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You Shouldn't Have To Fight For Workers' Comp Benefits

Philadelphia Workers' Compensation Blog

Taking steps to prevent workplace injuries

Work accidents can happen in Pennsylvania. For example, a person may fall down the stairs while working. Performing essential tasks around chemicals or dust could lead to respiratory problems. When a person experiences an injury at work, it can take a toll on them and on their family. Depending on the severity of the injury, it could mean that a person is out of work for months or even years.

In addition to the physical, financial and emotional toll that employees experience, employers may have to deal with the costs of reduced productivity, administrative time documenting the injury and additional training in order to prevent similar injuries from reoccurring. This is why governmental regulatory institutions encourage businesses and their employees to adopt prevention programs designed to protect people from on-the-job injuries. These programs should be in harmony with laws and regulations that are already on the books.

A new OSHA rule is challenged in court.

The rollback of a 2016 OSHA reporting rule is being challenged in federal court by six separate states. The rule change affects large employers, including those in Pennsylvania. The challenge to the rule may affect how states implement health and safety programs for workers.

In the past, large employers were required to maintain records of each workplace injury or work-related illness. The records were to be secured and to be made available to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors upon demand. In 2016, the Obama administration added a further step to the record keeping. It required employers to electronically transmit this information to OSHA annually.

NIOSH reports high tow truck driver fatality and injury rate

Pennsylvania residents who work in the motor vehicle towing industry may want to know about a recent report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. After analyzing Bureau of Labor Statistics spanning the years 2011 to 2016, NIOSH researchers found that 191 tow truck drivers were killed in that period. The annual fatality rate came to 42.9 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

This is nearly 15 times greater than the annual fatality for all other private industries combined, which came to 2.9 per 100,000 FTEs. In addition, the non-fatal injury rate for tow truck drivers was 204.2 per 10,000 FTEs, more than double the 98.2 rate seen in other industries.

Is your employer meeting all workers' comp requirements?

Pennsylvania workers who suffer an injury on the job understand how difficult it can be to get the help and support needed to get better and more forward. While most workers are entitled to workers' compensation benefits in the event of a workplace accident, few fully understand their rights or know what to expect from the process. It is smart to know how the workers' compensation process works.

In addition to knowing how to file a claim, you may also find it beneficial to learn about what you can expect from your employer. There are certain requirements that employers have to meet regarding workers' compensation. Failure to meet them and provide you with the right support can impact your claim and affect your recovery.

The dangers of carbon monoxide in the workplace

Workers in Pennsylvania might be interested OSHA's new reminder to employers about keeping workers safe from carbon monoxide exposure. The February 12 reminder was issued after recent events indicated a need to emphasize the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure when workers are in enclosed spaces near generators or other types of equipment that can expose them to the deadly gas.

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that cannot be seen and has no odor. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal. The first symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include dizziness, headache, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and tightness across the chest. Someone who is overexposed may lapse into a coma. Severe neurological damage can occur in people who survive carbon monoxide poisoning.

Tips to protect tractor operators from rollover accidents

Farmers in Pennsylvania use all kinds of heavy machinery, including tractors. When tractors roll over, they can injure operators seriously or cause death. Every year brings over 100 fatal tractor rollover accidents, but rollover protective structures can increase safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has guidelines for the effective use of roll bars and cage frames.

Agricultural employers need to meet OSHA standards when maintaining or replacing rollover protection structures on tractors. Workers also require thorough safety training that could prevent accidents. Operators should understand that they need to reduce tractor speeds near ditches, slopes or waterways. Steep slopes should be avoided entirely. They should not carry passengers on a tractor or make sharp turns.

OSHA program highlights education about workplace safety

A national project is aiming to eliminate construction worker injuries in Pennsylvania and across the country. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is holding its sixth annual National Safety Stand-Down against construction falls from May 6-10, 2019. The project focuses on falls because they continue to pose a serious threat to construction worker safety. In 2016, 891 construction workers lost their lives due to workplace accidents. Of those, 370 were related to falls from heights. OSHA emphasizes that all of these deaths are preventable.

This voluntary event encourages construction workers to talk to workers about safety issues and workplace accidents. OSHA suggests using breaks to educate workers about the importance of fall prevention and places at a worksite that may pose risks for falling. In addition, these sessions can provide an opportunity for employees to raise concerns about hazards they have encountered in the workplace. The program typically includes a wide range of employers and other parties in the industry, including commercial and residential construction firms, contractors and subcontractors, highway construction companies, public works departments, unions and trade associations.

Common types of on-the-job accidents

Employers in Pennsylvania are obligated to provide employees with a safe environment in which to work, but workplace accidents and injuries are common. The most common types of workplace accidents are slip-and-fall, machinery accidents and vehicle or transportation accidents. Employers can take steps to help prevent these types of injuries on the job.

Approximately 33 percent of all workplace personal injury accidents are due to slips, trips and falls. These are among the most common types of injuries that result in claims against workers' compensation. They can cause broken bones, cuts, lacerations, pulled muscles, sprains, strains, back injuries or head injuries. Employers should establish policies requiring diligent housekeeping and proper employee footwear to reduce the risk of these workplace accidents.

Is a lump sum settlement right for your workers' comp claim?

Your workplace accident left you with a painful recovery, lost wages and questions about your future. After applying for Pennsylvania workers' compensation, you thought all you had to do was follow the instructions of your doctor and insurer to secure the benefits you needed to protect your family from financial crisis.

You probably didn't expect the workers' compensation claims process to be as tedious and uncertain as it was, including paperwork, interviews and seeking medical care from approved doctors. After all that, the insurer arrived at an offer of benefits based on your medical bills, missed work and disability. You now have some decisions to make about accepting the offer or pursuing a higher amount.

The first review of a Social Security Disability claim

After applying for Social Security disability benefits in Pennsylvania, an applicant may wonder about the next steps for their claim. The process can be lengthy and arduous at times, but applicants may feel a greater sense of control when they know more about the internal process. An application will be directed to the state agency that handles disability determination services, where a caseworker called a disability examiner will be assigned to the claim. The examiner's job is to review the claim and determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive disability benefits.

The examiner will generally begin by seeking out medical records from the sources listed by the claimant on the initial application. If these records are all dated, in this context 90 days or older, the examiner may request that the applicant come in for a consultative examination. This examination is conducted by a doctor paid by Social Security for benefits review purposes, not to provide additional treatment. In many cases, the physician will have little knowledge of the applicant's additional medical history. These types of exams are frequently unhelpful to a disability benefits claim, except in cases where the applicant has an objectively measurable disability.

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