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Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Tips for Arizona employees who have been injured on the job

Every job is different. Some jobs, like construction work, may have more obvious risks, but even office jobs can lead to unexpected illness or injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Regardless of the type of work an Arizona employee spends his or days or nights doing, one thing remains universal: the prospect of being injured on the job and unable to pay bills is a scary one. The following tips, however, may help smooth the way should such an event occur.

The first thing to remember is to report any on-the-job injury as soon as possible. For the injured worker's own sake as well as for the good of other employees, it is important that any safety hazards on the job site are handled immediately. Additionally, ensuring a supervisor and/or the human resources department has the incident recorded as a work-related accident is very important in the workers' compensation process.

Workers' compensation helps with medical costs for work accidents

It goes without saying that some jobs are, in fact, riskier than others. In Arizona, just like every other state, sometimes work accidents are just that: accidents. However, when an employee is injured on the job after there have been past complaints regarding workplace safety, it stands to reason that OSHA might want to take a closer look.

In another state, work on a bridge has stopped while OSHA does just that. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is conducting an investigation after two men were injured when they fell 40 to 50 feet from scaffolding. The company, Abhe & Svoboda, voluntarily halted work for a period of time to allow the company to discuss safety with the employees while OSHA looks into the situation.

Company fined for machinery safety violations after 3 amputations

Industrial workers in Arizona trust employers to do their part in keeping employees safe. This includes everything from machinery safety and precautions to proper training and oversight. When a company fails to take the necessary steps to ensure employees' safety and prevent repeat accidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration typically steps in.

In another state, Alliance Laundry Systems was recently cited and fined by OSHA after the company experienced its third workplace injury in less than a year. Between Aug. 2015 and July 2016, three different employees lost a finger to amputation by the plant's machines. The most recent accident is said to have occurred after the company continued to use a hydraulic press without additional safety guards, despite the fact that the tip of an employee's middle finger had been cut off by the machine previously.

Careless workers may unintentionally cause construction accidents

Arizona construction sites can certainly be dangerous places, but this is why safety guidelines are put in place. It is the responsibility of a construction company to make sure that safety regulations are followed and workers are trained so that injurious construction accidents do not occur. Sadly, in a case from a different state, the accident turned out to be not just injurious but fatal.

While working at a construction site on Jan. 23, a 19-year-old construction worker was killed when she was crushed by the bucket of a backhoe. The operator of the backhoe claims he didn't see the woman at the dig site and accidentally dropped the bucket on top of her. She died at the scene.

OSHA declares workplace accident should not have happened

Training is a vital part of any Arizona industry. Instructing workers how to safely perform their duties is the responsibility of every employer. When that training is not provided, a workplace accident is practically inevitable.

For example, a man in another state was attempting to inflate and mount a rim wheel that was in multiple parts when a piece flew off and struck him in the head. The accident occurred on Oct. 31, 2016. The man succumbed to his injuries on Nov. 11. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation and determined that his death was preventable.

Worker suffers burns most of his body in industrial accident

All machinery and equipment used by Arizona workers requires routine maintenance and cleaning. Certain procedures need to be followed in order to ensure the safety of the men and women required to take care of those tasks. When a company fails to follow guidelines and regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the result could be a severe or life-threatening industrial accident.

For example, a worker in another state was inside an evaporator cleaning it when he suffered burns over 75 percent of his body from a hot liquid. Medical personnel rushed the man to a medical center in the area and then transferred him to a hospital in a neighboring state for further treatment. The preliminary investigation determined that the accident was preventable.

The many moving parts of machinery safety

Arizona's industrial workers are exposed to numerous hazards on their jobs every day. The machines they work with pose any number of threats to their lives and limbs. Employers are required to ensure that safety measures are in place to protect workers from the many mechanical and non-mechanical dangers of the equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlines minimum machinery safety requirements pertaining to nearly every part of every machine.

Any part of a machine that moves poses a danger to workers. Safeguards should prevent employees from getting any part of their bodies or clothing entangled in or severed by any part of the machine. OSHA cautions, however, that the safeguards cannot become a hindrance to the work that needs to be performed. Otherwise, the safety mechanism might be removed in order to allow the work to be done, which could then lead to injury.

OSHA gives victory to baggage handlers who are hurt at work

The men and women who handle baggage at the nation's airports, including those here in Arizona, go about their daily duties behind the scenes. Few people consider the fact that baggage handlers are hurt at work on a consistent basis. Lifting bags, boxes and other cargo, among other hazards they face, causes numerous injuries each year.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration filed a lawsuit against United Airlines on behalf of baggage handlers at an airport on the East Coast. The two recently reached an agreement that includes fines of $7,000 and a plan to deal with certain hazardous conditions that lead to the injuries suffered by baggage handlers who work for the airline. The settlement could end up helping baggage handlers for multiple airlines across the country -- perhaps even many here in Arizona. 

What does OSHA do after work accidents?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration becomes involved when employees are seriously injured or killed -- or have a close call in which either result might have occurred -- here in Arizona and elsewhere. The agency does not like to say that it investigates work accidents, but rather work incidents since time and experience show that most injurious events are preventable. Nevertheless, their investigations provide valuable information regarding deficiencies in workplace safety, or the lack of any safety measures at all.

OSHA is not interested in placing blame, but instead in finding and correcting the causes of work injuries and fatalities. Companies are encouraged to conduct their own investigations involving supervisors, managers and employees. It would be easy to say that a worker failed to follow proper procedure or became careless, but often, larger safety issues are at the heart of the incident.

Machinery safety: Safety precautions for aerial lift operation

Arizona workers in industrial facilities are typically at risk of suffering life-altering injuries. Employers often disregard machinery safety, despite the fact that the lives of employees may be endangered. These hazards include mechanical equipment such as forklifts and other aerial lifts that require trained operators. There are specific safety precautions that operators of aerial lifts must obey to prevent accidents that could cause severe injuries to themselves and other workers in the area.

Before using such a vehicle, the operator must inspect it by checking for leaks and ensuring all controls function as they should. The operator must never access the platform by walking under the boom, and he or she must never operate the lift in areas where the ground is uneven. Nobody must be in the basket or on the platform without being securely harnessed and tied to secure anchor points; the passenger must stand on the floor of the basket or platform, not on the railing.

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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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