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Archive for the ‘Workplace Injuries’ Category

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.

 

What are the Most Common Food Service Injuries?

food service injuriesWorking in food service can be extremely rewarding and offers a wide range of opportunities. From fast food spots to four-star restaurants and from serving or busing tables to working behind the line as a sous chef or head chef, you can earn a fair income, learn a lot, and spend time with interesting people. Unfortunately, these jobs come with risks and food service injuries are common.

Those who work in customer-facing roles can hurt themselves reaching across tables to serve or clear. They can trip on a slippery fall, or even find themselves face-to-face with robbers. Those who work in the kitchen are subject to the risk of burns and other injuries from stoves and ovens, knives and electrical appliances, as well as exposure to hazardous chemicals. Even the employees that work at drive-thru windows or who deliver food can end up injured on the job.

No matter what your position or how you were hurt, if you were injured while working in a food service establishment you may be entitled to workers’ compensation.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance policy that covers nearly every worker in America. It represents an agreement between employer and employee that means that injured workers will not need to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer, and in exchange, their employer will insure them and provide compensation for medical expenses, as well as for any time needed away from work to recuperate and recover.

For those who work in food service, some injuries are more common than others. According to Cintas Corporation, one in every 20 on-the-job injuries occur at eating and drinking establishments, and the top four restaurant injuries are:

  • Lacerations and punctures – these are a result of working with knives, as well as the risk from broken dishes.
  • Burns – Restaurant workers face the constant risk of burns from hot stoves, fryers and boiling water, as well as from touching hot plates and other hot surfaces. Though many minor burns are treated on-site, others require medical attention.
  • Sprains and strains – These occur to both front of the house and kitchen employees, and usually result from improper lifting and reaching.
  • Eye injuries – In most cases these are incidents that occur in the kitchen because of splashes from grease, hot liquids and sanitizing chemicals

When you’ve been hurt on the job, you need to know your workers’ compensation rights to make sure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. Contact our office today to learn more.

 

Who is Held Responsible in a Third-Party Claim?

injured on the job

When an employee is injured on the job, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These can provide much-needed financial compensation for medical expenses, as well as wage loss benefits in those cases where the worker’s injuries are bad enough to keep them out of work on a temporary basis or permanently. Workers’ compensation is specifically a no-fault form of insurance: the employee does not have to sue their employer for negligence or prove that their employer is to blame for their injury as the benefit is provided regardless of what the cause of the injury was. But there are some instances where a person or entity other than the employer may have contributed to or caused the injury. When this is the case, the injured worker may be able to file a third-party claim and seek additional damages for the injury that they suffered.

Examples of Third-Party Work Injury Claims

There are many ways that a third party outside of your employer’s control can contribute to or cause an injury. Some examples include:

  • Automobile Accidents – If you are driving or a passenger in a company vehicle, or driving or a passenger in another employee’s vehicle or your own car while running a work errand and you are in an accident, the person who caused the accident can be sued as a responsible third party.
  • Defective Products – If you are working and using a piece of equipment or tool that causes an injury as a result of a defect in its design, manufacturing or failure to warn, you can hold the product’s manufacturer, seller, and others in the supply chain responsible as third parties.
  • Co-Worker Assault – One of the most common workplace injuries occurs as a result of co-worker negligence or assault. If somebody that you work with caused your injuries through either an attack or gross negligence, you can pursue a third-party claim against them.
  • Contractor Negligence – When employees of other companies or individual contractors are negligent in their actions and cause your injury, they can be held responsible as third parties.

Suing A Third Party for an On-the-Job Injury

Every work injury is different and needs to be assessed by skilled professionals to determine where liability lies and what actions should be taken. If you’ve been hurt on the job, you may be eligible to file both workers’ compensation and a third-party claim. To make sure you get the compensation that you deserve, contact Vanasse Law to set up an appointment to discuss your case.

How an Employer Can Lower the Risk for Workers’ Compensation Fraud

workers' compensationThere are a lot of benefits of holding a proper Workers’ Compensation insurance policy as a company from having medical bills and at least some lost wages covered when an employee is injured at work. However, with that coverage also comes the risk of abuse by unscrupulous employees looking to rig the system. The first step to working against such abuse is to understand the types of fraud that commonly occur.

Types of Fraud

Fraud can happen at any point in the claim process, from the injury itself to claims made about the severity of the injury. Here are some common forms of fraud to look out for:

  • The alleged accident may not have been an accident at all. In this case, the injury itself is fabricated.
  • Some employees try to pass off old injuries as new injuries. Red flags for this type of scam include no witnesses to the injury, report on a Monday morning yet the injury does not appear new and having medical details that don’t match the narrative presented by the employee.
  • In some cases, medical providers may also be participating in fraud by providing bills for services such as tests that were not performed. This may be done with or without the employee’s knowledge.
  • Exaggeration of severity is likely the most prevalent in fraud cases. The most common is claiming to still be healing despite being able to return to work at full capacity.

Prevention

The first step in preventing fraud in Workers’ Compensation claims is to have a very clearly written company policy on Workers’ Compensation for all employees. This policy will help aboveboard employees understand the process while providing an avenue in which to inform underhanded employees that investigations and legal action will be taken to avoid cases of fraud. In that policy, be sure to let your employees know that there is an immediate need to report injuries and accidents, and that there will be no negative consequence for doing so.

Further, be sure to follow up and conduct investigations into claims. This is to ensure all aspects are accurate and are being handled, which will aid those using the system properly for those with a legitimate injury while making it more difficult for those attempting fraud. If you have been accused of fraud for a legitimate injury, you need legal representation. Contact our team today for more information.

What Information Does a Lawyer Need After a Work Injury?

work injuryIf you have been injured at work, it makes sense to hire a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you get the compensation to which you are entitled. However, what should one expect when they decide to call a work injury lawyer? Understanding the information a lawyer needs before making the call can lead to a better consultation and get more out of the typically free service law firms offer to their potential clients.

Employment Related Information

The first thing a lawyer will need is your employment information. This includes:

  • The company you were working for when you were injured along with your job title and the length of time employed prior to injury.
  • The state in which the company is located including where you do most of your work and which state in which you were hired.
  • As detailed information as possible on the duties and tasks required to perform the job in which you were hired to determine eligibility for compensation as a Workers’ Compensation claim.

Information on Wages

The amount of benefits offered to workers largely depends on the average weekly pay of a worker. Further, the marital status and number of children under the age of 18 can have an impact on a claim award. Have this information ready prior to calling a lawyer for the best idea of how successful your claim will be and what you can expect out of an award.

Accident or Incident Information

The accident itself can have an impact on what can be recovered in terms of compensation after an injury. Relevant information includes:

  • All available information about the injury such as where the injury happened, when the injury happened, and the details that led to the injury. For repetitive injuries, this can include when symptoms began and when it began impacting the ability to work.
  • Date in which your employer was notified of the injury along with whether notification was written or orally communicated.
  • Contact information for witnesses of the accident.

Information on Medical Attention Received

History of medical treatment has a bearing on how the claim will proceed. This information includes:

  • When and where medical attention was first received.
  • Timeline of medical treatment since the first visit.
  • Contact information for medical providers visited for the work injury.
  • How doctors were chosen for care and how referrals between doctors were handled.
  • Information on an independent medical exam, if applicable.

Other Information

Above is the minimal information a person should have on hand when contacting a lawyer. Having correspondence with the employer or insurance company such as if you have received weekly benefits, how medical care was paid for, outstanding medical bills, contact information of any insurance agents spoken to, and any offers that have already been made on the claim are helpful when applicable to the situation. Further, any information from before the accident such as previous injuries and illness or previous Workers’ Compensation or personal injury claims can be helpful.

The next step is finding the right lawyer for your case. Contact our team today for a free consultation on your claim.

Tips for Employers: Drug Testing After a Work Injury

work injuryWhen a worker is injured on the job, it’s difficult to be critical since they are in pain. However, having a drug test after a work injury can be crucial. While Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system, a worker that was under the influence will not be eligible for the same benefits as an employee that was exercising proper behavior. In fact, a drug test could prevent a worker from collecting benefits at all.

Drug testing an employee is not always legal. This is because they are owed a certain amount of privacy. However, when an injury becomes involved, the legal stance changes a bit. In many cases, there is good reason to be suspicious, which is when it is legal to drug test an employee normally. In most cases, it can be difficult to prove there was good reason to be suspicious but having an accident that could have been avoided is one of the best ways to justify why an employee should be tested.

However, there should still be caution expressed, as illegally testing an employee will only cause worse issues when it comes to the work injury.

Written Policy

Hopefully, as an employer, you have considered the possibility of an injured worker prior to its happening. Additionally, it should be a consideration of how it will be handled if an intoxicated person comes to work even if they are not injured. The best thing a company can do is write a drug testing policy in their employee handbook, outlining reasoning for drug testing and having employees sign an acknowledgment of your policies.

Test Quickly

A drug test should happen as soon as possible after an injury. The quicker the test, the more accurate the results. After all, many drugs, such as alcohol, quickly dissipate and are difficult to prove. However, showing the person was above the acceptable BAC percentage an hour after the injury will be good evidence against the claim.

Use a Reputable Lab

If you use a lab that is not reputable, it will be argued during the claim. Don’t count on the employee not having legal representation, as many immediately seek a lawyer after being injured on the job.

Give Care Immediately

Regardless of the results of the test or if you are able to demand a test, medical care should be given as soon as possible. Even if the employee was heavily intoxicated, you still have a duty of care in ensuring they receive medical attention when necessary.

If you have been injured at work and your employer is trying to use evidence of intoxication against you, contact our team today. We understand both sides of defense and will use our experience to benefit you.

Tips to Avoid Desk Job Injuries at the Workplace

injuriesAs desk jobs become more popular as a type of occupation, injuries related to such jobs are increasing. It may sound unlikely an injury would incur while sitting behind a desk but sitting all day can have a negative impact on the body, especially considering approximately 80% of workers today work in a role that involves little or no physical activity. Straining the arms or sitting without proper support, along with fast typing, puts workers at a higher risk of injury than most consider.

Further, desk jobs heighten some risks for repetitive injuries. For instance, someone may develop carpal tunnel or other wrist-related injuries by continually using a keyboard every day, particularly if the keyboard is not ergonomic. While these types of injuries are not always avoidable, particularly when you have a predisposition toward development of certain conditions, there are some tips that can make your work environment much more comfortable.

Tips for a Pain-Free Desk Job

If you are beginning to feel the first signs of a work injury, or are concerned about aches and pains you have been feeling, consider the following tips to help take care of yourself at work.

  • Consider where your computer monitor is positioned. Is it straight in front of you or do you find yourself often move your head or bodily position to better view the screen? While turning your head may seem like a small motion, straining your neck each day throughout a full workday can lead to a larger issue down the line.
  • Is your keyboard starting to cause an issue in your wrist? When you type all day, having a flat surface on which to type is imperative. Otherwise, you will find yourself positioning your wrists in such a way that increases the likelihood of injury. If your wrists are often sore, consider a wrist brace or ergonomic keyboard to help give your wrists much needed support.
  • Take a look at the chair you sit in each day. Does it have enough back support? The most important part to have support is the lower back, which is also where many chairs fall flat. There are devices that can be attached to office chairs to give extra support, which could help your body strengthen over time.

If you already are seeing the signs of a work injury, contact our team today for a free consultation on your claim.

Post-Work Injury Checklist

work injuryWhen you are injured at work, it can be a time of many emotions. First, there is the concern over your health and safety. But second, there is the concern over what this means for your job and what actions need to be taken following an injury that happens in the workplace. While each state has its own regulations on how things are handled, and each company has its own set of policies, there are steps that can be taken in any jurisdiction or company following an accident.

Steps to Take After a Work Injury

Following a work injury, take the following precautions to ensure your rights are protected:

  • Seek Medical Care. This should always be the first step when you have been injured. Not only does your personal safety and health come first, but have documentation of your injury will help when filing a claim. Further, it looks suspicious when an injury is severe enough for a claim yet was not severe enough for immediate care.
  • Report to Your Employer. Whether you have a repetitive injury that has worsened over time or have been injured in an accident, your employer needs to know. Further, it needs to be made clear that the injury or damage has come as a result of the job. As soon as the injury becomes apparent, be sure to notify your supervisor, preferably in writing for documentation purposes.
  • Request an Incident Report. Your supervisor has an obligation to file a report of your injury. If they do not comply or simply forget to create the report, send a letter that states the facts about the injury and incident, then give that letter to your supervisor while keeping a copy for yourself.
  • Witness Reports. If anyone was a witness to the incident, be sure to get their contact information as their testimony could be needed for your claim, particularly if the company tries to counter.
  • Doctors Notes. If there are tasks you cannot complete under the order of a medical professional, have them document those limitations. Not only will this make it easier to communicate your limitations with your employer, it will give a factual basis for your claim.

If you have been injured on the job, you need legal representation to ensure a successful claim. Contact our team today for a free consultation on your case.