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Victim of permanent disability motivates teens to demand safety

Every year, thousands of teenagers enter the Colorado workforce straight from high school. The excitement about earning their own money along with the desire to please their bosses and prove themselves may leave them vulnerable. A victim of a workplace accident that left him with a permanent disability tells teenagers how he lost his arm and urges them to demand safety when they enter the job market.

The man, now 38 years old, explains how he started working his first job at a small mill in another state. After a tour of the facility that lasted 10 minutes, he received instructions to remove boards from a running conveyor belt. One day, a board was jammed. While trying to pull it out of the machinery, the worker lost his footing, and the conveyor's drive motor pulled in his arm. He describes in graphic detail how he heard the bones crushing and the smell of blood -- only to underscore the importance of demanding safe workplace environments.

He told the students that he and his co-workers frequently replaced saw blades without using lock-out or tag-out procedures to de-energize the equipment. He says his employers only addressed the safety protocol of the mill after he had lost his arm. He described the impact the loss of his left arm at the age of 21 has had on his life -- both personal and professional.

While it would be ideal if all employers comply with prescribed safety regulations to limit preventable accidents, the reality is that many business owners prioritize profits rather than employee safety. Any victim of an on-the-job injury in Colorado that resulted in permanent disability can turn to an experienced workers' compensation attorney for help in navigating benefits claims on his or her behalf. Along with compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, the benefits may include coverage for vocational rehabilitation.

Source: spokesman.com, "Worker who lost arm in accident tells teens to know their rights, demand safety training", Becky Kramer, May 24, 2017

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