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How will a back injury affect your future?

While any injury is possible to sustain on the job, one of the most common is hurting your back. It can happen in any industry, from ones that require constant lifting to those that demand sitting at a desk all day.

Because it is so universal, it can be easy to brush it off as just something you have to deal with if you work. However, a back injury can have lifelong negative consequences, so do not take it lightly.

Workers' compensation claim denied for man hurt while smoking

Many employers in Minnesota include workers' compensation as part of their benefits package to serve a dual purpose. First, it is a convenient protection for their employees should they ever find themselves injured on the job. Second, it also provides support and protection for the organization itself if they are facing legal consequences after an employee injury or workplace accident. What people should remember is that not all workers' compensation claims are approved, especially if surrounding conditions are found to be outside of the control of the employer. 

This is exactly what happened when a worker's compensation claim was denied in Raleigh, North Carolina. A man who officials say works for the city, suffered a back injury when he fell from his truck while on his lunch break. The man assumed a supervisory role and was smoking inside of his vehicle when he began coughing uncontrollably. Upon exiting his vehicle, he fell down and hit the curb. 

What protocol should you follow after being injured at work?

You have been experiencing persistent and discomforting pain and you are beginning to suspect that it is related to your job. The pain seems to be initiated when you are performing certain job duties, and you do not recall experiencing it before you undertook your assigned responsibilities. Now, you are starting to wonder if you are dealing with a workplace injury. So, what do you do from here? Fortunately, when you follow a general protocol for filing a workers' compensation claim in Minnesota, you may have a good chance at receiving compensation.

According to the Workers' Compensation Board, if your injury is severe, you should acquire medical attention immediately. It is important to verify that the medical provider is within the network of your company's workers' compensation policy. Then, you must immediately notify a superior who can direct you in how to create a claim. When writing your claim, you should provide helpful details and a timeline of events leading up to the injury. Failing to write your claim in enough time may void your ability to receive compensation. After your claim has been submitted, you should consider the following:

  • Adhering to your doctor's advice regarding treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Be present at any hearings related to your case and potential compensation agreements.
  • Receiving a medical evaluation to receive a clean bill of health from your doctor before you return to work.

Handling OSHA complaints effectively to reduce consequences

For many companies in Minnesota, avoiding run-ins with OSHA violations, employee injuries and workplace accidents is a primary concern. Often, especially in higher-risk industries, employers implement stringent protocols designed to protect the safety of their workers, as well as the reputation of their brand and organization. If an OSHA violation does ever occur, it is important that company leaders understand how to handle the complaint in the most effective way to reduce consequences that could have a long-term impact on their business. 

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, people can issue a complaint about a company and request an inspection. Some of the reasons a complaint may be filed include the following:

  • Someone reports an imminent danger that exists in the workplace.
  • Someone provides a description that alleges an incident occurred because of a present danger that resulted in the injury of a worker.
  • A whistle-blower or private investigator finds conditions that are unsafe or reckless.
  • An employer has previously received a warning from OSHA but has failed to make required changes and continues to operate negligently. 

Using education to encourage your employees to drive safe

If the nature of your business requires you to rely on your employees to deliver products and services by transporting them to consumers, you face a unique set of risks tied to managing a fleet of employee-driven vehicles. While it would be convenient to rely on the responsibility and vigilance of your employees to drive safely and follow the rules of the road, it is often easier said than done. At Fellman Law Office, we have helped many employers in Minnesota to learn about effective ways to encourage their employees to drive safely. 

If you have employees who are driving company-designated vehicles carelessly and putting the lives of other motorists at risk, that type of behavior could reflect badly on your company's name and reputation. Despite your efforts to run an ethical, honest and respected company, you have to rely on your employees to positively represent your brand, especially when they are behind the wheel of classified company vehicles. According to the United States Department of Labor, car crashes happen quite frequently, on a daily basis, in the United States. In fact, statistics show that an accident happens every 5 seconds. Some of the things you can do to encourage your employees to drive safely and responsibly include the following:

  • Calculate costs for accidents and budget some of that money so you are not financially burdened if an accident does happen.
  • Implement a safe driving program that educates employees about safe driving practices and provides incentives for those that follow the rules. 
  • Talk openly about safe driving techniques and hold regular trainings to refresh important topics.

What dangers do you face working in a hospital?

If you count yourself among the many people across Minnesota currently making a living in a hospital environment, you may have firsthand knowledge of the types of aches, pains and more serious injuries that often come with earning a living in this manner. Today’s hospitals are some of the most hazardous places in the nation to earn an income, with hospital workers facing a wide range of potential hazards every time they clock in for a shift.

Per the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, hospital workers suffer injury at nearly twice the rate of other workers within the private sector, with 6.8 injuries occurring for every 100 hospital workers nationwide. Just what is it about the hospital work environment that is so conducive to injuries?

3 mistakes to avoid with your workers' compensation claim

Most injuries and ailments that occur while on the job and from performing work-related tasks in Saint Paul are compensable by workers' compensation. If you are getting ready to file a claim for benefit after a workplace injury, you should learn everything about the claims process first. Getting a benefits claim is not a slam dunk. 

You may qualify for workers' compensation benefits by law; however, the approval process is complex. Your claim could be denied for a variety of reasons, but you can appeal an initial denial. However, you should avoid making the following mistakes with your claim the first time to forgo the need for an appeal: 

How you can avoid common OSHA violations in the workplace

As a business owner, you make proactive efforts to protect your workers and initiate responsible behavior to encourage safety and efficiency. You are aware that an unexpected visit from OSHA regulators could be detrimental to your company's ability to continue to operate and perform successfully. However, there may be times when you are left to wonder if there is anything you are missing that could help you to be better prepared for a sudden inspection. At Fellman Law Office, we have helped many Minnesota companies work their way through legal consequences following an OSHA violation. 

When you are familiar with common OSHA violations and understand how you can best avoid them, you may have a better chance at passing all inspections and creating a work environment that is free of unnecessary hazards and dangers. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, some common pitfalls that companies fall into and how you can avoid them include the following:

  • Faulty lockout/tagout procedures: If your business requires your workers to be around hazards, chances are you have a tagout policy in place. While you may have spent considerable time organizing various lockout policies, it is imperative that you perform regular inspections to better recognize when changes need to be made to avoid faulty tagouts. 
  • Unsafe machine operation: While your workers may have undergone considerable training to become eligible to safely operate machinery, regular checks should be planned to guarantee that protective measures are being used by your employees to guard against cuts, flying debris or exposed rotation devices.
  • Failure to communicate hazards: When your employees are working in close proximity to hazardous materials, you must disclose the danger in a way that is noticeable and informative. This type of awareness can help your employees make smarter decisions to keep them safe from harm. 

Falls still primary cause of fatality on construction sites

Despite stricter safety regulations and precautions, falls remain a leading cause of injury and death for construction workers in the Minnesota area and across the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, 849 construction workers lost their lives to worksite fall accidents. Construction sites are full of hazards that can lead to injury and death. Though workers are required to take precautions to avoid events that could cause them injury or kill them, accidents still happen. 

There are a variety of factors that lead to fall accidents in the construction industry. The risk of serious injury is higher when the fall distance is greater than six feet. Nine percent of falls that occur in the construction industry are from distances less than six feet, though falls from distances greater than 16 feet are often fatal, states ConstructConnect. 

Can you protect yourself from skin-related occupational diseases?

Depending on the industry you are a part of in Minnesota, your job may require you to wear protective gear to keep you safe from hazards in the workplace. Occupational diseases for example, can affect your breathing and skin among other things, but skin-related illnesses are often more common than you may realize. Fortunately, there are preventative steps you can take to better protect yourself. 

According to the Safety and Health Magazine, people who work with chemicals that can potentially be absorbed into their skin is in excess of 13 million in the United States. If you work in food service, health care, cosmetology and construction among others, you are at an even higher risk. Sometimes, continual contact with sanitizers or other chemicals can create an allergic reaction or leave your skin covered in eczema. Symptoms of eczema include swelling, blisters and itchy skin. If you work in an industry where you are required to wear protective gear, you can still be at risk of chemical exposure to your skin through splashes or contact with surfaces that are contaminated. 

Fellman Law Office
400 Robert Street North Suite 1740
Saint Paul, MN 55101

Toll Free: 866-532-5051
Phone: 651-222-9515
Fax: 651-225-5656
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