27
Feb 2017
By

Preventing Overexertion Injuries Could Cut Costs & Reduce Harm for Construction Workers

Overexertion is one of the leading causes of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). WMSDs are a major problem for workers within the construction industry, with a substantial number of employees experiencing this injury each year. According to Fox News, studies showed approximately 18,000 construction workers suffered work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2014. injured construction worker

This is down from around 55,000 annual WMSDs reported by construction workers in 1992; however, the big decline isn’t just because of safer worksites but is instead partly explained by underreporting of WMSDs. In part, the decline is also explained by changes in how injuries are reported to Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Despite the decline in work-related musculoskeletal disorders, this type of injury still accounts for about 25 percent of non-fatal work-related injuries that affect employees in the construction industry. WMSDs is actually a relatively broad category of injuries, which includes injuries to muscles, joints, and tendons.  Overexertion is one of the big ways in which people hurt these parts of their body, although there are also other ways to injure the musculoskeletal system including repetitive motion. If you overexert yourself, such as by lifting more weight than you can, your body system’s suffer and you can experience pain and limited mobility.

Many construction workers who overexert themselves, or who otherwise develop WMSDs, will end up with back injuries. Approximately 40 percent of musculoskeletal disorders that happen due to construction tasks are back injuries. When a back injury or any other WMSD happens, workers miss an average of 13-days of work now. In 1992, they missed around eight days of work for work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

The costs that come with missed work include loss of productivity for the employer and loss of a paycheck for the injured worker. Annual costs are around $46 million, which is obviously a substantial amount of money. Workers often cannot afford to cover the costs of treatment for injuries and time they are forced to take off from work. Employees should not have to pay for these costs, as workers’ compensation benefits should be available to provide them with disability income and medical coverage. With help from an attorney, an injured worker can make a claim for benefits and should be eligible as long as he can prove his musculoskeletal disorder was caused by doing work tasks.

Prevention of injury is the best way for employers and workers to avoid costs, and preventing injuries can be possible if employers do things like offer proper training on safe lifting or incorporating the use of power equipment to move items instead of relying upon workers to always lift and transport heavy materials. Construction workplaces should be designed as much as possible with a focus on ergonomics in order to try to ensure that construction staff members are able to avoid damaging their musculoskeletal system while they are performing their own duties.

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19
Jan 2017
By

Work Accident Risks Rising for Truck Drivers

On I-95 in Rhode Island, a tractor trailer rolled over and WPRI indicated the traffic was slowed or stopped for hours as crews tried to clean up the debris from the truck accident According to initial reports, it was unclear if anyone had sustained injuries in the rollover truck collision. Unfortunately, injuries in these types of crashes are common. truck-4-1478008

Commercial truck drivers spend many hours on the roads and travel many miles. They face a substantial risk of accidental injuries, including fatal injuries. When they are hurt at work, truckers must understand their rights.

Unlike in a traditional motor vehicle accident case, truckers may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits either instead of or in addition to other types of available compensation. Accidental injuries of truckers are on the rise, so knowing what to do after a crash is becoming more important than ever for commercial truckers.

Bureau of Labor Statistics came out with a report recently which emphasizes the added dangers of workplace injuries for truckers. Truck drivers are very susceptible to suffering serious or fatal injuries when roadside accident rates rise. Truckers account for around half of the annual workplace injuries that happen in road accidents, which makes sense because their job involves driving almost all of the time.

According to BLS, there was a substantial increase in fatal accidents involving transportation incidents. In 2015, there was a nine percent rise in the number of transportation incidents leading to fatal work injuries. Transportation incidents now account for 26 percent of all workplace deaths that happen over the course of the year, with a good portion of the victims coming from the trucking industry. Out of 1,264 fatal roadway incidents in 2015, 629 involved a driver who was operating a tanker, tractor-trailer, or semi-truck.

Because of the increasing number of roadside incidents, and the disproportionate number of truckers who are hurt in this type of incident, BLS indicates heavy truck drivers and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the most fatal occupational injuries of any occupation. A total of 725 fatal injuries were recorded in the trucking field, according to BLS.

Truck accident risks may be rising for several different reasons. One issue is the overall increase in road collisions, which is driven by improvement of economic conditions. There are more people who drive on the roads, and those who drive travel for more miles, because both gas prices and unemployment are down. A shortage of qualified truck drivers is also contributing to rising accident risks since companies may hire less experienced truckers and may pressure drivers to do more work than is safe.

If a truck driver gets into an accident while doing his work tasks, he should be covered by workers’ compensation, provided he was an employee of a trucking company or other business. Truckers can make workers’ compensation claims not only for truck accidents they are involved in but also if they are injured in other ways, such as getting hurt while loading or unloading their truck or making a delivery.

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16
Dec 2016
By

Delays in Treatment Show Workers’ Comp Insurers Don’t Care About Rhode Island Workers

Workers compensation insurers are paid premiums by employers to provide coverage if an employee gets hurt on-the-job. Unfortunately, some of these insurers seem to care more about making money than they do about fulfilling their obligations. Workers who get hurt are suffering greatly because insurers are stretching out the time it takes them to pay for medical care, sometimes even outright denying care that should be covered. backache-1620045

Since insurers are focused only on their bottom line, injured workers need to make sure they have an advocate to help them deal with workers’ comp insurance companies. If you are hurt on-the-job and are struggling to get medical care bills paid for by an insurance company, you need to have a legal advocate on your side.

Workers’ Comp Insurers Causing Unnecessary Delays in Work Injury Treatment 

NBC reported recently on the difficulties that injured workers are having getting their treatments covered by workers’ comp. Workers’ compensation insurance is supposed to pay for all necessary medical care arising out of work injuries.

There are times when care must be approved for it to be paid for. This is an especially big issue for employees who have serious and complex work-related illnesses or injuries or for employees who need ongoing treatment for medical conditions that developed over a long period of time.

Workers are submitting requests to try to get care, and some of these requests either go unanswered for months or end with a denial of legitimate care. According to one survey of physicians who treat workers’ comp patients, more than half said their patients had experienced denials of coverage for care considered medically necessary, including both diagnostic services and actual treatment. A bigger percentage of physicians, 67 percent, said delays and other problems had occurred when trying to get workers’ comp to pay for patient care.

Not only does this practice of delaying and denying end up causing workers to linger in pain, but it can also end up causing workers to get worse. Some workers told NBC about deteriorating body parts due to delays in treatment. Others reported longer recovery periods before they could get back to work. Since ongoing disability benefits have to be paid if it takes longer for an employee to go back to work, insurers are not doing themselves any favors by causing injured employees to have to draw out their recovery period.

Injured employees should get all of the care deemed medically necessary in an efficient and timely manner so they can recover and get back to work. When insurers fail to keep the promise to cover workers that they made by accepting premiums, they should be held accountable by the injured employees whose health is being compromised by insurance industry shenanigans. An experienced attorney can provide assistance in trying to get benefits paid as needed.

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14
Dec 2016
By

Is a Toy Maker Responsible for Preventing Holiday Accidents This Holiday Season?

Any parent of a young child knows which toys top their holiday gift wish list. But not every toy turns out to be a fun thing for kids to play with. Toys can present unexpected risks. They can be defective and dangerous. When a problem with a toy arises, a child could be seriously hurt or even killed. If a child is harmed as a result of a defective toy, it is possible the toy manufacturer could be held accountable for the consequences of the incident. toys-1197784

Is a Toy Maker Responsible for the Prevention of Holiday Accidents?

Toy manufacturers, like the manufacturers of any product, are expected to release only safe products to the public. There are especially rigorous standards for the production of toys because children will be playing with these items.

In addition to making certain children’s toys are as safe as possible, manufacturers of kids’ toys also have an obligation to make certain that parents are warned if toys have inherent risks. For example, if a toy comes with any small parts that could present a choking hazard to a small child, the toy manufacturer should provide a warning about the choking risk.

If a toy manufacturer releases an unsafe or defective toy to the public, or fails to provide appropriate warning to parents who purchased the toy for their child, they could potentially be held legally responsible for any harm that occurred due to the toy maker’s failures.

It would be up to parents to prove the toy company either released a defective product or negligently failed to issue a warning about the toy’s risks. If the parents pursue a claim against the toy company due to a defect in the product, parents do not need to prove negligence in order to be able to hold the toy company accountable for damages. However, whether parents claim a defect or a failure to warn about risks,  parents do have to demonstrate that the child was harmed in some way by the incident.

The problems caused by dangerous and defective toys are not insubstantial. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that a total of 254,200 toy-related injuries occurred in 2015 that warranted emergency room treatment in U.S. hospitals over the course of the year.

Since the holiday season is prime time for new toys to be introduced into the home, it becomes essential for parents to be vigilant about what their kids are playing with so those children do not get hurt or even killed by a toy with a defect. Ultimately, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to keep kids safe, but parents can do their part too to help prevent dangers, including checking the CPSC website regularly to determine if there were any recalls or warnings released about new toys which may end up in the hands of kids over the course of the holiday season.

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22
Nov 2016
By

Injured Workers Face Holiday Financial Hardship Due to Workers’ Comp Benefit Restrictions

In Rhode Island, workers are entitled to benefits if they sustain an injury on-the-job. The Social Security Administration explains how the workers’ comp system works in Rhode Island when it comes to the provision of benefits. The workers’ compensation statute which outlines available benefits to Rhode Island workers is found in Title 28. The rules establish workers can receive certain payments for loss of wages caused by temporary or permanent disabilities.  Payments are based on 75 percent of pre-injury spendable wages earned by the worker, up to state maximum limits. money-cube-1512873

While an injured worker receives loss wage benefits if he can get covered, sometimes getting access to workers’ comp benefits is difficult even though the law is supposed to provide broad protection to employees.  A worker who receives benefits also will not get his full salary, which can always be difficult for families but which can be especially burdensome during the holiday season when spending tends to rise.  Injured employees need to know what benefits they will receive from workers’ compensation if they get hurt and may need to adjust their holiday budgets accordingly if they do not have the money coming in that they would receive from their normal salary.

While the holiday season can make it especially hard to get by on limited workers’ comp benefits, especially as you have to buy gifts for loved ones and entertain family, there are challenges year-round if an injury causes missed work and necessitates medical care. Cuts to workers’ compensation benefits systems, which have been occurring nationwide, have made those challenges worse.

Workers’ comp should provide comprehensive benefits for injured employees who need to be covered for medical care and who need disability income if they cannot work.  Unfortunately, ProPublica published a report indicating 33 states had slashed workers comp benefits. Affected employees were faced with major financial hardship as available benefits were reduced and as states made it harder for workers to get the coverage they need for workplace injuries.

In response to the ProPublica report, democratic senators wrote a letter urging action and the Labor Department responded. The Labor Department prepared a report discussing the detrimental impact state workers compensation laws were having. The Department of Labor also made some recommendations to try to fix the issue. Re-starting a 1970’s commission from the Nixon era was one proposal. The commission would have the power to set some basic standards for state workers’ comp systems and would facilitate federal oversight in situations where workers’ comp programs fell short. Another option would be for congress itself to set minimum standards and to require federal oversight when workers’ comp programs fell short of fulfilling those standards.

Unfortunately, the chances of action on the Labor Department’s report seem slim, so workers may continue to suffer hardship- especially during the holiday season when more money is needed to participate in festive events.

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19
Oct 2016
By

PTSD Prevention After a Rhode Island Workplace Accident

The impact of a workplace accident can be devastating for the accident victim and for the victim’s family. However, the consequences resulting from a serious workplace accident or fatality are not felt only by the person who was hurt and his or her loved ones. Co-workers who observed the accident and resulting injury can also be affected. The company as a whole can also be impacted by tragedy in detrimental ways. girl-3-1440414

One of the major issues which can occur after an on-the-job accident is the development of post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. When a victim who got injured develops PTSD, workers’ compensation should generally cover the costs of treatment as the mental issues are directly related to the on-the-job accident. The victim may need to get legal help in fighting for coverage if the insurer or employer denies counseling and treatment. PTSD treatment is not typically provided for co-workers who observed the accident, although the post traumatic stress experienced by these workers is often very real.

Post-Traumatic Stress Following a Workplace Accident

Safety BLR published a report recently detailing issues with post-injury stress among those who witness or help to respond to a workplace accident which caused a serious injury or fatality. This includes those employees who render aid to an injured worker, or who clean up the scene of an accident.  Employees who observed or dealt with the aftermath are said to suffer from “critical incident stress” if they exhibit mental, behavioral, cognitive, or physical symptoms due to the incident.

The symptoms of critical injury stress can be very damaging and debilitating, as critical injury stress can manifest in frightening ways. An employee who suffers from this type of stress after observing a work injury or fatality could suffer regular headaches and/or chest pains. Fatigue and dizziness are common, as are concentration difficulties, depression, anger, anxiety, mood changes, impaired problem solving abilities, memory problems, and confusion. Antisocial behaviors are possible, and many witnesses of workplace injuries will begin to use alcohol more frequently.

For some witnesses to workplace accidents, the critical incident stress goes away on its own with time. For others, however, full-blown PTSD develops. Safety BLR indicates critical incident stress is considered to have become PTSD if symptoms persist for at least four weeks or longer.

Employers should try to help prevent critical incident stress by offering counseling and other stress relieving tips to those who observe a co-worker’s serious accident. While workers’ comp may not force employers to cover PTSD resulting only from observing an accident, the problems with employees who develop PTSD can undermine a company’s future success. In fact, Safety BLR warns around 60 percent of companies close down within two years of the time a workplace tragedy happens.  Companies may close, in part, because they lose good workers who are traumatized by the accident and who could have been helped.

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22
Sep 2016
By

Speeding a Factor in Rhode Island Car Accidents

A fiery fatal crash occurred recently in Rhode Island, and law enforcement officers are reporting speed is likely a factor. According to Turn to 10, the accident came to the attention of law enforcement when they received multiple 911 calls about a collision in the area. The car involved in the collision was a red 2004 GMC Envoy, which had ben traveling north when it went around a curve and left the road. speedometer-1449844

The car hit the pole of a traffic light, and then it struck a cement block wall. The car started on fire upon the impact with the wall, and the fire consumed the car completely. It is believed there was one occupant in the vehicle at the time of the deadly accident, but officers responding to the collision scene were initially unable to approach the car as a result of the flames, small explosions, and extreme temperatures. The fire department had to be called to the scene in order to put out the fire.

The collisions is currently under investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, including by the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal’s Office. However, preliminary investigations suggest the car may have been traveling as fast as 90 MPH at the time before the accident happened. If this turn out to be the case, the collision will end up being one of many in which people lose their lives as a result of speeding.

How Speeding Affects Rhode Island Car Accidents

Speeding is a leading cause of car accidents. As in this recent tragic Rhode Island accident, speeding can cause a crash when a driver loses control of a car and leaves the road. This often happens around curves, as occurred in the fiery accident which caused the death of the driver. Drivers who go around curves too fast could also end up rolling their vehicle over. Rollovers are a very common type of high-speed single vehicle accident.

Speeding not only increases collision risks, but also makes the chances of injury or death greater. Both occupants of the speeding car and other motorists on the road face a higher chance of injuries and fatalities when a car crash happens at high speeds. Automotive Fleet explains this is because the force of a collision increases exponentially if a car accident happens.

When a car accident happens at 75 miles an hour, as opposed to occurring at 25 miles an hour, the force of the crash is nine times greater at the higher speed.  If a crash happens at 50 miles an hour, the crash forces are four times greater in the faster crash.  Drivers need to be aware of this substantial added risk and they should make sure to do everything possible to avoid speeding-related accidents by driving both within the speed limit and at a speed which is safe for current traffic conditions.

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22
Aug 2016
By

Toxic Exposure at Rhode Island Worksites

Employees deserve to have a safe work environment. This means they should be able to go to work and feel confident they will not be exposed to anything that could make them sick. Unfortunately, many employees find themselves forced to work in environments where they are breathing in dangerous levels of chemicals, risking chemical burns or vision problems due to chemical exposure, or where they are exposed to chemicals that will absorb through the skin. poison-1314907

Toxic exposure at work can cause a wide range of serious health problems, including respiratory issues like lung cancer, COPD, asbestosis, mesothelioma or black lung disease. Toxic exposure could also cause various types of cancer, blindness, burns and rashes, and a host of other conditions. In some cases, the chemical exposure is fatal.

Because of the serious consequences associated with exposure to toxins in the workplace, employers need to do everything possible to prevent workers from coming into contact with dangerous materials. Unfortunately, this is not always what happens. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules provide insufficient protection for workers and many employers do not make an effort to go beyond minimum compliance rules. This means workers get sick. If an illness is work-related, affected employees should be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Toxic Exposure a Significant Workplace Risk

One reason toxic exposure is a significant risk in workplaces is because OSHA rules on chemicals are very outdated. OSHA sets permissible exposure limits (PELs) for a very limited number of chemicals, but its PEL rules were set all the way back in 1971. In 1989, OSHA tried to make modifications and update the rules, regulating new chemicals and changing the permitted exposure amounts. Unfortunately, in a 1992 case called AFL-CIO vs. OSHA, the 1989 changes were struck down by the court.

The court determined OSHA couldn’t just pass a rule updating all of its PELs and adding new chemicals. Instead, the agency would have to assess the permissible exposure level for each substance individually to make a rule appropriate to that substance. Obviously, this was a significantly greater burden on the agency. The rules reverted back to the 1971 PELs. While OSHA has made some rules since that time, including introducing new silica regulations, OSHA has not been able to make substantial changes to protect workers.

Although OSHA rules do not establish maximum exposure requirements for many of the chemicals that people are exposed to on their jobs, this does not mean that employers shouldn’t try to protect their employees. OSHA has resources available providing information on dangerous chemicals to help employers create a safe environment to prevent illnesses. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

If an employee is exposed to dangerous chemicals at work and gets sick, it can be difficult to make a workers’ compensation claim because sometimes it is hard to trace the source of the illness back to the job-site. Still, workers should make a claim to get the benefits that they deserve.

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29
Jul 2016
By

Rhode Island Workers Know That Employers Don’t Value Their Safety

Every worker deserves to be safe while on-the-job. Employers need to prioritize the creation of a safe work environment and must comply with all laws designed to protect their staff. From purchasing workers’ compensation insurance coverage in case of an injury to investing in safety equipment, employers have an obligation to ensure a basic minimum standard of safety is met when it comes to providing protection for workers.man-working-1238685

Most workers don’t believe their employers are doing enough to make job sites safe and to help prevent harm. Employers obviously need to do better, both to prevent against the risk of injury or death and to show workers that their safety matters.

Workers Don’t Believe Employers Care About Safety

Safety News Alert reported on a troubling survey showing that a significant percentage of workers do not think that their employer cares as much about safety as they do about productivity. The survey was conducted by National Safety Council who interviewed 2,000 workers across the United States. Of the employees who were surveyed, a total of 33 percent of workers overall said they thought their companies put a higher priority on maximizing productivity than on creating a safe work site.

The employees who work in some of the most dangerous professions were most likely to say that their employer cared more about production than about keeping workers safe. In particular, 60 percent of construction workers said production trumps safety and 52 percent of people who work in fishing, hunting, forestry, and agriculture said the same thing.

Construction and the fishing, hunting, and forestry industry are always near the top of the list of sectors with the highest rate of workplace deaths. Forestry, fishing and agriculture had the highest death rate this year.

The study had some additional troubling information, which should be cause for concern among all different sectors. For example:

  • A total of 49 percent of temporary workers or contract workers said they were worried about reporting safety issues.
  • 62 percent of employees in the construction sector believe that management does no more than the minimum mandated by law to try to maintain a safe environment.
  • 61 percent of the workers surveyed who had jobs in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, or hunting professions said that employees were actually expressing resistance to safety measures.

While all of this is bad news when it comes to an employee assessment of how safety issues are treated on their work site, 70 percent of all employees say that safety training is a part of orientation at the place where they work. The same percentage say safety matters when it comes to trying to get a promotion or when it comes to employee health and well-being programs.

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28
Jun 2016
By

Rhode Island Workers Must Know Top Causes of Workplace Injuries

Safety BLR recently covered a report on top causes of workplace injuries and occupational hazards. The report came from The Travelers Companies, Inc., which is the largest workers’ compensation insurer in the United States. Travelers Inc. released an Injury Impact Report identifying common work injury causes after analyzing more than 1.5 million workers’ compensation claims filed over a four year period of time. workers-1241079

Both employers and employees must be aware of work injury causes so extra efforts can be made to try to avoid these specific incidents.

Whenever an injury does occur, whether the cause is a common one or not, victims also need to explore options for making a workers’ compensation claim.

What are the Leading Causes of Workplace Injuries? 

According to the data from the Travelers Companies, Inc., the most frequent reasons why employees got hurt at work and made workers’ compensation claims included:

  • Injuries while handling materials. 32 percent of workers’ comp claims were made by employees harmed while handling materials.
  • Falls, slips, and trips. Workers who had fallen made 16 percent of total work injury claims for benefits.
  • Getting hit by objects or colliding with objects. In total, 10 percent of workers who made workers’ compensation claims had been hit by an object or collided with some object at work.
  • Accidents while using tools. This type of accident accounted for seven percent of total claims which occurred.
  • Trauma which occurs over time. In total, four percent of claims made to Travelers came from workers who had hurt their bodies over time as a result of strain or over-use.

The most common injuries suffered due to these harmful incidents included cuts, sprains, strains, contusions, punctures, fractures, inflammation, and chronic illnesses. However, it was workers who had suffered inflammation and fractures who missed the highest number of total workdays. These employees missed 91 days  on average due to inflammation and 78 days on average due to fractures.

Employees with strains and sprains also missed lots of work, losing 57 work days on average, compared with 24 days of work missed on average among workers who suffered cuts or punctures.

Within certain sectors, there were some specific injury causes which were far more common.  For those in retail and construction, for example, falling from heights was a leading cause of injury. In manufacturing and construction, eye injuries were especially common. The most expensive injuries, however, included amputations, electric shock, dislocations, and multiple trauma injuries.

All workers, regardless of their causes of injury or the type of injury, should be able to get their medical costs covered and should be compensated for time away from work that their injuries cause them to experience.  An injured employee will need to show his or her harm was job-related in order to be able to get benefits for the work-related injury.

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