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Denver Workers' Compensation Blog

Needle and sharps injuries still a problem for nurses

Nurses face the threat of many occupational injuries and illnesses. One of the most common of those threats is that posed by sharp instruments, including needles, scalpels, and other sharp instruments. The danger comes not so much from the actual puncture wound itself but from the possibility of contracting an infection such as HIV or hepatitis. Growing concern over the possibility of infections from bloodborne pathogens in the 1980s and 1990s led Congress to enact the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA) in 2000.

This law had an immediate effect. It significantly reduced the number of needle and sharp injuries, but the possibility of injury and infection is an ever present problem.

Scholarships for children of injured workers

A work accident that results in disability or death can change the trajectory of a child's life. By reducing the family's income, it may force a young person to delay starting college or forego college altogether. The person's lifetime earning potential may be permanently reduced.

But fortunately there is a program that provides scholarships for children of Colorado workers who have been injured or killed on the job. The Pinnacol Foundation provides scholarships averaging $3,500 per year to students attending colleges, universities, community colleges and vocational schools. Students can use the scholarships to pay the costs of tuition, school fees, and books at any educational institution accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or other accrediting agencies.

Ladder accidents can cause permanent disability

Construction worker safety is of utmost importance in Colorado, and ladder safety is one aspect that has recently received a lot of attention. The U.S. Department of Labor says roofers are at a particular risk, and between 75 and 100 of them are killed in workplace accidents every year. Around 75 percent of those deaths resulted from falls, some of which were no higher than four feet. It is not uncommon for a fall survivor to end up with a permanent disability.

Something positive was brought about by a fall incident in which a 30-year veteran construction worker suffered catastrophic injuries in 1986. Working as a roofer, he was involved in a fall the led to doctors doubting that he would ever be able to use his arms again -- amputation of both arms was even considered. However, with perseverance and hard work, along with the assistance of medical professionals, he recovered. However, that experience spurred him to invent safety products to be used with ladders to reduce the risk of falls.

Landscape service workers can prevent being injured at work

With summer in full swing, landscaping services in Colorado are also in high demand. However, owners of garden services and tree-trimming businesses must not lose sight of the importance of employee safety. To promote workplace safety, training is vital. Workers who know the potential hazards of their jobs and learn the relevant safety regulations have a lesser chance of being injured at work.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates certain regulations specific to the landscaping industry, covering potential hazards and requirements for personal protective equipment. Typical injuries include cuts, bruises, slip and falls, amputations and more -- some of which can result in fatalities. The agency says about 200 deaths occur among landscape service workers every year. One of the biggest dangers in this industry is equipment that is not maintained and lack of proper training for those tasked with operating wood chippers, chain saws, mowers and other machines.

First responders can now get benefits for PTSD

It took years of work, but with the signing of H.B. 17-1229 last month, first responders and other workers in Colorado can now get workers' compensation benefits for job-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Colorado thus joins a small number of states that recognize PTSD as a compensable work illness.

Family may claim death benefits after fatal trench collapse

Trenches present some of the most deadly hazards in the construction injury, and employers nationwide, including in Colorado, must comply with safety regulations. Compliance is the only way in which to prevent tragedies that sometimes leave families with nothing more than workers' compensation death benefits. This was the fate of a family in another state after the death of a 19-year-old worker in a trench.

On June 11, the young construction worker entered am excavation in the company of his foreman and three more laborers to lay a sewage pipe. Reportedly, the trench was 5 feet wide and 48 feet long, with a depth of just more than 12 feet. However, the trench box that was placed inside the excavation to protect the workers within was only 2 feet wide and 16 feet long, with walls measuring no more than 8 feet. Because the trench box was more than 4 feet too short, it provided no protection for the workers when a heap of dirt, soil, rubble and cement that resulted from the excavation collapsed.

Young people are vulnerable to work injuries

Summer is here, and thousands of Colorado teens are earning some extra cash as part-time workers. Most of them aren't planning to stay in those jobs for very long. Instead, many are looking ahead to college or military service. Others aren't sure what the future has in store for them. What none of them are expecting is getting injured while working. But a significant number of teenagers working in summer jobs do get injured - and some even get killed.

VIDEO: Was your workers' compensation claim denied? Call Cliff Eley

Although many employees know that they have rights after a workplace accident, many do not realize that they do not have to accept a workers' compensation package that is inadequate for their recovery. In other cases, employees may fear that challenging the initial benefits package offered by their employer's insurance carrier might jeopardize their job security.

Steps for construction workers to prevent being injured at work

Construction workers in Colorado and other states are likely aware of the fact that this occupation poses more life-threatening risks than most other jobs. For this reason, each worker must take precautionary steps to prevent being injured at work -- particularly when the business owners may disregard employee safety. The first step for self-protection in an environment in which falls, electric shocks and equipment collapses are the primary causes of death among workers, is to know the dangers.

Before even starting a job, it is important to be familiar with the company's safety and emergency protocols along with all the risks of the job and the location. In these circumstances, knowledge of the potential hazards may be the worker's only defense against injury. Equipment failure can have devastating consequences, and checking the service record of all equipment before using it may also save lives.

What if no one saw you get injured?

Most workers perform their job duties in collaboration with others. So when a worker suffers an on-the-job injury, there is a strong probability that there is at least one witness who can verify the injured worker's story.

But even employees who work in close collaboration with others most of the time occasionally work alone or out of the sight of other workers. What happens when there is no witness to a workplace injury? Unwitnessed work injuries happen every day, but unfortunately a significant number of workers' compensation claims for such injuries are initially denied. This blog post will discuss this problem and provide tips that can help an injured worker document the circumstances of the injury.

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Eley Law Firm
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Denver, CO 80222

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