Staying safe on the job and making sure you have a safe worksite is important for you and your family. It can also have a significant and lasting impact on your financial health and security.
One problem is that workplace injuries and illnesses oftentimes are not fully compensated. Many workers fail to file workers’ compensation claims because of the red tape, delays in payments or because chronic injuries and illnesses are not always compensated, due to the transient nature of work in construction. Hearing loss is a good example. It normally occurs over many years of exposure on dozens of job sites. Yet, workers’ compensation claims must be filed against the insurer of the employer for whom you worked when an injury occurred. As a result, construction workers are rarely compensated for hearing loss, even though it has a dramatic effect, both economic and social, on their lives.
Maintaining good general health also plays a strategic role in personal finances. This is particularly evident in construction where work can vary by season and economic cycles, but workers do not get sick days and they do not get paid if they do not work. Without paid sick leave, Laborers often work as much as they can when work is available. They may work 10-12 hour days, six or seven days a week. They may work nights on road crews or asbestos jobs. All this takes a toll on their health and family life. It also means that many go to work because they need the paycheck, even though they are hurt, increasing the risk of permanent and career-ending injuries. Workers can “burn out” and be forced to leave the trade in their 40s or 50s. The economic impact is huge.
For these reasons, avoiding job-related injuries and illnesses and maintaining general health are matters not only of personal health but also financial health for every Laborer. By staying safe on the job, improving safety on your jobsite, eating well, exercising and getting an annual check-up from your doctor, you can stay healthy, enjoy life, have a longer career and secure your financial future as well.
[Scott Schneider is the LHSFNA’s Director of Occupational Safety and Health.]