The construction industry is one of the deadliest in New Jersey, and it faces a particular set of challenges during the summer. The five leading hazards during this season are fatigue, heat-related illness, dehydration, extended sun exposure and the threat of cars in roadside construction zones.
Failing to protect employees from these hazards can lead to injuries and even death. Heat-related illnesses range from heat rash to heatstroke. Sun exposure, in the long run, can lead to skin cancer. And construction zones are the site of nearly 100 worker deaths every year, according to NIOSH.
Employers will need to take several steps to mitigate the dangers. First, give frequent rest breaks in the shade. Shade the job site with canopies and umbrellas when possible. If workers are fine with working early in the morning or later at night, modify shifts. When tasks are physically demanding, cycle workers in and out. Next, provide plenty of fluids. Water is best, but making electrolytic beverages like Gatorade available may be more enticing to workers.
Workers should wear hats and put on sunscreen. Personal protective equipment must be right for the weather and not burdensome. To prevent accidents in roadside construction zones, have signs posting a reduced speed limit and install barriers to identify the zone.
Even if they receive the best training and the best care, employees are still liable to make mistakes and injure themselves. Victims may be reimbursed for medical costs and part of their lost wages if they file a workers' compensation claim, but they may face opposition from their employer. It may be wise, then, to retain legal counsel. A lawyer may also represent those wishing to settle. In this state, settlements can be paid out in a lump sum or in installments.