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Category Archives: Workplace Injuries


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.

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.

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.

steve morrow

Steve Morrow Speaks at the DE State Bar Association Workers’ Comp Seminar

On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, Rhoades & Morrow partner, Steve Morrow, was invited to speak at the Delaware State Bar Association (“DSBA”) Workers’ Compensation Zoom Seminar.   Steve spoke on the topic of “Idiopathic Idiosyncrasies.”   The presentation addressed, among other issues, whether a diagnosis such as carpal tunnel syndrome can be work-related or unique to a particular individual and therefore, not work-related.  As part of his presentation, Steve discussed how the Industrial Accident Board, which resolves workers’ compensation disputes, decides issues of causation.  Steve is a frequent speaker at the DSBA Workers’ Compensation Seminars and is the past Chair of the DSBA Workers’ Compensation Section.  He currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association and also serves as the Legislative Co-Chair for the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association.

daylight saving time

Do Work Injuries Increase During Daylight Saving Time?

Spring is around the corner, which means that daylight saving time (DST) is here. DST is often a good sign of longer days ahead, but the time change takes a toll on many people. The effects of the time change, like fatigue, often leads to more work accidents and work injuries. Workplace injuries can lead to financial losses, including expensive medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. A victim of a work-related injury should contact a lawyer for legal counsel.

Why Does DST Increase the Likelihood of Work Injuries?

In spring, those across the United States are asked to move their clocks forward an hour so that the evenings have more daylight and the mornings have less daylight. In the process of doing this, people are missing an hour of sleep. Although losing an hour of sleep may not seem like much, studies show that it can severely affect jobs that require alertness and focus.

A study completed by two doctoral candidates at Michigan State University found that when the clocks were set back an hour, individuals lost an average of 40 minutes of sleep. This ultimately led to a nearly six percent increase in work-related injuries and 68 percent more lost work days. The same doctoral candidates also found that there was no increase in workplace accidents in November, despite there being a time change.

DST does not only affects the likelihood of a workplace injury, the time change also leads to an increase in car accidents. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatigue resulting from DST leads to a 17 percent increase in motor vehicle accidents. While fatigue is the main reason for this influx, the lack of light in the early morning also contributes to these rates.

Since the clock is moved forward, there is less daylight in the morning. Daylight is a cue for the body to stop producing melatonin, which is a chemical that causes someone to feel tired. Since there is less daylight in the morning, there is a higher likelihood that a driver will drive fatigued. Less light also means that visibility is impacted, which could lead to an accident.

What are Some Tips to Avoid the Effects of DST?

Not all accidents are preventable, but employers and employees can both take steps to prevent the effects of DST. Since DST primarily affects an individual’s energy levels, many of the tips help to prevent fatigue:

Adjust the Clock Early: One easy tip that everyone can follow is to set the clocks back early. If an individual sets their clock back early during the day instead of waiting until night, they are more inclined to go to sleep an hour earlier to stay on schedule. Since this means they will sleep an hour earlier than normal, they will not miss out on their normal amount of sleep.

Plan Ahead: One tip that employers can do to advocate for safety is to reschedule hazardous work that is planned for the week for another time. Since employees are losing an hour of sleep, they are likely not as detail-oriented as they should be, which could lead to mistakes. When an employer reschedules any dangerous tasks for later in the week, they are letting their workers get adjusted to their new sleep schedules.

Go Outside: Another tip to avoid the harmful effects of DST is to get as much daylight in the morning as possible. Since seeing light triggers the body to stop releasing melatonin, it can lead to fewer car and workplace accidents. Those who drive for a living should also take this into consideration and take breaks when necessary. Employers can also advocate for safety by encouraging drivers to take breaks if they are feeling more tired than usual.

Stay Cautious: The final tip is to stay cautious while driving. Many people fail to realize how accident rates are affected by DST. Drivers should stay aware of their surroundings and try to avoid getting in unnecessary traffic.

What Should I Do if I Have a Work-Related Injury?

An employee with a work-related injury should contact a lawyer. Injured employees are likely eligible for Workers’ Compensation. These benefits help cover any expenses related to the injury, including medical bills and lost wages. A lawyer can walk a victim through this legal process and ensure that they receive their entitled benefits.

Delaware Work Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Workplace Safety During the Time Change

The time change can lead to more accidents and injuries. If you have a work injury, you should contact a Delaware work accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. A workplace injury can lead to medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses, but a lawyer can help you get compensation. Call 302-427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. We have offices in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

food delivery driver

Do Food Delivery Drivers Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?

Food delivery has become big business in recent years. Since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic started, there has been a huge increase in the number of people ordering food. Not all delivery workers are in cars. In big cities, deliveries are often made by bicycle, scooter, or even on foot. No matter the delivery method, the sheer nature of a delivery job has inherent risks to the person delivering the food.

If a delivery worker is injured on the job, they may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation in certain circumstances. Delaware requires almost all employers to provide employees with Workers’ Compensation coverage for work injuries and occupational illnesses. In most states, a delivery driver will qualify for state Workers’ Compensation benefits only if they are classified as an employee of the company. If classified as an employee, they must be employed by the company at the time of injury, and the injury must have occurred while completing a job duty.

Are Independent Delivery Drivers Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

With the increased need for delivery drivers nationwide, many companies are hiring delivery workers as independent contractors. These contractors work their own hours, wear their own clothes, and use their own delivery vehicles. Most states do not require employers to provide Workers’ Compensation benefits to independent contractors.

Many of these app-based food delivery services will carry some type of insurance for their contracted drivers. However, these policies usually are not comprehensive and will often be effective only after the driver’s auto insurance is used up. They are often limited in what they will cover, the amount they will cover, and the circumstances under which an accident would qualify for coverage. For example, an insurance policy might cover an accident that happens while the driver is on the way to deliver food, but not one that happens on the way back from the delivery. It is best for independent contractors who deliver food to understand their own automobile coverage and the insurance coverage that is offered by the food delivery company.

What are Common Food Delivery Injuries?

Food delivery can be a dangerous occupation. The amount of time spent in a car or other vehicle, along with the pressure to get the food to the customer quickly, can be inherently risky. Common accidents among delivery drivers include:

Slip and Falls: Going into and out of restaurants, customer homes, and businesses in all kinds of weather increases the risk of slip and fall accidents, especially when carrying heavy or bulky items. Driveways, sidewalks, and yards may also present slip and fall hazards.

Vehicle Accidents: No matter how careful a delivery driver is, the sheer amount of time they spend on the road puts them at risk for encountering negligent drivers. Car accidents, no matter how slight, can cause serious bodily injuries.

Assaults: Delivery workers can become the target of assaults, robberies, and car-jackings that can cause serious injuries.

Additionally, performing the same activities for many hours a day, such as loading and unloading, can lead to various soft-tissue injuries, including muscle and tendon strains.

What Should I Do if I am Injured While Delivering Food?

A delivery driver who is injured in any way should report the injury and seek medical treatment immediately. A delivery worker classified as an employee of a company must report the injury to get Workers’ Compensation benefits. An employee who is an independent contractor should contact the food delivery service to report the accident and follow the claim procedure.

Both food delivery employees and independent contractors should also contact a lawyer to understand what compensation they may be eligible to pursue for their financial losses. The lawyer will also review the employment contract for an independent contractor to discern what insurance coverage the delivery service may provide.

In some cases, a third party may be liable for negligence if a delivery worker is injured while on the job. Examples include a motorist who caused a car accident or a property owner responsible for a fall that resulted in injuries. This is why consulting a lawyer can be beneficial to all injured workers.

Delaware Work Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Injured Delivery Drivers Understand Their Entitled Benefits

Trying to receive compensation for a work injury can be complex. Legal requirements surrounding employment status and the type, nature, and location of the accident all play into whether an employee can receive compensation for work injuries and illnesses. A dedicated Delaware work accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow can help you uncover and maximize your entitled work injury benefits. Call us at 302-834-8484 or contact us online for a free consultation today. We have offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

hard hat

Why is Hard Hat Safety Important on the Work Site?

Hard hat safety refers to procedures on the worksite intended to limit the risk of serious work injuries. Hard hats are a part of many construction site projects as well as many other jobs that involve hazards.

Hard hat use is common in a variety of workplaces today, but their use actually goes back to the early 20th century. Protective headwear was used during the construction of the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. Hard hats were so successful that they began appearing in many other types of work sites, like mining operations and shipyards. It was not long before hard hats became a standard part of workplace safety procedures throughout the United States. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now mandates the use of hard hats for anyone working in areas where objects may fall and in other dangerous environments.

Hard hats can protect against a variety of potential injuries. Environments like construction sites can cause injuries due to heavy falling objects. Construction accidents can be caused by power tools and heavy machinery as well, and a hard hat can prevent serious work injuries. Worksites that involve electrical risks can also cause injuries or death if employees are not wearing proper safety equipment. Hard hats are a necessity for many employees.

Hard Hat Design and Components

Hard hats consist of two important safety considerations. The shell is the hard part that protects the head from injury. The suspension is the strap or another adjustable component that secures the shell to the wearer’s head. Without both of these components in place and properly functioning, the hard hat cannot do its job properly, and the health of the employee is at risk.

What are the Different Types of Hard Hats?

Hard hats come in a variety of types that are divided into classes that help to identify their purpose. Hard hats are designed for a range of safety issues, such as direct blows to the head and even electrical currents.

Common types of hard hats include:

Type I: Hats designed to protect the wearer from falling objects and other types of impact from above. These hats are specifically focused on protecting the top of the head and offer less protection to the sides and back. Hard hats have different types and classes to help identify what they are designed to protect wearers against.

Type II: This variety is focused more on protecting the wearer from blows and objects from the side or laterally. They are designed to offer protection to the front, back, side, and top of the head. To achieve this level of protection, they undergo extensive testing. Safety testing ensures that they are properly aligned for chin strap retention and that they offer solid off-center penetration resistance.

Common classes of hard hat include:

Class E: Specifically designed for electrical resistance, these hats can hold up to 20,000 volts of electricity.

Class G: As somewhat of a hybrid, this class offers protection from impact while also being designed to withstand up to 2,200 volts of electricity.

Class C: This is the basic hard hat class that offers protection from impact but no protection from electric shock.

What are the Risks Associated with Improper Hard Hat Use?

Hard hat safety requires proper use. If an employee wears a hard hat but does not have it properly secured, they are at increased risk of injury. The same goes for employees who decide to wear a ballcap or other unapproved type of headgear under their hard hat. Any use that interferes with the ability of the hard hat to offer protection can result in severe injuries or death.

Employees on a dangerous job site have certain responsibilities for their safety as well as that of their co-workers. Typically, worksites that require hard hats will have posted regulations, and those without proper safety gear may not be allowed on the site at all.

What Should I Do After a Workplace Injury?

After a workplace accident, it is important to document the incidence, and report the event as clearly as possible. When an injury occurs at the worksite, the employee needs to know their rights and may benefit from consulting a lawyer for help with Workers’ Compensation.

Bear DE Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Employees Navigate Complex Legal Issues Surrounding Workplace Safety

Hard hat safety is important on many worksites, but some injuries are unpreventable. If you have been injured on the job, one of our skilled Bear DE Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow is available to help. For a free consultation, call us at 302-834-8484 or complete our online form. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Hillsborough, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

summer

What Hazards do Outdoor Workers Encounter in the Summer?

Many people associate summer weather with outside recreation, but for outdoor workers, summer brings a variety of occupational hazards. The most common summer safety concerns for outdoor workers are heat stress, sun exposure, noise pollution, and biological hazards.

Employers have an obligation to provide a safe work environment for their outdoor workers, including training and education about the different types of workplace injuries and accidents, occupational illnesses, and the proper use of personal protective equipment.

Why is Heat Stress so Dangerous?

Heat stress and heat-related illnesses are major concerns for outdoor workers. Workers who are 65 years old and older may have heart disease or high blood pressure, are overweight, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat.

Exposure to extreme heat can result in heat rashes, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, which can be fatal. To prevent heat-related illnesses, employers should provide cool, shaded areas for workers to take frequent breaks, and avoid scheduling strenuous work during the hottest hours of the day. Workers can also be rotated in shifts to do outdoor tasks.

What Are Common Heat-Related Injuries and Illnesses?

Outdoor workers may experience various types of injuries and illnesses. Some heat-related injuries and illnesses are more common. Workers should be aware of outdoor hazards so that they are prepared for summer work.

A common hazard in summer is heat rash. Heat rash is the irritation of the skin caused by excessive perspiration. It appears as a cluster of red pimples or small blisters usually in skin creases at the elbows, groin area, under the breasts, or on the neck and upper chest. Workers can use powder to keep the rash area dry and should not use ointments or creams to treat heat rash.

Heat cramps are also common. Heat cramps occur because excessive sweating in extreme heat can deplete the body’s salt and moisture levels. Workers may experience heat cramps as pain or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs. To combat heat cramps, avoid salt tablets and drink water. In addition, have a snack or sports drink to replace electrolytes every 15 to 20 minutes. Workers with heart problems, low sodium diets, or whose cramps do not subside within an hour, should seek immediate medical attention.

One serious danger is heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a severe bodily response to the loss of water and salt that is caused by excessive sweating. Workers should be aware of certain symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • Decreased urine output
  • Elevated body temperature

Anyone suffering from heat exhaustion should be taken to an emergency room for treatment. While waiting for help to arrive, the worker should be moved to a cool area and given frequent sips of cool water and cold compresses to the head and neck area.

Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat stress and can cause permanent disability or even death if emergency treatment is not given. With heat stroke, the body temperature rises rapidly, and the sweating mechanism fails. The body is unable to cool down and regulate its temperature. It is important to be mindful of heat stroke symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Very high body temperature

Emergency medical care must be called. Until help arrives, the worker should be moved to a cool area and treated with cold, wet cloths, or an ice bath, if possible.

When workers are outside all day, sun exposure can cause many issues. Sun exposure can have short and long-term consequences for outdoor workers. The ultraviolet rays of the sun can penetrate beyond the top layer of the skin and alter the structure of the skin’s cells.

Unprotected exposure to the sun’s rays can cause painful sunburn and skin cancer. The risk of sun exposure is high between 10 a.m. until four in the afternoon. Additionally, light-colored surfaces or water that is reflecting sunlight increases sunburn and exposure.

Even on cloudy days, outdoor workers should protect themselves from sun exposure by wearing light long-sleeve shirts made of tightly knit fabric, and wear sunscreen and wide brimmed hats. Workers suffering from sunburn can use topical creams to moisturize the area, cool the skin, and ease discomfort. Outdoor workers who develop any irregularly shaped moles or discolorations should see a dermatologist immediately.

What Other Dangers Can Outdoor Workers Face?

Noise pollution can result in occupational hearing loss, which is one of the most common work-related injuries in the United States. Almost all work-related hearing loss is permanent and can profoundly impact a person’s quality of life.

Many outdoor workers use power tools that expose them to hazardous noise levels. If it is difficult to speak with someone at arm’s length and you have to raise your voice, then your work environment is too loud. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict guidelines for workplace decibel levels. Employers should use the quietest equipment available and provide workers with hearing protection.

Workers can also experience biological hazards. Biological hazards for outdoor workers include venomous insects, poisonous plants, and vector borne diseases, which are contracted by insect bites.

Depending on the region of the country, outdoor workers may encounter venomous snakes, spiders, and insects. Also, poisonous plant oils can cause severe reactions to the skin. Clearing dangerous plants and brush can release toxins into the air.

Mosquitos and ticks can carry bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Diseases carried by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, dengue, and malaria. Tick borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis.

Outdoor workers are more at risk for insect bites in the summer months and should protect themselves by wearing light long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks that cover the ankles. Make sure to carry insect repellent. Work sites should have tall grass and brush cut back and all sources of standing water eliminated.

What do I do if I am Injured or Sickened at Work?

Outdoor workers have the right to a safe working environment during the hot summer months. There are many preventative measures that can be taken to protect outdoor workers from heat stress, sun exposure, noise pollution, and biological hazards. If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, report it to your employer, and seek medical care immediately.

After you suffer an injury or illness, it is important to contact a lawyer who will help you with a Workers’ Compensation claim. A lawyer will guide you through the process and ensure you receive necessary compensation.

Delaware Work Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Injured Outdoor Workers

If you have a work-related injury or illness, you may be eligible for compensation. Our dedicated Delaware work accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you get the maximum benefits available to you so that you can recover. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Hillsborough, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.