Rosengren Law Office, LLC

Southern Minnesota Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Road accidents are not the only risks truckers face

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of fatalities and injuries among truckers shows that instead of becoming safer, this industry is now more deadly than before. In 2017, deaths among truckers were almost double the number of fatalities among truckers in 2012. Furthermore, about 65,000 truck drivers suffered work-related injuries or illnesses that caused lost workdays in 2012 -- most of which were preventable.

The International Labour Organization defines truckers as employees who operate trucks with capacities exceeding three tons to transport cargo between specified destinations. If you are a truck driver in Minnesota, your duties might include vehicle maintenance.

A construction site injury could give rise to CRPS

The list of hazards on construction sites in Minnesota is endless. Sometimes, a victim of a construction site injury develops a condition called complex regional pain syndrome. CRPS causes the person to experience more severe pain in proportion to the initial injury.

Not much is known about the causes of CRPS, but the symptoms can change over time. They include swelling, continuous throbbing and burning pain, and sensitivity to cold or  touch. Also, skin color changes from white to blue or red can occur, and the skin temperature can alternate between hot and cold. Changes in nail and hair growth can occur along with changes in the texture of the skin.

Violence against health care workers persists

Workplace violence is a threat in any Minnesota workplace, but nowhere is the risk as severe as in the health care industry. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says almost 25,000 assaults in work environments occur nationwide each year, of which health care workers make up 75% of the victims. Workers in any health care facility are at risk, but those in inpatient psychiatric facilities and emergency departments of hospitals are most vulnerable.

Surveys revealed that about 50% of emergency physicians had been assaulted while on duty, and approximately 70% of nurses in emergency rooms reported being kicked and hit by patients. Sadly, both physicians and nurses say the threat of violence affects the level of patient care they provide. They all believe that it is time for this issue to be addressed by federal law because it has been regarded as part of health care jobs for too long.

Many workers' compensation claims involve pinch point injuries

Pinch points are hazards that exist in virtually all workplaces. Very few tasks do not require workers to use their hands, yet many people fail to stop and consider how serious hand injuries can affect their quality of life. Hand injuries are number two on the list of workplace injuries nationwide. Many of the workers' compensation claims filed in Minnesota are for crush injuries caused by pinch point hazards.

Pinch points cause crush injuries under numerous circumstances. Frequently reported pinch point injuries occur when workers hook up trailers, lift heavy materials, do equipment maintenance and work on assembly lines. Pinching or crushing occurs when a hand, finger or other body part is caught between a stationary and a moving part of the equipment.

Aches and pains par for the course for health care workers

Nurses and other health care workers in Minnesota often spend up to 16 hours on their feet, treating the aches and pains of their patients. However, who will address the nurses' aches and pains that follow the many hours of strenuous activities throughout extended shifts. Reportedly, six in every 10 nurses seek solutions for their job-related aches and pains -- many of which seem insignificant enough not to justify a visit to a doctor, yet severe enough to look for other solutions.

According to the analysis of workers' compensation claims, the numbers of back-related injuries for nurses exceeds all other occupations. Most prevalent are strains and sprains suffered through improper lifting and transferring of patients. Hot and cold packs are suggested for the treatment of sore muscles, and frequent stretching exercises could improve suppleness.

Nurses face higher risks for workplace violence

Nurses play a vital role in the health care system. These men and women generally spend much more time with patients than doctors and specialists. From managing patients' pain levels to even providing emotional support, nurses work tirelessly for their patients. On the other side of things, nurses receive very little support from the health care system. The exceptionally high rate of workplace violence against nurses is just one example of this.

Workplace violence might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when talking about work injuries. However, violence in the health care field is a hidden epidemic. This might be partly because so few people seem willing to address the problem.

Formaldehyde poses workplace injury risks in more than morgues

There are likely some workers in Minnesota who are exposed to dangers of which they are unaware. Employers must protect their employees against workplace injury and illness hazards, and that responsibility includes keeping workers informed about known risks. Formaldehyde is such a hazard that is not only used as preservatives in morgues but also in many other industries.

The strong-smelling, colorless gas produced by formaldehyde poses deadly risks to anyone who works with plywood, paper product coatings, glue and various household items. It is also present in industrial disinfectants, germicides and fungicides. Workers can be adversely affected if they inhale the vapor or gas emitted by formaldehyde or if the skin absorbs the liquid.

Crowd-related workplace injuries prevalent during shopping season

With the many promotional events and special sales arranged in Minnesota and across the United States in the time leading up to the holidays, workers in many industries face significantly more risks of workplace injuries than at any other time of the year. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges employers to plan ahead and provide employees with the training necessary to deal with potentially hazardous situations. Crowd-management planning is crucial for retail facilities at which large crowds are likely to arrive to purchase marked-down items at sales events.

Not only must workers receive training in protecting their own safety, but they must also learn how to deal with emergencies in which customers are involved. Employers must delegate specific staff members to take charge of the different areas of the facility. Other staff members must report emergencies to that person who will know how to contact emergency services promptly.

Beware of weather-related workplace injury risks this winter

Regardless of the weather, work must go on, even though Minnesota workers face seasonal risks that could have severe consequences. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict safety standards for protecting workers from cold-related workplace injury hazards. With the drop in temperatures comes the risk of hypothermia, trench foot, frostbite and other cold-related illnesses.

According to OSHA, winter hazards put those at risk whose jobs involve driving, shoveling snow, using snowblowers and other powered equipment. Road construction crews are exceptionally vulnerable, and so are teams who must clear away downed trees and repair damaged or downed power lines. Even just working close to power lines is dangerous. Workers tasked with clearing snow from heights like roofs face unique hazards, which also apply for other work in elevated areas.

Hazardous chemical in restaurant causes fatal workplace injury

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation into the death of a restaurant worker in another state. Reportedly, a kitchen worker inhaled the fumes of a sanitizer containing sodium hypochlorite. This type of workplace injury is preventable, and employers nationwide, including Minnesota, must provide safety training and personal protective equipment to mitigate chemical hazards.

In this case, the strong fumes affected several workers and even customers of the restaurant. Reportedly, one worker became nauseous and was rushed to a hospital. Sadly, he did not survive the incident. The restaurant was evacuated when several patrons and workers suffered eye irritation and breathing problems.

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