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Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C.
Helping Injured Workers In Arizona Since 1973

Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Arizona construction worker suffers fatal work injuries

Safety authorities say falls are some the most common causes of fatalities and severe injuries in the construction industry nationwide, including Arizona. Employers must protect the health and safety of employees, and address known safety hazards that could cause work injuries. This responsibility includes providing adequate safety training and personal protective equipment, along with instructions on the proper use of fall harnesses and their anchors.

Sadly, despite enforcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, many workers are tasked with jobs at elevated levels without proper fall protection or the knowledge of the appropriate use of PPE. A recent incident caused the death of a construction worker in San Tan Valley. Reportedly, the worker was employed at a new construction project.

Lack of forklift safety awareness can cause a workplace accident

Forklifts are valuable pieces of equipment used to handle materials and products in various Arizona industries. Unfortunately, employers and workers often disregard the risks these machines pose. An uncertified forklift operator can cause a workplace accident in the blink of an eye -- often with devastating consequences. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes safety standards to be enforced in facilities where lift trucks are used.

OSHA also provides safety guidelines that could prevent forklift-related injuries. These include the operator taking care when mounting or dismounting the machine, wearing non-slip shoes and making sure his or her hands are clean, dry and free of oil or other slippery substances. Operational and visual inspections before using a forklift are crucial, and ensuring that travel paths are clear of obstacles is vital. The operator must park the forklift in a spot that does not block a doorway or aisle, and engage the parking brake.

Nurses face daily risks of being hurt at work

Nurses in Arizona and across the country are frequently treated with disdain by the patients for whom they risk their health and safety every day. One of the issues that makes nursing a dangerous job is the unpredictability of every shift. Nurses who report for duty have no idea what they will have to deal with during the next eight to 10 hours. Judging by the number of reported cases of nurses who were hurt at work by violent and abusive patients, it is clear that the patients or their visitors pose many of the dangers.

Nurses endure high levels of physical exertion that include being on their feet for long hours as well as lifting, turning and moving patients of all sizes throughout their shifts. Many nurses end up with chronic back pain that leads to missed work. Furthermore, they face exposure to contagious diseases, radiation, dangerous or faulty medical devices and equipment, hazardous surgical smoke, needlestick injuries and more.

Full and final settlement

Within the past couple of years, Arizona passed laws allowing injured workers to settle out their claims on a full and final basis. This means that the carrier pays a certain amount of money and the injured worker completely releases them from any future liability for compensation or medical benefits for conditions related to that injury.

A lack of machinery safety could have devastating consequences

Employers in the industrial sector in Arizona must provide adequate safety training to protect workers from equipment-related hazards. A lack of machinery safety can lead to amputations, electrocutions and even death. Employees must learn that, no matter how small a repair job is or how quickly a blockage can be removed, all the power sources to the machine must be turned off. Lockout/tagout procedures could include electricity, pneumatic, gravity, steam, water and hydraulics.

Typical equipment-related injuries happen because not all the power sources were deactivated before doing repairs or cleaning. If the machine was locked out but not tagged, another worker who is not aware of the maintenance taking place could turn the power back on. Also, if a malfunctioning piece of equipment is not locked out and tagged, it might be used by an employee who did not know about the defect.

Will workers' compensation cover injuries of an at-fault worker?

Workplace accidents can happen to anyone in Arizona at any time, even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says all on-the-job injuries are preventable. When they do occur, injured workers might be unable to return to work for several days, and the lost wages along with the medical expenses could become overwhelming. Sometimes, workers fail to file workers' compensation benefits claims because their injuries followed their own negligence or errors.

However, the workers' compensation program is a no-fault system that pays benefits regardless of who was at fault -- with some exceptions. The system is based on a mutual agreement that workers will not sue their employers if they carry the costs of the injuries and lost work time, even if the workers caused the incidents that led to the injuries. Under most circumstances, fault is not considered when eligibility for workers' compensation benefits is determined.

Gradual injuries: The hazards faced by paper and pulp workers

Workers in the paper and pulp manufacturing facilities in Arizona face significant health risks. While many occupational hazards involve physical injuries, the exposure these workers face can cause gradual injuries to their health. The work environment in this industry typically contain paper dust, sulfur dioxide, chlorine compounds, and there could even be risks of asbestos exposure.

Exposure to these substances could cause chronic and acute respiratory disorders, and some hazards could be life-threatening. Years of asthma suffering can follow exposure to chlorine and chlorine dioxide, and it could even cause severe lung injuries. Respiratory diseases, some of which can be fatal, can also result from exposure to paper dust and sulfur dioxide.

Workplace accident victim thanks rescuers who saved his life

An Arizona restoration technician recently met with those who provided emergency treatment and saved his life earlier this year. The man suffered injuries in a workplace accident that occurred while he was assessing a flood-damaged assisted living center to determine whether it could be restored or whether it had to be demolished. The building had extensive water damage, making it extremely hazardous for workers to be inside.

Reportedly, the worker noticed some rusted drywall anchors, and while inspecting the bathroom, a large mirror became dislodged from the wall. Activities of a co-worker in another room caused the mirror to fall and shatter into pieces as it hit the counter. The man used his arm to shield his face, but he suffered severe injuries as mirror shards cut into his forearm. His co-worker rushed him to his vehicle and proceeded to drive him to the hospital.

Work injuries could have been worse if victim was without PPE

Construction workers face an endless list of hazards -- many of them life-threatening -- and those who are not alert at all times might be caught unawares. However, it is not uncommon for workers to come away from potentially deadly accidents with work injuries that are less severe. Many employers in Arizona take particular note of these near-misses to prevent potentially traumatic consequences in the future.

One such accident occurred at a building site on a recent Monday morning. Officials of the Phoenix Fire Department reported that an emergency call came in at about 7 a.m. They rushed to the scene to find a construction worker who had fallen from street level into the basement of a building under construction. They learned that the man was safely strapped into the seat of a front-loader when he proceeded to pour a load of dirt into the basement.

Winter weather could cause slip-and-fall industrial accident

Winters in Arizona can pose additional hazards for Phoenix workers in all industries. Even in a warm climate like Arizona, the weather can still turn colder in the lower desert valleys at night. Whenever temperatures drop below freezing point, the risks of slip-and-fall accidents in industrial facilities will be higher than during other seasons. Even without snow, other weather-related hazards can cause a slip-and-fall industrial accident.

Safety authorities suggest precautions that might avoid serious fall injuries. The first rule is not to rush, as running or fast walking allows no reaction time in the event of a slip. Holding onto rails on stairways might help, and taking shorter steps can reduce risks of falling. Extra care is necessary when workers carry heavy items, which can jeopardize their sense of balance.

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