Americans have the right to a safe environment when you go to work, but unfortunately for many, they are injured on the job thanks to unsafe conditions. Despite the efforts made by administrations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, certain injuries still occur with regularity.

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Workers’ compensation claims frequently are made after a worker suffers from:

Burns

Burns can be caused by chemicals, radiation, electricity, and heat. This type of injury is one of the most common that occur on the job, especially when employees are working with fire, hot steam, molten materials, and electrical wiring.

The medical community has created degrees which describe how severe a burn is.

Burn Classifications and Typical Treatments

First-Degree

First-degree burns are the least severe of all burns. This burn involves the outermost layer of skin, leaving it red, inflamed, and dry. It usually takes three to six days for first degree burns to heal. Treatment typically involves taking an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen and  topical treatments like aloe vera and creams.

Second-Degree

Second-degree burns involve several layers of skin and can be quite painful. Blisters are common with this type of burn. The amount of time it takes to heal is, naturally, longer – typically around two to three weeks. However, that time may be extended if doctors determine that a skin graft is necessary.

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Third-Degree

Third-degree burns damage every layer of the skin and can even cause damage to the bloodstream and nerves. Doctors become more concerned if the patient reports that they don’t feel pain because this means that the damage is extensive. These burns also include a serious risk of complications such as infections, shock, blood loss, hypothermia, or hypovolemia. Many victims are left with scarring. These burns always require hospitalization and the care of a doctor. Skin grafts are likely.

Fourth-Degree

Fourth-degree burns go deep – through the skin and into the bone and organs. There is really no way for doctors to treat the burn with skin grafts or medications – amputation is required.

Toxic Exposure

In nearly every industry there are chemicals and toxic substances on the worksite. Those who are employed in factories, mills, construction, auto shops, painters, beauty salons, and shipyards are surrounded by substances that are required to get the job done, but that need to be handled with care.

Employers are required to give all of their employees information on any toxins in the workplace. In fact, OSHA requires that there must be labels and safety data sheets available as well as appropriate training on how to handle the substances.

Substances that frequently cause injury or illness to workers include:

  • formaldehyde
  • gasoline
  • lead products
  • solvents
  • silica dust
  • benzene
  • asbestos
  • pesticides

Hearing Loss

Tsign of medical carehere are certain jobs that create an environment where damage to the ears and subsequent hearing loss is likely, such as:

  • landscaping
  • garbage collection
  • construction work
  • air traffic or airport work
  • ambulance driving
  • carpentry
  • logging

There are steps that employers can and should take to protect their employees ears from damage causing sounds. For more information, check out the Hearing Conservation program designed by OSHA. This program requires that employers monitor noise exposure levels and give their findings to employees.

Bone Muscle, & Joint Injuries

Fractures, dislocations, torn ligaments, sprains, and strains are all considered injuries to the bone, muscle, and joints.  If these body parts are injured, it is possible that the worker won’t be able to use one of their limbs for weeks to months, disrupting their ability to do their job.

Brain Injury

Damage to the brain through a bump or blow to the head can result in a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The most mild form of a TBI is a concussion. Even this “mild” injury can leave someone with headaches, neck pain, nausea, dizziness, and exhaustion. If the injury to the brain is of a more serious nature, the injured employee may experience:

  • seizures
  • changes to speech
  • tingling or pain in any part of the body
  • memory loss or an inability to retain new memories
  • paralysis

If the TBI is moderate to severe, it can take hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in medical treatment to get the victim back on track, TBI’s can end anyone’s career and change the way they experience and live their lives.

Back Injuries

Back injuries can occur due to a sudden blow or they can be caused by constant repetitive motion at work.  Damage can be done to the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar vertebrae. Injuries may involve:

  • fractures of the vertebrae
  • rotated vertebrae which push on muscles and nerves
  • nerve damage
  • ligament tears
  • muscle damage

These can leave the patient suffering from constant pain, headaches, depression, anxiety, paralysis, and insomnia.

Lacerations

Broken glass, sharp tools, and machines used at work can tear through the soft tissue of the body. A laceration can result in excessive bleeding and infection.

Lacerations often require surgical revision and stitches in order to get the wound to heal.

Amputations

Heavy machinery, saws, and car accidents are some of the more common causes of amputations. Even if a limb or digit isn’t removed from the body during the accident, the damage done may leave doctors with no choice but to remove it in order to save the life of the victim.

Amputations often mean that the employee’s chosen career is no longer an option. The loss of the limb, the pain of phantom limb pain, and the emotional trauma of the accident can lead to a lifetime of depression and anxiety.

Crush Injuries

A crush injury occurs when a heavy object applies force and pressure on any part of the body. This force can lead to:

  • bruising
  • bleeding
  • broken bones
  • nerve damage
  • lacerations
  • compartment syndrome
  • rhabomyolysis
  • organ damage

Crush injuries are frequently caused by heavy machinery, falling objects, and car accidents.

Electrocution

While electricians are the group of workers that are most commonly injured by electrocution, anyone can find themselves injured in this type of accident. There are several types of electrical injuries, each relating to a different type of accident.

Full Electrical Injuries: This is when the victim has touched live wires and becomes part of a complete electrical circuit. The electricity runs from an entrance site to the exit site and can damage any part of the body – including blood vessels, nerves, and internal organs.

Lightning Injuries: Not necessarily caused by actual lightening, this occurs when the body is exposed to high voltages for a short period of time.

Flame Injuries: When someone comes into contact with electricity fires can start on clothing. It doesn’t always mean that the person has actually been electrocuted.

Flash Injuries: These occur when an arc causes burns to the skin, but no electricity actually travels through the body.

The damage done to the victim depends on how long they were connected to the electrical current, if the flames can be put out quickly, and how high the voltage is.

Animal Bites

Animal bites can be extremely dangerous. It doesn’t matter if the bite is from a wild animal or a domesticated one, or how big the animal is,  there is always the risk of infection and exposure to infectious diseases. Bites from a large animal can amputate limbs, severe nerves, break bones, and leave the victim suffering from extreme blood loss.

Everyone who has been bitten by an animal needs to be given a series of painful rabies vaccinations, unless the owner of the animal can provide proof of vaccination.

Overexertion

Overexertion is one of the most commonly claimed injuries in workers’ compensation. Causes include typing, having to perform duties in an odd position, and lifting heavy objects. The pain can be overwhelming and the injured will most likely require pain medications, braces, and physical therapy.

Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel results in pain, weakness, or tingling in the hand due to issues with the median nerve.

Occupational Poisoning

In order to become poisoned, people don’t have to ingest a toxin. Hazardous materials can also be absorbed through the skin or through the respiratory system. The effects of the poison may not take immediate effect – poisons can also lead to lung diseases and cancer.

Substances that commonly result in occupational poisoning are:injuries resulting in hospitalizatoin

  • chlorine
  • carbon monoxide
  • formaldehyde
  • chromic acid
  • cadmium
  • nitrogen
  • methyl bromide
  • ozone
  • propane
  • mercury
  • lead

There are steps that every employer should take in order to protect their employees from occupational poisoning, and to avoid having to file a workers’ compensation claim with their insurer.

Lung Diseases

Work-related respiratory diseases reduce the amount of oxygen that an employee can take in, and in some cases, is ultimately fatal. They include:

  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Silicosis
  • Cancer

These respiratory conditions are caused by exposure to environmental factors like asbestos, silica dust, smoke, wood dust, stone dust, poultry dust, and the fumes from hazardous chemicals.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. There is Hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis A is the most common form, and can be transmitted by “hand to mouth” contact. So if your coworker has the disease and your employer gets everyone a shared lunch, it is possible that you may contract the disease through food.

Hepatitis B and C are more difficult to contract, however, if someone works in an industry such as nursing where accidental needle sticks happen frequently, they are at risk.

What Can I Do If I’ve Been Injured?

If you are unsure if you are eligible for a workers’ compensation claim, or if you have questions on how to file, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer at Bulldog Lawyers today. We will review your case and let you know what your options are.

Our Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law firm helps injured workers from a wide variety of industries and with many different types of on-the-job injuries. Don’t hesitate to call.

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