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Why many construction accidents go unreported (and why that’s a problem)

Workers’ compensation operates on a pretty simple premise: People who are injured on the job should be able to receive compensation for their lost income and medical care for their injuries. You can’t be compensated, however, if you don’t report your injuries — and it’s estimated that about half of all construction accidents never make it onto an injury report.

What gives? When researchers looked into the issue in 2013, they found that many employees readily admit that they have failed to report injuries from time to time. Some of the top reasons they gave include:

  • They didn’t figure the injury was serious. In many cases, construction workers were inclined to dismiss their pain as “nothing serious,” and certainly nothing that required medical attention. This is true even though something common, like back pain or numbness in the hands or feet, can be the result of significant spinal injuries that won’t heal without treatment.
  • They were pressured into silence. There’s a cultural trend among construction workers that encourages them to “tough it out” when they’re injured and not complain. Employees who don’t go along can be treated as whiners or simply “bad” employees by their bosses and co-workers.
  • They were worried about retaliation. When workers are afraid of retaliation, it encourages them to nurse their injuries in silence. Many workers fail to report injuries because they’re worried about being fired, assigned worse jobs or having their hours cut.
  • They’re unaware of their rights. While employers are supposed to make their workers aware of their duty to report injuries and their right to compensation, that doesn’t always happen.


The key to safety in any workplace is a supportive environment that cares about the health and safety of its workers. Unfortunately, many construction workers aren’t in that kind of environment. Claims may go unpaid even when they are reported. If you’re struggling to obtain compensation after a construction accident, it may be time to seek legal assistance.