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Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Work accidents don't stop the bills from coming

You may feel as though your world has stopped after being injured at work. Unfortunately, work accidents do not stop the need for you to pay your bills and otherwise provide for your family. The Arizona workers' compensation system can help you with your living and medical expenses while you recover from your injuries.

However, the system is not necessarily easy to navigate if you do not understand how it works. Your claim could be denied if even one document is not submitted properly. If that happens, you might be aware that there is an appeals process, but it could be even more of a challenge than filing a claim.

Construction accidents from trench collapses up in 2016

Working in trenches is part of the job for many Arizona residents. Most construction companies will take the proper safety precautions to help ensure that those workers do not suffer injuries or die in a collapse. Even so, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that construction accidents from trench collapses are up this year.

According to OSHA, 23 people died and 12 others suffered injuries in trench collapses this year across the United States. These accidents have a high mortality rate due to the weight of the earth involved. For example, one cubic yard of earth weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Workers suffer crush injuries under that amount of weight.

OSHA believes updated rule will reduce work injuries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration periodically updates or otherwise changes its rules in an attempt to keep workers in a variety of industries safe. The agency recently updated its walking-working surfaces standards, which will more than likely impact no less than 112 million workers across the country, including many here in Arizona. OSHA believes the implementation of the updates will reduce work injuries and fatalities.

OSHA claims the new rule, which will go into effect on Jan. 17, 2017, will increase protections for workers against trips, slips and falls. Fall hazards continue to be a leading cause of death in many industries, especially construction. Changes such as the use of personal fall protection systems, which have been used in construction since 1994, will now be encouraged in general industries.

OSHA blames fatal work injuries on construction company

As is the case across the country, whenever there is a death at a job site here in Arizona, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts an investigation. Their findings often reveal the party or parties who could be held liable for the fatal work injuries that brought about the investigation. This information might be used by surviving family members if they pursue a wrongful death claim.

For example, back in May, an approximately nine- to 11-foot-deep trench at a construction site in another state collapsed. Three men became trapped, but only one of them survived with serious injuries. The other two men, ages 26 and 36, died as a result of mechanical asphyxia. In October, OSHA issued its report regarding the incident in which it blamed the construction company for the tragedy.

OSHA says most traumatic amputations occur in manufacturing

Most Arizona residents who work in the state's manufacturing facilities understand the risks that go with their jobs. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, approximately 57 percent of the traumatic amputations that occurred in 2015 happened in manufacturing facilities. OSHA is now launching an initiative to enforce rules and regulations that should help prevent these injuries with a primary focus on four states in particular.

Arizona is not one of those states, but every manufacturing company could benefit from a refresher regarding equipment safety, training and any other processes that will help keep workers from losing limbs or appendages. In 2015, there were over 2,600 reported amputations around the United States. So far in 2016, a lack of machine guarding ranks number eight in violations found by OSHA.

Industrial accident injuries can keep you from being able to work

If you are unable to work, you are more than likely not making any money. Industrial accident injuries could prevent you from working for a significant amount of time. Fortunately, you can turn to the Arizona workers' compensation system for benefits that are designed to cover at least a portion of your financial losses until you are able to return to work, if at all.

As soon as possible after the accident, report it to your superiors. Your supervisor or manager will need as many facts as are available for the incident report. If you are unable to provide this information due to your medical condition, be sure that the proper information was provided. You are entitled to certain workers' compensation benefits regardless of the circumstances under which you were injured as long as you were performing you job duties at the time.

Construction accidents can involve falls from significant heights

Arizona companies are required to follow regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in order to ensure that the work environment is safe for employees. For instance, construction workers often find themselves working well above the ground. Since one of the common causes of construction accidents is falling from significant heights, employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees have the proper safety equipment and training.

OSHA has cited an out-of-state roofing company multiple times for similar violations. The company has consistently failed to provide fall protection to its employees in accordance with OSHA regulations. Employees of the company were working at heights of approximately 18 feet without the proper safety precautions in place.

Asbestos is still responsible for work injuries

Even though it is highly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, asbestos continues to be a problem at many construction sites throughout the country, including many here in Arizona. Work injuries due to asbestos exposure often do not manifest right away. It could take years for symptoms of exposure to appear, and the results are often deadly.

Construction jobs that involve demolition, renovation or repairs could expose workers to this dangerous substance. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can damage lung tissue, which causes a buildup of scar tissue, called asbestosis. Lung function will then begin to degrade, and ultimately, an individual becomes permanently disabled before dying. Exposure could also lead to mesothelioma, which is a cancer that is almost exclusively caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers and is nearly always deadly.

Workers' compensation benefits are available for gradual injuries

Arizona workers are not only eligible for workers' compensation benefits after being wounded in a catastrophic and sudden accident while at work. They are also eligible for benefits when they suffer from gradual injuries that develop over time. Due to the fact that it can takes weeks, months or even years for these injuries to reach an intolerable level, the insurer and employer might attempt to either reduce the benefits you receive or deny your claim all together.

Gradual injuries are also referred to as repetitive stress injuries. The initial injury could have been small and perhaps even barely noticeable. Through time and repeated use, the injury worsens.

Training and equipment are essential to preventing a work injury

Most Arizona companies take the safety of their employees seriously and provide them with the training and equipment they need to keep from being hurt on-the-job. However, other companies fail to follow the regulations and laws enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They fail to acknowledge that the proper training and equipment are essential to preventing a work injury.

OSHA recently proclaimed that a company could have prevented an accident that injured one of its workers on July 13. The man was servicing a tire when it exploded. The rim hit him in the head and caused serious injuries.

Serving the Following Areas

Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C., provides experienced representation for workers' compensation 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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