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Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C.
Helping Injured Workers In Arizona Since 1973

Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Work injury often caused by overlooked safety hazards

Safety hazards exist in all work environments, and compliance with safety regulations is vital. While each industry in Arizona has its unique dangers, some work injury risks that are common to all are often overlooked. Dehydration is one of those risk elements that can cause various physical problems, particularly when workers are exposed to heat -- both indoors and outside.

Stress is an invisible danger that can interfere with an employee's ability to be productive, identify hazards and avoid injuries. While almost any job produces stress, long hours, infrequent or inadequate breaks and conflict can contribute to it. Furthermore, unrealistic deadlines or targets and job insecurity can exacerbate stress levels.

Workers' comp essential after construction, roofing accidents

Almost without exception, jobs, whether in Arizona or anywhere else in the country, carry some degree of risk. A worker can develop carpal tunnel syndrome from years at a keyboard, for example, or an employee can develop repetitive stress injuries. However, some careers carry a higher risk of injury, such as jobs where factory, electrician or roofing accidents are simply more likely to occur, no matter how safe an employer tries to make the work environment.

For example, in another state, six construction workers were injured when a roof collapsed recently. The vacant three-story row house was under construction when the accident occurred at approximately 10 a.m., burying workers in a fall of cement chunks and metal debris. The men had apparently been working on the second floor of the structure when the sudden collapse resulted in the entire group plummeting all the way to the basement in an avalanche of rubble.

The basics of Arizona workers' compensation

While Arizona employees are likely aware of the existence of workers' comp, that may be the extent of their familiarity. However, since anyone can suffer a workplace accident at any time, it may benefit employees to familiarize themselves with the basics of workers' compensation benefits. In this way, employees may be able to relax and concentrate more fully on their jobs, without worrying about what might happen to them if they're injured.

With only a few exceptions, businesses both large and small are required to carry workers' compensation. This type of insurance, paid for by employers. It covers employees when they suffer illnesses related to workplace exposure or are injured on the job.

Low penalties could lead to more work accidents

Penalties and fines are important tools for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Arizona's Division of Occupational Safety and Health leverages fines against employers who have violated safety protocols, although those fines were recently lowered. Employees and federal officials alike are concerned about the impact of smaller fines, which could possibly lead to an increase in work accidents.

The federal OSHA program investigated ADOSH for what it claims is the latter's soft approach with employers. ADOSH apparently lowered penalties arbitrarily, which undermines the whole notion of penalties, which is to deter employers from willingly allowing safety violations. According to OSHA, this is not permitted per current policies.

Arizona workers' compensation means concentrating on recovery

If Arizona workers were constantly worrying over whether they are safe on the job, they'll likely be unable to concentrate on doing their work effectively and efficiently. This is one of the many reasons why workers' compensation benefits are so important. Employees need to feel secure that their health and livelihood isn't a constant concern when they're doing dangerous jobs, such as road construction.

In another state recently, for instance, a road construction worker was seriously injured. The man suffered life-threatening injuries in the early hours of a recent Thursday morning in the course of performing his job duties. Accident reports indicate that he was thrown from a truck when the vehicle went over a pile of unpaved asphalt.

Electrician accidents may be avoided through empowering workers

Of course, no Arizona employers want their workers to have accidents. Employers, just like employees, both want and expect the workplace to be a safe and productive environment. This need for safety is especially important in the field of electrical system work, though, as electrical-related and electrician accidents are the sixth leading cause of injury-related deaths in the workplace.

This serious risk of injury or even loss of life is due to a variety of factors. Because of performance pressure, time restraints and budgets, safety procedures are often overlooked. Various factors may result in workers cutting corners or growing complacent, despite the heavy risk this involves. Thankfully, there are a variety of specific practices to help electrical workers feel empowered through safety.

Fatal roofing accidents often leave behind grieving families

Workers' compensation is important for injured Arizona employees and their families to help with lost wages and medical expenses during the recovery period after a worker has been injured on the job. What about grieving families whose loved ones were killed in workplace accidents, though? Thankfully, for employees who work in relatively more dangerous careers and are at risk for factory, construction or roofing accidents, or the like, workers' compensation offers benefits for surviving family members as well.

Currently, in another state, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating just such a fatal workplace accident. A worker accidentally fell from the roof of a building early on a recent Wednesday afternoon. When a coworker discovered the injured man lying on the ground, he initially attempted first aid before calling emergency services.

Current confusion of medical marijuana and workers' compensation

The changing laws regarding medical -- and in some states, recreational -- marijuana use may have Arizona workers and employers alike wondering how it could potentially affect workplace safety and workers' comp. Most of the time, workers' compensation laws allow for the denial of benefits when an employee's injury is attributable to alcohol or drug use. However, Arizona does have reasonable accommodation provisions and anti-discrimination laws that could impact an employer's ability to enforce such policies when it comes to medically prescribed marijuana.

Most employers have drug-free workplace policies, but these policies do not extend to medications described by physicians. In addition, while some states allow benefit reduction or denial if drug use can be proven, the question of what constitutes worker impairment from medical marijuana is still uncertain. Adding to the confusion is the fact that marijuana can remain in a user's system for a period of time, making it difficult to determine whether the worker was actually impaired at the time of injury.

Power plant industrial accident claims 2 lives, injures 4 others

Even the most safety-conscious companies will sometimes suffer accidents. While it did not happen in Arizona, an industrial accident at a coal-fired power plant in another state claimed the lives of two workers and injured four others late on a recent Tuesday night. A review of Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports on the plant's safety record apparently reveal a relatively clean history, listing only one safety violation citation in 2013.

According to a spokesperson for the company, this most recent accident occurred while the workers were performing maintenance in an enclosure approximately 25 feet underground. The men were down in a pit replacing an elbow joint when the pipe they were working on ruptured. The pipe -- which was supposed to be disabled -- began spewing sludge into the pit.

OSHA attempts to decrease work accidents by increasing citations

For Arizona employees who are involved in serious accidents on the job, workers' compensation is there to make sure the injured get the benefits they need to help pay for medical care and time missed at work. However, it's always better to avoid work accidents in the first place. To that end, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently increased its citation structure by a whopping 80 percent.

This increase gives employers even more motivation to make sure safety precautions and regulations are in place to help ensure the well-being of workers. OSHA also works to ensure that employees are able to easily report workplace illnesses and injury without fear of repercussion from employers. To this end, they have implemented three new anti-retaliation provisions.

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