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Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Workers' compensation benefits can mean a less stressful recovery

Construction sites in Arizona are no different from those anywhere else in the country: busy, chaotic and, unfortunately, potentially dangerous. While most employers take steps to ensure the well-being of their workers, some companies are less careful when it comes to following safety protocols and regulations; regardless, accidents can still occur at even the most conscientious construction sites. It's situations like this that make workers' compensation so important.

In another state, a construction worker suffered serious injuries on a recent Tuesday morning. According to reports by emergency personnel, the man was hit by a steel rod at a below-grade work site. The steel bar, referred to as a rebar, is commonly used in construction work involving concrete.

Industrial accident causes life-threatening head injuries

Arizona workers are no different from most other people in that their minds probably occasionally wander on the job, at least once in a while. While this is usually harmless, there are certain instances where that is not always the case and an accident results. Especially for factory workers and employees in fields like mining or construction, an industrial accident can be devastating, and sometimes fatal.

What, then, is an injured worker to do when faced with missing time from work due to a work-related injury or illness? What happens regarding lost wages during the recuperation period and mounting medical bills for treatment? Even more tragically, in cases of worker fatality, does the grieving family left behind have any legal recourse?

Arizona work injury sometimes occurs in surprising ways

Whether they like it or not, most Arizona employees spend more time at their jobs than anywhere else. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can be once individuals consider the likelihood of a work injury or serious illness and how it might negatively affect them in the long term. While some occupations come with obvious risks, other jobs may put employees' health in danger in surprising ways.

Truck drivers, for example, have a shockingly high risk of chronic disease; between sleep deprivation and high blood pressure and cholesterol, their rate of risk runs at around 88 percent, compared to only about 50 percent in the general population. On the other end of the spectrum is firefighters, and while the dangers inherent to this career may sound obvious, the risks aren't necessarily what one might assume. It's not always the fire or even the smoke that injures, but rather the high stress levels, which can result in cardiac issues and eventual heart attacks and contribute to chronic – or even fatal – health conditions.

Construction, electrician accidents may carry higher risk

Anyone can get hurt in an unforeseen event at any time. Some Arizona jobs, however, carry a higher degree of risk, and injuries are unfortunately more likely to occur in factory worker, construction worker or electrician accidents than to employees who work in, for example, a movie theatre. Tragically, sometimes these workplace accidents prove fatal and leave behind grieving families.

In another state, an electrical worker died recently in just such a work accident. According to the most current reports, the contract line worker was attempting to change out a utility pole at around 11 a.m. for a construction company. Though no one seems entirely certain how the accident occurred, the man was electrocuted during what was supposed to be a routine pole change.

Workers' comp helps most employees hurt at work no matter cause

Workers' compensation is insurance that employers in Arizona -- and other states – purchase to help cover medical expenses and lost wages when an employee is injured on the job. In exchange, the employee agrees not to sue when he or she is injured, regardless of who is at fault. This, perhaps, is one of the best aspects of workers' compensation; everybody makes mistakes from time to time, and it's nice to know that even when an employee is hurt at work due to an error or momentary lapse in judgment, he or she will not be saddled with insurmountable medical bills.

In another state, for example, an employee of a county highway department was seriously injured when he walked behind a dump truck while it was backing up. The driver did not see him and the tailgate struck the worker's shoulder. He fell and rolled beneath the truck, but did manage to hang on for a few feet before going under it. The driver stopped as soon as other employees began banging on the truck.

Recuperation should be main concern after construction accidents

Arizona construction sites are hectic, busy places, and even when everyone is being careful, injuries may still occur. Because of the often-chaotic atmosphere with workers coming and going and the sometimes-unpredictable elements, construction accidents can happen even to the most experienced employees. Thankfully, when workers are injured, there are benefits like workers' compensation to help.

At a construction site in another state, a worker was recently injured when a trench collapsed. The 31-year-old man was in a pipe ditch when a rock from a side wall fell onto his legs. The owner of the excavation company called emergency services, who quickly arrived on-site to free the trapped worker.

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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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