Heating and air conditioning installers, cable installers and technicians, and plumbing and electrical repair workers all face some similar challenges in their employment. Whether working at a private residence or a large commercial facility such as an office, hospital, or hotel, these repair professionals generally are extending or correcting the previous work of other technicians-but, unlike the original construction workers, they rarely have access to complete wiring diagrams or architectural plans. Their jobs can put them in extreme conditions: sometimes high on a roof, exposed to summer heat or winter sleet; sometimes in cramped attics, basements, and crawlspaces.
As Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation lawyers , we understand the risks of injury that cable installers and HVAC workers face every day. They work with bulky materials, use heavy machinery and tools, and often labor in close quarters to heat sources and electrical currents. One moment of inattention or one piece of equipment that slips can lead to a fearsome injury. Disabling accidents-or even fatal ones-are far too common.
How workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania can help
Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits are available following an injury on the job. If you have been injured while performing your assigned work, it doesn’t matter if the accident happens while you are doing an installation job away from your employer’s offices. It also doesn’t matter if you, your boss, or a coworker may have been at fault in causing the injury.
In exchange for guaranteed compensation for workplace injuries, state law says that all workers lose their rights to sue their employers or coworkers for any negligent acts that may have harmed them. However, sometimes third-party claims are possible if your accident is due to negligence by the owner of the property where you are working, or due to the misbehavior of some other person. Your Pennsylvania injury attorney can advise you if that applies to your situation.
Beware these Pennsylvania workplace accidents
We all recognize that any accident can happen anywhere. On the other hand, every occupation is more likely to encounter a particular set of injuries. Our clients who have worked as installers and repairmen most often experience the following complaints.
- Bone, joint, and muscle injuries. Twisting motions at the joints and the need to apply pressure in awkward positions can lead to a variety of sprains and strains. Other types of bone, muscle, and joint injuries common to installers include fractures, dislocated shoulders and hips, torn ligaments, and muscle bruising. Some of the less serious injuries can be treated with rest and cold compresses, but broken bones need immediate medical attention-and some musculoskeletal injuries can require surgery for even partial recovery.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive motion in the hands, wrists, and arms can cause the enduring pain associated with carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndromes. It’s not just the repeated movements needed to use screwdrivers, wrenches, and other hand tools that can cause nerve inflammation, but also repeated exposure to vibration from powered hand tools as well. Surgery will be necessary for some severe cases, and it’s not uncommon for a worker to be forever unable to return to his current job.
- Electrical injuries and burns. Electrical or thermal burns-and the resulting risk of scars and lasting disfigurement-are ever-present dangers for installers and their crew. The majority of these injuries is due to accidental contact with electrical power lines and cables. Burns can also result from contact with heating elements, furnaces, boilers, and hot-water tanks. At the most severe, these injuries may require amputation and surgical skin grafts, and some burns and electrocution accidents may be fatal.
- Falls. Installers frequently have to perform their jobs above street level-on roofs, in attics, or on elevated platforms and scaffolds-that make falls from heights a real possibility. A one-story fall from a ladder can break bones or cause a debilitating brain injury; a two-story fall is often fatal. Being struck by falling equipment can also knock over a worker with significant force. Falls are associated with a wide range of injuries, including broken bones, ankle and knee damage, and traumatic brain injuries.
- Hearing loss. People who work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems in residential and commercial buildings are often at increased risk for hearing loss over time. Exposure to noise at the 85 decibel level-equivalent to a vacuum cleaner-can permanently damage hearing in as little as eight hours. However, louder noises, such as the 95-decibel whine of an electric drill, can inflict a similar level of injury after only one hour of exposure. Because of the complex interplay of duration and intensity, all installation personnel should consider themselves part of the population at risk.
- Heavy equipment injuries. Bulky and massive materials pose a significant danger to installers and repairmen. Even cable and fiber optic line installers face the risks of significant injury from heavy equipment when working at Pennsylvania industrial sites where large items are used. The worker crushed under equipment or trapped between objects can suffer broken ribs, amputated limbs, and critical damage to internal organs. Even a relatively minor accident, such as being trapped under a falling water heater in a residential basement, can crush a plumber’s pelvis or cause a traumatic brain injury.
- Lifting injuries. About a quarter of all injuries on the job result from lifting, pulling, or pushing objects. Carrying and dragging awkward or heavy items on a regular basis is a known risk factor for degenerative back and spine injuries and other forms of lifting injuries. Herniated disks and fractured vertebrae-as well as sprains and strains in the arms, shoulders, knees, and legs-are common results of overexertion during lifts.
- Poisons and bacteria. Installers are at risk from various occupational diseases caused by exposure to dangerous toxic chemicals or microorganisms. For HVAC installers, toxic mold spores and legionnaire’s disease bacteria in old ducts can cause skin and lung infections that range from annoying to fatal. A heating or cable installer or a plumber who works in a building constructed before the mid-1970s can come in contact with asbestos, with a resulting risk of cancer or lung disease. Degreasers, solder, braze, sealants, adhesives, and other compounds can cause dermatitis, organic or metal poisoning, or acute inhalation injuries.
- Traffic accidents. Because installers spend a majority of their work time away from the home office, they are vulnerable to motor vehicle accidents in the course of travel between job sites. Even if the worker is relatively well protected in the company truck, a traffic collision can cause neck and brain injuries, broken bones, and even crushing injuries. These cases are always complicated, and they will require a full investigation from a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer to determine whether workers’ comp or a third-party personal injury lawsuit is the appropriate method to get a client fair recovery for his losses.
The Bulldog Lawyers are ready to help you with your claim
Larry Levin and Jay Shor-known throughout Pennsylvania as the Bulldog Lawyers-have been helping clients get the full benefits they deserve. Their Pennsylvania workers’ comp law firm has over 20 years’ experience dealing with insurance adjusters, physicians, employers, and anyone else who might try to stand in the way of the compensation you are owed.
With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading, and Harrisburg, the Bulldog Lawyers we can provide legal representation for any HVAC or cable installer whose benefits have been delayed, denied, or terminated too early. Call us today at 866-462-8553 to learn how we can help push your claim forward.