Eley Law Firm
Specializing in
Workers' Compensation
720-644-8759 | 866-371-3322
Protecting the Rights of Injured Workers

Colorado Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Death benefits provide financial aid after fatal work accident

While industrial workers in Colorado likely recognize the potential dangers of their chosen profession, their families may be concerned about the safety of their loved ones whenever they are at work. Many industrial workers are the sole breadwinners for their families, and a workplace accident may lead to the loss of income. Although workers' compensation benefits may provide financial aid, families may be unsure of the availability of death benefits, and how to go about filing a claim.

The owners of industrial companies are expected to provide safe workplace surroundings and proper safety training to all their workers. When safety regulations are disregarded, workplace accidents may result in severe injuries, or even death. A worker at a scrap yard in Denver recently lost his life in a tragic workplace accident.

New OSHA regulations for reporting injured workers to be enacted

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is designed to protect both employees and employers. OSHA creates and enforces workplace safety regulations that, if followed, can help minimize injuries or even fatalities on a job site. In the past, employers in Colorado and across the country were only required to report hospitalizations of injured workers to OSHA if the number of those workers was at least three. Now, with new rules on the horizon, officials are hopeful that they will be better able to pinpoint potential problems.

The new regulations are set to be enacted by the beginning of 2015. They now require employers to report any injured employee being sent to the hospital if that employee hurts him- or herself on the job. The report must be made within 24 hours. Also, there are now stricter requirements regarding what injuries must be reported, including amputations or losing an eye. Worker fatalities are still -- and always have been -- required to be reported by employers, but they now have eight hours to report such incidents. 

What disability options are used for injured workers in Colorado?

Employees who are injured on the job would find themselves facing financial difficulties if employers weren't required to help provide for them after an on-the-job injury. Injured workers may need to file for disability payments to provide for themselves and their families. Though many Colorado employees may be aware of this possibility, they may not know exactly what each option entails.

Temporary total disability is fairly simple to understand, as it means that an employee has been injured and is not able to work at all, but that the condition is not expected to last. Temporary partial disability can occur in many ways, such as when a worker returns to work before his or her condition is fully stable. It also occurs if the injured employee starts earning less than an average weekly wage or has a reduction in wages or hours because his or her job description has changed. Temporary disability in either case will cease if the employee starts working at his or her normal wage again, a doctor says he or she can return to their job, missing multiple medical checkups and for other reasons.

Injured Colorado workers may have rehabilitation rights

When employees are injured on the job, they may choose to file for workers' compensation. Workers' compensation insurance is meant to cover numerous expenses that can result from an employee injuring him or herself, including medical bills and lost wages. One expense that it can cover, that Colorado employees may not even be aware of, is the cost of rehabilitation. Some employees cannot work at their former position due to the injury and have rehabilitation rights that would help them find new employment, either with their original company or somewhere else.

Vocational rehabilitation can help employees find new employment and even to apply for the job. It can also provide job training, education, tuition payment and offer several other services. What an employee is entitled to will be dependent on the scope of the employee's injury and personal circumstances. Employees are asked to cooperate if the services are provided and may even have their benefits reduced if they do not.

Accident at Kellogg plant could result in workers' compensation

When an accident happens in the workplace, a worker might file for workers' compensation benefits. If this worker is a contractor, it can raise additional questions about which employer is required to provide and pay for the insurance policy. In Colorado, if an employee is contracted to a company, working on a third-party job site and is injured, generally the worker's direct employer's insurance policy would cover the workers' compensation benefits. This could be the case in a recent accident at an out-of-state Kellogg plant.

Authorities say that the accident happened on a recent afternoon. Some equipment fell onto the legs of two employees, injuring them. They were rushed to a local hospital for treatment. One worker broke his leg and the other sustained serious injuries to both of his legs. Their names have not been released at this time.

What are Colorado workers' rights regarding toxic exposure?

Some types of employees here in Colorado know that their jobs carry a degree of risk. These dangers typically relate to physical safety, such as a risk of falling or the risks of operating heavy machinery. There are some workers, however, who face other types of dangers that may not immediately come to mind. These are workers who, for many reasons, may be exposed to toxic or unsafe chemicals while they are at work. These employees may not be fully aware of what workers' rights entail if they are working in close proximity to hazardous materials, though they do exist.

Employers are legally obligated to disclose to their workers that toxic chemicals may be present in the workplace and also to supply information regarding the chemicals. They are expected to have Material Safety Data Sheets that describe how to handle the chemicals safely and contains descriptive data relating to each chemical. Warning labels and signage should also be in place on any potentially-dangerous product or workplace area.

Repetitive injuries can be covered by workman's comp in Colorado

Many employees have to perform physical labor as part of their job. Back injuries can sometimes result from repetitive lifting motions. An employee might notice the injury right away, or it may occur when he or she is not at work. However it happens, these injuries can be difficult to prove, and employers and insurance companies may be reluctant to provide workman's comp. Even so, Colorado employees are still entitled to those benefits.

The symptoms of a back injury may not occur while an employee is at work, or they could happen after the employee has already performed the stressful behavior numerous times. Lifting, twisting and other motions repeated over a long period of time can weaken a person’s back. A back injury can be very debilitating for the person who experiences it. It can not only affect a person’s ability to work but also the ability to enjoy life.

Colorado gas workers may need workman's comp for benzene exposure

Employers are obligated to keep the safety of their employees a top priority. This means ensuring that they have a risk-free work environment, adequate training and functional equipment, and that other safety measures are in place. However, some employees are still at-risk for illness or injury because their companies are not required to follow certain guidelines to which other industries are subject. They may end up filing for workman's comp, as some Colorado natural gas workers may have to do, according to reports of increased exposure to a potentially harmful chemical -- benzene.

The chemical benzene is said to be a cancer-causing component that is found in flowback water from the fracking process, though it is also present in gasoline and cigarette smoke. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration typically limits the amount of benzene that is permitted to be exposed in a particular workplace, though many oil and gas companies have an exemption from those regulations. A recent study took measurements of the levels of chemical exposure that well site employees in two states -- including Colorado -- experience, and it claims that it found those levels to be higher than what is said to be safe.

How OSHA helps Colorado's injured workers

Many workers in Colorado and elsewhere may not know this, but they have the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to thank for safer work environments. OSHA was created in 1970 to regulate and enforce safety measures that keep employees from getting sick, injured or even dying. Even if employees are aware of all of this, they may still be uncertain as to precisely how OSHA benefits injured workers.

OSHA handles a variety of areas that can cause harm to workers. This includes biological agents, chemical hazards, construction safety, ergonomics, air quality and other topics. They have strict regulations that pertain to each area with the intention of preventing accidents in the workplace.

Filing for workman's comp in Colorado

Colorado employees typically take great pride in a job well done. Their chosen profession is one that they likely enjoy, and many workers feel as though they are a part of a family. If that worker becomes injured on the job, he or she may be uncertain of how to proceed. Filing for workman's comp is not something that an employee does regularly, and the process can be daunting, considering that all they may want to do is focus on getting well.

Here at the Eley Law Firm, we have extensive experience regarding how to properly file for workers’ compensation benefits. We have been in practice for over 30 years and have assisted thousands of employees with this sometimes-intimidating task. There are certain steps an employee can take before filing for workman’s comp, and we can assist with each phase.

Office Location

Eley Law Firm
2000 S. Colorado Blvd.
No. 2-740

Denver, CO 80222

Toll Free: 866.371.3322
Phone: 720.644.8759
Fax: 720.724.2100
Denver Law Office Map