North Carolina’s construction industry is booming. In most cities, residents in certain areas hear the growl of bulldozers, the pounding of jackhammers, and the muffled boom of controlled explosions as new suburbs are built and old ones undergo gentrification.
Construction is a sign of progress and expansion, but it’s also a dangerous occupation. According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, there were 39 workplace fatalities in North Carolina between October 2018 and June 2019, 14 of which were related to the construction industry.
Blasting is the process of using controlled explosives or blasting agents to break down rocks or remove them from a construction site. Although a common activity on worksites, blasting is also highly dangerous and injuries are not uncommon. In the most severe cases, death can result.
Blast Injuries on Construction Sites
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires a number of safety measures to be used when blasting is done on construction sites. They include:
- Who is qualified to handle explosives
- How blasting tools can be used
- What type of materials can be in the vicinity of explosives
Even if all of these guidelines are followed, injuries can still occur, and explosions caused by blasting can produce injuries rarely seen outside of military combat zones. They have a combustive power that can inflict serious damage on both people and property. The nature and extent of the outcome will depend on factors such as:
- The distance between the victim and the blast location
- The delivery method
- The type and volume of the explosive material
- The surrounding environment
When explosives are detonated, they create powerful shock waves that can obliterate rocks- and anything else within the blast radius, including the human body. Energy caused by the blast can travel outward from the detonation site, resulting in flying debris, structural collapse, and utility line damage (which in turn can cause carbon monoxide leaks). Despite strict OSHA regulations, the inherent nature of the blasting process can result in unexpected devastation.
Common Blasting Injuries
Injuries due to blasting are like most construction site injuries in that the outcome can be devastating and permanent. Explosives, large rocks, heavy machinery, and other hazards can all contribute to catastrophic outcomes such as:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Severe burns
- Full or partial paralysis
What Kind of Benefits Are You Entitled to if You are Injured by Blasting?
When construction workers are injured on the job, it not only affects their livelihood and well-being: their families are impacted as well. Household income could be reduced or even disappear, making it impossible to make ends meet. The injured worker may also face high medical bills and ongoing therapy to restore mobility and reduce pain.
Fortunately, workers injured by blasting incidents can apply for workers’ compensation to cover their medical costs and a percentage of their income until they are able to work again. If there is a permanent injury, you will be entitled to additional benefits.
Also, if you were injured in a blasting incident, and your injuries were caused by someone other than your employer, you may be able to make a claim for personal injury damages against the person or company that caused the blast. If that claim is successful, you may be entitled to money damages for pain and suffering, in addition to your lost wages. Damages for permanent injuries are often higher in personal injury cases than in workers’ compensation cases.
Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Attorney
If you sustain blasting injuries on the job, you should be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and you may also have a personal injury claim. The application process is sometimes challenging, but the workers’ compensation attorneys at Johnson & Groninger PLLC can provide you with the legal representation that you need to get a positive outcome.
You may even have grounds to file a third-party personal injury claim if a company that is not your employer caused or contributed to your injuries. A construction injury attorney at our firm will review the circumstances of the accident to determine whether third-party negligence was involved and assist you in holding the right parties accountable. For a confidential consultation, please contact Johnson & Groninger PLLC or call 855-633-3140.