Archive for July, 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.

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.