Earlier this month, a 60-year-old Chicago man was badly injured in a construction accident on the Far South Side.
His story is an unfortunate example of how construction remains one of the most dangerous industries for workers today, even though it has made strides over the past few decades in protecting workers.
According to the Chicago Fire Department, the man was working at a construction site in the 8300 block of South Lyon Avenue when a porch overhang fell on him. He was immediately rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was listed as being in serious condition.
Now, there is a lot about this construction accident we do not know, but here is something we are sure of — if this man was properly following safety precautions and procedures, then there is no reason he should have been hurt while on the job.
In the U.S., employers have an obligation to provide their workers with reasonably safe and healthy work environments.
If someone is hurt while performing his or her work, he or she usually cannot sue the employer. Instead, he or she must seek workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a system set up to accomplish two goals: save employers from having to constantly defend themselves against lawsuits from injured or sickened employees and, more importantly, provide such employees with a reasonably prompt and practical means of receiving recompense for the harm that befell them.
Of course, like just about every system in the world, workers’ compensation does not work perfectly. Sometimes, injured or sickened workers need the help of someone who can navigate the system and judiciously apply his or her experience and know-how to achieve the desired end.