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Colorado Workers' Compensation Law Blog

McDonald's workers afraid of being injured at work

Many people in Colorado have heard that fast food workers are attempting to get their wages increased. Recently, McDonald's workers at locations in 19 cities filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that they are concerned about being injured at work. Some believe that the complaints are part of the campaign to win higher wages, but their concerns still could turn out to be valid.

Reports indicate that OSHA has already begun investigating the workers' claims. Some of the allegations include popping grease causing burns and no protective equipment for dealing with hot surfaces. Even when cleaning the grills, workers are required to leave them on, and without gloves, employees say they suffer from burns. Slip-and-fall hazards are also a concern for employees. Some allegations say that there is a substantial lack of training on equipment, such as the fryers.

How much do you really know back injuries in the workforce?

Of all the work injuries that can keep you sidelined, few are as commonplace, as vexing, as debilitating and as misunderstood as back injuries. That's because they can strike at any time, last for what seems like an eternity, be incredibly painful and involve complex terminology that is often difficult to comprehend.

What are the most common workers' compensation benefits?

Each year, numerous Colorado workers suffer a variety of on-the-job injuries. Nearly everyone knows that employers are required to carry state mandated insurance coverage that helps injured workers, but not many people understand what benefits they may be entitled to receive. Below are some of the most common workers' compensation benefits available, depending on the severity of the injury suffered.

The workers' compensation system in Colorado covers medical costs for those injured while working, though not every worker is included in the comp program. These benefits include all medical costs that your attending physician deems necessary to your recovery. However, not only doctor visits and prescriptions are covered. Coverage is also available for physical therapy and any medical equipment you may need that is integral to your rehabilitation.

Denver recycling plant cited after man fatally injured at work

Residents living in Denver and its suburbs may be familiar with Atlas Metal & Iron, which recycles unwanted scrap metal and other items brought in by those who live in the area. Last September, a man was fatally injured at work at the recycling plant, which prompted an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The results of that investigation indicate that the man's death was preventable.

On the day of the accident, the 52-year-old was working on a scrap metal baler. The machine came back on while he was inside it, leading to the injuries that caused his death. OSHA investigators discovered that the machine was not shut down before the worker entered it. Further, protocols required for confined spaces were not followed.

OSHA investigation sparked by man seriously injured at work

Colorado employees working in certain industries are routinely exposed to a risk of amputation, falls and possible explosions. One of those industries is grain handling. If a company fails to take reasonable precautions to ensure no one is injured at work, the probability of an accident occurring is high.

As if to illustrate the importance of safety measures and training, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently concluded an investigation sparked by the injury of a worker in the grain handling industry. As he and other workers cleaned out grain bins in anticipation of last year's fall harvest, an auger unexpectedly activated. The toes on the worker's left foot were amputated as a result of the injuries he suffered in the accident.

'COPS' not cited by OSHA after employee fatally injured at work

Colorado fans of the reality television show "COPS" already know that a film crew follows law enforcement officers from different parts of the country while they answer real calls. Since officers are dealing with live, unscripted situations, that crew is routinely put in harm's way right along with the officers with whom they ride. One film crew shooting footage last summer suffered a tragedy when a sound technician was fatally injured at work.

The officers the crew was riding with responded to a Wendy's fast food restaurant where an armed robbery was in progress. The would-be robber pointed and fired what later turned out to be an air-pistol at the officers. When police fired back, the sound technician was caught in the cross-fire and hit by a bullet. Emergency personnel rushed him to an area hospital, but he later died.

Death benefits may be available to family of deceased worker

Losing a loved one in a work-related accident affects every aspect of the lives of surviving family members. Even as a Colorado family grieves for their loss, their minds may turn to the financial impact of his or her death. Fortunately, death benefits may be available from the state's workers' compensation system, which may include a compensation package for the loss of the deceased worker's income and money to help with the burial and funeral.

An out-of-state man's family may have already applied for such benefits after he was killed by a piece of machinery in the factory where he worked. An investigation conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revealed that the machine was set to automatic by a supervisor since it was not in use while the employees who worked with it were at lunch. Not knowing the machine was not in "locked out" mode, the victim reached into the press to retrieve some aluminum parts that had not been processed.

Preventing injured workers during Colorado's winter weather

Colorado may be about half way through the winter months, but there will be plenty more cold days before Spring. For anyone who works outside, the cold is more than just an inconvenience -- it is a serious hazard. Companies need to take additional precautions in cold weather in order to prevent injured workers.

Hypothermia, trench foot and frostbite are the three most common cold-related conditions outdoor workers can contract. Hypothermia can occur when a worker's body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If a worker's feet are consistently wet and cold, he or she can develop trench foot. Frostbite occurs when skin and tissue freeze -- often in extremely cold conditions.

Hospital staff are at risk for becoming injured at work

Not only doctors, but nurses and other staff who have direct contact with patients are at risk of contracting a serious or deadly illness. Hospital staff members who are tasked with cleaning rooms and doing the laundry are sometimes at greater risk of becoming injured at work. Most Colorado medical facilities ensure that safety measures are in place to reduce the risk of staff contracting a disease or illness under these circumstances, but not every medical facility does.

One hospital on the East Coast is currently facing fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration because its safety practices are woefully inadequate. The hospital reportedly changed from linen laundry bags to plastic ones that often break. When that happens, staff members are required to gather the bag contents and put them into a new bag.

What are employers supposed to do to prevent injured workers?

Every Colorado employee deserves a workplace free from dangerous conditions. It is the employer's responsibility to provide such a workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency, sets out rules and regulations designed to prevent injured workers in every industry.

Employers across the nation -- and here in Colorado -- in every industry are required to meet certain safety standards set forth by OSHA. Companies create policies and procedures regarding safety practices unique to their industries. Workers are then to be trained regarding the proper procedures and provided safety equipment needed to increase the likelihood of not being injured. All equipment and tools used by workers are to be periodically inspected and properly maintained.

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