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Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

What are common types of construction site accidents?

Last week's post discussed a tragic incident in which a wall collapsed, killing one Arizona worker and seriously injuring another. These sorts of incidents are unfortunately common at construction sites, and employers need to take extra precautions to prevent them.

Other common types of construction accidents involve falls. Construction workers often carry their equipment and supplies up to very high places to work on tall objects like bridges or new buildings. Other work zones have workers in a hole or a trench. In these types of cases, Phoenix workers can easily slip and fall great distances. Moreover, a heavy object can also drop on to workers doing labor below.

Arizona construction worker dies after wall collapses

An Arizona construction worker died and another one suffered very serious injuries after a wall collapsed on them while they were working on a demolition project.

The demolition work was being done on behalf of the city of Tucson because the city wanted to widen a local road and the building was standing in the way. The city purchased the building and arranged for a crew to demolish the building.

Using medical evidence for an employee's benefit

Last week's post on this blog discussed how MRI scans are being used frequently when Arizona employees complain of pain in their lower backs. While these sorts of scans can be a good thing for injured workers in Maricopa County, the reality is that these scans, like other medical evidence, can be interpreted in any number of ways.

For example, in the case of lower back pain, an MRI will either help reveal the cause of the problem or will appear to show that nothing is wrong with an injured employee's back. In the latter case, an employer could come back and claim that an employee does not need workers' compensation benefits for back pain because the pain being complained of is not a "real" injury.

High rate of MRI's in Arizona workplace injury cases

When Arizona residents suffer an on-the-job injury, they want to know that they will receive the appropriate level of medical care so that they can return to work as soon as possible. Most of our readers know that workers' compensation will help the injured worker financially until they can return to work, but some people may not know that medical care is an important part of the employer's obligation after a workplace accident.

But, what is the appropriate level of care that an injured worker is entitled to? According to a recent report, Arizona has a very high rate of MRI's being conducted in cases involving workers who suffer from lower back pain. The report indicates that a whopping 58.4 percent of cases involving lower back pain had MRI's ordered in Arizona - which is much higher than many other states.

An overview of the role of the Industrial Commission of Arizona

Many Phoenix area workers who suffer workplace injuries will likely find themselves dealing with the Industrial Commission of Arizona. One part of this agency's role is to administer workers' compensation claims. This agency completes this role through two different sections: the Claims Division and the Administrative Law Judge Division.

The Claims Division is responsible for processing the claims received from either physicians attending to workers who are injured on the job, or from the workers themselves. From there, the Claims Division will notify the specific workers' compensation insurance company used by the employer so that the claim can be paid out. A large part of the role of the Claims Division is focused on compliance: ensuring that both insurance companies and injured workers comply with all of the relevant workers' compensation laws in Arizona.

Are you entitled to a safe work environment?

There are many employers throughout the country who place a premium on highly skilled employees who are happy to do their jobs every day. However, there are also employers who do not always put their employees' health and safety at the forefront of their decision making. As a result, dangerous work accidents are still a part of life for employees in a variety of different employment sectors. But, are employers actually required to provide a safe work environment for their employees?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, a law that was passed by the United States Congress in 1970, the answer is a resounding "yes." There is a specific section of the law which mandates that employers provide a work environment that is free from recognizable hazards that could potentially result in injury or death. The law also states that employers are to comply with all of the regulations that are promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Important points to remember to avoid a scaffolding accident

For an Arizona construction worker, the need to work on a scaffold is unavoidable. While this is a common part of the workday and many have experience with it, a scaffolding accident can occur even to the most conscientious and knowledgeable worker. There are certain procedures that must be in place for the safety of workers when they are on a scaffold. If a construction accident occurs on a jobsite, it is key to know whether the company and supervisors were following safety rules for their employees.

The scaffold must be built according to the proper specifications for both safety and functionality. When it is moved from one place to another, there are other procedures that must be followed to ensure that it is safe. A person with experience and knowledge in scaffolds must oversee it. If there is a danger, then the work must be stopped. The specifications according to the manufacturer must be adhered to. With a scaffold, the ground conditions, integrity of the building that is providing support, distance from power lines and overhead are all key factors for safety.

Mine collapses and other risks miners face

Working in a mine is a job that many in Arizona proudly perform. While those involved in it want nothing more than there to be full safety for employees, it is unavoidable that accidents will happen. Yet when an accident occurs it is imperative to determine whether it was due to an unsafe working environment or a mistake made by the employer. There are numerous dangers that mine employees face every single day. If an incident happens and it results in injury or even fatality, it is crucial that the injured party and his or her family know what to do in its aftermath.

When working in a mine, it is possible that there will be a mine collapse. In these instances, the walls and ceilings might not have been adequately secured for safety, and cracks can be in the walls and floor, thereby weakening the entire structure. If blasting and drilling is not planned properly, it can result in a cave-in. Gas explosions might also happen if methane gas has accumulated. This can occur if there is inadequate ventilation. There must be a monitoring of gas levels and evacuation must commence if it exceeds that legal amount.

Investigation finds beehive after worker stung numerous times

When workplace accidents in Arizona happen, they are usually associated with a fall, a falling object, employer negligence, and other common occurrences. Construction accidents often result from the physical nature of the work, the heavy equipment that is used, and the inherently risky activities that workers must perform as they go about their business. But workplace accidents can happen for a multitude of other reasons. Many are unexpected and completely unforeseen, but can nonetheless cause serious harm to the victims, as can be seen in one recent incident.

Construction workers who were operating on a site were recently attacked by a swarm of bees at their work location. Firefighters received a call in the morning informing them of the problem. When they arrived, they found one worker had received more than 100 bee stings as a result of the attack. Firefighters administered treatment and the man was hospitalized. Another worker was also stung and received treatment at the scene. A bee hive was discovered at the work site and a beekeeper was called in to remove it.

Arizona court awards interest following workplace accident

One often overlooked issue in workers' compensation cases is the amount of interest that an insurance company should pay on benefits awarded following a serious workplace accident. In this respect, the Arizona Supreme Court recently held that an insurance company is on the hook for interest from the moment that an insurance company knows about the workplace accident and the subsequent workers' compensation claim.

The Arizona Supreme Court's holding applies to death benefits, which the Court described as a "liquidated claim," that is, a claim with a readily discernable value. In this case, a man died four years after an on-the-job injury, but his widow alleged that his death was nonetheless at least partially attributable to that injury. The insurance carrier denied the claim in 2009 but, after years of litigation, was told by a court that it had to pay the claim in 2013.

Serving the Following Areas

Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C., provides experienced representation for workers' compensation and Social Security Disability cases in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Avondale, Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Prescott, Tucson and Yuma, and throughout Maricopa County, Pima County, Pinal County and Yavapai County, and all of Arizona.

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