation is arguably one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Due to the nature of this job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put in place several measures to reduce the potential for workplace injuries and protect the lives of workers.
Most excavation and trench workers have dealt with trench collapses and cave-ins, which pose a high risk to their lives. To understand the risks involved in excavation, it’s vital to understand more about what the job entails.
What is excavation work?
An excavation worker uses heavy machinery to dig, move and grade earth for various construction projects. Most of these workers are tasked with trenching, grading or landscaping projects. During trenching, an excavator works to install foundational supports, wells, sewers and utilities. This job comes with high risks, as these workers are often required to dig deep into the earth.
Potential hazards of excavation work
According to OSHA, a significant number of trenching and excavation workers experience work injuries or lose their lives annually due to the risks of cave-ins and trench collapses. Despite the safety measures put in place by employers, it’s difficult to predict the safety of these trenches and holes. Below are some of the risks associated with excavation.
Cave-ins are the leading cause of death in excavation accidents. When the hole that workers are digging caves, workers can become trapped and killed after suffocating or being crushed by heavy soil.
Such accidents are more likely when proper safety measures are not implemented. For instance, OSHA requires contractors to carry out a full soil analysis to determine which protection systems are necessary at any given site. These protection systems include:
- This method involves excavators cutting the trench wall to angle it away from the excavation site.
- This method involves using trench boxes made from aluminum or steel to shield and protect themselves from cave-ins.
- This method involves installing supports to the sides of the excavation site using aluminum hydraulics to prevent soil movement.
Workers are also likely to sustain excavation injuries from falling equipment, loads or other materials. Depending on the size and nature of the load, these injuries can be fatal. According to OSHA regulations, workers are required to keep their materials and equipment at least 2 feet from the edge using a retaining device.
When testing the soil around the excavation site, contractors are also required to conduct atmospheric testing. This test is typically done on excavations greater than 4 feet in depth where there is oxygen deficiency. OSHA recommends this test any time workers are excavating areas with potentially hazardous atmospheric conditions. Without proper measures, workers are likely to suffocate or inhale toxic chemicals and gasses.
Digging comes with a lot of risks, including damaging underground utility lines and pipes. Before commencing the project, contractors are required to identify the lines and pipes in the area. This way, they can prevent electrocution and exposure to natural gas.
As stated before, excavation workers use heavy machinery to dig, grade and move soil, including trucks, backhoes, drills and other equipment. When operated improperly, these machines can cause harm to the operator and those around them.
Compensations available in case of excavation injury
Every employer in Georgia with 3 or more employees is required to carry Georgia workers’ compensation insurance. This coverage helps protect the employer and their workers in case of an injury at work. Some of the compensations available include:
- Medical expenses. All of your medical bills should be paid as long as you go to a company-approved workers’ compensation doctor.
- Rehabilitation costs. These include both medical and vocational rehabilitation benefits.
- Lost wages. Workers’ comp generally pays workers two-thirds of their average weekly wage (up to a maximum amount, which varies depending on whether their injury is temporary or permanent).
What to do after an excavation injury
Even with safety measures in place, excavation workers can still get injured on the job. If you’re injured while at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation. Here are a few steps you should take:
See a doctor immediately
The most important thing to do after an injury is to seek medical attention. Georgia worker’s compensation laws require employers to provide employees with 6 authorized treating physicians to choose from. Visit your physician to get your injuries and wounds treated, and have the treatment properly documented. These documents will come in handy when filing for employee benefits.
Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible
You should provide a detailed report of the accident and injury to your supervisor, manager or anyone of authority within your company. Workers are required to report their accidents and injuries within 30 days of the event to be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Follow all recommended treatment plans
To receive your worker’s compensation benefits, you are required to continue your recommended course of treatment. If unsatisfied with the treatment you’re receiving, you may be able to change your healthcare provider, as long as they’re on the list of authorized treating physicians associated with your employer.
Hiring an attorney is very important at the outset of your case because they can help you pick a doctor, as they have experience with many of the doctors who work with workers’ comp insurance companies and know which ones are generally better than others.
Contact an experienced injury attorney
Employers are bound by Georgia workers’ compensation laws, and many strive to provide their employees with all the benefits to which they’re entitled. However, others try to deny or minimize the benefits their workers receive. If you experience any of the following, consult an attorney to help you with your case right away:
- Your employer doesn’t cover your medical bills.
- Your employer doesn’t compensate you for lost wages.
- You’re forced to resume duties before you’re fully recovered.
- You experience victimization after your injury.
Worker’s compensation laws are put in place to protect employees and provide coverage in case of a workplace injury. A lawyer can help you get the full benefits you deserve and retain your job until you’re well enough to resume your duties.