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Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

How safe are Arizona worksites?

Arizona prides itself on the diligence and ingenuity of its workforce. But, when it comes to workplace safety, how do the state's employers compare with those of other states and the nation as a whole?

The short answer, according to the Industrial Commission of Arizona and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, is relatively safe. During the 2013-14 fiscal year, employees in Arizona filed 94,611 workers' compensation claims. This number is down 3 percent from the previous year and 5 percent from two years earlier.

Should Arizona employees fear workers' compensation reform?

When an Arizona resident is injured on the job, the workers' compensation program compensates for medical care and other expenses incurred as a result of the injury. Typically, a worker and the medical provider of choice determine treatment decisions. Now, worrisome trends involving a neighboring state, and in other states, may threaten that arrangement.

Arizona workers watched with concern as a California woman ceded control of her medical treatment and compensation to independent medical reviewers. Almost two decades ago, the woman tripped and broke her foot at her magazine publishing job. Although the break appeared to be clean, it caused severe nerve damage and led to a condition known as chronic or complex regional pain syndrome.

Helping injured workers get back on their feet

Arizonans, like other Americans, are proud of their work ethic. For better or worse, our identities are wrapped up in what we do. However, when we cannot work due to a workplace accident, we suffer great physical and emotional distress.

Workplace accidents can take many forms. Some are obvious, like falls, slips, collisions, chemical spills, explosions and equipment malfunctions. Other accidents are less obvious, like those involving back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and mental distress and impairment.

How do I know I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

A century ago, most Arizona workers earned a living in manufacturing, mining, farming or other labor-intensive professions. Back then jobs were more physically demanding and serious workplace injuries were more common.

Today, many more Arizonans are employed as administrators, managers, professionals and other white-collar workers. While rates of catastrophic injuries and death on the job may now be lower, previously unknown injuries - such as carpal tunnel syndrome - have become more common.

How safe must scaffoldings be on construction sites?

Every year, 4,500 construction workers are injured and 50 die due to scaffolding-related accidents nationwide. With a few sensible precautions, Arizona worksites can significantly reduce the likelihood of a construction accident.

Under federal worker safety rules, scaffoldings must meet certain minimum requirements for construction and performance. For example, only a "competent person" must erect scaffolding. It must be built on a solid footing and not on barrels, boxes, loose bricks or concrete blocks.

Arizona court to injured worker: no right to travel for care

Arizona employees who are injured on the job are entitled to compensation for many things - but blanket travel expenses for medical care is not one of them.

Worker rights and responsibilities under Arizona's OSHA

More than 40 years ago, Arizona's Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was enacted to help keep employees safe on the job. Although the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH), a state agency, is officially responsible for investigations and enforcement under the Act, employees play a crucial role in preventing work accidents.

Employees are guaranteed certain rights under Arizona's OSHA. First, they have a right to do their job in a safe and healthy workplace. They also have a right to file a complaint - anonymously, if they wish - with ADOSH-Compliance Section if they believe an unsafe working condition exists. Moreover, employees cannot be fired or disciplined for filing a complaint. Finally, they have a right to view safety citations filed against their employer as well as records of their own exposure to harmful substances or conditions.

Injured on the job? Seek medical and legal help.

You know something is wrong. Your body just doesn't feel right. Maybe you notice a nagging cough, headache or shortness of breath. Maybe your back or wrists are more sore than usual. Maybe your spouse sees you limping as you hike your favorite trail. You can't quite pinpoint a cause, but you suspect the problems are related to your job.

Sound familiar? You may be the victim of an industrial accident. If so, contact your doctor immediately and notify your supervisor. You may also wish to consult with a certified workers' compensation specialist in the Phoenix area.

New ruling good news for Arizona workers hurt at work

Workers' compensation laws are regulated by each state. In the past, injured Arizona employees had to stop working for seven full consecutive days before becoming eligible to receive workers' compensation. This meant they would miss out on much-needed benefits if they missed non-consecutive days or worked part-time while recovering from their injuries. Thanks to a recent court ruling, this is no longer the rule for those hurt at work.

The Arizona Supreme Court recently clarified workers' compensation eligibility rules in the court case Bell v. Arizona Industrial Commission. The ruling states that injured employees can continue working after a workplace accident and still qualify for benefits without having to miss seven days of work first. It is believed that this law will benefit both employees and employers, as it keeps employees active while recovering from mild to moderate injuries. The work gets done and employers don't have to worry about hiring temp employees or training others.

I work with chemicals. How can I prevent an industrial accident?

Many of the foods we eat are created in a factory. Some of these foods - especially ones that contain artificial colors and flavors - are created with chemicals that can be toxic when breathed in day in and day out. These chemicals can also be hazardous when touched or accidentally put into the eyes. These situations can cause serious injuries, but fortunately, there are ways that Arizona factory workers can keep themselves safe and avoid an industrial accident.

Factory workers should be on the lookout for any change in respiratory function. If they start coughing more than usual or tend to experience shortness of breath, these are typically signs of toxic exposure. It's a good idea to get the condition checked out by a doctor and perhaps remove yourself from the environment to prevent further exposure.

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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