If you’re a Georgia first responder, construction worker or shelter worker who helps to rebuild communities affected by natural disasters, then you’re part of what’s called the “resilience workforce.” These workers, though, are a vulnerable group.

The possibility of an injury

Responding to a disaster naturally brings risk with it. Being out all day in hot weather can lead to fatigue, exhaustion and heat illnesses while being exposed to mold and excessive amounts of dust can result in respiratory and digestive distress. Then there is the danger of incurring a physical injury. Roofs can cave in or floors give way, and downed power lines can cause electrocution.

What happens after an injury is another concern. In a joint report, Resilience Force and New Florida Majority tell of a man who was ordered by his supervisor to work on a roof without a safety harness. He fell, lost consciousness and broke his foot as well. The supervisor dropped him off at the hospital and left, and the hospital, seeing that no one would pay for the surgery, sent the worker to a homeless shelter. The victim eventually received medical treatment, but only after seeking legal guidance.

The reality of racism

Many resilience workers who are people of color and/or migrant workers have to face racism and xenophobia. The report mentions one incident where four black workers were fired because of racist complaints from customers and employees. Workers may also be harassed by law enforcement and by the residents of the very communities they’re trying to rebuild.

A lawyer for personal attention

You were injured on the job, and now the time has come to file for workers’ compensation benefits. However, you may be facing difficulties. The employer may have denied the claim or may even be harassing you. It would be advisable to have a lawyer help, then, with the filing of the claim and any appeals. If you’re successful, you could be reimbursed for medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages.