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Archive for the ‘Workplace Injuries’ Category

A Brief Look at Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Psychological Injuries

We all know that life in general can be stressful, but add to it issues concerning finances, family wellness and work stability, and things may seem to be unbearable at times. As workers’ compensation attorneys in Pennsylvania, we often hear from clients who have admitted to struggling with all types of injuries that are physical in nature. However, there are times when the workplace is the breeding ground for a variety of psychological stressors as well. It’s no secret that a job can be one of the highest causes of stress in one’s life. If you believe that your work-related stress has become too much for you to deal with, the Commonwealth’s workers’ compensation system provides for mental injuries in certain instances. Contact our Lancaster job accident lawyer today for more details.

What is a Mental Injury Claim?

Although mental injury claims can be complicated, a skilled attorney can review your information and help determine if you possibly qualify for benefits based on your psychological injuries. Under Pennsylvania’s system, your claim will likely fall under one of three types of mental injuries.

Physical/Mental Injuries

You may have sustained a mental injury due to a physical event or trauma at work. For example, if you suffered an injury at work while using heavy equipment, returning to the job and using that same piece of equipment may lead to a level of fear and/or anxiety that makes it hard for you to properly perform your job duties.

Mental/Physical Injuries

If you work at a job where you must perform your duties correctly or risk termination, the stress and worry associated with the position could harm you physically. Potential outcomes from this type of mental stress can be ulcers, serious migraines or even heart attacks.

Mental/Mental Injuries

While many states do not recognize mental/mental injuries, Pennsylvania does. Such injuries tend to develop from psychological trauma that occurred at work. A good example is a bank robbery. If you work at a bank, and your bank is robbed, such trauma can be devastating to your psyche — even more so if you were specifically held at gunpoint and forced to perform various acts during the robbery. Workplace robberies, active shooter incidents, on-the-job explosions — all of these can lead to anxiety and/or depression if you believed your life was at risk.

Common Causes of Mental Stress and Injuries

There are numerous issues that can lead to workplace stress and injury, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Concerns Over Job Insecurity: Given the possibility of company mergers, downsizing and organizational restructuring, it is not surprising that many workers throughout Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the US are feeling mentally stressed. Studies have shown that such insecurity takes a greater toll on workers’ physical and mental health than being out of work completely. Why? Because individuals dealing with job insecurity are often concerned about caring for and supporting their families and maintaining their households. Workers in such situations are also worried about being let go without sufficient notice, and this type of stress can keep an employee in a consistent state of unrest.
  • Heavy Workloads: No matter the industry in which you work, employers typically seek to get the most out of their employees. Unfilled job vacancies, employee illnesses or overall economic pressures may require individuals to work twice or three times as hard under such conditions. For the most part, employees can deal with this on a short-term basis; however, if the high work levels continue for extended periods of time, it can result in employees experiencing depression and anxiety, problems sleeping and poor job performance. Certain companies may also set unreasonably high expectations or goals for their workers, which can result in feelings of inadequacy and stress over their own specific accomplishments.
  • Shift Work: As our Lancaster job accident lawyer recently discussed, working various shifts can have a number of physical and mental effects on individuals. Working various hours that differ from most other workers can also be quite frustrating, as night workers may become psychologically stressed as a result of missing important social events or crucial family functions.
  • On-the-Job Bullying and Harassment: Children are not the only people who are subjected to bullies and harassing behavior. Adult employees often face these challenges in the workplace too. Some workers experience bullying from their supervisors, bosses and/or co-workers such that it leads to psychological injuries in the worker. Bullying can take several forms, including physical, psychological, social and verbal. Sexual harassment can also be a major issue for employees, particularly if the harassment is done by a supervisor or employer. Unfortunately, many workers become afraid to report such harassment, as they fear losing their jobs. So they suffer alone in silence.
  • Customer Service Positions: Undoubtedly, any worker who has to deal with customers on a regular basis is quite aware of how providing quality customer service can be a stressful job. After all, interactions with difficult and angry customers is all part of the job, right? It is important for such workers to be aware that they can still experience stress, even after a mad customer finally calms down and leaves the situation. Additionally, it is not uncommon for workers to maintain certain stress levels long after an angry customer has left. Employees may have extended concerns over what may happen if the person returns or if they have to deal with another similar situation.

Filing a Mental Injury Claim – Get Help From Our Lancaster Job Accident Lawyer

If you would like to file a mental injury claim, you are encouraged to speak to our Lancaster job accident lawyer. You should be aware that unless you have a physical injury that directly led to your mental injury, you will be required to demonstrate that your stress resulted from what’s known as an “abnormal working condition.” This may be hard to prove on your own, but if you contact our office, we will review your specific situation and work environment to determine your best course of action.

What is Shift Work Disorder?

Working various shifts within a 24-hour period can be very difficult for an individual, especially when he or she is subjected to changing shift times every few days or every other week. Unfortunately, such frequent changes in work hours can lead to something known as “shift work disorder.”

Shift work disorder, which is also referred to as “shift work sleep disorder,” generally causes the worker to experience difficulty sleeping, tiredness, fatigue and excessive sleepiness during daytime hours. All of these issues can result in injuries and accidents in the workplace, as well as with absenteeism and mistakes in judgment while on the job.

Who Typically Works Varying Shifts?

There are a number of jobs and professions that require individuals to work various shifts throughout the day. Some of the more common jobs requiring shift work include:

  • Hospital workers (doctors, nurses and nurses assistants)
  • Food service workers (bartenders, cooks and waiters)
  • Firefighters and law enforcement officers
  • Retail cashiers
  • Public transportation workers
  • Airline crewmembers (pilots and flight attendants
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Heavy machinery/vehicle operators (truckers)

All of these jobs tend to involve extensive sleep disruption, which can ultimately lead to shift work sleep disorder.

What Types of Medical Issues Can Arise in Individuals Working Different Shifts?

Besides sleep disorders, shift workers can face a number of other types of medical issues. For example, there have been a number of studies done on cardiovascular diseases in relation to shift work, particularly with regard to blood pressure. The results showed that workers who frequently rotated shifts showed a greater variation in blood pressure during a 24-hour period. Additionally, it was noted that women with heart disease tended to have a worse prognosis than men, with an increased incidence of coronary artery disease in females who worked shifts for a period of six or more years.

Weight gain has also been an issue for many shift workers. A study that focused on a large set of factory workers over a 14-year period found that 43% of night shift workers had a 5% increase in their body mass index, while 25% had a 7.5% increase and 15% experienced a 10% increase when compared to day shift workers.

There have also been a number of studies that have considered the relationship between shift work disorders and cancer. The results of those found an increase in colorectal, prostate and endometrial cancers among shift workers in comparison to those who work normal work hours.

The University of California conducted a study on the relationship between shift work disorders and diabetes, finding that there was a “positive association” between years of rotating night shift work and diabetes. More specifically, the connection was related to excess body weight, and the study found that shift workers might also have a higher risk of smoking and developing Parkinson’s disease.

Were You Injured While Performing Shift Work? Contact Experienced Lancaster Hurt at Work Lawyers Today

Were you recently involved in an accident while performing shift work? You may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim.  We are here to help you with your claim and provide the comprehensive legal guidance that you need during this time. Contact us today to find out if you’re eligible.

Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Case: Part IV

As we conclude our four-part series on mistakes to avoid when pursuing a workers’ compensation case, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney will discuss failing to hire an attorney for your case (or choosing the wrong type of attorney), lying to your attorney and providing the insurance company with a recorded statement and/or signing medical authorizations.

Error 8: Choosing the Wrong Attorney or Not Hiring a Skilled Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney For Your Case

Insurance adjusters, regardless of how pleasant they are when speaking to you or how nice they seem to be, do not have your best interest in mind. Their goal is to save the employer’s insurer as much money as possible by paying out the least amount possible for the claim. That said, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel from a competent Lancaster workplace accident attorney who will look out for your best interests.

To ensure you are treated properly after your workplace injury, you should speak to a lawyer and discuss the facts of your case, including the extent of your injuries. Experienced attorneys know how to take this information and dissect it in order to ensure that you have taken every possible consideration into account. Additionally, an attorney will review any proposed settlements made by the employer and make the proper recommendations before you agree and/or sign any documents.

For cases such involving workers’ compensation claims, your attorney selection is crucial. In the same way you choose doctors based on their specialties, you should be looking for a workplace accident lawyer who has extensive experience in handling such cases, along with a proven record of success. While it may be true that your cousin Joe may be an excellent estate planning attorney, he may not be the best choice when it comes to dealing with workplace injury cases if he doesn’t have a sufficient amount of experience in handling them.

Error 9: Lying to Your Attorney is a Huge No-No

Failing to disclose all of the facts of your case to your attorney could be the difference between victory and defeat. Just as we mentioned above about speaking with your doctor, it is important that you tell your Lancaster workplace accident attorney everything that may be relevant to the case, including current medical issues, prior injuries, any doctor’s care currently in place, previous legal and/or financial issues, employment history, prior and/or current drug or alcohol use, or anything else that my be used by the employer to discredit your claim. Remember this: your attorney is on YOUR side and is prepared to fight to the end for you; however, he can’t defend you properly if he is unaware of certain things.

Error 10: Providing the Insurance Company With a Signed Medical Authorization and/or Recorded Statements

First and foremost, it is important to note that you are not required to provide the insurance company with any recorded statements or signed medical authorizations. Why is this important to know? Think of it like a criminal case where “anything you say can and will be used against you.” Many people do not realize that such statements are not required. The adjuster may say it’s part of standard procedure or they may go as far as to say they can’t proceed with the claim until you’ve signed certain documents. But understand — there is no rule or law that says you must make a recorded statement or sign anything. They may have this rule, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re bound by their rules. If you’ve already provided a recorded statement, no need in panicking. Just call a Lancaster workplace accident attorney at our office so we can discuss your situation and come up with an appropriate resolution.

Work with a Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney at Vanasse Law LLC Today

If you are an injured worker who is currently seeking workers’ compensation for your injuries, we hope that our series on mistakes to avoid during this process has proven to be helpful. If you have more questions and would like to discuss the specifics of your case, contact our Lancaster workplace accident attorney as soon as possible.

Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Case: Part III

So far in our series, we have provided crucial information to injured workers regarding four errors that could demolish their workers’ compensation claim. In Part III of this series, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney will look at failing to go back to work when approved by the doctor, doing job duties that go beyond the doctor’s recommendations and getting caught doing so, and believing that the workers’ comp adjuster’s average weekly wage calculation is accurate.

Error 5: Failing to Go Back to Work When the Doctor Says You Can Do So Safely

Depending on the extent of your injuries, your doctor may determine that you can return to work in a lower capacity than you were working prior to the incident. This is sometimes a source of contention between workers and employers, as the worker may feel that the suggested job is “beneath them.” However, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney suggests that you return as recommended, as the employer may use your failure to return to a lower position against you to claim that you’re really not interested in getting back to work.

If you truly do not think that you can return to work to perform the duties they’ve suggested, be sure to talk about it with your physician. If he or she still believes that you can do what you’ve being asked to do, then you should go back to work as requested and make note of all pain, discomfort and any other symptoms that may arise at that time in order to follow up with your doctor later so changes to your plan can be made as needed.

Error 6: Doing Things That Go Beyond the Doctor’s Restrictions and Getting Caught on Tape Doing So

It never fails — people always think they can do more than they actually can after an injury. The world we live in lends itself to getting things done quickly and doing it yourself to ensure it happens in the timeframe expected. Still, even if you feel like you’re up to carrying your own groceries into the house or picking up that package that was dropped off by the mail carrier, wait for someone to help you, if necessary. It is not worth risking your health and ultimate recovery.

What many injured workers fail to realize is that they are often being watched by overzealous insurance adjusters who send private investigators out for the very specific purpose of catching and discrediting injured workers doing acts that extend far beyond the recommendations of the doctor. So if you’re alone and tempted to take that long walk down to the mailbox to get a package, don’t do it. Ask for help and don’t let video footage ruin your workers’ comp claim.

Error 7: Believing the Accuracy of the Worker’s Compensation Adjuster’s Calculation of Your Average Weekly Wage

Contrary to popular belief, workers’ compensation adjusters may not properly calculate your average weekly wages. If you believe yours has been incorrectly determined, speak to our Lancaster workplace accident attorney for immediate assistance. The adjuster may have failed to include important numbers, such as overtime hours, vacation pay and other incentives you may receive when making his determination, and we can review all of your pay information to ensure an accurate accounting is made for the 52 weeks prior to the injury.

Our Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney Can Help You Avoid Costly Mistakes on Your Workers’ Comp Claim

Nothing can be more important than your overall health and safety. If you have been hurt while on the job, contact our Lancaster workplace accident attorney for help with your claim. We want to ensure you get the proper financial help you need during your recovery.

Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Case: Part II

In Part One of this series, we discussed the importance of acting right away after an on-the-job accident occurs, as well as telling your doctor the full extent of your injuries without creating false symptoms or injuries. In Part Two of our series, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney will discuss mistakes related to doctor selection and failure to heed the doctor’s advice.

Error 3: Using the Employer’s Doctor and Failing to Choose Your Own Physician

Unfortunately, many hurt workers may not even realize that they do not have to use an employer-provided doctor. While using the company’s doctor may seem like a convenience or requirement, it is not mandatory, and more often than not, a workplace accident lawyer will advise against using the employer’s doctor.

The law provides employees with the ability to select and visit any doctor of their own choosing, along with any other healthcare providers that may be recommended by the primary care physician. Additionally, you should be aware that you, as the injured worker, are entitled to obtain second opinions, including the tests and/or services recommended by those physicians offering such opinions.

Error 4: Failing to Abide by the Doctor’s Treatment Plan or Follow His Recommendations, Advice and Orders

If you want to ensure the downfall of your workers’ comp case, simply do not do what your doctor tells you to do. We cannot stress enough the importance of following your physician’s orders, recommendations and treatment plan. If the doctor wants you to return for follow-up exams and tests, or he needs you to attend physical therapy, make sure you go to these appointments. All too often, people think that certain treatments and recommendations are “optional” as opposed to required. And more often than not, injured individuals incorrectly think that when they start feeling better, they no longer need treatment. This simply is not realistic, and you are leaving a wide opening for the insurance company to claim that your injuries are not as severe as you claimed because of your failure to follow treatment recommendations.

Our Lancaster workplace accident attorney knows all too well that symptoms will lessen during the treatment process; however, if you stop receiving treatment or following the doctor’s guidelines, those symptoms can return, and in some instances, they can come back worse than they were originally. That said, you are reminded to tell your doctor every little detail you can think of about your injuries and the feelings you’re experiencing, despite how minor they may seem. You are also encouraged to discuss any injuries that were present before the accident. Even if you had pre-existing injuries, you may still be entitled to compensation for those stemming from the incident at issue.

Dealing With a Worker’s Comp Case? Our Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney Can Help

You don’t have to attempt to handle your workers’ compensation case on your own. Any Lancaster workplace accident attorney at our firm can help you with your case and discuss how the process works under the law. Contact our office for immediate assistance.

Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Case: Part I

If you have been hurt on the job, you are undoubtedly suffering from not only physical pain, but also emotional pain as you begin to face the harsh reality that you may be out of work for weeks, months or even longer. Each Lancaster workplace accident attorney at our firm understands this and we are prepared to assist you as much as possible with your claim to ensure you get the just compensation you deserve.

In this four-part series, we will discuss a number of mistakes you need to avoid while dealing with your workers’ comp case — errors that could ultimately damage your case beyond repair.

Error 1: Failing to Act Right Away When an Accident Occurs

If you’ve sustained an injury while performing your job duties, you may have experienced a level of embarrassment, as well as disorientation. At the time, you may not be thinking clearly even if your physical injuries aren’t immediately evident. Still, there are a number of steps that need to be taken at the time of the accident in order to preserve your claim.

For instance, if your coworkers witnessed the injury, they most likely will be able to advise the employer of what happened just prior to the accident. Their versions will probably vary, as is normal when individuals witness an event from different vantage points. That said, your version of what took place before, during and after the incident will be critical to your case. Accordingly, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney encourages accident victims to write everything down while the incident is still fresh in their mind. Ensure that your notes are as thorough as possible, paying particular attention to what was said by whom and when. No detail is insignificant, so the more complete your notes are, the better.

It is also important to maintain copies of all documents related to the injury, especially from a financial standpoint.  Such costs can include travel to and from doctor’s appointments, lost wages and various after-care services. Be sure to obtain and keep copies of all medical records, including MRI and CT scan results, lab reports and other related documents every time you go to an appointment. Doing so from the beginning will help you and your attorney save a ton of time, expense and stress in the long run.

Error 2: Neglecting to Let Your Doctor Know the Full Details of Your On-the-Job Injury and Faking Symptoms and/or Injuries

You must let your physician know everything about your injuries that occurred from not only this accident, as well as injuries that existed previously on the same part of the body (which we commonly refer to as pre-existing conditions). So, if your doctor asks how you are doing, do not simply say, “I’m doing okay.” Go into in-depth detail, as the doctor actually needs to know how you are feeling physically. Tell him or her about every symptom you have, including those that have changed or continue to evolve as time passes.

While you are explaining your ailments to the doctor, it is also crucial for you to advise him or her if you’re feeling better than you were initially too. Our Lancaster workplace accident attorney knows that one sure way to damage your workers’ comp claim is to make up injuries that do not exist or to overblow the extent of your injuries. Doctors are professionals who have been trained to spot certain signs and symptoms related to various injuries — so if you’re faking it, they will likely know this sooner rather than later. When doctors think a person is faking injuries, it will be noted in the medical records and that notation may ultimately bring your case to an abrupt end or severely devalue it.

Let Our Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney Help You Avoid These Errors

You should be justly compensated for any injuries you sustain while performing your job duties. Don’t mess up your claim by making reckless mistakes that could’ve easily been avoided. Contact our Lancaster workplace accident attorney today to discuss the particulars of your situation.

Why Do Retail Workers Face Job-Related Injuries?

There are a variety of jobs in which workers can face both minor and major injuries. When we think of injuries, we usually immediately think of jobs in manufacturing or construction. However, our Lancaster hurt at work lawyers are often contacted by individuals who work in retail. To be clear, practically any job will be subjected to some type of injury risk and according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), retail ranks high among the list of industries where workers have sustained injuries while performing their job duties.

What Are Some of the Causes of Retail Worker Injuries?

In the retail industry, workers can be injured by the following:

  • Strains and sprains caused by injuries related to overexertion
  • Slip-and-falls, as well as trip-and-falls
  • Getting hit by an object at work
  • Falls from heights
  • Accidents that occur during transportation

Of course, this list is not exhausting, as there are innumerable reasons as to why retail workers may sustain work-related injuries.

Overexertion-Related Injuries

Strains and sprains to muscles, tissues and bones can occur when a person moves improperly while performing a task. Such injuries can happen after one incident or they can accrue over a period of time. Some of the symptoms indicating that you may have sustained an overexertion injury include pain, stiffness, burning sensations and inflammation.

More often than not, these injuries tend to happen when workers lift heavy boxes and/or other items, or they repeat certain motions throughout the day such that they feel the injuries in the neck, back, hands, arms and/or shoulders.

So, how can these sorts of injuries be avoided and prevented? Our Lancaster hurt at work lawyers believe that employers have an obligation to properly train their workers on how to lift and carry heavy, bulky items. Employees should also be taught how to warm up their muscles before their shifts in order to prepare to lift and carry goods, and the importance of wearing protective gear, such as gloves and head protection (where necessary) should be emphasized.

Slips and Falls

One sure way to avoid slips and falls at work is for the employer to remove all known workplace hazards ahead of time. Parking lots and walkways leading up to the store should be free of debris and kept dry and clean. If a spill does occur, it should be removed immediately, much like snow and ice should be handled as quickly as possible.

You, as the employee, can also do your part to help prevent your own injuries by wearing non-slip shoes and paying close attention at all times while working. Additionally, if you notice cracks in your work area or poor lighting, be sure to let your employer know as soon as possible.

Speak to Our Lancaster Hurt at Work Lawyers Today to Find Out About Your Legal Options

If you work in the retail industry and have sustained injuries related to your job, inform your employer immediately and contact our Lancaster hurt at work lawyers as soon as possible. You have certain rights under the law  — let us help ensure those rights are protected.

What Are The 10 Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standards?

As an employee, you’ve likely heard of OSHA, but not been entirely sure what it is or what it means to you. OSHA is the acronym for the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which was written with the specific purpose of keeping workers safe. It’s also the acronym for the agency that enforces OSHA standards. The act spells out specific requirements and standards that employers need to follow in terms of the working conditions they provide to their employees, and the goal is to avoid injury, illness and death.  OSHA does more than set out rules – it also enforces them in a number of ways, including providing information, training and assistance to employees as well as to those who hire them.

Unfortunately, despite the existence of OSHA standards, workplace accidents, injuries and deaths continue to happen all too frequently, with more than 5,000 workers killed on the job in 2016 alone. Though not every fatality is a result of violating OSHA standards, many of them are. In the year 2017, the 10 most frequently violated OSHA standards were:

  • Failures in providing fall protection on construction sites
  • Failures in providing needed or adequate scaffolding on construction sites
  • Failing to provide appropriate respiratory protection
  • Failing to control hazardous energy
  • Failing to provide proper protection when working with ladders on construction sites
  • Failing to provide safe environments around the operation of industrial trucks
  • Failing to secure employee safety involving machinery
  • Failing to protect against falls and providing appropriate training around fall protection
  • Failing to provide safety precautions around electric, wiring methods, components and equipment

If it seems like construction sites appear on this list frequently, that’s because it does – in fact, more than 20 percent of worker fatalities took place on construction sites. A close analysis of the top causes of construction site accidents reveals that if employers were to eliminate the four most common causes of construction site deaths — falls, being struck by an object, electrocution and getting caught in between — more than 600 lives could be saved each year.

When an employer fails to follow OSHA standards, they are subjected to fines and penalties imposed by the government, and when those failures lead to a worker being injured or killed, they are able to file a workers’ compensation claim and may also be able to pursue other legal action. For more information, contact Vanasse Law to set up an appointment to discuss your case.

What Careers Are Most Vulnerable To On-The-Job Heart Attacks?

heart attackWe’ve all heard about job-related stress, but have you ever heard of anybody actually having a heart attack attributed to their work? Though most people think that only injuries like strains, sprains, fractures and concussions count as job-related injuries, it is actually quite possible for a job to lead to a heart attack, and for a worker who has suffered a job-related heart attack to file for and collect workers’ compensation. Though a work-related heart attack can happen in just about any career, there are some jobs that make workers much more vulnerable to on-the-job heart attacks.

These include:

  • Any kind of desk job – It may seem as if a desk job is the safest possible type of career, but studies have shown that people who sit at a desk all day are at higher risk for heart disease than those who work at active jobs. Research has shown that when we sit too long it can lead to dysfunction in insulin sensitivity and in enzymes ability to dissolve fat.
  • First responders – Whether you’re a firefighter, an emergency medical technician/paramedic, or a police officer, you’re at risk for heart attack. In fact, 22 percent of on-the-job deaths in police and 45 percent in firefighters are due to a heart attack.
  • Bus drivers – Driving a bus is a toxic combination of stress and being sedentary. One study showed that 51 percent of bus drivers suffer from high blood pressure, as well as high cholesterol, body weight and heart disease.
  • Shift workers – No matter whether you’re working a shift because you’re a physician or nurse, or because you work in a factory, studies have shown that people who work irregular hours throughout the nighttime have a much higher risk for a heart attack then do people who work normal daytime hours. This is blamed on a disrupted circadian rhythm, which in turn leads to insulin dysregulation, obesity, insomnia and other medical issues linked to heart attack.
  • Bartenders and cocktail waitresses – Though many states have introduced no-smoking policies, bars are often exempt from the rules, leaving staff in these establishments vulnerable to the harmful effects of cigarette smoke. Exposure can lead to a heart attack.

If you have suffered a heart attack on the job, there’s a good chance that you may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. For more information about your rights and the process, contact Vanasse to schedule a meeting with our workers’ compensation practice in Lancaster today.

Understanding Potential Teacher Risks During the Back-to-School Season

Teacher RiskIt’s that time of year. Office supply stores and Target have dedicated aisle after aisle to binders and crayons and backpacks, and teachers are back in the classroom, putting the final touches on their lesson plans and making sure that their classrooms are color-coordinated and ready. We all think of teachers as underpaid heroes, but few of us are aware that their profession is among the most at-risk of on-the-job injury and illnesses.  Not only do a large percentage of our schools represent unhealthy environments that put teachers at risk of toxic exposure, but teachers are facing new challenges that may lead to workers’ compensation claims, including the risk of injury caused by interactions with their students.

The top causes of teacher workers’ compensation claims in the United States include:

  • Slip and fall accidents –30% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Being struck –27% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Strain injuries –24% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Cut, puncture or scrape – 5% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Exposure to toxins – 5% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims

Beyond the same types of slips, trips, and strains that are seen in almost every work environment, the other major on-the-job-injury risk that teachers face comes from violence in the classroom or on campus. Roughly 25% of school employee injuries arise from interactions with students, and experts say that teachers are victimized far more frequently than the public realizes — in fact, they have indicated that the problem has reached the level of being a national crisis. A report issued by the Department of Education in 2015 indicated that injuries suffered by teachers led to more than $2 billion in losses included both lost workdays and workers’ compensation benefits.

Teachers are also exposed to a number of toxins in their classrooms, but the most concerning is the risk of exposure to asbestos. Most of America’s school buildings were constructed prior to the 1970s, and that means that asbestos-contaminated products were used in their construction. Asbestos ceiling and floor tiles and asbestos insulation are extremely common, and though they are not a concern when they are intact, as soon as those items begin to break down, there is a risk of microscopic asbestos particles being inhaled or ingested and leading to an increased risk of malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related diseases. Other toxic exposures in schools include mold, mildew, and lead.

There are a number of actions that school districts can take to guard against the most common workplace injuries, including:

  • Promoting a hands-off approach to situations where students are acting out
  • Preventing winter slip-and-falls, and similar accidents caused by slippery floors, debris in the hallways or lunchrooms, etc.
  • Encouraging teacher fitness to minimize the risk of strains

If you are a teacher or school employee who has suffered an on-the-job injury, contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss your rights.