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Workplace Injuries in Pennsylvania Demolition Zones: The Rules for Workers’ Compensation

It’s well recognized that construction sites are inherently dangerous places for workers and spectators. Year after year, construction work is near the top of the list of riskiest occupations in the United States. Even people outside the construction industry are aware of the dangers.

Surprisingly, the risks for workers at demolition projects are not given anything close to equal attention. Yet the typical demolition project—even if it does not use explosives to collapse a large structure—has most of the hazards of a major construction site along with unique dangers specific to building, bridge, and street demolition. As a consequence, demolition site workplace injuries are incredibly common.

Varieties of Demolition Site Workplace Accidents in Pennsylvania

One chief difference between construction and demolition jobs is that, in the latter case, many of the specific hazards at the job site are unknown. Even if the blueprints of the structure are available, there is no guarantee that the building conforms to those plans. As the Occupational Safely and Health Administration (OSHA) points out in an introduction to its demolition industry regulations, the project may involve:

  • Deviations from the structure’s design, introduced during construction or by later renovations;
  • Approved or unapproved modifications that altered the original design;
  • Materials hidden within structural members; and
  • Construction materials with unknown strengths and weaknesses

A primary contractor or site manager should have taken responsibility of preparing the structure or site for demolition. This includes disconnecting and disabling utility lines before work is started. The site manager should also establish first aid and emergency medical assistance protocols and inspect the site to identify specific dangers that may face workers.

Every demolition job is unpredictable. The task of bringing down a building and clearing away the rubble is more complex and tine-consuming than people outside the building trades may realize. The riskiest part of demolition jobs is not dealing with explosives, which are used on relatively few projects. Instead, working with heavy machinery and power tools on unstable surfaces is a far greater danger. Even a small misjudgment or momentary error can cause disastrous accidents, such as:

  • Falls from heights or falls on level surfaces
  • Being struck, crushed, or buried by falling objects or masonry
  • Being caught between heavy objects or unyielding surfaces
  • Being trapped in an imploding structure
  • Injuries to the eyes
  • Hearing loss due to noise
  • Vehicle and machinery accidents
  • Welding injuries
  • Electrical burns
  • Gas line explosions
  • Exposure to asbestos, lead, heavy metals, silica, industrial chemicals and solvents, or other dangerous compounds
  • Weather exposure dangers (heatstroke, hypothermia, lightning)

Actions to Take When a Pennsylvania Demolition Site Accident Occurs

If you have been injured while working at your job on a demolition site, call the Schmidt Kramer offices right now—the toll-free number is 888-476-0807—and request a FREE copy of our client book, Who Pays The Bills When You Are Injured At Work? We will send it to you at our expense. Really, you need this information from our Harrisburg injury attorneys as quickly as possible.

You may already know that workers’ compensation covers most on-the-job accidents in Pennsylvania. After a demolition job injury, your first priority should be to get emergency medical care. Make a formal accident report to your boss as soon as you can, and begin the process for claiming your Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits. Those benefits should pay for your medical care related to the accident and a portion of your lost wages if you are out of work for an extended period.

If you encounter any resistance to your workers’ compensation claim, or even if you have trouble filling out the paperwork, that’s a sign you need the assistance of a skilled Dauphin County workers’ comp attorney. Our Harrisburg office works with clients from Carlisle, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, and all surrounding communities. Call Schmidt Kramer locally at 717-888-8888 or use our toll-free number (888-476-0807) to schedule a FREE consultation about how we can work to get you the benefits you need for your recovery.