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Denver Workers' Compensation Blog

Family of deceased refinery worker may seek death benefits

Refinery workers in Colorado and other states face multiple hazards in the line of duty. Within the blink of an eye, a deadly situation can develop. One such an incident claimed the life of a worker in a neighboring state on a recent Monday. Such tragedies typically lead to death benefits claims filed with the workers' compensation insurance program.

Under circumstances yet to be determined, a fire broke out at a refinery that produces 150,000 barrels per day. It is suspected that a furnace that is associated with the reformer blew, causing the fire. That reforming unit was shut down after the incident to allow investigation.

Myths about patient handling techniques

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), health care workers (nurses, nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants) suffer musculoskeletal injuries at a rate seven times that of workers in other occupations. This is far higher than workers in other physically demanding industries such as construction, mining, and warehousing. Health care employers incur $20 billion in direct and indirect costs related to musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.

What explains the high rate of back injuries, neck injuries, shoulder injuries and muscular strains in the health care field? To a large part, they are due to overexertion resulting from the constant moving and repositioning of patients, often performed in awkward postures. This problem seems to be growing in severity because of hospital understaffing, increased numbers of patients, and the obesity epidemic.

To protect your health, avoid toluene exposure

Toluene is a highly useful chemical found in a number of industrial and consumer products, including paints, metal cleaners, adhesives, nail polish, and printing inks. Toluene vaporizes when exposed to air at room temperature. That can result in serious health problems for workers who inhale even small amounts of toluene on a regular basis. Toluene is also highly volatile and when the atmospheric concentration is high enough, even a distant flame or nearby static charge can spark a flashback explosion.

Use of vibrating tools can lead to Raynaud's disease

That tingling feeling in your fingers or hands may indicate a serious problem. Repeated use of jack hammers, drills, sanders, lawn mowers, and other vibrating tools can damage small blood vessels in the hands and fingers, reducing blood flow. When the affected hands and fingers are subsequently exposed to cold, a person can experience pain, numbness, tingling, and throbbing. This condition goes under a variety of names, including white finger, Raynaud's disease, Raynaud's phenomenon, and Raynaud's syndrome.

For many people affected, the condition is merely bothersome. But in more serious cases ulcers can appear on the fingers or hands. In severe cases, amputation of one or more fingers may be necessary.

Permanent disability: Worker's arm ripped off by conveyor system

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are four categories of workplace accidents that cause most workplace fatalities, one of which is getting trapped in or between objects or equipment. While many lives are lost in these types of accidents, a survivor may find him or herself with a permanent disability. One such an accident tore off the arm of a Colorado man on a recent Wednesday morning.

Reportedly, the industrial accident occurred at a north Loveland UPS Customer Center. Responders included emergency medical services and rescuers from the fire department. Upon arrival, they learned that a worker's arm became trapped in the workings of a conveyor belt. He was unable to remove his arm before it became completely detached from his body.

Carbon monoxide - a silent killer

It makes no sound. It has no smell. You can't see it. You may not know it's there until it's too late. It's called carbon monoxide, and it poses a danger to workers in a wide variety of occupations.

Anyone who works in an enclosed space where material is burning faces a serious and potentially fatal risk from carbon monoxide. Those who can be affected include mine workers, forklift operators, furnace repair technicians, firefighters, and auto mechanics working in shops with propane, gas, or kerosene heaters.

Permanent disability or death can follow struck-by injuries

One of the biggest hazards facing construction workers, particularly those who work in road construction, is struck-by incidents. The Center for Construction Research and Training says between 2011 and 2015, 804 construction workers lost their lives after suffering struck-by injuries. The number of deaths resulting from being struck by equipment was slightly higher than those that were struck by vehicles. These figures represent construction workers nationwide, including Colorado, who lost their lives but exclude those that suffered a permanent disability or less severe consequences.

Further analysis of the fatalities indicates that more than half occurred in road construction zones. According to statistics, 114 workers were hit by passenger vehicles while 112 lost their lives after being struck by trucks. The areas in which a large number of fatalities occurred include bridges, streets and highways, and the highest rate of deaths was in workers older than 65 years. The statistics apparently show that the occupations representing the highest fatality rates for struck-by incidents are maintenance workers on the nation's highways, installers of power lines and operators of loading and excavating machines.

Work duties can increase the likelihood of heart disease

Heavier than normal work activities can result in a heart attack, even in a person who does not exhibit any signs of heart problems. In the parlance of the Colorado workers' compensation system, this is known as "unusual exertion". When unusual exertion does cause a heart attack, a worker can claim workers' compensation benefits, though such cases are often contested by insurance companies.

A heart attack is frequently preceded by the development of arteriosclerosis, commonly called hardening of the arteries or heart disease. Several studies have shown a link between work duties and the development of heart disease.

Worker's death after being injured at work explained

Following up on our blog post about an explosion in Weld County from June 7 ("Death benefits claim possible following Colorado explosion"), investigators have now reported their findings of the cause. It was a tragic event in which four contract workers were injured at work, and one of them succumbed to his injuries. Although the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have not concluded their investigations, the Mountain View Fire Protection District announced its findings.

On May 25, an explosion and fire occurred at an oil tank battery in Mead. Investigators have now determined that workers were in a trench that was excavated to allow the removal and replacement of a pipe. Reportedly, combustible products built up and were ignited by sparks caused by the activities of pipe cutting and simultaneous welding. In fact, they believe that there were several sources of ignition inside the trench.

How to avoid suffering a hand injury

You might be surprised to learn that hand injuries are one of the most common work injuries. They comprise about one-third of all injuries in the workplace and 20 percent of disabling injuries. A hand injury can threaten the livelihood of nearly every worker, because it can make performing even a simple task difficult if not impossible.

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