Construction workers in Pennsylvania may not often have to endure the kind of blistering heat that their counterparts toiling in desert communities must contend with, but they could still learn some important lessons from a workplace safety program initiated by the Nevada city of Henderson after a series of fatal accidents. The deaths of a dozen Nevada construction workers in a span of only 18 months prompted officials in Henderson to focus on workplace safety and preventable accidents, and the success of these efforts led to the city being awarded an Occupational Excellence Achievement Award by the National Safety Council in 2016.

The time lost due to workplace accidents costs American employers billions of dollars each year, but a large part of this annual expense is related to injuries caused by repetitive motion, overexertion or slips and falls that could often be prevented. Henderson officials decided to take a hands-on approach, and they found that employers were often able to achieve impressive results by making their safety training less tedious and listening more closely to workers who raised concerns about perilous conditions.

The Henderson initiative featured a focus on providing workers with adequate water and shaded rest areas to combat the dangers posed by soaring temperatures, regular drug testing for construction workers and the identification of safety as a core value rather than just one priority among many. Officials in Henderson also encouraged more open dialog between workers and management on safety issues as well as regular meetings to discuss these matters.

Construction workers perform tasks that are very physically demanding, and even a seemingly minor strain or sprain can leave them unable to work and earn a paycheck for prolonged periods. While the state’s workers’ compensation program may be designed to assist injured workers financially during this difficult time, they sometimes find the application process excessively complex and frustrating. Attorneys with experience in these matters may assist sick or injured workers with the necessary paperwork and argue on their behalf if their claims are contested.