Nov 2020

Can I get workers’ compensation for chronic back pain?

Chronic back pain

According to MayoClinic, back pain is one of the most common reasons people miss work and suffer from job-related disabilities. Back pain can include dull aching, burning, or a sharp pain. It may also worsen with physical activity. If you sustained a back injury on the job, it’s important to see a doctor if you experience:

  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a few weeks
  • Severe pain that doesn’t improve with rest
  • Pain that radiates down the legs
  • Pain that is accompanied by weakness, numbness, or tingling in the lower extremities

What are the leading causes of work-related back pain?

Work-related back pain can be caused by workplace accidents such as slip and falls and being caught in or between objects and equipment. In most cases, back pain develops over a long period of time and is the result of:

  • Poor posture
  • Heavy lifting
  • Working in awkward positions
  • Frequent bending and twisting
  • Poor workplace ergonomics

Back pain is often linked to:

  • Herniated discs. A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like substance between the vertebrae (bones of the spine) rupture and protrude. This puts pressure on the nerves of the spine, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Damaged vertebrae. Like herniated discs, damaged vertebrae can put pressure on the spinal nerves, causing a great deal of pain and other complications.
  • Muscle strain in the back. An injury to the muscles in the back can cause prolonged spasms, which can lead to pain and discomfort.

Back injuries are often treated with physical therapy, pain medication, exercise, and applying ice or heat. Serious back injuries such as herniated discs and fractured vertebrae require surgery to reduce the pressure on the nerves in the spine.

What is chronic back pain?

Workplace injuries often cause flareups of back pain that go away without treatment. For some workers, the pain never goes away, even after therapy, rest and pain medication. This is known as chronic back pain and usually affects workers who have degenerative issues affecting the spine. These include:

  • Wear and tear of the discs and vertebrae
  • Bone spur formations
  • Overgrowth of joints and ligaments in the spine

Older workers are the most at risk of developing chronic back pain, mostly due to repetitive stress on the back and spine. For workers who develop chronic back pain, the source of the pain is often difficult to pinpoint.

Can I collect workers’ compensation if I suffer from chronic back pain?

If you sustained back pain during the scope of your employment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that compensates injured workers for medical costs and lost wages. Workers who sustain permanent or long-term injuries may be eligible for disability benefits, even if they return to work for light duty.

It’s important that you discuss your injuries with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. We’ll help you through the complex process of filing a claim. We’ll also prepare all necessary documents and medical records to support your claim and fight for a fair resolution. To schedule your free and confidential case evaluation, contact us online or call us.

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Oct 2020

Workplace injuries linked to heavy lifting on the job

Heavy lifting

Heavy lifting is often just part of the job in some occupations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, heavy lifting is a common cause of work-related injuries, roughly 36 percent of which involve shoulder and back injuries. Heavy lifting can cause trauma or wear and tear to the muscles, joints and ligaments.

Who is most at risk of work injuries linked to heavy lifting?

Heavy lifting is common in the following occupations:

  • Construction workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Warehouse and dock workers
  • Commercial truck drivers
  • Maintenance workers
  • Retail laborers
  • Agricultural workers
  • Logging workers
  • Nurses and nursing assistants

How can workers prevent injuries?

OSHA has offered some suggestions on how employers can prevent injuries when heavy lifting on the job. These include:

  • Utilizing the right equipment — forklifts, pallet jacks, hand trucks, duct lifts and other mechanical equipment to lift and transport heavy items.
  • Installing ramps and lift gates — employers should consider installing ramps and lift gates in areas where workers may be transporting heavy objects manually or with machinery.
  • Reducing the weight of items — in some industries, employers can consider working with higher quantities of items to reduce the amount of weight workers need to lift at once.

OSHA also suggests that workers consider employing these smart lifting practices:

  • Utilize the “power zone” — this is where items are placed from mid-thigh to mid-chest, which makes it easier to lift without having to squat or bend.
  • Maintaining good posture — workers should maintain a straight and neutral spine whenever possible. Avoid rounding your back or bending when lifting. Only bend at the knees, not the waist.
  • Limiting how much weight you lift — Avoid lifting weight greater than 50 lbs. If you must lift a heavier object, it should be done with two or more people.
  • Avoid twisting — When lifting a heavy object, it’s better to turn by moving the feet rather than twisting at the torso.
  • Keep elbows in close — Keep the load as close to your body as possible to avoid upper body strain.

What types of injuries are caused by heavy lifting?

Heavy lifting can often lead to these work-related injuries:

  • Muscle strains and tears
  • Tendon/ligament sprains and tears
  • Knee injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Injuries to the feet, shins, or knees (if heavy objects are dropped)
  • Slip and falls when lifting (usually when walking surfaces are slick)

If you sustained an injury on the job, you could be out of work for several weeks or months, unable to earn a paycheck. On top of that, you may be facing medical expenses that add up. You may be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits to cover these losses, but doing so won’t be easy.

Workers’ compensation cases are often complex and require a great deal of paperwork and litigation. Let an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl handle your case for you. We know how the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts and Rhode Island works and how to best represent our clients at trial. Contact us online for your free case evaluation.

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Oct 2020

Do I need a doctor’s note to pursue a workers’ comp claim?

Doctor's note

Workplace accidents that result in an injury can happen when least expected. One careless mistake could lead to several months out of work and costly medical bills. If you were hurt on the job, it’s critical that you take your workers’ compensation claim seriously from the start and take the right course of action.

It could take several months to recover from workplace injuries, such as:

  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Severe soft tissue injuries
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Neck, back and spine injuries
  • Crushed limbs

Filing a successful workers’ compensation claim requires the right documents. Among those is a doctor’s note, which you must have in order to pursue compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.

Why is a doctor’s note so important when pursuing a claim?

The purpose of a doctor’s note is to state whether you can return to work or return with restrictions. The note should only be provided by your primary care physician or another doctor who diagnosed and treated your injuries. Notes from physical therapists, occupational therapists or professionals from other medical practices don’t qualify.

It’s also important to keep your doctor’s note and other medical records on file. Doing so can eliminate questions regarding referrals to specialists, as well as authorizations for treatment.

Ensure that all information in your note is accurate

During your medical evaluation, don’t hesitate to ask questions. It’s important that the instructions given to you by your doctor are clear. There should be no confusion regarding your treatment and length of recovery. If any other issues come up and you can’t return to work, it’s important that you discuss that with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

When obtaining a doctor’s note and medical records, always double-check to ensure that the information is accurate. Also ensure that the instructions given by your doctor are included and match what your doctor told you.

Let an experienced workers’ compensation attorney handle the rest

If you were injured on the job, you may not be fully aware of the rights and legal options available to you. On top of that, the paperwork involved in filing a workers’ compensation claim can be complex and confusing. Any mistakes in the filing process could lead to your financial benefits being delayed or denied.

That’s why it’s critical that you speak to an experienced attorney who knows how the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts and Rhode Island works.

Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

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Sep 2020

How to reduce the likelihood of serious workplace accidents

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

While most serious workplace accidents are not caused intentionally, they are often preventable. Most workplace accidents occur when workers or supervisors make careless mistakes or cut corners when it comes to safety.

Some of the most devastating workplace accidents linked to careless mistakes include:

  • Falls from same level or from heights
  • Accidents involving large machinery
  • Transportation incidents
  • Electrocutions
  • Workers being struck by falling objects
  • Caught in/between equipment or objects

Some of the most common injuries workers sustain in these accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Crushed limbs or amputations
  • Severe injuries to the neck, back and spine
  • Internal bleeding and damage to organs
  • Severe burns, lacerations and bruises
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Common mistakes that lead to workplace accidents

  • Not properly securing ladders or scaffolds: Serious falls are common when ladders or scaffolds aren’t stable or properly secured. Falls linked to poorly set up ladders and scaffolds are common in the construction industry. In fact, falls accounted for more than 33 percent of deaths in that industry during 2018.
  • Leaving clutter and debris in walking areas: Failure to keep walking areas clear of clutter and debris can lead to slip, trip and fall accidents. This often occurs when items, loose wires and spilled liquids are left in walking areas.
  • Leaving equipment and machines on when not in use: It’s important that all electronic equipment and machinery is shut off and locked out when not in use. When a machine suddenly turns on unexpectedly, someone can be seriously injured. Incidents like this often lead to amputations. In some cases, this can even lead to electrocutions.
  • Careless mistakes linked to workplace stress and fatigue: When workers are stressed or fatigued on the job, they may be more likely to skip important safety measures in order to be more productive. All it takes is one small misstep to cause a serious accident.
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals: When hazardous chemicals aren’t secured or sealed, they can lead to toxic exposure, fires and even explosions. Workers may become ill due to exposure or suffer serious burns.
  • Transportation incidents: Transportation incidents are common among roadside construction workers and warehouse workers. They may involve cars, trucks, trailers or forklifts.

What should I do if I was injured on the job?

If you sustained an injury on the job, it’s important that you first report the incident to your supervisor so an incident report can be filled out. You should then see a doctor as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and to begin medical treatment before your condition gets worse.

You should then speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to file a claim for financial benefits. You may be eligible for compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages and possible disability benefits. To learn more, contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl and schedule your free case evaluation.

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Sep 2020

What to do after a workplace accident amputation?

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

It’s difficult to imagine any other workplace accident more serious than an amputation. Losing an arm, leg, foot, finger or any other body part can be emotionally devastating and have a significant financial impact.

Unfortunately, amputation accidents on the job happen all too often. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), these accidents are widespread and involve a variety of activities and equipment.

What types of workplace equipment are dangerous?

Machines associated with amputation accidents include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Food slicers
  • Meat grinders
  • Printing presses
  • Drill presses
  • Milling machines
  • Power presses
  • Slitters

Accidents typically happen when workers don’t have enough safeguards against injury. Workers can get harmed while operating a machine or while setting up or breaking down and cleaning equipment. Amputation accidents occur in in a variety of industries, but are common at construction sites or at factories. Some amputation accidents occur in kitchens at restaurants or even on the road when workers are in car or truck accidents.

How can employers keep workers safe from amputations?

Businesses have a responsibility to keep workers safe from amputation accidents and other injuries. To prevent accidents, employers should ensure an employee is properly trained before using a machine. Machines should be safeguarded. For example, a physical barrier, such as a guard, should be used with a hazardous machine. The guard should be strong and secure. A device that can interrupt the normal operation of a machine can be used to prevent contact with a hazard.

What are your rights as a worker?

If you work with a machine, your employer must ensure the conditions do not put you at risk of injury. You have a right to obtain information and receive training about workplace hazards. You also have a right to review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.

If you notice a serious hazard or your employer is not following the rules, you have a right to file a complaint with OSHA requesting an inspection without retaliation.

How a workers’ compensation attorney can help

Accidents around machinery happen quickly, but the impact can last a lifetime. You may need a prosthetic limb. You may need to use a wheelchair or a cane or crutches to get around. You may be unable to work, or may be limited in what you can do to earn a living. An amputation also can impact your enjoyment of hobbies.

After an on-the-job accident, you have a right to file workers’ compensation claim in Providence, RI, or Fall River and Foxborough, MA. Workers compensation is a no-fault system, so you have a right to benefits regardless of who was at fault. Your employer is required to carry insurance.

An experienced attorney can help make sure you get the compensation and benefits you need for your accident. In some cases, a third party (someone other than your employer) might be responsible. If that is the case, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit in addition to the workers’ comp claim.

Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl for a free consultation. Our firm can fight for you while you focus on your recovery.

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Aug 2020

The most dangerous jobs of 2020

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

No matter where you work, there is always the likelihood of sustaining a serious injury on the job. Some industries are generally more dangerous than others, however.

EHS Today has once again released its yearly top 10 ranking of the most dangerous jobs in America. The ranking was based on 2018 workplace injury and fatality data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The same occupations on this list were also listed in previous years.

COVID-19 can change this ranking significantly in the coming years, however. For example, in 2022, we could see healthcare occupations listed within the top 10 most dangerous jobs. In the meantime, the list has stayed consistent for several years.

What are the most dangerous jobs?

According to the BLS data, 2018 saw a two percent increase in workplace fatalities from the previous year (5,147 to 5,250). The ranking was based on workplace fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers across the United States.

The most dangerous jobs based on that data include:

  • Logging workers — 56 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal worker injury rate of 97.6
  • Fishers and fishing workers — 30 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal work injury rate of 77.4
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers — 70 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal work injury rate of 58.9
  • Roofers — 96 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal work injury rate of 51.5
  • Refuse and recyclable material collectors — 37 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal work injury rate of 44.3
  • Truck drivers — 966 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal work injury rate of 26
  • Farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers — 257 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal work injury rate of 24.7
  • Iron and steel workers — 15 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal work injury rate of 23.6
  • Construction first-line supervisor — 144 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal work injury rate of 21
  • Landscaping first-line supervisors — 48 worker fatalities in 2018/fatal work injury rate of 20.2

What injuries do workplace accident survivors sustain?

Those who work in these industries and survive devastating accidents often suffer from severe injuries and disabilities. These include:

  • Severe traumatic brain injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Spinal injuries
  • Crushed limbs
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Amputations
  • Lacerations
  • Paralysis

If you were hurt on the job, you may be wondering how you will afford to pay for your medical bills. You may also be wondering how you will afford to make ends meet if you can’t return to work or perform the same job functions.

The good news is that you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury. Workers’ compensation pays for medical expenses and lost wages while you’re unable to work. Getting the compensation you need won’t be easy. Any errors on your paperwork or other glitches during the claims process can lead to the insurance companies denying your compensation.

That’s why you need a strong legal advocate on your side who can ensure that the process goes smoothly and you are treated fairly. To learn more, contact The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl and schedule your free case evaluation.

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Aug 2020

What should I do if I need surgery after a workplace accident?

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

If you were injured on the job, you must first promptly notify your employer so the incident is documented. Failure to notify your employer of an injury can hurt your chances of getting workers’ compensation benefits.

Once you have notified your employer, you must then see a doctor as soon as possible. During your medical evaluation, your doctor can find out what injuries you have sustained, provide a proper diagnosis and begin treatment.

When do workplace injuries require surgery?

In many cases, you can recover from a workplace injury with the proper rest, therapy and use of pain medication. Sometimes, a doctor may recommend surgery for a severe or potentially long-term injury.

We often see this with:

  • Bone fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal injuries, such herniated discs or damage to the vertebrae and/or spinal cord
  • Amputations
  • Crushed limbs
  • Damage to nerves or organs
  • Paralysis
  • Severe lacerations
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Soft tissue tears

Injuries like this can happen in any workplace. We usually see them in construction, manufacturing, warehousing, transportation and other occupations with high injury rates. Surgery may also be required if a less severe injury doesn’t show any signs of improvement.

How can I afford the cost of surgery?

Surgery can cost tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the nature of your injury. If your claim gets denied, you may find yourself paying a lot of money out of your own pocket, even if you have health insurance.

Some reasons why your claim may be denied include:

  • You didn’t report your injury on time. You have 7 calendar days (excluding Sundays and certain holidays) to report your injury to your employer.
  • You didn’t fill out the paperwork correctly. When you file a workers’ compensation claim, it’s critical that all paperwork is properly filled out. Any errors can lead to your claim being denied.
  • You waited too long to get medical treatment. It’s important that you seek prompt medical treatment after a workplace accident. Never delay seeing a doctor, even if you think you can wait or recover on your own. Insurance companies can argue that your injuries aren’t legitimate.

To maximize your chances of getting the compensation you need, it is best that you speak to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney who can help you through this complex process.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are dedicated to helping injured workers get the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. To learn more about how we can help, contact us online. Our case evaluations are free and confidential.

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Jul 2020

The dangers of working in hot conditions

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

Summer is in full swing, and so far, this season has been a hot one. During the month of July, we have seen consistent temperatures well into the 90s. This can be dangerous for those who have to work outdoors or in confined spaces with no air conditioning.

Heat-related injuries and illnesses are common among construction workers, agricultural workers, landscapers, bakers, cooks, maintenance workers, manufacturing workers and boiler room workers.

If you work in hot conditions, it’s important to understand the health risks and ways to lower the risk of an injury or illness.

What types of injuries and illnesses are caused by heat?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat-related injuries can range from minor to severe.

The most serious illness caused by working in hot conditions is heat stroke. When the body can’t regulate its temperature through sweating and other mechanisms, workers may suffer seizures or even death. The warning signs of heat stroke include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Mental confusion or disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness

If any of these symptoms occur, it’s critical that you stop working and get immediate medical attention.

A similar, but less severe, heat-related condition is heat exhaustion. This is often caused by dehydration due to excessive sweating. The warning signs of heat exhaustion may include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Physical weakness
  • Extreme sweating and thirst
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Changes in mood
  • Decreased urine output

Other common heat-related conditions include:

  • Rhabdomyolysis: Heat stress and prolonged labor causes muscle tissue to breakdown. This can result in irregular heartbeat, seizures and kidney damage.
  • Heat syncope: Standing for too long or standing from a sitting position during hot conditions can lead to fainting.
  • Miliaria or heat rash: Excessive sweating and exposure to heat that irritates the skin can result in red clusters or small pimples.
  • Heat-related cramps: Muscle cramps can occur when workers lose excessive amounts of salt through sweating.

How can heat-related conditions lead to workplace accidents?

The heat-related conditions mentioned above not only require prompt medical attention, they can result in workplace accidents due to fainting, loss of balance, fatigue, dizziness and weakness.

Some examples of workplace accidents linked to heat-related conditions may include:

  • Falls from heights or same-level falls
  • Accidents with heavy machinery or equipment
  • Transportation incidents

How to prevent heat-related conditions on the job

OSHA offers some tips on how to lower the risk of sustaining a heat-related illness while working, including:

  • Drinking plenty of water — one cup every 15-20 minutes
  • Assigning lighter tasks to employees and encouraging frequent breaks
  • Wearing light or loose-fitting clothes
  • Ensuring that indoor facilities are properly ventilated
  • Learning the signs of heat-related conditions and knowing when to provide first-aid to other workers
  • Monitoring workers with certain health conditions

What should I do if I sustained a heat-related injury on the job?

If you sustained a heat-related injury or illness at work, it’s important that you notify your employer and seek immediate medical attention. Also be prepared to take some time off from work while you recover.

If you’re concerned about the cost of medical care and lost wages, just know that you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. To learn how to get started, contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl and schedule your free case evaluation.

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Jul 2020

Can I collect workers’ compensation for back pain?

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer explains how the system works

Chronic back pain affects millions of people throughout the country. One scientific study estimated that 31 million Americans suffer from back pain at any given time. In many cases, people experiencing back pain sustained their back injury on the job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 20 percent of all workplace injuries – more than 1 million injuries – involve back injuries each year.

Even so, there’s sometimes some confusion about whether or not people can collect workers’ compensation for back pain. It’s a common question that experienced workers’ compensation attorney Deborah G. Kohl often hears from injured workers. That’s why we created this guide to help workers better understand their rights and their legal options.

Can I collect workers’ compensation for back pain?

The short answer to this simple question is “maybe.” That’s because there are often many different situations which could potentially affect your ability to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, including:

  • Where your injury took place – You will likely need to prove your back pain is the direct result of a work-related injury.
  • When your injury took place – If you injured your back at work, you often only have a limited amount of time to report your workplace injury. If you wait too long to inform your employer or file a workers’ compensation claim, your claim could be denied.
  • How your injury took place – Many back injuries occur two different ways – in a single incident or over a long period of time. How your back injury occurred could impact your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits and how much you receive in workers’ compensation.
  • If you previously injured your back – Many workers’ compensation claims are denied because of pre-existing medical conditions. This is especially true if you previously injured your back outside of work.

All of these situations – and many more – can dramatically affect your ability to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. That’s why it’s important to learn more about your options and discuss your concerns with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

What are common causes of work-related back injuries?

Back injuries at work which result in back pain occur for many different reasons. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Poor ergonomic sitting position

Whatever the cause of your back injury, make sure you take your back pain seriously right from the start. Talk to your doctor. Then, talk to our law firm.

What are common work-related back injuries?

Back injuries sustained on the job which result in chronic back pain can cover a wide range, including:

  • Herniated disc
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle strain
  • Fractured vertebrae

These are just a few types of work-related back injuries. You may have a different type of injury which requires different treatment and care. A medical professional can examine you and advise you on the best course of action.

What are common symptoms of a back injury?

Many back injuries are different, but they also often have many things in common. Some of the warning signs of a back injury which results in back pain include:

  • Dull ache in lower back
  • Stabbing or shooting pain in the leg
  • Difficulty standing up
  • Reduced range of motion

You know your body best. If something doesn’t feel right, seek immediate medical treatment. Your health and well-being should always come first.

What should I do if I injure my back at work?

If you are experiencing chronic back pain at work and believe it’s due to a work-related injury, we strongly advise taking the following steps:

  • Seek immediate medical treatment. The sooner you talk to a doctor about what’s wrong, the sooner you can hopefully get relief from your back pain.
    Tell your employer you are suffering from back pain and you believe it’s due to a work-related injury.
  • Ask your employer to file a workers’ compensation claim on your behalf so you can receive the benefits you deserve while you’re recovering from your painful injury.
  • Contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Workers’ comp claims can often be very complicated. An experienced lawyer can analyze your potential case and explain your legal options to you.

Attorney Deborah G. Kohl has more than four decades of experience representing people throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts injured at work and in personal injury accidents. To learn more about how attorney Kohl and the entire legal team at The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can assist you with your workers’ compensation claim, simply contact us and schedule your free case evaluation. We have offices in Providence, Rhode Island; Fall River, Massachusetts; and Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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Jun 2020

How to avoid electrocution on the job

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

Some jobs carry a higher risk of injury or death from electrical hazards than others. Workers in the construction and trade industries and electricians and their apprentices can sustain serious or fatal injuries from contact with electricity.

What you may find surprising is that 28 percent of on-the-job electrical-related deaths in 2017 were linked to professional and business-related services, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Workers in non-trade businesses often are unaware of the dangers of electricity in their workplace.

What are the types of electrical accidents on the job?

According to the National Center for Biological Information, electrical injuries are common and are associated with a high rate of death. People who survive electrical accidents often face a difficult recovery because of damage to internal organs.

Types of electrical burns include:

  • Electric shock: When current passes through the body, which may result in damage to internal organs, muscles, nerves and soft tissue.
  • Flash injury: When an electrical arc passes over the skin and does not enter the body.
  • Flame injury: When an arc flash ignites clothing or other objects and causes a fire.
  • Low voltage injury: An electrical burn caused by a power source of 500 volts or less.
  • High voltage injury: An electrical burn caused by a high voltage power source and often associated with electricity passing through the individual’s entire body.

What is electrocution?

An electrocution is a type of fatal injury caused by electric shock, or current passing through the body. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists electrocution accidents as one of the top four fatal injuries for construction workers.

Common electrocution hazards on job sites include:

  • Exposed wiring
  • Wet conditions while outlets are exposed
  • Overhead or buried power lines

When working around electricity, it’s important to take steps to stay safe. OSHA recommends employers and workers:

  • Identify utilities before starting work.
  • Check for overhead power lines when operating equipment.
  • Keep a safe distance from power lines.
  • Do not use portable electrical tools unless they are grounded or double insulated.
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters for protection.
  • Be aware of possible electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms.

What to do after an electrical injury or electrocution

Nobody expects to suffer an electrical accident or electrocution while working. I you were injured, however, you will need to be prepared to take action. Remain calm, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. In some cases, victims go into shock and don’t realize they have been seriously injured. It’s critical to consult with a medical professional.

Victims injured at work will need to file a workers’ compensation claim to recover losses. Workers’ comp will cover medical bills and lost wages, among other benefits.

If a third party (an entity other than your employer) was negligent, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

Electrical accidents can become complex legal cases. A third-party may deny any responsibility. An employer and their insurance company may downplay the severity of the injuries.

Schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to make sure your rights are protected. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. Trust us to handle your claim while you focus on your recovery.

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