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  • Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

    Workplace Injuries

    According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds in the United States. While a workplace accident can occur in any setting, some workers are in more danger than others due to the risks inherent in their jobs, including:

    • Roofers.
    • Construction workers.
    • Heavy machinery operators.
    • Hazardous material handlers.
    • Manufacturing workers.
    • Iron and steelworkers.
    • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers.
    • First responders.
    • Refuse and recyclable materials collectors.
    • Truck drivers.
    • Farmers/agriculture workers.
    • Logging workers.
    • Marine workers/fishers.

    What Are Typical Workplace Injuries?

    Workplace injuries can run from minor to life-threatening. A worker should take any injury seriously and seek medical attention, even if they do not think their injury is serious. Common workplace injuries include the following:

    • Soft tissue injuries, such as sprains, strains, and tears.
    • Cuts, bruises, and lacerations.
    • Traumatic brain injuries.
    • Concussions.
    • Severe burns and abrasions.
    • Electrocution.
    • Spinal cord injuries.
    • Paralysis.
    • Fractures and broken bones.
    • Amputation.
    • Internal bleeding and organ damage.
    • Hand, wrist, arm, leg, and foot damage.
    • Coma.
    • Loss of eyesight or hearing.
    • Aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

    Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the following most common workplace injury categories, in order:

    • Sprains, tears, and strains.
    • Pain and soreness.
    • Lacerations, punctures, and cuts.
    • Contusions and bruises.
    • Fractures.

    Also according to the BLS, injuries that cause employees to miss the most time from work include:

    • Multiple fractures and injuries.
    • Fractures.
    • Amputations.
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
    • Tendonitis.
    • Strains, tears, and sprains.
    • Multiple traumatic injuries.workers injured
    • Multiple sprains with injuries.
    • Contusions and bruises.
    • Heat burns.
    • Chemical burns.

    Construction sites are one of the top workplaces that record accidents and deaths. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) calls the following causes of fatalities on construction sites the “Fatal Four”:

    • Falls: 5 percent of construction worker deaths.
    • Struck by objects: 1 percent of construction worker deaths.
    • Electrocutions: Nearly nine percent of construction worker deaths.
    • Caught-in/between accidents: Nearly six percent of construction worker deaths.

    The OSHA also ranks the 10 most frequent safety violations on construction sites that lead to injuries and deaths:

    • Inadequate fall protection.
    • Unsafe scaffolding.
    • Inadequate hazard communication standards.
    • Unsafe ladders.
    • Inadequate respiratory protection.
    • Powered industrial truck safety violations.
    • Failure to control hazardous energy, or lockout-tagout violations.
    • Inadequate fall protection training.
    • Inadequate machine guarding and unsafe machinery.
    • Inadequate face and eye protection.

    What Are Common Causes of Workplace Injuries?

    Virtually any workplace can be the scene of an accident, injury, or death. However, some jobs are more inherently dangerous than others. For example, the OSHA reports that the construction industry accounts for roughly one out of every five work-related deaths in the United States.

    The following are the top causes of workplace injuries as compiled from various national labor and safety agencies.

    Vehicle Accidents

    People who drive cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, or commercial trucks as part of their jobs face many risks on the road: bad drivers, inclement weather, and faulty equipment.

    Also included in vehicle accident statistics are injuries sustained by people who routinely work near moving vehicles. These vehicles could include heavy equipment, such as cranes, tractors, and forklifts, that have limited visibility and may lack warning devices.

    Slip and Fall Accidents

    There are many different reasons a worker could slip and fall at work, including:

    • Slick, wet, or icy surfaces due to spills or tracked-in materials.
    • Torn, worn, or loose carpeting and rugs.
    • Debris or work materials in pathways.
    • Loose cords or machinery parts in the way.
    • Uneven or unstable decks or flooring.
    • Poor lighting, poor pathway guards, or markings.

    Falls are a leading cause of worker injury and death in the construction industry. Workers are often performing their jobs at heights. They constantly risk falling from roofs, ladders, platforms, scaffolding, and other elevated surfaces. Sometimes, the fall results from defective safety equipment or lift equipment.

    Electrocution

    Electrocution-related injuries are common in construction, manufacturing, and anywhere electricity is key to getting the job done. In a factory setting, workers can be hurt by working around exposed or worn cords, ungrounded wires, or faulty outlets. Their power tools can also cause electrical shock.

    In a construction setting, high-rising equipment can unknowingly hit power lines, and so can laborers who need to work near them. Those who need to dig for their jobs can also run into buried power lines.

    Overexertion

    Overexertion is a prevalent cause of job-related injuries. An employee who must pull, lift, push, throw, or transport materials all day long is at risk for soft tissue and back injuries, many of which can cause long-term and chronic pain.

    Examples of overexertion include:

    • Improper lifting technique.
    • Manually lifting heavy objects.
    • Repetitive work with no breaks.
    • Jumping to another level frequently.
    • Lifting, pushing, carrying, or throwing.
    • Microtasks on a factory line.

    Struck By Objects

    It is not uncommon for objects to fall from above accidentally in many workplaces. For example, a warehouse worker could be struck by materials stored high on shelving or transported by a forklift.

    Machinery or other equipment could also malfunction and throw, fly, roll, or swing materials into a worker. Sometimes, another worker is careless and loses control of materials, too.

    Caught-in/Between Accidents

    Workplaces and job sites are busy, loud, and sometimes not well-marked for safety. A worker in various settings can walk or get pushed into a door, cabinet, machinery, vehicle, traffic zone, or other hazardous areas or pinned between stationary objects. Whatever the cause, striking against any object can cause serious injury.

    Heavy machinery and other work equipment have many moving parts. A piece of clothing, jewelry, accessory, or a body part runs the risk of becoming entangled in a part of the machine itself. Crushing, amputation, and other serious injuries are often the result of these accidents.

    Repetitive Motion

    Many jobs require an employee to perform the same maneuvers and use the same muscles all day long. These tasks can involve primary arm and leg muscles or the smaller muscles and nerves of the fingers or hand. Nerve and soft tissue damage from repetitive motion can require surgery and the need for time off to restore function.

    Defective or Malfunctioning Equipment

    While not a top cause of worker injury or death, defective and malfunctioning equipment does make its way to the workplace, causing injury. A piece of work equipment, a vehicle, power tool, or machinery can be defective in its original design or the manufacturing process. These defects are often not discovered until workers are injured or killed.

    Sometimes, the defect or malfunction results from missing or inconsistent maintenance and inspection by the employer. There should be a clear and consistent process to ensure all work equipment is in good and safe working order.

    What Should I Do if I am Injured on the Job?

    workplace injuriesYour health is top priority after a workplace accident. Hopefully, workers near you have summoned first responders or other medical personnel to help you. Medical attention should never be dismissed or disregarded, no matter how minor the injury seems. Some injuries may take hours or even days to surface. So, always be checked right after an injury and later whenever other symptoms occur.

    Another priority after an accident is to let your supervisor know of the accident and injury. Do not depend on co-workers. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act requires workers to notify their employer, boss, supervisor, or Human Resources (HR) department, about the incident.

    While you can report the injury to them verbally, it is better to do so in writing or by completing an incident report. Doing so gives you a good record of the event. In the notification, put as much information as possible about what happened, and make sure to tie the accident/injury to your job. Simply writing that you hurt yourself will not prove that you may need Workers’ Compensation benefits and time off. Explain how your injury was a direct result of your job. Many employers have a formal process for making this report.

    You should note that Workers’ Compensation laws require you to be aware of a couple of deadlines:

    • To collect Workers’ Compensation benefits from the first day of your claim, you must notify your employer of the injury within 21 days of its occurrence.
    • If you do not make the 21-day deadline, you can still give your employer notice up to 120 days from the incident. Your benefits would then start the day you notify your employer.

    Suppose your injury was not the result of a single event but rather occurred over time due to it being a repetitive injury. In that case, you should notify your employer as soon as you believe or have been diagnosed that your work caused the injury.

    Medical Treatment Processes Under Workers’ Compensation

    In Pennsylvania, employers have a certain amount of control over medical treatment for the first 90 days of treatment for a work-related injury. Employers must offer the injured employee a panel of doctors from various specialties to choose from to have this right. Once this initial 90-day period is over, the employee can treat with any doctor of their choosing.

    It is important to note that you must follow all doctors’ prescribed treatments and therapies for healing. Their goal is to get you well enough to return to work. Suppose you do not participate in all recommendations from them, such as rehabilitation, physical or occupational therapies, and medication use. In that case, they could potentially stop or suspend insurance benefit payments. They could reason that you are not trying to heal or improve.

    Employer and Insurer Responsibilities

    Your employer must immediately notify their Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier about your accident and injury. The carrier then has 21 days from the date you report your injury to notify you in writing whether your claim was accepted or denied.

    There are three common scenarios after submitting your claim to the insurer:

    • Acceptance with a Notice of Compensation Payable: Depending on the circumstances, they will accept responsibility for covering your medical treatment or wage loss benefits, or both.
    • Temporary acceptance by issuing a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable: This gives the employer and the insurance carrier 90 days to investigate your claim. They will pay your medical bills or wage loss benefits during that time, or both. During this 90-day investigative period, they can accept or deny your claim and pull benefits at any time.
    • Denial: Flat-out denial of the claim by sending you a Notice of Compensation Denial.
    Galfand Berger Icon A Workers’ Compensation lawyer can explain your options in any of the above scenarios.

    If My Claim Is Accepted, What Are My Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

    In Pennsylvania, Workers’ Compensation provides an injured worker the following.

    Medical Coverage Costs

    Covered medical costs include:

    • Services rendered by physicians or other health care providers, including chiropractors.
    • Reasonable surgical and medical services needed.
    • Hospital treatment, services, and supplies. Semi-private rooms or private rooms if no semi-private rooms are available. Costs for hospital treatment, services, and supplies may not exceed the prevailing charges by the hospital for similar treatment, services, and supplies provided to other patients.
    • Prescription medicines and supplies.
    • Orthopedic appliances and supplies.

    Replaced Lost Wages

    If the disability is total and lasts for longer than seven calendar days, workers are paid approximately two-thirds of their salary, up to a maximum dollar amount.

    Total disability benefits are paid for as long as an employee cannot return to work due to a work-related injury or disease. The employee is entitled to Workers’ Compensation payments until:

    • Medical recovery with no restrictions, established by an agreement or a judge’s decision.
    • Actual return to full, pre-injury employment.

    The employee is medically able to perform other employment that is currently available to the employee with no loss in earnings.

    Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Advocate for Severely Injured Workers

    If you have been injured at work, our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are ready to assist. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve injured workers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.