What Is a Workplace Injury?
A workplace injury is just as it sounds — an injury that occurs at work. They are handled differently from other injuries, as there are different forms of financial protection for people who have been injured on the job. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act of 1970, everyone is entitled to work in a safe, hazard-free workplace. Therefore, if someone sustains an injury while at work, they may be eligible to receive financial compensation.
In most cases, this claim is known as workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is a program that provides financial relief to people injured at work. It covers aspects such as loss of income, medical expenses, and disability payments. However, proving that a person was significantly injured at work and requires workers' compensation benefits can sometimes be tricky, so it is important to hire a workers' compensation lawyer.
Are there different types of workplace injuries?
There are different workplace injuries depending on the work environment. Some of the most common types of workplace injuries include slips, trips, or falls. These injuries can happen when there is a slippery floor or clutter left in a dangerous place. Another common injury is muscle strain, which can occur when a person has to manually lift heavy objects or complete repetitive work without taking breaks.
Other types of workplace injuries may include:
- Sprained joints.
- Broken bones.
- Hearing loss.
The impact of workplace injuries
Workplace injuries vary in severity, with the most severe potentially causing long-lasting impacts. In minor cases, the worker may experience mild pain or discomfort from the injury. Other relatively minor cases may result in missing a few days of work due to the injury or requiring some basic medical attention.
Then, there are workplace injuries with severe implications. In some cases, a person may become temporarily or permanently disabled. Workplace injuries can also leave scars or lead to long-term health complications. In the most serious cases, a workplace incident can even lead to death. The severity of the injury determines its long-term impact, such as the amount of medical bills and missed wages or future quality of life.
Adverse events associated with workplace injuries
Many things can potentially cause workplace injuries, and the types of injuries depend heavily on the specific working conditions. For example, someone who works as a delivery driver will face different dangers than someone who works in an office environment. Some common adverse events that are associated with workplace injuries include:
- Being hit by a falling object.
- Being injured by faulty machinery.
- Being struck by a vehicle while driving.
- Sustaining hearing damage from an excessively loud work environment.
- Breathing in dangerous chemicals.
- Being burned by workplace fires.
Steps to take following a workplace injury:
Here are the steps an employee should follow if they experience an injury at work:
Seek medical treatment
First, the injured employee needs to take care of their health. Even if only a minor injury, the victim should seek some medical treatment to ensure there are no underlying issues. Visiting a healthcare professional also creates an official record of the injuries sustained, which the employee may need when filing their workers' compensation claim. When talking with a doctor, it is important to mention that the injury occurred at work so that the doctor can include this in the medical records.
Report the injury
After taking care of the injury, the next step is to report it. To do this, the employee should write down what happened and submit it to their employer. The employer may use specific forms, so confirming the correct documents with a manager or someone from the Human Resources department might be beneficial. It is important to submit this report in writing, as it also creates an official record, much like visiting a doctor.
The employee should submit this report as soon as they can. Each state has laws about the amount of time a victim has to submit a report regarding a workplace injury or illness. Many states require the report within a few days. If the claimant misses this deadline, they may not receive the full benefit they are entitled to. It is, therefore, crucial to check the deadline requirements for the state where they work and notify the employee of the injury in writing before that deadline passes.
Complete a workers' compensation request
The employer will likely have workers' compensation forms that their employee can use to file a claim. If not, these forms are on the state's Workers' Compensation Board website. There, the claimant can either download and print the files or, in some cases, submit them online. The claimant should also make a second copy of the submission for their own records.
Hire a workers' compensation lawyer
If all goes well, the employee should receive workers' compensation benefits for their injury. However, in some cases, the Workers' Compensation Board may deny the claim. If this happens, the claimant can hire a workers' compensation lawyer. Workers' compensation laws are often very complex and have strict deadlines. Working with a lawyer will ensure that the claimant does not miss any requirements and achieves the best possible outcome.
Decisions regarding liability
In many situations, employers are liable for workplace injuries because they have primary control over the facility, working conditions, and employee training. There are a few exceptions that may shift the liability, however. For example, if someone outside the company triggers an injury at the workplace, such as a delivery driver or private contractor, this person may be liable for the injury.
Another possibility is if an employee is hurt by a faulty product. The product manufacturer may be liable if a product has a safety defect that potentially causes an injury. To learn who is liable for an injury, the worker can consult with someone at their place of employment or talk to a workplace injury attorney for advice.