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Denver Workers' Compensation Blog

Fatigue in workplaces can lead to injured workers

Fatigue is an often-ignored workplace hazard. It can take a toll on Colorado workers in several ways. Employers who fail to take fatigue seriously may end up with injured workers that can affect the company's bottom line. Fatigued workers typically struggle to plan when faced with complex tasks because their decision-making skills are compromised. Fatigue can have an impact on a worker's attention span, jeopardizing his or her ability to recognize safety hazards and react quickly.

In addition to a lack of sleep, dim lighting in the workplace can also cause fatigue, as can long shifts on jobs requiring high levels of physical activity. Not enough breaks in shifts that require high levels of mental activity and stress can also bring about fatigue. Sleep disorders, overindulging in alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are other triggers for fatigue during work hours.

Injured workers: Marijuana industry drafts safety rules

As in all other industries, employees in the marijuana industry deserve to be safe in their workplace environments. Although it has been legal to use marijuana for recreational purposes since 2012, safety regulations in this industry are only now receiving attention. Injured workers in the marijuana industry have the same rights to workers' compensation benefits as those with other injuries have.

Alongside the existing safety regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Colorado Marijuana Occupational Health and Safety Work Group created a supplementary guide to protecting employees within the industry. While these workers face the more common hazards such as falls from slips and trips, more industry-specific injuries must be anticipated. The risk of suffering fatal injuries in explosions or fires is high.

Diesel mechanics face many risks of being Injured at work

Diesel mechanics in Colorado and other states face numerous injury hazards on a daily basis. Although it is the duty of their employers to provide safe workplace environments and address known safety hazards, the nature of the work is hazardous. Whenever a mechanic is injured at work, his or her financial stability may be threatened.

The hazards diesel mechanics face include the dangers of lifting heavy parts that must be maneuvered into place. Many of the jobs they do require them to contort their bodies while bending, stretching, stooping or twisting. Back and muscle injuries can result from making these movements while lifting heavy items. Hand injuries are often caused by working in tight spaces, and lacerations, cuts, bruises and burn injuries are common. Dropped equipment or heavy parts that are difficult to grip securely could cause crushing injuries to toes or fracture foot bones.

Search and rescue volunteers covered by workers' comp

We often hear about how workers' compensation covers employees in a workplace accident, but what happens when the person doing the work isn't paid? Volunteer emergency workers can find themselves in precarious situations and subject to as much harm as they person they are attempting to rescue. Is the volunteer worker covered if he or she is injured?

The issue came about in the state recently when a search and rescue volunteer in Routt County broke his arm and his leg in an avalanche while attempting to save two snowboarders stuck in a canyon. Even though the rescuer is not a paid employee, he is still covered by the county because he was performing services on behalf of the sheriff's office, which will cover all medical expenses and two-thirds of lost wages.

Proposed Colorado law could help injured workers with bills

When looking for a job, the insurance coverage an employer carries for workplace accidents may never come to mind. An employee may not know whether or not an employer has the proper coverage until the medical bills start to pile up. If an employer does not carry the otherwise lawfully required insurance for employees, where can an injured worker turn for help?

Business insurance coverage is mandated and enforced on a state-by-state basis. When the state fails to enforce compliance among employers, workers may soon be able to rely on a state fund to cover costs related to an on-the-job injury. House Bill 1119, the Colorado Uninsured Employer Act, would allow employees to make injury claims to the state. A state-sponsored board would then consider payout.

Violation of workers' rights might have caused 1 death, 1 injury

Employers in Colorado and other states are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Workers' rights include the right to safe work environments, and business owners must assess workplace safety and address all potential hazards. Furthermore, employers must provide adequate safety training, and only qualified employees must work on specialized projects, such as working with electricity.

To prevent accidental contact with electricity, project planners must ensure that existing concealed electrical lines and power boxes are identified and marked. Such precautions might have saved one life and prevented critical injuries to another worker on a construction site in another state. Fire department workers attended to a fatal electrical fire on a recent Saturday.

Will Trump deregulate workplace safety rules?

Donald Trump ran an unprecedented and unpredictable campaign, which is carrying into the early days of his administration. With campaign promises to ease the burden on businesses while decreasing regulations, it's fair to assume that OSHA will be affected by the incoming president.

There are two paths to predicting what a Trump administration will look like: by considering his business history and reviewing his campaign speeches.

OSHA issues new beryllium exposure rule

Industrial workers in metal and ceramic production, construction and shipyards are familiar with many hazards in a day's work. Sometimes it's not the labor or the heavy machinery that's the biggest danger, though. Sometimes it's the air itself.

Lung problems aren't limited to miners, but to steel workers and anyone else working with toxic materials. Beryllium is a lightweight metal with dangerous fumes that cause serious and chronic conditions when inhaled.

Injured workers: OSHA investigates preventable burn incident

Industrial facilities nationwide, including in Colorado, are typically dangerous areas. Regardless of any employee's level of experience, continuous compliance with safety regulations is required. The slightest safety error in the presence of industrial machines and equipment can have severe consequences, and injured workers can be costly for any company, and detrimental to the financial stability of the victims.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating a workplace accident that caused serious burn injuries to a worker at a sugar plant in a neighboring state earlier this month. Although the investigation is not complete yet, a preliminary OSHA report indicated the accident was preventable. The employee was a member of a contracted crew who was cleaning the inside of an evaporator when he was injured.

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