Eley Law Firm
Specializing in
Workers' Compensation
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Protecting the Rights of Injured Workers

Colorado Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Families could seek death benefits after 2 workers electrocuted

Losing a loved one to a work-related accident is a tragedy no family should ever have to endure. Unfortunately, accidents can happen and may result in the death of an employee. Though Colorado employers generally take every precaution to protect their workers, there are times when a company’s action -- or inaction -- is squarely to blame. A worker’s family may decide to file for death benefits as part of a workers’ compensation claim in the event that the unthinkable should occur. This is the choice that some out-of-state families may face after two oil field workers were recently killed while on-the-job.

Officials say that the accident happened recently in an oil field when a pumping crew was attempting to remove a pump jack. As they were doing so, a cable from their truck apparently struck a power line. One worker was seriously injured and had to be rushed to a nearby hospital. Two other employees were electrocuted.

Oil refinery facing OSHA fines, possible workman's comp

Employers in Colorado generally want to do everything within their power to keep their workers safe from any harm. This can include providing proper training for employees, minimizing potential hazards or maintaining equipment. Failure to follow these types of measures could result in the injury -- or even death -- of an employee. A workman's comp claim could be filed by the employee or his or her family to cover any work-accident-related expenses. This could be what happens with regard to one out-of-state oil refinery who is accused of violating several safety regulations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a recent safety inspection at the refinery in question. Representatives of OSHA claim they found the refinery to have several violations -- three of which were serious, and five for which the refinery had been previously cited. Some of the repeat violations were for failing to protect employees from hot surfaces, failing to maintain electrical equipment and wiring and failing to keep floor grating level.

No Need to Show Seat is Defective to Prove Resulting Injury

Western States Fire Protection v. Olsen, No. 13CA1748 (Colo. App. March 27, 2014)

The Court of Appeals ruled that a claimant does not have to show a vehicle is defective to prove that he suffered an occupational disease by prolonged driving of the vehicle. The claimant asserted that he suffered an injury to his back from prolonged driving of a truck provided by the employer. Claimant worked for a company that installed and serviced fire alarms. As a NICET Level 3 fire life safety technician, the clamant drove to client's locations in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. The claimant began having problem in his back while driving the truck within 30 days of starting work for the company.

Employers Beware! Right to Select Doctor Can Pass to Claimant for Physician's Refusal to Treat for "Non-Medical Reasons."

Garcia v. McDonalds Corp. W.C. 9-862-853-01 (ICAO, January 2, 20140.

Colorado appeals courts have long held that the right to choose a doctor can pass to the claimant if the treating physician refuses to provide treatment for "non-medical reasons." However what defines a reason as non-medical has been somewhat unclear. Certainly, if a doctor isn't getting paid and therefore refuses to provide treatment, this would be a non-medical reason. But a diagnosis of a non-work related injury could be argued as a medical reason for not treating. However, in Garcia v. McDonalds, the ICAO determined that a doctor's refusal to treat because of a determination of causation is a non-medical reason and the right can to choose a doctor can then pass to the claimant if a new doctor is not promptly provided by the carrier.

Raging fire at coal mine injured workers

Colorado employees of all kinds are dedicated workers who take great pride in what they do. They trust that their employers will use every means at their disposal to maintain a safe work environment. Unfortunately, accidents can happen and often result in injury or even fatality. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently examining the circumstances surrounding an out-of-state coal mine fire that injured workers in order to determine whether the company is responsible.

Officials say that employees were working on a currently inactive mine site, preparing for activity to resume. A fire broke out in a silo, and several employees attempted to put it out. As they battled the flames, fiery debris fell on them, burning them very seriously. Enough ash fell from the fire that five workers had to dig themselves out of it before receiving medical treatment.

Potential for workman's comp after fatal factory accident

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration exists to enact and enforce regulations that will help keep employees as safe as possible in their particular place of work. If an accident or fatality occurs, OSHA typically investigates to determine what happened and whether an employer did -- or failed to do -- anything that might have contributed to the accident. Colorado employees may be interested in an out-of-state case involving a fatal incident at a factory that OSHA is in the process of analyzing. The family of the deceased employee might file for death benefits as part of a workman's comp claim.

The accident happened on a recent evening at a factory that produces aluminum pieces. A worker had his arm crushed by an aluminum press and ended up dying from his injuries before first responders could assist him. There are not many details that outline precisely what occurred, but OSHA will be leading an inquiry and attempting to determine if the factory violated any safety regulations that might have caused the accident.

Rise in Colorado construction could mean rise in workman's comp

Colorado citizens are hard-working and dedicated to their chosen professions. Some job industries carry more risk than others, like the construction industry. Workers that are injured on the job have the right to file for workman's comp benefits that can help offset the varied costs of their injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns that a recent increase in deaths related to the construction industry may continue, meaning more families may have need of these benefits.

OSHA has been dispatching its representatives all over the country due to this reported rise in construction industry deaths. Five different locations in different states suffered fatal work-related incidents that required investigation in just the span of one week. In 2012 -- the most recent year with complete statistical data -- over 800 construction employees in the United States died while working, which is 9 percent higher than the previous year.

Death benefits possible in fatal cell tower collapse

When a person here in Colorado places a call on their cell phone, they probably don't think about the construction workers that built the cell towers to help make that call possible. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration voiced concerns recently over this area of the industry that has resulted in 10 times the fatalities of basic construction work, as reported by at least one study. OSHA has cited one out-of-state company for what it says has resulted in the death of two tower employees. The deceased victims' families may be eligible for death benefits as part of workers’ compensation insurance program.

OSHA’s investigation was launched after the two employees and a local volunteer firefighter were killed and others were injured when a cell phone tower collapsed. OSHA says that the fatal accident happened because the company in question commit two serious safety violations relating to improper bracing techniques. The company was assessed two fines that totaled $14,000. It can choose to appeal OSHA’s ruling, pay the fines or request to meet OSHA representatives to address the underlying issues.

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Eley Law Firm
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