Construction is one of the most dangerous fields and workers in this industry face a significantly higher risk of on-the-job death than those in other positions. Because of the high risks, it is imperative employers have every possible incentive to ensure employees do not suffer serious or fatal injuries.
In Georgia, persistent high unemployment in the construction industry is creating a situation where employees may be less selective in the jobs they are willing to take on. This can result in more dangerous conditions and an increased risk of workers being hurt. In particular, one of the most problematic situations for a construction worker is when he is forced to take a job in which he is incorrectly classified as an independent contractor.
A worker classified as an independent contractor is going to have a harder time getting coverage in the event of an injury and is at greater risk of being in an unsafe work environment. If you or someone you love was hurt in a construction accident, an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney should be consulted for advice- especially if your employer is trying to claim you shouldn’t get workers’ comp benefits.
Workers Misclassified as Independent Contractors Face Added Risks of Atlanta Construction Accidents
The Department of Labor (DOL) indicates that misclassification of workers as independent contractors is increasingly a problem across all industries, especially within the field of construction. There are limited situations in which an employees should be considered an independent contractor, and only workers with a significant level of autonomy in their positions should be classified this way.
In some states, however, more than 35 percent of all workers in the construction industry have been misclassified as being independent contractors. A worker who is incorrectly classified will not be protected by the workers’ compensation system since his or her employer will not purchase insurance coverage. If the “independent contractor” sustains an injury on-the-job, this means that a lawsuit would need to be pursued to allow him to recover compensation instead of simply notifying an employer of a work injury.
Not only are workers going to have a harder time finding out how to get benefits and protecting their legal rights to money for injury losses, but workers who are incorrectly classified as independent contractors are also more likely to get hurt in the first place.
The Department of Labor indicates that there are two primary reasons why incorrect classification of employees increases their work injury risks. The first issue is that those who are self-employed don’t get the full measure of worker safety protection laws passed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The second issue is that employers don’t buy workers’ comp insurance for self-employed workers and thus don’t have to worry about a rise in insurance premiums after on-the-job injuries. This financial incentive to ensure safety is gone.
Workers may not have a choice but to take a job as an independent contractor, especially as the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. reports that Georgia has the second highest unemployment rate for construction workers in the country. The rate is significantly above the national average, leaving employees forced to take jobs wherever they can even when this means accepting a position that doesn’t provide the protection from injury they deserve.
The Atlanta work accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury while doing construction work. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.