Employers who fail to address safety issues on construction sites arent just failing themselves and their company but are also failing workers because in addition to the physical impact of injuries, there are ripple effects which can affect their entire lives. A recent incident which took place on a construction project in Nicholls is an example of these consequences.
A concreter who suffered injury on a job turned to illicit drugs to manage the pain sustained from the injury, subsequently the man’s entire life was affected and spiralled downhill.
The injury occured when the worker was asked to load 3 large pieces of conrete onto a truck, damaging his back in the process. The pain which started in his back then progressed into severe lower back and right leg pain.
The following excerpt from a post on www.CanberraTimes.com.au explains further:
A concreter who turned to heroin to manage back pain suffered on the job has won more than $820,000 in damages.
Dominic Fischetti, 50, was a self-employed concreter subcontracting on a project in Nicholls when the injury occurred in 2005.
Mr Fischetti was asked to load three large pieces of concrete onto a truck, damaging his back in the process.
He reported feeling something go in his back and suffered severe lower back and right leg pain in the days and weeks after.
Although the worker continued to work for a further 3 months, the pain did not subside and the worker was forced to seek medical treatment. This incident is a reminder to workers about the need to address injuries immediately rather than allow them to deteriorate until they become debilitating. All incidents and near misses should be reported for this reason as well.
The article on CanberraTimes.com.au went on to explain:
A scan revealed a disc protrusion and he was advised to think about a new career. But he had only ever been a concreter and was unqualified for other work, so continued in his job for another two years.
He managed the pain with painkillers for a time, but his back became steadily worse. Mr Fischetti then began using morphine tablets, smoking opium, and injecting heroin, which he found provided more effective relief.
The court heard his heroin use lasted for about eight months before he quit and joined a methadone program, which he was still on at the time of the hearing.
The defendant company became critical of the speed he worked at and, in 2008, he began to receive less work. Mr Fischetti stopped work altogether at the end of 2008 because he could not cope.
In 2010, police took him to Canberra Hospital suffering from depression because of the incident. The previous active worker was forced to give up the things he loved so much like soccer, fishing and body building because of his injury.
The man then launched action against defendant company Classic Constructions, alleging it negligently breached a duty of care not to expose him to risk of injury but the company claimed that the man’s injury was caused by his own negligence. Ultimately the man was rewarded $822,641 but this will not make up for the pain and suffering he has sustained thus far.