Work is the most common place people are injured. The public needs to know that they may have options outside of worker’s compensation. Although you may not be able to sue your employer directly, there maybe a “3rd party” claim available to you.
Whether the injury is from a failure of safety equipment or from constant repetitive tasks like carpel tunnel, the workplace can be dangerous. Companies, including manufacturers of safety equipment and landlords, have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for employees and visitors alike.
Here we’ll look at the most common workplace injuries and what you should do if you’re a victim of one.
Slips are among the top three worker’s compensation claims. They may be due to:
- Wet surfaces
- Spilled oil or other lubricants
- Weather hazards like ice patches
- Loose carpeting or rugs
- Insufficient traction on the surface or the worker’s boots
Slips result in falls, which can often lead to damage of the head, back, neck, and tailbone. You might also sprain or strain muscles or break bones, often developing painful bruising and possibly some lacerations as well.
In some cases a worker who is on the job at a construction site may slip and fall because of something left by the landowner. In these cases a claim may exist outside of worker’s compensation benefits.
Tripping differs from slipping in that there’s an article that gets in your way. When slipping, your foot might continue to travel as far as possible. With tripping, the foot stops due to the obstacle.
The outcome of tripping is similar to that of slipping, but it’s the hazards that differ:
- Inadequate lighting
- Uneven rugs or carpeting
- Cables sticking out
- Uneven floors
Falling from a Height
Falls from height are one of the most serious issues in the construction industry. You might need to work on a series of scaffolding, ladders, or unfinished structures that offer few safety features.
Your employer has a duty of care to provide you with safety equipment that may reduce the risk of injury. Such equipment may include safety lines, sturdy scaffolding, and guard rails.
Injuries may range from mild sprains and bruising through to internal bleeding, broken bones, and death.
In some cases, a worker may slip on a scaffold because of a water leaking from a source controlled by the landlord. In some cases worker may have a claim outside of worker’s compensation.
If you work with any form of machinery, heavy or otherwise, there’s always a risk of damage. If, for example, you accidentally get your tie caught in a paper shredder, you could face nasty bruising.
Heavy machinery can cause life-changing harm. For example, you could lose a hand, finger, eye, or leg. Some have even lost their lives when heavy machinery continued over the top of them.
Your employer must ensure that those who operate heavy machinery have the required skills. In addition, they must follow the guidelines of regulators in New Jersey and New York.
They should also lay out a series of safety protocols to reduce the chance of an accident occurring. For example, preventative measures might include the driver checking that the area is clear before proceeding.
Injuries here may range from the simple loss of a finger to death by crushing.
In some cases a worker may be injured because of the failure of a safety mechanism of a piece of machinery. For example, if a roller machine can have a safety mechanism that stops the rollers from moving if it detects a foreign object, i.e. a hand or a foot, in the machinery. If the rollers fail to stop resulting in an injury to a hand or leg or even death then that there maybe a claim outside of worker’s compensation.
When driving for a company, all drivers must be qualified. They should be able to drive defensively and be able to handle several unforeseen situations. They also must securely load the vehicle to ensure that the load doesn’t shift or fall onto someone.
Drivers must always drive responsibly and carefully plan their routes to avoid traffic snarls. If they have larger vehicles, they should also confirm that their path can accommodate the trucks at different stages along the way.
Firms must ensure that their drivers are adequately trained to operate the vehicles safely. Employees should be well versed in safe driving techniques and should schedule regular breaks to avoid fatigue while on the road.
Furthermore, the company must ensure that the vehicle is in an operable state. The firm should perform regular maintenance, replace worn parts, and ensure that the car carries the correct load.
In some cases an accident can be caused by the faulty repair from an outside company. In those cases the injured person may have a claim outside of worker’s compensation against the company that performed the faulty repairs.
Fire and Explosions
There may be many reasons for a fire or explosion in the workplace. These may include:
- Storing combustible materials too close to an open flame source
- The incorrect storage of reactive chemicals
- Faulty gas lines
Fortunately, fires and explosions make up a relatively low percentage of injuries overall. That said, the injuries can be severe. The injuries fall into one of the following four categories:
- Initial Blast Damage: These are most likely injuries due to the concussive wave of the blast. The GI tract, lungs, and ears bear the brunt here.
- Secondary Damage: Pieces of the device break off and propel across the room. You may be hit with flying shrapnel and require urgent medical care.
- Tertiary Damage: The blast, when strong enough, will lift you from your feet. You may injure yourself when you land or are flung into a wall.
- Quaternary Blast: This refers to any effects or injuries that we haven’t mentioned yet. Examples include inhaling dangerous gases or experiencing chemical burns.
According to OSHA, companies must provide workers with hazard communication standards in the event of an emergency and data sheets centered on the chemicals they use.
Firms must ensure that the sheets explain the potential danger and possible solutions in an emergency. In addition, employees must, at all times, wear adequate protective equipment.
The company must provide the safety equipment needed to deal with fires or explosions. Such equipment may include:
- Fire extinguishers
- Fire or bomb blankets
- Water hoses
- A fire suppression system in the form of built-in sprinklers
Cuts, Punctures, and Lacerations
There are potential hazards in every office environment. While we expect the odd paper cut, no one can predict several other possible injuries. An industrial paper cutter, for example, is sharp enough to cause a deep gash in the skin.
A misstep on a construction site could cause rebar to puncture the body. Unfortunately, several small mistakes are impossible to foresee.
Repetitive Stress and Overexertion Injuries
Every year Americans pay billions to deal with musculoskeletal injuries. Back pain, for example, is one of the leading reasons for lost workdays. Aside from the health benefit costs, such injuries can be debilitating for the employees concerned.
Workers often experience ongoing pain and may face severe long-term repercussions. Over time, they may become less productive and may have to find less physically taxing work.
Injuries in this category tend to fall within one of two categories:
Repetitive Stress Injuries
These occur as a result of repeating the same actions over and over again. A typist, for example, may develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Without the proper treatment and adequate rest, the injury will eventually become painful and potentially debilitating.
Employers should provide workers with regular breaks and possibly exercises to help them reduce this type of injury. In addition, when a worker shows signs of repetitive stress injuries, they must get the care and rest they require.
Overexertion injuries result when employees don’t have the tools they need to do the job safely. In many cases, these injuries are a result of hoisting too much weight.
In either instance, the company may minimize the risk of harm by providing an ergonomically designed workspace and the correct equipment. Companies should also train their workers in the safe operation of their duties.
What Are the Company’s Duties to Its Workers?
According to OSHA regulations, firms must:
- Take reasonable steps to ensure a safe working environment by minimizing risk
- Provide adequate safety measures and protective wear
- Communicate the potential hazards related to machinery, supplies, and certain processes
- Maintain equipment correctly
- Provide protection for the eyes, face, and feet
- Safeguard employees against falling
- Ensure that operators are trained to use the machinery safely
- Enable safeguards to reduce the chance of overheating and explosions
Who Is Responsible for a Workplace Injury?
Employers generally cannot be sued directly for an injury that occurs on the job. Of course, there are exceptions to that general rule, however there are a lot of claims for work related injuries dealing with other parties, such as equipment manufacturers, contractors, sub-contractors, and landowners. You work related injury may involve other parties and you need a qualified lawyer to review your workers compensation claim to see there are any “3rd party claims” that could be made against the manufacturers of equipment, contractors, or landlords.
Were You Injured on Duty?
Dealing with your recovery and worrying about your future makes this a very stressful time for you. The process for filing a claim for workers’ compensation is challenging and requires the knowledge of experienced attorneys. Most importantly, we will review your claim to determine what options are available outside of workers’ compensation. Will you receive a fair settlement, or will someone try to force you to settle for less?
If you need assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, give Sadaka Law a call. We’ll assess your case so that you better understand your legal rights. By examining the facts, we’ll determine if you are eligible for repayment for:
- The cost of your medical bills
- For a loss of income and potential future income
- Workers’ compensation
- Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits
- Compensation for a personal injury
- Long-term disability
Our team has handled thousands of workers’ compensation cases. We will ask several questions to determine the actual cost of your injury and its effects on your life. Will it prevent you from working again? How will it impact the quality of your life? Who is responsible for the incident? Was it due to the negligence of any party or parties?
By asking the right questions, we help you make an informed decision about your next steps.
Call the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates at 1-800-810-3457 for a free consultation regarding your case today.