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Denver Workers' Compensation Blog

Workers' compensation: Forklift safety can save money and lives

Forklifts are an important part of various industries in Colorado and pose safety hazards wherever they are used. For some reason, forklifts often form part of horseplay, and employers who fail to enforce strict forklift safety protocols may find that serious injuries result. Significant increases in insurance premiums can also follow because every workers' compensation claim may cause an increase.

To prevent forklift accidents, there are certain things to avoid such as not driving while fatigued or taking medication that causes drowsiness. Warehouses with rows of shelving usually have multiple intersections and blind spots where passing other lift trucks can be dangerous. Forklift operators do not have the right of way, and pedestrians must be considered by making sure they are always aware of the presence of a forklift. Heading to an object in front of which workers are standing can cause severe injuries or even death if the operator of the forklift should lose control.

Airport ticket counter baggage handling injuries

To a passenger at Denver International Airport, the baggage handling process may appear seamless. The passenger drops a bag at the ticket counter, and if all goes well, it shows up at the passenger's destination as if by magic. But airport workers know what really happens behind the scenes. They know all too well about the physical effort that's required to get a suitcase from one airport to another, and about the injuries that airport workers can suffer as they perform their daily work duties.

Eley Law Firm has prepared three blog posts about injuries that airport workers can suffer as they handle bags, suitcases, boxes, and odd-shaped items during the baggage loading and unloading process. The first of these blog posts focuses on baggage handling injuries at the ticket counter. Subsequent posts will cover injuries in the bag make-up room and at the ramp.

Workers' compensation claims for illnesses can be challenging

Many Colorado workers suffer occupational diseases and repetitive injuries that can cause chronic conditions and could even prevent victims from working. In many cases, these conditions develop over time due to ongoing exposure to hazardous workplace environments. Unfortunately, these ailments are not as visible as broken bones, and they typically do not have a definite date of onset. All these aspects make the claiming of workers' compensation benefits extremely challenging.

Proving to the employer and the insurance company that the condition is work-related may prove an impossible task. For this reason, some victims whose claims are denied continue living in chronic pain and discomfort without treatment. However, this is where a consultation with the seasoned workers' compensation attorneys at the Eley Law Firm in Denver may be necessary.

Work injuries occurring on unusual or extended shifts

Most people work in regular, eight-hour shifts during daylight hours. They also get an overnight break that gives them a respite from job pressures and enables them to sleep, for a while at least. But what about people who are working extended hours under stressful conditions, such as utility workers trying to restore electrical service after a severe storm? Or police officers who are dealing with a hostage situation? Or firefighters who are suppressing a major fire?

The gig economy is creating new safety and insurance challenges

The number of on-demand workers (such as on-call workers, independent contractors, and those who obtain work through digital platforms) has increased sharply in recent years. The so-called gig economy offers these workers the opportunity to earn money while retaining their independence and ability to set their own working hours. However, this development is raising concerns over worker safety and how to best provide reimbursement for medical costs and wage losses when self-employed workers are injured. An article on the Business Insurance website discusses these questions.

Man injured at work when wind gust causes construction collapse

With 55 mph wind gusts on a recent Tuesday morning, an unfinished church construction in Colorado had little chance of staying up. This was the wind speed reported by the National Weather Service for the City of Greeley on that day. One employee of the construction company was injured at work when the structure collapsed.

Reportedly, there were three construction workers on the site where work on an addition of 5,000 square feet to a church is underway. One of them apparently noticed the wooden structure swaying and called to the others to get clear of the building. One worker could not get away fast enough, and he became trapped under debris and wood.

Why would workers' comp claims of injured workers be denied?

Workers in various industries in Colorado face safety hazards daily. While most injured workers are eligible for workers' comp benefits, some claims are denied. This could cause financial problems when a workplace injury victim must settle medical bills and get along without wages when the injury causes temporary disability.

One reason cited for rejecting a claim is the failure to report injuries in writing to a supervisor within the four-day time limit in Colorado. Thereafter, there is a deadline within which the initial claim must be filed -- usually 30 to 90 days. In some cases, employers contest claims by stating that the injuries were not work-related, happened during horseplay or outside of work time.

When can a worker's compensation case get into court?

The workers' compensation system was set up to provide an orderly way to resolve workplace injury claims outside of court. When the system works properly, injured workers have the ability to obtain compensation for medical treatment and disability benefits. In exchange, employers can limit their liability for negligent workplace accidents and avoid having to engage in potentially costly court litigation every time a work accident happens. The administrative venue provided by the workers' compensation system can generally resolve work injury claims more efficiently than the court system can.

However, in rare cases it is possible for a work injury claim to move into the judicial arena. When a work injury can be shown to result from an intentional act of the employer, a workers' compensation case can go to court rather than being decided by a workers' compensation hearing officer. A recent case illustrates how this can happen.

Permanent disability: Excessive noise can cause hearing loss

Colorado workers in different industries are exposed to safety hazards every day. Some of these are not injuries that are immediately evident; rather, they develop over time. One such hazard is exposure to excessive noise, which can cause permanent disability after frequent exposure over a number of years. High noise levels in the workplace can profoundly affect a victim's quality of life as the ability to hear diminishes until most sounds become mumbled and subsequently disappear altogether.

Hearing loss can have a severe impact on a person's quality of life away from work, and it can be life-threatening at work. Sounds such as the backup alarm of a dump truck or forklift and the approaching sound of a vehicle can cause fatal workplace accidents. Hearing loss can impact day-to-day activities, and researchers have determined that workers who suffer work-related hearing impairment lose more healthy years than others who work in facilities without excessive noise.

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.

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Eley Law Firm
2000 S. Colorado Blvd. No. 2-740
Denver, CO 80222

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