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How sanitation employers can keep their workers safe

Sanitation employers and employees in Pennsylvania may not be aware that the industry they work in is one of the most dangerous in the nation. Among civilian occupations in 2016, refuse and recyclable material collectors had the fifth highest fatal injury rate. This is according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Protecting sanitation workers is therefore essential. OSHA, while it conducts inspections of sanitation companies and reviews complaints, does not have any regulations that directly regulate the industry or its vehicles. However, the agency does cite in its General Duty Clause a set of standards drawn up by the American National Standards Institute.

Deadly trucking crashes continue upward trend

For many Pennsylvania drivers, the fear of having a crash involving a large truck or bus can be very real. With the large size and mass of these vehicles, they have a significant potential to cause serious physical harm to other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on the road in an accident. In addition, the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks is on the rise across the country, according to statistics released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The report shows an ongoing trend over several years of increasing fatal truck accidents. From 2005 to 2009, trucking accident deaths declined significantly with an overall decrease of 34 percent. However, those gains are being reversed. Between 2009 and 2016, the number of fatal crashes has once again risen by 28 percent. In the last year studied, from 2015 to 2016, the number of deadly accidents that involved buses or large trucks increased by 6 percent. The number of trucks involved in such crashes also increased; while there were 4,074 commercial vehicles involved in fatal accidents in 2015, there were 4,213 in 2016.

Are back injuries covered by workers’ compensation?

Having to deal with any type of pain is unthinkable. Especially, if it becomes so unbearable that you can barely move. But what if the excruciating pain was from your back that you injured while working? What happens, will you be covered by workers’ compensation?

Most states require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. You are covered by the insurance if you are an employee of the company. The only way to be compensated for your injury is if it happened while you were working or doing something on behalf of your employer or company. It must be considered a work-related injury. The workers’ compensation insurance will pay for your medical expenses that are related to your workplace injury. It also pays any missed wages because of not being able to work. It covers any ongoing care that you may need such as, physical therapy. Workers’ compensation insurance will also cover any repetitive injury, illness or disability while on the job.

Falls tied to nearly a third of construction claims

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, the construction industry is full of safety hazards. Falls from elevated surfaces are especially frequent. Nationwide Insurance recently found that out of the more than 10,000 workers' compensation claims that it processed in the past five years, nearly a third were concerned with falls. Falls can be prevented, though, with the right safety training.

This is why Nationwide recently supported the Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, which was sponsored by OSHA and held between May 7 and 11. During this nationwide event, many construction companies put a stop to operations to train their employees on proper inspection methods, equipment use and hazard assessment. For many, the stand-down was a good way to get workers to accept ongoing training.

Firm releases alarming distracted driving study

Accidents involving distracted drivers claimed 3,477 lives around the country in 2017 according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures, and most road safety experts expect the death toll to rise even higher in the years ahead. The alarming rise in distracted driving accidents and fatalities is generally blamed on cellphone use behind the wheel, and a study from the technology firm Everdrive suggests that one in three American drivers, including many in Pennsylvania, engage in this potentially deadly behavior every day.

The study was based on data gathered from 300,000 drivers who downloaded Everdrive's road safety application. This has led some to suggest that the problem is even more serious than the study suggests because people who download safety applications may be less likely to engage in reckless behavior while behind the wheel. Drivers across the country spend more than three minutes each day using their cellphones according to the Everdrive data, but that figure is far higher in the Northeast and it is especially high in Pennsylvania.

Workplace design may lead to pain for radiologists

Changes in how radiologists do their jobs could cause these Pennsylvania professionals to experience neck and back pain. Those who operate in picture archiving and communication spend less time in front of patients and more time in front of a computer. As work areas are not necessarily designed in an ergonomic manner, a worker could be forced to sit in an awkward position.

In some cases, injuries such as "computer back" or "mouse shoulder" are attributed to the fact that workers aren't taking breaks or otherwise moving out of uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. Those who are in pain are less likely to feel good about the work that they do. For radiologists, not enjoying the job could lead to burnout. However, by understanding what causes the pain, it could be possible to institute a culture change that allows radiologists to feel better about their work.

Is it possible to sue an employer after suffering a work injury?

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and covers medical expenses for employees injured on the job. In exchange for the coverage no matter who was at fault, employees abdicate their right to sue the employer for negligence. Deviation from workers’ compensation allows the injured person to explore other avenues for compensation.

Financial limitations of workers’ compensation

Back injuries and workers’ compensation

Back pain results from damage to the soft tissue and muscles supporting the spine, tendons and ligaments. The spine depends on the surrounding muscles and soft tissues to hold the spine upright, support body weight and perform basic movements.

Muscle strain or lumbar sprains from overuse or overextension results in the muscle or ligament tissue tearing. The resulting discomfort ranges from a dull ache to shooting pains.

Some fundamentals of Pennsylvania workers' compensation

If you've been in the workforce a long time and suffered an injury on the job, maybe you have a handle on some of the ins and outs of workers' compensation in Pennsylvania. Most hard-working individuals in the state, though, have never had to confront this complicated system. Even if you have, it can be unwise to presume that your next experience will be the same as your last.

While the law of the state requires employers to provide no-fault workers' compensation coverage, the statutes do allow for some exceptions. Failure to understand the limitations could leave you ineligible for benefits. Additionally, insurance plans can vary and the administrating companies of the plans have strong incentive to deny benefits if they feel they can do so legally.

Stapp Law, LLC - Workers Compensation

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Stapp Law, LLC
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Williamsport, PA 17701

Phone: 570-980-1865
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