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Category Archives: Workplace Injuries


Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Represent Workers Injured in Accidents at Construction Sites.

Construction Worker Fatigue

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous fields for workers, and one with the highest level of worker fatalities. Construction work is physically and mentally demanding, and without periods of adequate rest, workers can suffer fatigue, which can be especially risky in such a dangerous environment.

For each hour of physical exertion without appropriate periods of rest, the effects of fatigue begin to manifest, causing decreased alertness, slower reaction times, inability to concentrate, loss of dexterity, and impaired motion. On a construction site, this can be a recipe for disaster leading to serious accidents and injuries.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 75 percent of construction workers report being tired at work, often due to rotating shift work, long shifts, and sleep loss. Many construction workers report feeling fatigued “to the point they had safety concerns” following three to four consecutive days of 10-hour work shifts.

What Is Fatigue?

Fatigue is mental or physical exhaustion that occurs when the body is low on energy due to exertion. Fatigue can result from many other factors as well, including sleep disruption, emotional stress, chronic health conditions, and poor diet.

Fatigue is reported to be a contributing factor in one-third of all occupation injuries as it causes lack of focus and concentration, sluggish memory, slows reaction times, and the ability to make decisions. Multiple studies have demonstrated that the performance effects of fatigue parallel those of alcohol impairment. OSHA reports that 12-hour work shifts pose a 37 percent increase in the risk of injury.

A study by the NSC concluded that a staggering 100 percent of all construction workers experience at least one risk factor due to fatigue while working. The work demands inherent in the construction industry make the field more susceptible to fatigue, including:

  • Constant communication regarding complex tasks
  • Irregular and rotating shiftwork, including early morning or nighttime shifts
  • Less than 12 hours of recovery time between work shifts or days
  • Physically demanding labor and repetitive tasks
  • Shifts consisting of 10 or more hours per day
  • Working 50 or more hours per week

Additionally, long commutes, frequently changing schedules, and complications requiring additional extended on-the-job hours to fix before quitting further contribute to worker fatigue.

The study further revealed that perceptions regarding fatigue differ between management and workers. Nearly 98 percent of construction employers consider fatigue a safety issue compared to only 75 percent of workers. The NSC reports the disparity is likely due to the workers’ belief that fatigue is “just part of the job,” due to the physical demands and long hours.

What Are Some Common Causes of Fatigue?

In the construction industry, nearly every aspect of the work can result in workers experiencing fatigue at some point. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Inadequate breaks: Fatigue is a sign that your body needs a break to rest and recover, even briefly. Workers who push through fatigue either by choice or by force from supervisors, run the risk of having or causing serious injury to themselves and coworkers.
  • Overtime: As work hours increase so does the risk of fatigue-related accidents. Repeated days of working extended hours increases fatigue and stress that, over time, can result in serious or chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders, digestive problems, depression, anxiety, and diabetes.
  • Night shifts: Evening and overnight shifts require your body to be awake during times that it is prewired to be sleeping, known as circadian rhythm. Disruptions to the rhythm’s rest schedule reduce the body’s ability to fully recover before the next exertion, making workers fatigued and at a much higher risk of accident and injury.
  • Lack of training: Employers are required to implement safety measures and train all employees on procedures and how to identify potential hazards. In the construction field, employers should include training workers on how to identify signs of fatigue and drowsiness, the importance of adhering to mandatory shift breaks, and best practices to reduce mental and physical fatigue.

In the construction industry, weather is also a significant contributing factor in worker fatigue. Exertion in hot temperatures causes mental and physical fatigue more rapidly, leading to reduced performance and slower reaction times. Coupled with dehydration, worker fatigue during hot weather can drastically increase the risk of accidents and serious injuries.

Lack of sleep is another significant contributor in worker fatigue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans does not regularly receive the recommended seven hours of continuous sleep each night. While we sleep, the body restores energy and repairs damaged muscles and tissue, a critical element in preventing fatigue.

What Are Some Steps to Prevent Worker Fatigue?

The first step in addressing worker fatigue is education – training the work force to recognize the dangers of fatigue and how to spot when a coworker may need a break to avoid an accident. While fatigue cannot be completely eliminated in the construction industry, there are steps both the employer and the worker can implement to help lessen its effects, such as:

Employers:

  • Include fatigue management in the planning stages of each job
  • Develop work schedules that allow sufficient resting periods by:
    • Shorter schedules during night shift
    • Require a minimum number of rest hours for workers after 10 or more hour shifts before reporting to work the following day
    • Place limits on the number of consecutive hours of night shift an employee can work
  • Establish procedures for monitoring and managing fatigue risks
  • Provide a method that workers can use to anonymously report work schedule problems and concerns
  • Include fatigue as an option in root cause investigations

Workers:

  • Be responsible during time off and allow for rest and recovery before returning to work
  • Protect your sleep time by not taking extra work that reduces resting and sleeping time; maintaining a regular sleep schedule with at least seven consecutive hours sleep; allowing an unchanging four-hour “anchor” sleeping time and take supplemental naps as necessary; arranging your sleeping area to better accommodate sleep and change household routines, if necessary, especially during periods of night shift work; and avoiding alcohol and caffeine before sleeping.
  • Monitoring yourself and coworkers for the early signs of fatigue, such as eye rubbing, frequent blinking, staring blankly, or fidgeting and restlessness.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Represent Workers Injured in Accidents at Construction Sites

Long hours coupled with physical labor can deplete construction worker’s energy, reaction times, decision making abilities and more, increasing the risk of accident and injuries significantly. If you have been injured in a work site accident, our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow have extensive experience representing construction workers. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

landscaping

Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation for My Landscaping Injury?

Delaware law requires employers to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. Whether you work for a small landscaping company or a large one, your employer must protect you and your coworkers with Workers’ Compensation insurance.

The purpose of Workers’ Compensation is to cover your medical costs if you suffer a work-related injury or illness. It also will pay for two-thirds of your lost wages if you miss more than three days of work. It even provides injured workers with payouts for catastrophic injuries, like an amputated finger or hand.

In return, your employer is protected against possible legal liability for any work-related injuries or illnesses that you might sustain, which helps your employer to stay in business while ensuring you can return if you choose to do so after healing and regaining your strength to work.

Independent Contractors Could Be Excluded from Workers’ Compensation

If you work in the landscaping field, you might have to be an independent contractor instead of a designated employee to obtain a job. It is better to be an employee than it is an independent contractor because employers are supposed to protect laborers with Workers’ Compensation insurance. An independent contractor generally is not eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, but there are exceptions to that rule.

Landscaping companies typically maintain significant control over the work duties of independent contractors. Annually filing a 1099 form on your income taxes shows you consistently perform work duties for the same business entity.

Exercising control over your work, regular pay, and filing a 1099 tax form every tax season could enable you to file for and obtain Workers’ Compensation benefits when needed.

Landscaping is Dangerous Seasonal Work

Landscaping requires working with power equipment and performing a variety of labor-intensive tasks that can be dangerous. A lawnmower, weedwhacker, or woodchipper can cause serious injuries and possibly death.

Working in the rain could cause you to slip, fall, and strike your head on a hard surface. You could suffer a serious back injury due to heavy lifting. A heavy object could fall and strike you down. There are many ways in which you could suffer an injury while performing landscaping work, including coming into contact with poisonous plants.

If you are allergic to poison oak, sumac, or ivy, your body might have an adverse reaction while performing landscaping work. Even the hot sun could cause you to suffer from heatstroke and physical exhaustion. You also have to travel from one client’s location to another. That puts you at risk of an auto accident.

Landscaping Workers Are Especially Vulnerable

Landscaping work makes you much more vulnerable to injuries than most other occupations. Landscaping includes installing and maintaining lawns, trees shrubs, and landscaping features at homes and commercial properties.

The National Safety Council (NSC) says the landscaping workers suffer many common injuries. They include:

  • Amputated body parts
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • Heatstroke
  • Neck or back strains

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the fatality rate among landscapers is more than 25 per every 100,000 workers. The national average is just 3.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers across all industries.

The BLS says the most dangerous landscaping worker jobs and their average fatality rates per 100,000 workers are tree trimmers and pruners, who average nearly 180 deaths per 100,000, followed by pesticide handlers with more than 15 deaths, and groundskeeping and landscaping laborers with an average of 10.1 deaths per 100,000.

How Do Most Landscaping Fatalities Happen?

The BLS says incidents involving transportation account for the most fatalities in the landscaping industry. Workers have to travel from one location to another and obtain materials and supplies.

Vehicular accidents cause nearly 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers. That is slightly ahead of the average of nearly three deaths due to contact with objects or equipment.

Falls from elevated positions average about two deaths per 100,000 workers, and exposure to harmful substances causes an average of 1.69 deaths. Overexertion and bodily reaction to the often hot and humid conditions also claim 1.45 lives per 100,000 workers.

Those numbers add up to a very dangerous profession in which injuries are common and deaths always are a possibility.

How to Minimize Your Risk of Injury or Illness?

Landscapers often perform a variety of tasks that require great care to prevent injuries from occurring. Cutting, pruning, and edging equipment can be very dangerous.

Wearing eye protection, steel-toed boots, and gloves can help to protect against minor injuries. Using safety guards helps to protect against serious injuries. It also helps to wear bright and highly visible clothing, such as a reflective safety vest, and long pants to protect against cuts and scrapes.

You should keep all power equipment maintained and in good working order. Sharpening various cutting edges will help to reduce the amount of force needed to do your work properly.

You also should take the time to read the safety manuals and proper operating procedures for the power tools, hand tools, and other equipment that enables you to do your job. That will help you to better understand the dangers each poses and how to use them safely.

If you do suffer an injury while landscaping, obtaining medical attention is the top priority. You will need to notify your employer as soon as possible and describe the events that led to your work injury.

If you are an employee on the company payroll, Workers’ Compensation insurance should pay for your injuries. If you are a contractor who is paid regularly and file a 1099 form with your taxes, you also should be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits.

The insurer might deny your claim, but an experienced work injury attorney could help to uphold your rights.

Experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help to Uphold the Rights of the Injured

The Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you uphold your rights as an injured worker. You can call 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Wilmington, Delaware. We also have offices in Bear, Milford, and Lewes. We serve clients throughout the state.

chemical burn

Chemical Burn Injuries at the Workplace

Chemical burns are one of the most severe types of work injuries. They cause just as much injury to the flesh and muscles as burns from fire or heat, but because the burns are caused by chemicals, there are other issues relating to treatment and the healing process. Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict protocols, regulations, and procedures that employees and employers are required to follow in working with and handling chemicals, there are still hundreds of employees seriously injured by chemical burns every year. 

Chemical burns can be so serious that they often cause significant disability and require an extensive healing process. This is why it is very important to make sure that if there is a work-related chemical burn, the injured employee is receiving all of the Workers’ Compensation benefits that they are entitled to. The best way to ensure this is to hire a skilled and knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation attorney to make sure everything is done correctly and that the injured employee is fully Compensated

What Worker’s Compensation Benefits Am I Entitled To?

If you have been seriously injured at work due to a chemical burn and it has prevented you from doing your time of injury job, you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits. First, all of your medical bills in relation to the work injury and its treatment will be covered by the Workers’ Compensation insurance company. Second, if you lose time from work and lose wages, you will be entitled to Workers’ Compensation wage benefits. Every week that you are off of work due to your work injury, you are entitled to 2/3 of your average weekly gross wages, up to a maximum amount that is set yearly. “Gross wages” refers to the wages that you receive before taxes are taken out. The current maximum wage benefit you can receive, regardless of how much money you made pre-injury, is $797.96, for the year 2021-2022. This maximum weekly benefit amount will be updated in July 2022.

You could receive this wage check for every week that you are off work due to restrictions caused by the chemical burn work injury. If you were to return to work on limited duty based upon the physical restrictions, and you are earning less than your pre-injury average weekly gross wages, then you will be entitled to a partial wage check every week that you were on limited duty and not receiving your full pre-injury wages. 

Another type of workers’ comp benefit that an injured employee might see if they suffered from a chemical burn is disfigurement benefits. If an employee suffers scarring caused by work, they can get a set amount of wage benefits even if the scarring does not prevent them from working. In order to receive scarring and disfigurement benefits under the Delaware code the disfigurement must be visible and offensive when the body is clothed normally. This benefit may be paid out for up to 150 weeks, depending on the severity of the disfiguring injury. The amount you will be paid is two-thirds of your average weekly gross wages.

What Can a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Do For You?

With many work-related injuries, your employer and the Workers’ Compensation insurance company will often act like they have your best interest in mind. However, in many cases this is not the case. The Workers’ Compensation adjuster is not your friend. If they spot any way to manipulate the claim in order to deny your benefits or to pay you less benefits, they will take that opportunity. That is their job that they get paid to do. The best way to prevent this is to make sure that you have a skilled and competent Workers’ Compensation lawyer on your side fighting for your rights. A good Workers’ Compensation attorney will be able to do the following:

  • Be a conduit between you and the Workers’ Compensation insurance company so that you do not have to deal with phone calls and meetings and conversations with people that do not have your best interest in mind;
  • Make sure that all of your work-related injury medical bills are being properly submitted to the Workers’ Compensation insurance company for payment and resolve any issues that may arise if there is a problem;
  • Make sure that you are being paid the correct weekly wage benefits and that the Workers’ Compensation adjuster is performing the correct calculations. If the workers’ comp adjuster fails to pay you the correct amount and refuses to fix the problem, your attorney will file a claim and have the issue resolved by a judge;
  • If there is a dispute on the claim, your Delaware workers’ comp lawyer would be able to file the necessary petitions to get the claim in front of the Workers’ Compensation judge in order to make a decision and get the dispute resolved. Your lawyer will be able to gather all of the evidence and present witness testimony, including evidence and testimony from your medical doctor, that supports your work injury; and
  • If and when the time comes, your workers’ comp lawyer will be able to negotiate a lump sum settlement amount with the Workers’ Compensation insurance company and their adjuster. A lump sum settlement is not appropriate for every Delaware Workers’ Comp case, but if you and your lawyer decide it is best for you, your lawyer can begin negotiating a settlement that is in your best interest. 

The New Castle Work Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Have Been Helping Delaware Employee Obtain Full and Just Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Over 30 Years

If you have suffered from a serious work-related chemical burn, you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. The New Castle work injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow have been fighting for the rights of injured Delaware employees for over 30 years. Call us today at 302-834-8484 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we service clients throughout the state.

Delaware Workers' Compensation Lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow Stands Up for Clients Who Suffered an Eye Injury at Work.

How Do I Avoid Eye Injuries at Work?

Losing some or all your vision can be a traumatizing experience. Eye injuries at work are more common than most realize, but there are ways to prevent them from happening or to minimize the chances of them happening in the first place.

When you suffer an injury at work, you can collect Workers’ Compensation insurance to help pay for your medical expenses and recoup your lost salary. When your employer fails to provide that insurance, you will need to hire a Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyer who can help you on your case.

What Steps Can I Take to Avoid Workplace Eye Injuries?

Eye injuries can occur without warning, caused by flying debris, a chemical spill, or another unforeseen accident. There are ways to avoid the potential of sustaining an eye injury. Those preventative measures include:

  • Knowing the hazards: There are certain professions that lend themselves more to risking an eye injury than others and those include manufacturing, carpentry, auto repair, electrical work, and welding. Those jobs should conduct annual safety assessments to ensure that there are no machines or other hazards that can cause a problem.
  • Protecting your eyes: While it is essential that you wear protective glasses that shield your eyes, you should also wear the proper glasses for your work environment. Look out for things such as glasses with side protection, along with special chemical-resistant goggles if you work near hazardous chemicals.
  • Inspecting protective gear: Regularly check your protective eye equipment to assure that it is still in working order. Make sure there are no cracks or scratches in the lenses, or any gaps in the seals of the glasses.
  • Using eye wash stations: All industrial sites should have eye wash stations available in case of emergency. These facilities will contain water to help flush your eye in the event of a chemical spill. They should be placed a few feet from any location where any eye-related accident could occur.

If you work in an environment where your eyes are exposed to potential hazards or eye strains, you should have your eyes evaluated on a routine basis to ensure that there are no problems. If you encounter any issues with them, you should see a doctor right away.

What Are Common Workplace Eye Hazards?

Workplace eye injuries are surprisingly common, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says that about 20,000 eye injuries take place in the workplace each year. These injuries cost about $300 million per year in lost productivity, medical treatment, and worker compensation, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

There are a few common hazards at work that cause eye injuries, and not all of them take place in construction sites. These common hazards are:

  • Projectiles: These can include anything from dust, concrete, metal, wood, and other particles that are sent into the air by machines, or demolition.
  • Chemicals: These can be dangerous on their own, but they can become even more dangerous for the eyes when splashed, spilled, or creating fumes that can get into the eyes.
  • Radiation: This can be especially dangerous especially if it is visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat or infrared radiation, or lasers. These can cause severe and sometimes permanent eye damage.
  • Bloodborne pathogens: If a co-worker receives a cut at work, their blood could spatter, risking the possible transfer dangerous diseases such as hepatitis, HIV, and other bloodborne pathogens.

Not all injuries will occur when working around heavy machinery or dangerous chemicals. Eye injuries can also occur in an office. If you work in front of a computer screen all day, one potential hazard for your eyes is “computer vision syndrome,” or digital eye strain. These are eye and vision-related problems that occur from excessive use of the computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone. On average, Americans spend about seven hours per day in front of a computer either at home or at work. To reduce the risk of these problems occurring, it is best to take frequent eye breaks by looking away from the screen routinely.

What Should I Do if I Suffered an Eye Injury at Work?

It can be a scary experience if you suffer an eye injury while at work. It is important that you seek medical help as soon as possible. Delaying any medical attention can be dangerous. You should seek medical attention especially if you suffer the following symptoms:

  • The person has obvious pain or trouble seeing
  • The person has a cut or torn eyelid
  • One eye does not move as well as the other
  • One eye protrudes compared to the other
  • The eye has an unusual pupil size or shape
  • There is blood in the clear part of the eye
  • The person has something in the eye or under the eyelid that cannot be easily removed

When you sustain an injury at work, you are entitled to collect Workers’ Compensation for your injuries. You will need to first report the accident that caused your injuries to your employers. Tell them what happened and how you were injured.

Your employer will then have 10 days to file the report with the Delaware Office of Workers’ Compensation and the company’s insurance provider. If approved, you will begin receiving benefits for your injuries seven days after you left work, although you begin accruing benefits on your third day out of work.

Workers’ Comp Insurance should pay for your past and future medical bills as well as compensate you for any lost wages you may have suffered due to your accident. You can also receive ongoing benefits if you become disabled or must experience ongoing care.

Delaware Workers’ Compensation Lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow Stands Up for Clients Who Suffered an Eye Injury at Work

If you experienced an eye injury at work or contracted an illness because of a work-related incident, you are eligible to collect Workers’ Compensation. Our Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow will help protect your rights and ensure that your employer and their insurance follow through on their obligations. Call 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.

 

 

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.

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