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Category Archives: Workers Compensation


musculoskeletal disorders

What Are Workplace Musculoskeletal Disorders?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are common and account for the single largest category of workplace injuries, making up nearly 30 percent of all Workers’ Compensation costs each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

A MSD is a long-term injury that develops over time, and it can be debilitating for a worker if it is not properly treated. These disorders can impact businesses broadly with higher health care costs, productivity, and Workers’ Compensation costs.

The BLS reports that MSDs account for 27 percent per 10,000 full-time employees, averaging 12 days of missed work per worker. The health care and social assistance fields, manufacturing, and retail trades experience the most MSDs, accounting for 50 percent of all cases in 2018.

MSDs affect movement and muscles, nerves, blood vessels, tendons, discs, and ligaments. Such injuries include:

  • Muscle strains, sprains, tears, and lower back injuries.
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome.
  • Tendonitis.
  • Rotator cuff injuries.
  • Trigger finger.
  • Tennis elbow.

Workplace design is the largest contributor to MSDs. Workers required to perform tasks outside the capabilities and limitations of their bodies increases the risk for injuries to their musculoskeletal system. Studying and evaluating the design an individual’s workstation may show that their body’s recovery system may not be able to keep up with the resulting fatigue of completing their tasks. This kind of incidence greatly increases the risk of a MSD and necessitates a change to the employee’s work environment.

How Are MSDs Caused?

According to the BLS, MSDs frequently result from activities that workers perform repetitively or from overexertion and fall into two risk categories: work-related factors and individual-related factors. 

Work-related risk factors include:

  • High task repetition: Many work activities and cycles are repetitive, particularly in the manufacturing and production field, and controlled by hourly or daily production targets. Cycle times of 30 seconds or less is considered highly repetitive. High repetition rates combined with other risk factors, such as awkward positioning and high force, can contribute greatly to MSDs.
  • Forceful exertions: Tasks requiring high force on the body require increased muscle effort and result in increased fatigue. Workers spending long periods of time performing tasks under these conditions are at greater risk for developing MSDs.
  • Awkward postures: Repetitive and sustained awkward postures puts excessive force on the body’s joints, overloading the muscles and tendons around joints. The human body’s joint system is most efficient operating closest to the joint’s mid-range of motion. When tasked repetitively for sustained periods without adequate recovery time, the joints are more susceptible to injury.

Individual-related risk factors include:

  • Poor work practices: Workers who ignore recommended safety methods and use poor work practices, body mechanics, and lifting techniques create additional stress on their body’s muscles and joints that increases fatigue and reduces their ability to recover.
  • Health habits: Poor heath habits such as smoking, obesity, drinking excessively, and other bad habits put the person at greater risk for a MSD, along with other chronic diseases.
  • Poor rest and recovery: When fatigue is greater than a worker’s recovery system, musculoskeletal imbalance is created. Workers who do not actively provide their systems with adequate rest and recovery time put themselves at higher risk.
  • Nutrition, hydration, and fitness: A significant portion of the population is actively malnourished, dehydrated, and not physically fit, making strenuous physical work increasingly more difficult. Workers with poor overall health and fitness are at a much higher risk for injury and chronic health issues.

Are MSDs Preventable?

Early diagnosis of a MSD is key. However, MSDs develop over time, so this is difficult. Workplace ergonomics programs are the most effective method to reducing the number of MSDs. 

The ergonomics process studies how people work in their daily environment, such as studying how employees who spend the majority of their shift sitting at a desk develop back injuries. Ergonomic programs in the workplace help minimize stress and injuries related with repetitive tasks, overuse of muscles, and poor posture. Important elements of an ergonomics program in the workplace include:

  • Management support: Commitment to an ergonomic process by management is essential to success with clearly defined goals, discussions with workers, responsibilities of certain staff members, and clear communication with the entire company.
  • Worker participation: Employees directly involved in assessing the workplace and creating and implementing the solutions. Workers can identify and provide information on hazards, suggestions to reduce exposure, and evaluate changes to protocol in the workplace following the process.
  • Training: Providing a training program is a key component of any ergonomic process to ensure employees are educated about ergonomics and the benefits, informed of ergonomic concerns, and the importance of reporting symptoms early. Earlier reporting can help prevent or reduce injury progression.
  • Evaluation: Corrective action procedures and evaluation are essential to assess the ergonomic process’s effectiveness, continue improvements, and long-term success.

What Are Examples of Ergonomic Changes in the Workplace?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies control areas companies should focus on to reduce ergonomic risks, which include:

  • Engineering controls: Worksite designs based on individual employee’s capabilities and limitations, such as redesigning the layout of a workstation with adjustable workbenches, closer placement of tools, or developing alternative ways materials and products are transported.
  • Administrative controls: The CDC recommends implementing temporary administrative measures until engineering controls are in place. Such examples of administrative controls could include shorter shifts, providing more breaks, rotating workers to different stations, and training.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): Providing PPE devices, such as back belts, braces, wrist splints, and similar equipment can reduce MSD risks by reducing the frequency, intensity, and duration of work tasks.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Represent Clients With Work-Related MSDs

MSDs sustained in workplace activities can be painful, impact your ability to work, and cause lifelong conditions. If you sustained a musculoskeletal injury on the job, our Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can protect your rights. Call us today at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

worksites

What Should I Do if I Have Been Injured on a Construction Worksite?

Given the nature of the profession, construction sites are inherently dangerous places to work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 360,000 non-fatal work accidents per year occur at construction worksites, and over 1,000 accidents result in fatalities. In fact, over 20 percent of all job-related fatal workplace accidents occur on construction sites annually.

Construction workers contend with dangerous equipment, electricity, water, heights, hazardous materials, and inexperienced coworkers on a daily basis. The profession requires physical skill, quick reaction, and extensive knowledge and operation of complex heavy equipment and tools.

Due to the high rate of injuries on construction sites, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has enacted numerous state and federal safety regulations to protect construction workers. Every state requires that employers provide safe and healthy work environments to protect their employees. 

Despite every effort to provide a safe and healthy worksite, accidents can still occur, resulting in injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to a fatal crush or slip and fall injury.

If you are injured at work, you should be entitled to Workers’ Compensation for medical bills and lost wages. It is essential to your claim that, if you are able, take every action to preserve the events surrounding your accident.

Report the Injury

As soon as your injury occurs, notify your supervisor. Workers’ Compensation insurance requires employers file an official record of the incident, which will be used to evaluate your claim. 

If no official report of the construction accident is taken because you or a coworker fails to notify the employer, you will not be able to file a claim for compensation due to your injuries. You are also entitled to a copy of the employer’s report.

Seek Medical Care

The most important step with any workplace injury is to be evaluated and treated by a medical professional, even if you think the injury is minor. Many serious medical conditions, such as concussion or internal bruising and bleeding, do not necessarily present at the time of injury. Ignoring injuries such as these can have catastrophic consequences, and lack of medical treatment can forfeit your compensation claim.

Document Everything

If you are physically able, make a record of everything, including photographs. Document where the injury occurred, when it happened, what injured you, and how. Photograph the injuries, scene, materials or equipment involved, hazard signs or lack thereof, and anything else that may become relevant to your Workers’ Compensation claim. If the worksite has a security camera that may have recorded the accident, request a copy of the footage.

Gather Witness Statements

If you are able, take notes or audio recordings of witness statements, including names and contact information, as you or your attorney may need to speak with them later. If you are not physically able, ask a coworker to obtain this information on your behalf. 

Contact a Lawyer

Your statements and actions following a workplace injury are extremely important and can be crucial in determining the outcome of your claim. Before making any official statements to your employer or insurance companies, seek counsel from an experienced attorney. You are entitled to handle your own injury claim, keep in mind that what you do and say is irreversible and could potentially jeopardize your case. A seasoned attorney is well-versed in Workers’ Compensation laws in your state, knows your rights, and will help you obtain and compile the records and evidence you need to support your claim for compensation.

The Fatal Four

While any number of accidents can happen on a construction worksite, the OSHA identifies the four most common injury risks as the “Fatal Four:” 

  • Falls: According to OSHA, over 40 percent of construction-related deaths are the result of workers falling from ladders, roofs, cranes, scaffolding, and many other high places. Falls even from seemingly short distances can have fatal consequences, such as internal damage, brain and spinal trauma, and impact injuries.
  • Struck by objects: Along with workers falling themselves, being struck by falling objects can be equally as dangerous and fatal. Tools, materials, buckets, and the like tumbling from a roof can be deadly to workers below. The OSHA reports that brain and neck injuries sustained due to the impact of an object striking a worker account for nearly eight percent of all construction fatalities per year.
  • Electrocution: Working under overhead power lines or near electrical panels is especially dangerous should workers come in contact with the high voltage current. Electrocution causes brain damage, burns, and irreparable damage to internal organs, and it accounts for over eight percent of construction-related deaths. 
  • Caught-in or caught-between accidents: Four percent of construction site fatalities are caused by compression, which is when a worker is caught in between equipment or other large objects or crushed under collapsing structures or materials.

What Are My Rights as a Worker?

Reporting your injury protects your legal rights following a worksite accident. Most states require same day reporting but, depending on your injuries, it is understood that is not always possible. In this situation, report the accident as soon as possible.

Filing your Worker’s Compensation claim should be the next step. Doing so provides formal notice to your employer, the employer’s insurance company, and the courts. Additionally, filing your claim provides you with certain automatic protections. These may vary by state, but all include general protections, such as:

  • The right to file your claim in either the Workers’ Compensation or state industrial courts.
  • The right to seek medical evaluation and treatment, including necessary ongoing medical treatment based on your injury.
  • The right to return to your job if released by your physician.
  • If you are unable to return to work as a result of your injury, either temporarily or permanently, you have the right to disability compensation.
  • The right to appeal any decision by your employer, the insurance company, or the court if you disagree with the decisions in your case.
  • The right to hire a lawyer and have legal representation.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Those Injured on Construction Worksites

Accidents on construction sites are common and can be life-altering events. If you have been injured while working at a construction worksite, contact our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford. 

 

Construction Accident

Who Is Liable for a Construction Accident?

Construction sites are full of activity. Construction sites also have a reputation for having hazards and frequent workplace accidents, even though there are numerous safety guidelines and rules. When someone is injured on a jobsite, it can be a result of a person not following safety protocols or even malfunctioning machinery.

If you have suffered a workplace injury and the prognosis indicates that you will recover in a few weeks, Workers’ Compensation may provide you with enough benefits to get you back to life as usual. This coverage includes medical care and covers a portion of lost wages, no matter who caused the accident. In some cases, you may be able to file a third-party claim if a negligent party other than your employer caused your work injury.

The owner of the construction site has some responsibility for keeping the area free of hazards in order to keep everyone there safe. They may give control to third parties, like subcontractors, and they in turn hold responsibility for maintaining the safety rules. Owners and subcontractors could both be held responsible for construction accidents.

Construction architects, designers, and engineers are tasked with designing projects that conform to safety regulations and building codes, and they should not create designs that put workers in danger. Following blueprints that do not follow those codes can be a real recipe for disaster. All of the other contractors on the site should make safety a priority, and their work is coordinated with other contractors who may not be as conscientious.

If construction tools, equipment, or machinery are defective or unreasonably dangerous, an injured worker may file a third-party claim in addition to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Some workplace hazards that potentially warrant a third-party claim include: 

    • Defective or missing handrails.
    • Uneven and hazardous stairways.
    • Electrical problems.
    • Faulty tools and equipment.
    • Toxic fumes.
    • Fire hazards.
    • Asbestos exposure.
    • Explosions.
    • Building collapses.

How Can I Prove a Third-Party Caused My Injury?

These cases can be challenging because construction sites are constantly changing. Anyone who may have contributed to an accident may be encouraged to tidy up the scene soon afterwards, removing any evidence that could help prove negligence. You may have to take photographs, get testimonies from coworkers, and contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for an investigation.

When the liable party seems to be a designer or manufacturer, the case may fall under the products liability umbrella. These cases often use expert testimony to help show that the device that caused the accident was unreasonably hazardous. It is not unusual to have lawsuits where multiple parties are found to be liable. For example, if a scaffold broke and a worker fell, the manufacturer and subcontractor that owns the scaffold might be responsible.

If you end up suing another party for a construction accident, there will most likely be an investigation into what happened. Investigators may try to establish that there was an unsafe working environment. They may look for uncovered holes, tripping hazards, unsafe ladders, and other OSHA violations. If it is alleged that a piece of machinery is defective, investigators will want to know if the machinery has a history of causing problems.

What Should I Do After a Construction Accident?

Some construction accidents cause catastrophic injuries, including: 

  • Broken bones.
  • Shoulder injuries.
  • Spinal cord injuries.
  • Head and brain injuries.
  • Electrocutions.
  • Burn injuries.
  • Eye injuries.

If you have a severe injury, you may need benefits to cover your long-term medical expenses.

You may be able to sue if someone besides your employer caused the construction accident and if your Workers’ Compensation benefits are not enough to cover your damages. This involves proving negligence. You can work with a lawyer to determine if you should file a Workers’ Compensation claim, a third-party liability claim, or both. Should you decide to proceed with a claim, the evidence-gathering phase will be vital to your case. A third-party lawsuit can be filed in court if a settlement cannot be reached.

How Can Construction Accidents Be Prevented?

Prevention is key to eliminating construction accidents. If your position requires you to wear personal protective equipment, you should follow those safety protocols. Also, be aware of your surroundings at all times, and keep an eye out for approaching vehicles, uneven surfaces, and holes in the ground. 

Proper training is also essential for construction site workers. Not knowing how to properly use equipment is dangerous. If you feel that the site you are working on is unsafe, point it out to a supervisor as soon as possible.

Delaware Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Offer Trusted Legal Guidance to Injured Construction Workers

If you were injured on a construction site while working, you may need help with your Workers’ Compensation claim. Our Delaware construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can assist if you are having problems with your claim. Call us at 302-427-9500 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

work injury

What if I Cannot Work Because of an Injury?

It is a frightening time when you are hurt in an accident at work. It is even more traumatic when your injuries prevent you from returning to work. You have financial commitments that you need to make, and those could be increasing with new medical bills. Fortunately, it is not as dire as it might appear, as there are options for you that will help you cope.

All businesses with employees, except agricultural businesses, in Delaware are required to carry Workers’ Compensation. This is a no-fault insurance that will not only cover your medical expenses but will also pay a portion of the salary you are not collecting while you are missing work.

Not all businesses or insurance companies will easily pay what they owe. They may try to dissuade you from filing for Workers’ Compensation or deny your claim. That can be discouraging, but when you hire a lawyer, they will confront the insurance company or your company and compel them to fulfill their obligations.

What Benefits Are Available Through Workers’ Compensation?

Every business in the state is required to carry this insurance. While it is a national program, it is managed individually by each state. Therefore, there are certain variations of the program from state-to-state in terms of the benefits and the qualifications. The benefits of the insurance include:

  • Medical expenses: When you are hurt in a workplace accident, Worker’s Compensation will cover all your associated medical expenses, including treatment, medications, and mileage reimbursement. The state also allows you to use your own doctor for your treatment, although your company may require you to obtain a second opinion from an unaffiliated doctor. Keep a copy of your receipts and doctor notes for your claim.
  • Lost wages: You may be unable to return to work immediately after your workplace injury. It could be a severe financial hit if that is your primary source of income. However, Workers’ Compensation will recoup a portion of those losses. It will pay just under 67 percent of your gross weekly wages. If your company is paying you a reduced salary, Workers’ Compensation will reimburse you two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wage and post-injury wage.
  • Long-term disability: If you suffer a long-term disability or disfigurement, you are entitled to compensation in a lump-sum payment or recurring payments.
  • Death benefits: If a person dies due to an injury they sustained at work, then the surviving family member can receive compensation to cover related expenses, such as funeral costs, through Workers’ Compensation.

These benefits are designed to protect you and your family from financial hardship should you get hurt while working. If you feel that you are not receiving the full amount of your entitled benefits, speak with a lawyer who can help you.

How Do I File for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

When you are hurt at work, it is imperative you act quickly to file for your Worker’s Compensation benefits, otherwise you might lose the opportunity. If you sustain a major injury at work and require medical attention, you should go immediately. As stated, Delaware law allows you to choose your own doctor for this process.

Once you have sought out medical attention or if you believe your injuries do not warrant an immediate trip to the doctor, then report the accident to your manager. They will have a standard form for you to fill out. You must submit it within 90 days of the work-related injury. If you contracted an occupational illness due to conditions at work, you have a six-month window from the day you learned your illness was related to work.

Once you file a report, your manager has 10 days to file the First Report of Injury with the Delaware Office of Workers’ Compensation. The manager will then inform their insurance company about the situation, and the insurance company will move forward with approving or denying the claim.

If approved, there might be some negotiations between you and the insurance company over the final compensation amount. It is advisable that before you get to this part that you hire a lawyer who can help with negotiations.

Once the two sides agree on a number, the agreement is finalized and sent to the Delaware Office of Worker’s Compensation. Upon receipt of the final agreement, you will begin receiving your checks at the agreed-upon schedule.

What Happens if My Worker’s Compensation Is Denied?

There are a couple of legitimate reasons why an insurance company could reject your Worker’s Compensation claim, such as if you were acting irresponsibly during your accident, like operating a machine while intoxicated. You must be injured while either on premises or engaged in a work-related activity.

There are instances when an insurance company will attempt to reject a claim when they do not have cause. You may also have a difficult time coming to an agreement with the insurance company on an amount for the final compensation. If that occurs, you can file an appeal with the Industrial Accident Board.

To do that, you must file a Petition to Determine Compensation Due with the Delaware Office of Workers’ Compensation. You need to submit this paperwork within two years of the job-related injury, or you can file within a year of the date you found out your illness was caused by work conditions.

The next step is a hearing before the Delaware Industrial Accident Board, which will then accept or deny the claim. If you wish to appeal that decision, your next step is to file an appeal with the Superior Court within 30 days of the previous decision. If you fail to get the decision you are seeking, your final step is to file an appeal with the State Supreme Court within 30 days.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Will Protect Your Rights if You Have a Work Injury

If you have been hurt at work and you are unable to return to your job, Worker’s Compensation should help defray your lost salary. If your company or their insurance is threatening to deny your claim, our Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can represent your interests. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients in Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

degloving injuries

What Are Work-Related Degloving Injuries?

You might frequently work with your hands and need to wear leather gloves. When you do not wear gloves, your hands are far more prone to suffering significant injuries. Many different types of workplace accidents can cause degloving injuries. Those who work in industrial settings are more prone to these types of injuries.

Losing an entire layer of skin over an extended portion of any body part is extremely painful. A degloving injury could also become dangerously infected, which could could lead to life-threatening sepsis. The healing process is generally long and painful, and it might involve several surgeries.

Degloving, also called avulsion, is a medical term that describes the detachment of all three layers of the skin. Avulsions are severe and traumatic, and they are much worse than lacerations and similar wounds. An avulsion is not as severe as an amputation, but it could render the affected body part virtually useless for a long period of time.

With a degloving injury, the skin separates from a part of the body. Degloving could affect your scalp, face, torso, limbs, or appendages. The injury usually produces a lot of blood as well as extreme pain, and it will require immediate medical attention. Infection is a serious and potentially deadly consequence of a degloving accident.

What Are the Different Types of Degloving Injuries?

When a degloving injury occurs, either the skin gets removed or it is torn but remains in place. An open degloving injury generally refers to a large abrasion that removed the skin. A severe workplace construction accident might cause a worker to suffer an open wound over an extensive part of the body.

There are many different causes of degloving injuries, but the treatments are similar. Multiple skin grafts and close monitoring of possible infections often are part of the treatment process. Since many surgeries are usually needed, the cost to treat an open degloving injury can be very high.

A closed degloving injury does not remove the skin, but it does separate it from the body. Since the skin is still relatively in place, this type of degloving injury often does not need a skin graft. A closed degloving injury could be relatively minor. A large bruise might be the only indicator of a closed degloving injury, but more serious cases will be much more obvious.

What Are Common Degloving Accidents?

Many degloving accidents happen in the workplace, especially in settings where heavy equipment is frequently used. Hand injuries are the most common types of degloving injuries and could occur just about anywhere.

Pinch and nip points are common is a variety of workplaces. A restaurant could have tables that fold in the middle and might pinch a hand or fingers. A barber shop might have a seat that could pinch or crush a hand. A grocery stocker might crush a hand with a moving cart weighed down with stock.

Many degloving injuries occur in industrial settings. The oil and gas industry leads all others with the most degloving injuries and hand injuries, which account for about half of all workplace injuries among oil and gas workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says the most common ways in which workers suffer degloving injuries include:

  • Extreme heat or cold.
  • Getting caught between two objects.
  • Exposure to biological or infectious agents.
  • Defective equipment or machinery.
  • Contact with caustic chemicals.

One of the more overlooked degloving accidents involve rings. Whether the ring is a wedding band or a decorative piece, if it fits too tightly or gets caught on something, it could become a problem. A ring degloving accident usually happens when the ring gets caught in machinery or on something firm, like a chain-link fence.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Degloving Injuries

No matter the cause, when a degloving or another type of workplace injury happens, Workers’ Compensation should cover the costs. That includes the time you are off from work and the physical therapy that you will likely need to regain full use of the injured body part.

While you are out of work, Workers’ Compensation should pay your normal weekly salary or hourly pay, but at a reduced amount. You likely will receive about three-fourths of your normal pay. The reduced amount reflects the cost savings that you would receive for not having to commute to and from work.

Degloving injuries could be very costly to treat and cause an extended absence from work. Workers’ Compensation should pay for the medical costs, and you will likely need to see a specialist. You could be required to go through a physical examination with a company doctor whose general duty will be to ensure your injuries and their extent are genuine. In Delaware, you have the right to use your own doctor for all medical treatments, but your employer also has the right for you to see an employer-chosen doctor to confirm a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Potential Third-Party Liability for Degloving Injuries

While Workers’ Compensation should pay for all of your medical costs and most of your lost income, that does not mean you cannot pursue a claim against a third party. When you accept Workers’ Compensation, you forgo the right to sue your employer for damages. That does not extend to a vendor or other third parties.

If a vendor, contractor, or other third party caused your injury and created a dangerous condition due to negligence, you could press a claim. An experienced lawyer can help you make a viable claim against any liable vendor, contractor, or other third party.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Can Help You if You Were Injured in a Degloving Accident

A degloving accident could cause you to miss work for an extended period of time while you are healing. If you have a work-related degloving injury, our Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you get the benefits you deserve. You can call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

workplace construction injuries

What are Common Workplace Construction Injuries?

Over 20 percent of all worker-related fatalities in the U.S. occur in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition, construction workers frequently experience serious injuries on the job. Listed below are the most common workplace construction accidents and injuries.

Slip and Fall Injuries

Construction sites often include working on multi-story buildings. Workers may have to climb ladders or work on rooftops or scaffolding. They may fall in poorly marked trenches or elevator shafts. Dangers of falls increase when workplace lighting is poor. Falls cause over one-third of all reported construction site injuries.

Construction sites often have uneven terrain, and workers may temporarily store or place building materials, tools, and debris on the ground, creating slip and fall hazards. There can also be puddles from rain or water usage that add to the risk of falling on the job.

Injuries Caused by Debris

Construction workers are required to wear hard hats due to the frequency of debris falling from above. Even with this protection, workers often get injured from debris.

Getting Hit by Vehicles

Construction sites seldom have specified roads and traffic. Vehicles share the area with workers walking and working onsite. This increases the risk of getting hit by a vehicle. Many construction vehicles also have poor visibility compared to passenger cars.

Operators of front-end loaders or forklift trucks may not see pedestrians in front or behind them. Backup alarms on construction vehicles reduce the risk of hitting a pedestrian while in reverse.

Getting Crushed in a Trench

Excavation of trenches to lay cable and other utilities requires skill and careful precautions to prevent collapse. Inadequate trenching techniques can result in collapse on an employee. Many of these accidents are fatal.

Electrocution

Construction sites include the risk of electrocution from tools being used in wet areas or live wires during the installation and setup of electrical service to buildings and nearby structures, such as lighting for parking lots.

Equipment-Related Injuries

Equipment-related injuries are frequent on construction sites. Specialized equipment such as cranes are often used to move large heavy loads. Safe operation requires considerable skills and training to avoid mishaps. The OSHA has set standards for crane use to address the hazards.

Jackhammers are powerful tools used to break up concrete. They are heavy and risk repetitive motion disorders due to the intense vibration while in operation.  Proper handling and use with adequate personal protective equipment is necessary to avoid injury.

Welding equipment uses high temperature heat and/or pressure to combine different metals or other materials to form a strong bond. There are a variety of types of welding, but many construction applications involve techniques that produce high temperatures and bright light.

Welders also must be specially trained and must wear protective gear, such as heat resistant gloves, aprons, and arm shields to protect against burns, and a properly tinted face shield to protect against burns to the face and eyes.

Other common equipment used on construction sites include power hand tools, such as nail guns, staple guns, as well as hammers, wrenches, and the like.  Improper use can result in broken bones, contusions, and puncture wounds.

What if I Miss Work?

Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault insurance program in which most employers are required to participate. The program does not require proof of negligence on the part of employer before an employee can qualify for benefits. Also, if the employee was negligent and had some blame for the injury, they are not ordinarily disqualified from participation. The important thing to understand is that the injury must be reported to the employer at the time of injury.

Workers’ Compensation programs vary from state to state, and it is recommended that a seriously injured worker seek representation by a competent lawyer admitted to practice in the state in which the injury took place.  They should be knowledgeable about the specific requirements and benefits of the state’s Workers’ Compensation program.

The program also provides coverage for reasonable medical expenses and other services, including medical diagnosis, treatment, and medications, hospital services, surgery, dental services, and more.

In Delaware, an injured worker may choose to visit their own health care provider for diagnosis and treatment of their work-related injuries. Some other states allow an employer to require the employee see one of their approved medical providers. However, in Delaware, if an employee does see their own doctor, then the employer is entitled to require the worker see an impartial doctor to confirm the treating physician’s diagnosis and treatment plan.

How Long Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Last?

Workers’ Compensation insurance typically provides about two-thirds of average weekly wages for a period of time while the injured employee is out of work and recovering. Delaware sets minimum and maximum amounts each year.

There is also a difference in compensation for lost salary depending on whether the disability is partial or total. If a worker can return to work in a lesser earning capacity, they can receive compensation for partial disability benefits for a period of time. In this case, the amount to be paid is two-thirds of the difference between the average weekly wages before getting injured and the amount paid at the lesser earning job. The compensation will not be paid for more than 300 weeks.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Protect the Rights of Injured Construction Workers

Our experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow have represented numerous injured construction workers. Call us at 302-427-9500 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

workplace safer

What are Some Tips to Make the Workplace Safer for Employees?

All employers have strong incentives to create a safe workplace. Besides a desire to keep valuable employees safe, employers undoubtedly have additional motivation related to avoiding lost productivity and other business costs associated with workplace injuries. Making safety a company-wide team effort helps employers create a safe work environment for everyone.

Many safety-conscious employers have a dedicated safety manager on staff to make the rounds to assess the possible dangers present in the workplace and to monitor employee adherence to safety protocols. These managers oversee the use of hard hats on a construction site or the adherence to safety standards for machinery usage. Even jobs that do not require manual laborers using heavy machinery can benefit from a safety manager inspecting the premises for violations. For example, a chronically wet floor, a lack of adequate ventilation, or a need for ergonomic seating or tools might be caught and remedied by a diligent safety supervisor.

What Policies Should be Implemented?

The best policies for employers to adopt are always going to be specific to the work tasks being performed. Broadly speaking, employers can make a concentrated effort to establish routines that work to protect their employees by making clear that the protocols are mandatory and by giving employees the tools they need to succeed.

The first step employers should take is to come up with safety protocols and procedures that can help mitigate the dangers of the job. These policies should address the mechanics of how to perform job tasks safely as well as how to keep workspaces free of hazards.

The second step is to provide safety training as an integral part of the onboarding process for new employees, as well as on an ongoing basis for team members. There should be constantly evolving plans to meet new safety requirements. Through these training sessions, employers should provide insights and reasonings for the safety measures that are being implemented. Employers should also encourage employees to be mindful of safety while they are working.

Another important safety measure is for employers to provide essential personal protective equipment (PPE) required for the job, such as industrial goggles and respirators for chemical workers. Employees should also be provided comfortable workspaces and tools to avoid repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Employers should also provide adequate breaks as a safety precaution. Not only will rest help with overexertion and strain injuries, but it could help replenish the energy and focus that are needed for jobs that require physical strength.

An additional suggestion for employers is to consider assigning safety-related supervisory controls to a staff member who can keep tabs on how company efforts are working and remedy any issues. Employers must also provide a way for employees to take action. Employers must provide an avenue for employees to anonymously report safety infractions that may endanger fellow employees.

What Causes Workplace Accidents?

Many workplace accidents happen because of oversights or a lapse in protocol. Even in companies where detailed and extensive safety procedures exist, a lack of effective implementation or the inconsistent use of safety practices can cause unnecessary accidents. The most important aspect of a solid safety plan is that to be effective, it must be put in place and practiced routinely.

Employers who have protocols in place must call on every team member to take safety precautions seriously. All employees must be on board to keep each other safe. However, it can be incumbent upon the business owners and managers to institute appropriate policies and provide training and protective equipment to support and safeguard their workers. Some methods to avoid workplace accidents and injuries include:

  • Keeping walkways and workstations clear of clutter.
  • Maintaining access to emergency response kits or emergency exits.
  • Modeling healthy attitudes toward preventing injuries. Use universal rules and stringent workplace safety measures.

Many workplaces are plagued by the disregard for safety protocols. Employers must impress upon their teams that company safety is not optional.

If you were hurt at work, you might be able to collect compensation for your related injuries. Whether you were hurt in a construction accident, a workplace slip and fall accident, or another on-the-job accident, your employer’s Workers’ Compensation program should provide benefits.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Employees Hurt on the Job

Safety procedures are important to follow in the workplace, and your employer should have strict protocols in place. Our experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you obtain your entitled benefits after a workplace accident. To learn more about how we can help you, call us at 302-427-9500 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. We have offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we proudly assist clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

stephen morrow

Stephen Morrow Featured As Guest Blogger on The Delaware Detour Frolic To Discuss Recent Case

In a recent case before the Delaware Industrial Accident Board (IAB), two men who were injured at work and deemed permanently disabled and later returned to part-time work. Both had their disability payments terminated. The IAB reaffirmed the workers’ rights to continued payments for the injuries that kept them from working full-time. Attorney Stephen Morrow, partner at Rhoades & Morrow is proud to have represented one of the two injured workers in the case and was asked to write a guest blog on the topic in Delaware Detour & Frolic.

carpentry

What are Common Workplace Injuries in Carpentry?

Carpenters can experience a wide range of workplace injuries. On a typical day, they may climb ladders, carry heavy wood, and operate hand tools, like saws, drills, hammers, nail guns, and sanders. To do their job safely, carpenters require training on how to properly use the tools of the trade or risk serious injury. Many carpentry tools are manual, like the common hammer. Yet, a mistake using a hammer can seriously injure the hand. An injury from a hand saw can cause serious lacerations, risking permanent damage to fingers and hands.

Many other carpentry tools are power operated. Using these poses a great risk of serious injury. The nail gun has made fast work of many carpentry tasks. If a nail gun is improperly loaded or misfires, it can project multiple nails in an unpredictable pattern at high speeds. This tool alone has caused many serious injuries to carpenters, including serious puncture wounds. The force of the nail being expelled is so strong that it can even penetrate bone. Staple guns pose similar hazards and have also caused serious injuries.

Using sanding belts that operate at high speeds can also be dangerous. They project dust and particles a fair distance and have caused serious damage to the eyes. Respiratory problems can also result from inhaling particles generated.  Sander belts can snap off while being operated and can also result in serious injuries.

The most common injuries experienced by carpenters include:

  • Lacerations: Cuts from tools can be minor or so deep that the damage ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.
  • Amputations: Deep cuts that penetrate the bone from power saws may require amputation. The most common amputations involve the fingers.
  • Back injuries: Muscle strain and herniated disks can arise from poor lifting techniques, which can potentially result in chronic pain, weakness, and reduced range of motion. Falling accidents can cause broken backs and spinal cord injuries.
  • Puncture wounds: Puncture wounds from nail guns are prone to infection and can cause sepsis, leading to structural damage or amputation. If a nail from a nail gun hits someone’s head, it can even penetrate the skull and damage the brain.
  • Eye injuries: Particles generated primarily from sanding can cause eye injuries and even blindness.
  • Lung disease: Exposure to inhaled dust particles can cause lung disease. If exposure to asbestos happens, then mesothelioma can develop.

How can a Carpenter Avoid Workplace Injuries?

There are important precautions that carpenters must take to minimize the risk of getting injured. It is vital that a carpenter be properly trained, including how to use, store, and maintain the tools of their trade.

Tools that are not properly stored can become dull, rust, break, and damage other tools. Store hand tools away from water and ensure power tools are stored away from sharp objects to prevent the wire insulation from getting damaged. Ladder safety should be automatic for carpenters. Inspect ladders for loose parts or missing steps, use the right one for the job, and set it up on stable ground.

Equipment maintenance is necessary to minimize risk of injury. Tools should be kept usable through regular inspection and maintenance. Saws, gouges, and chisels all need to be kept sharp to function properly. Power tools have moving parts and bearings, and they should be inspected and lubricated as needed.  Mechanical parts that get worn should be replaced as necessary.

Understand and use proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Depending on the task, carpenters may need protective gloves, eyewear, boots, a hard hat, and more. When using a saw or sander, be sure to wear impact protective safety glasses with side shields. These protect the eyes from flying projectiles created when using this equipment.

Proper First Aid and Medical Attention

Carpenters frequently work in unsanitary environments. Injuries where the skin is broken should be cleaned and dressed immediately to minimize the risk of infection. Carpenters should keep up with tetanus shots, which last for 10 years. If a carpenter gets a deep cut or puncture wound, they should get a tetanus shot if their vaccination status is out of date or is unknown. There is no cure for tetanus, and it is often fatal.

Are Carpenters Entitled to Workers’ Compensation?

Carpenters can work in businesses as permanent employees, as members of trade unions, or they can be their own employer. The status of the worker can impact whether they can apply for Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Union employees have more rights and protections than non-union employees. Union employees are subject to a collectively bargained agreement. Details in the agreement may dictate the terms and for seeking Workers’ Compensation. An injured union worker should review their agreement to understand their rights and responsibilities.

States require all employers that have more than a few employees to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. Carpenters who are sole proprietors or who work for small employers may not be able to collect Workers’ Compensation benefits. Depending on the state, there may be a compensation fund that can help injured workers directly.

If a third party’s negligence caused the injury, then filing a personal injury claim instead may be possible. It is best to seek the advice of an experienced lawyer after any type of construction accident.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Carpenters Get Entitled Benefits

Carpenters are at risk of serious work-related injuries every day. Even workers with excellent skills who take safety seriously can get injured on the job. It is important to understand your rights in the workplace. Our experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow will help you after any type of workplace construction accident. Complete our online form or call us at 302-427-9500 to schedule a free consultation. We have offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

rhoades & morrow

New Sussex County Office Location

Rhoades & Morrow LLC is pleased to announce the opening of its new Sussex County office located in Lewes, Delaware at 119 W. Third Street, Suite 11. Rhoades & Morrow opened its new office to better serve client needs throughout the entire state of Delaware. Presently, Rhoades & Morrow has two offices located in New Castle County (Wilmington and Bear) and one office in Kent County (Milford). Joe Rhoades and Steve Morrow are excited to open this office in Sussex County, which expands the firm’s footprint to better assist their clients.  With the addition of this new office location, Rhoades & Morrow looks forward to continuing to fight for the rights of those harmed by others’ negligence and protecting the rights of Delaware’s injured workers.