Only You Can Protect You

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You’re young and indestructible. You are on the top of the world and working in construction, or you want to work in the field. Well, let me give you some advice. Guard your body; it is the only one you have. And, if you are working in construction, it can wear out fast.

You see, there is a saying that the sins of your youth are paid for in old age. That consistent bad back you'll get isn't from sleeping wrong; it was from carrying shingles on your shoulder as a roofer at 22. The sore shoulder is from caring plywood on it at 25. So let me give you some advice on how to save yourself pain in old age and more importantly, unemployment because of bad health in construction.

First, dress for the weather. And I mean like your mom told you to dress, not a windbreaker in winter like you did at 15. This will save you from wearing down your immune system which leads to colds and sore throats. It also will protect your body’s ability to work in foul weather because if you don’t protect your body, it loses its ability to do this.

Secondly, wear a back brace and knee pads ( you can buy them in any Wal-Mart or drug store). They are inexpensive and will protect your body from physical strain. In this group I also put work gloves and steel toed boots.

Make sure you lift from the knees not the back too. You treat heavy things on the job like you would a set of weights in a gym. Also, check out websites that show you how to properly and safely do all aspects of your job.

This also means that you work with your brain not your body. Don’t carry 20 bags of concrete from a pallet because you don’t want to get the fork lift on the other side of the job site. Time's important, but so is your back.

You should also look into getting a good disability policy. When you are young they are cheap. Don’t count on Workman’s Comp. Your employer pays it, you don’t. They don’t work for you. Also, Workman’s Comp is notorious for not paying.

Plus, some employers skirt things. You might get hurt and find out that your employer dropped the coverage. And you can’t sue the bankrupt if that is why he or she dropped it.

Also a disability policy covers you if you are hurt off the job. This is important because if you count on Social Security Disability, you may wait 2 years before you get it, if you get it. Consider too that you have to be unemployed for 6 months before you can even apply for Social Security Disability.

Most importantly, don’t work under the table. If you have to, file as a self-employed person. For if you don’t show you are employed, you accrue no credits to your Social Security, and you are not covered by any government law that pay you in case of injury. Your credit report too shows you as unemployed, so you gain no credit. Add to this that Uncle Sam hates tax cheats and will prosecute you if caught. When you go before the IRS, you are guilty until proven innocent.

If your employer will not like you filing on your own, don’t tell him or her, keep an account of your pay by yourself and file by yourself. If he or she finds out, life’s tough. You need to look out for you.

Which is why I add in closing that if you do get hurt, don’t accept a private agreement with your employer without consulting an attorney. I know of a guy who lost an arm while working and did this. Eventually, his old employer resented paying him. Remember, like that bear looking out to protect the forest against fires, only you can protect you.


Jeffrey Ruzicka

Jeffrey Ruzicka is a retired executive of a small company that specializes in industrial water treatment. He lives happily with his wife in Western Pennsylvania and is a contributing writer toFinancialJobBank,FinancialJobBankBlog, ConstructionJobForce, ConstructionJobForceBlog andNexxt.


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