Workplace accidents have always been a common occurrence, and they have not stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many essential professions are also some of the most dangerous, and as such, workplace accidents continue to happen.
Below, our Indianapolis attorneys discuss the common causes of workplace accidents and what you can do if you have been injured in one.
A workplace accident is any accident that occurs while a worker is carrying out duties related to the scope of their employment. Workplace accidents do not have to happen in the actual workplace; accidents that occur while transporting materials for your job, or while performing other employment-related duties off-site, also count as workplace accidents.
Workplace accidents are more likely to happen in professions where workers are performing dangerous activities, operating heavy machinery, or handling hazardous materials. As such, some of the most dangerous jobs in the United States include:
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
Refuse and recyclable materials collectors
Iron and steelworkers
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds in the United States. While such injuries are more likely to occur in one of the aforementioned professions, a workplace injury can happen in any type of work environment.
The most common workplace injuries that keep employees away from work include:
Sprains, strains, or tears
Soreness or pain
Cuts or lacerations
The NSC also states that the most common causes of workplace accidents include:
Overexertion. Lifting or lowering heavy objects and performing repetitive motions is the most common cause of sprains and soreness.
Contact with objects and equipment. In many of the aforementioned dangerous professions, workers must operate heavy machinery. Defective equipment or improper training can lead to workers getting struck by or crushed beneath objects or equipment.
Slips, trips, and falls. Falls to a lower level or slips on the same level are a common cause of workplace accidents.
Workplace accidents can cause injuries ranging from minor cuts to permanent disabilities. Sometimes, a workplace accident may even result in the death of an employee. In the state of Indiana, four out of every 100 workers are injured or killed on the job each year.
Depending on the type of workplace accident that occurs, workers may suffer from the following catastrophic or fatal injuries:
Traumatic brain injuries
Spinal cord injuries
Severe burn injuries
Injuries requiring amputation
Such injuries, whether fatal or non-fatal, may leave a family in emotional and financial turmoil. Sometimes, the injured worker was the sole breadwinner for the family, and their incapacitation or death suddenly leaves the family without a source of income.
Additionally, there is no dollar amount that one can place on the emotional burden that a wrongful death puts on a family’s shoulders.
As such, employers should take every precaution possible to create safe work environments and prevent workplace accidents from happening.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency responsible for ensuring workplace safety and health. Each state has its own OSHA subdivision responsible for ensuring OSHA’s guidelines are being met in workplaces across the state.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) strives to improve workplace safety and health for all Indiana workers by reducing hazards and exposures in the workplace environment. The state agency also works to change workplace culture to increase employer and worker education in workplace safety and health.
IOSHA has two main divisions that conduct workplace inspections to ensure compliance with the agency’s guidelines. The Industrial Compliance Division oversees public and private sector safety and health in the commercial, agricultural, and industrial sectors. The Construction Safety Division oversees safety in the construction industry.
During an inspection, IOSHA officers will check to see whether employers meet requirements including, but not limited to, the following:
Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards.
Make sure workers have and use safe tools and properly maintain equipment.
Use color codes, posters, or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so workers follow safety guidelines.
Provide safety training in a language all workers can understand.
For employers with hazardous materials in the workplace, develop and implement a written hazard communication program and train workers on the hazards to which they are exposed.
Provide medical examinations when required by OSHA standards.
Post, at a prominent location in the workplace, the OSHA poster informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
Report to the nearest OSHA office all work-related fatalities within eight hours, and all work-related hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours.
Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
Provide workers access to the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.
Provide to the OSHA compliance officer the names of authorized employee representatives who may be asked to accompany the compliance officer during an inspection.
Not discriminate against workers who exercise their rights under the OSH Act.
Post OSHA citations or violations near the work area involved, and keep the violation posted until the violation has been corrected (or three working days, whichever is longer).
Correct cited violations by the deadline set in place by OSHA and submit required verification documentation.
If you have been injured at work, whether it was your fault or not, you may recover compensation to pay for your medical bills and lost wages by filing a workers’ compensation claim. Family members who have lost a loved one in a workplace accident may also be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
The benefits you may recover through a workers’ compensation claim include:
Temporary disability benefits (or wage replacement benefits)
Permanent disability benefits
It’s important to keep in mind that there are time limits to file your workers’ compensation claim. Under the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act, you have two years from the date of injury to file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Indiana Work Comp Board. However, the time to file can be extended if you receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits.
Your employer has a legal responsibility to ensure your work environment is a safe one. Failure to do so is in violation of state and federal law.
If you have been injured at work, either by your own fault or due to your employer’s failure to meet one of the aforementioned OSHA requirements, you should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Although most Indiana workers are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured at work, the process of filing a claim can prove difficult. Your claim may even be denied wrongfully.
At Wagner Reese, our Indianapolis attorneys can help you file a workers’ compensation claim and recover the benefits you need to pay for your sudden medical bills and lost wages. We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay us anything unless we recover money for you.
Contact us today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation with our team.