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Columbus Injured Worker Legal Blog

How workers can use heavy machinery safely

Heavy machinery is often necessary on a job site, but it also increases the risk that workers face. It can be complicated, powerful and dangerous. One small mistake can have dire ramifications and may even prove fatal.

How can workers stay safe? There are a few things that companies need to focus on:

  • Inspecting all machines consistently to ensure that they work properly and that there are no defects.
  • Giving workers proper training in advance and ensuring that they can confidently, competently use heavy machinery before letting them do so on their own.
  • Creating a culture of safety so that workers know that it is important for them not to take risks.
  • Being willing to slow down if necessary; many accidents happen when workers are rushing, often because a boss pressures them to do so.
  • Remaining vigilant at all times. Workers should not get complacent around dangerous machines, even if they have been using them for years and they feel safe.
  • Prioritizing communication among all workers who are near a machine. Miscommunication can lead to mistakes when workers don't realize that someone else may be in danger.
  • Understanding the unique dangers presented by different machines. For instance, vehicles pose a risk when simply moving from one part of the site to another, while machines with moving parts are especially dangerous for those with long hair or loose clothing.

What does an employer do regarding workers' compensation?

One of the most important protections you have as an employee is the right to seek workers' compensation benefits in case of an on-the-job-injury or sickness. The law requires most employers to carry this type of insurance, which protects both the employer and worker. It provides you a way to get support when needed, and it protects the employer from a lawsuit after a workplace accident. 

Regardless of the type of job you have, it is in your interests to know your rights regarding workers' compensation. You will find it beneficial to understand how the claims process works, what to do after an accident and what to expect from your employer. In addition to simply carrying this insurance, there are other things an employer has to do regarding workers' compensation.

Important PTSD statistics

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition often found in combat veterans. However, almost anyone who has survived a traumatic event can suffer from PTSD. This could be a police officer who lost a fellow officer in the line of duty, a person who lived through a severe car accident that took someone else's life or a firefighter who could not save everyone from a burning building -- just to name a few examples.

No matter why it happens, PTSD can be disabling. It can lead to flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety attacks and the inability to mentally and emotionally cope with situations that remind a person of the event that caused the trauma. A person who was in a car accident may not be able to drive, for instance. With that in mind, consider these statistics about PTSD in the United States:

  • It's more common in men than women, at a rate of 10% of the population, compared to 4% for men.
  • Overall, experts believe that about 7% to 8% of people will experience it.
  • Some cases only last for a month or so, but it can last much longer.
  • It does impact young people, as it has been found in 5% of adolescents.
  • Even in children, it happens less often with boys, at 2.3%, and more often with girls, at 8%.

How can you prepare for your disability hearing?

It can be devastating when your claim for disability benefits is not successful. After all, if you need disability support from the Social Security Administration, it means that you are unable to work because of a mental or physical condition. A denial may seem like a setback, especially if it is not the first one. Thankfully, there is an appeals process if you still want to pursue benefits. 

One thing you may have to do is attend a disability hearing regarding your claim. This may be a necessary step in your effort to secure benefits, but you may not know what will what happen. It is in your interests to prepare well for this hearing and know what to expect so that you can avoid setbacks and complications. Of course, you can also work with an experienced attorney to represent you at this hearing as well.

What percentage of fatal accidents happen in construction?

You know that construction has a reputation for being the most dangerous industry since it leads to the most worker deaths every year. That does not mean the highest fatality rate, but, owing to the massive size of the industry, simply the highest totals at the end of the year.

This is true in most years, but do you know what percentage of fatal accidents this industry encompasses? It changes from year to year, naturally, but a quick look at recent statistics shows that about one out of every five workers who lose their lives on the job do so while working in construction.

Reducing potential harm to firefighters from PFAS

The most obvious danger to firefighters is from fire and its destructive force. Like firefighters everywhere, Ohio firefighters battle not only flames but heat, falling debris and structural collapses. However, they also face other unseen dangers from toxic substances.

One of the most prevalent toxic substances firefighters contend with are polyfluoroalkyl substances referred to as PFAS. These chemicals show up in the urine of firefighters in the hours after exposure. They have been known to cause thyroid disease, cancer, elevated cholesterol, decreased fertility, respiratory disease and immune suppression.

Ladder safety tips: Picking the proper ladder

Ladder falls can lead to serious injuries and are sometimes fatal. It is very important to know how to use ladders safely and to do so every time, without growing complacent. All it takes is one slip for a catastrophic accident.

To help you stay safe on the job, here are a few tips to help you pick the right ladder:

  • Do not use a ladder that just barely reaches the intended height. For instance, if the edge of the roof is 10 feet high, a 10-foot ladder is too short. You want it to extend a few rungs or a few feet beyond the edge, making it easier to get on and off of the ladder from the top.
  • Make sure you have the right ladder type. An extension ladder is great for some jobs but inappropriate for others. Trying to use the wrong type of ladder increases the risk.
  • Never climb too high on the ladder. Heed the warnings telling you not to stand on the top or on the rung right below the top.
  • Do not use ladders to transport tools and materials. You need to have both hands free to grip the ladder so that you always have three points of contact.
  • Do not lean on a ladder. This is one of the most common reasons for a fall. If you can't reach something that you need to reach -- i.e., an electrical box -- get down and move the ladder closer.

Mental health and a person's ability to continue working

When a person is struggling with a mental health condition, it can affect many areas of his or her life. In the event that a mental health condition affects a person's ability to work, it begins to take a toll on finances and the person's entire family. A person can seem healthy and capable, but an invisible condition can leave that individual unable to hold gainful employment.

Mental health conditions are valid medical issues, and it is possible your disorder could make you eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security. It can be quite complex to actually secure benefits, particularly for those who must prove a mental health condition. Therefore, you should know your rights and what to do in order to avoid unnecessary setbacks and complications.

Migraines could make it difficult to work

Ohio residents and others who have migraines might be entitled to disability benefits. However, the specific facts in a given case will determine if an applicant will have his or her request for financial assistance approved. To obtain disability benefits, an individual would need to prove that he or she cannot generate a substantial and gainful income. There are many different types of evidence that a person could use to show that he or she is no longer able to meet that threshold.

For instance, it may be possible to submit a migraine journal that details when a migraine occurred and its specific impact on your life. It should also describe whether any medication was taken and if it helped to reduce or eliminate any symptoms associated with a migraine. Other tests such as an MRI or CT scan may further bolster an individual's claim that he or she should be entitled to disability benefits.

How to inform employees about workplace emergencies

Companies in Ohio need to be ready to keep their workers safe in the event that an emergency situation occurs. One way to keep employees out of danger is to make use of mass notification systems. These systems make it possible to alert hundreds or thousands of people about a danger or potential danger that they may face. Messaging systems can also provide instructions about what they can do to stay safe.

It is important that companies use a variety of tools to disseminate information to their people. For instance, it may be a good idea to use a combination of text messages, emails and posts to the company's social media account to warn workers about an incoming storm or toxic exposure event. It can also be a good idea to post warnings on electronic signs located throughout an office building or warehouse.

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Philip J. Fulton Law OfficeRepresenting Victims Of Workplace Injuries And Disability

89 East Nationwide Boulevard
Suite 300
Columbus, OH 43215

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