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Southern Minnesota Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Typical hazards faced by health care workers

Thousands of workers in Minnesota risk their health and safety every day while they care for others -- often saving lives. Health care workers include those working in hospitals, patients' homes, dental offices and other medical facilities. Although the list of hazards they face is endless, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified some primary risks.

One of the dangers to which health care workers face on a daily basis includes their exposure to airborne and blood-borne pathogens. The most severe consequences of infections include contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, Ebola fever, swine flu or other life-threatening illnesses caused by viruses, fungi and bacteria, and other pathogens. Another hazard involves chemicals such as sanitizing agents and substances used for cleaning, and laboratory chemicals pose a variety of health hazards.

HAVS is a workplace injury that could lead to amputation

Workers in Minnesota and elsewhere who are exposed to the vibrations of power tools for many years might not realize the dangers for serious injuries. Those who work in manufacturing, construction, forestry, food processing, agriculture and other industries that use power tools are at risk of developing a workplace injury called Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), also known as Vibration White Finger Syndrome (VWF). The tools that could cause this affliction include grinders, chainsaws, jackhammers, chippers, crushers, mowers, sorting conveyors and more.

This condition could ultimately lead to amputation of the fingertips due to the development of gangrene. It starts with symptoms that include short spells of numbness and tingling of the fingers, and develops into painful hand spasms that could last up to an hour at a time. It also causes the fingers to become a whitish color. With the progression of the condition, the victim might become unable to work with small objects like nuts and bolts, and buttoning a shirt might even become a problem.

Denied workers' comp claims: Options still exist

Safety hazards exist in every workplace in Minnesota, whether at a construction site, a fulfillment center or in an office. Employers are expected to protect the health and safety of employees, and to carry insurance that will provide financial assistance should they suffer workplace injuries or illnesses. However, not all benefits claims are approved, and there might be questions about denied workers' comp claims.

Strict timelines exist for a worker to notify an employer of injuries, and also for an employer to file a benefits claim with the insurance provider. Exceeding time limits could lead to rejection. An employer might assert that injuries were not suffered during work hours, or that horseplay or unlawful activities caused them. Claims for injuries that do not fall within the list of compensable injuries might be denied, and if the worker required no medical treatment, there might not be a basis for financial relief.

Nursing accidents: Needlestick injuries can cause infections

Health care workers in Minnesota face an endless list of occupational hazards. Injuries caused by sharp objects represent a sizable percentage of overall incidents. Registered nurses are at a significant risk of nursing accidents that expose them to blood-borne infections if safety protocols lack standards to monitor use and disposal safety of needles and other sharp instruments and objects.

Research by the American Nurses Association indicates that these risks concern almost two-thirds of the members of the association. Authorities believe that only about one-half of needlestick injuries are reported, making the annual incidents even more staggering than the reported approximate 385,000 per year. These numbers were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The dangers of working in construction

If you are a construction worker, you already know the dangers involved in your job duties. You balance on scaffolding, and are constantly working with equipment, not to mention tools and materials fall on a regular basis.

The United States Department of Labor issues regulations for workplace safety through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Responsible for setting the health and safety standards for employers, OSHA serves to protect employees through warning of dangers on the job. On construction sites, these warnings are either not enough, not implemented or go unrecognized.

Workplace injury: Confined spaces can be deadly

Minnesota workers in various industries are exposed to the dangers posed by confined spaces. Employers must inform employees of potential hazards, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has stringent rules about confined spaces and regulating access to these areas to help prevent an employee from suffering a workplace injury. Many workers do not realize that confined spaces are not necessarily small -- even a tanker is a confined space because there are limited entry and exit points.

Some confined spaces require permits for anyone entering them because there are severe safety and health risks present. Hazards could include toxic atmospheres, the lack of oxygen, flammable atmospheres, physical or mechanical hazards, or loose materials such as grain that could engulf a worker in a grain bin. Another risk is the fact that tasks such as welding can change an area that was deemed safe into a space with insufficient oxygen.

Common injuries for nurses in the workplace

While nursing can be one of the most rewarding occupations, it is also an extremely difficult job. Not only can it be mentally and emotionally demanding, but it can take a severe physical toll on the body as well.

Some of the most common injuries and health issues among nurses include:

Should I sue if my workers’ comp claim is denied?

If you are suffering an injury that you received on the job, it’s important to be able to recover costs for medical expenses, lost wages and more. Workers’ compensation is an insurance required of all businesses that should be there to provide you with these funds when you need them most.

But it can be frustrating to have a legitimate claim denied. If you’ve found yourself denied for a work-related injury, here are a few steps you can take to get the help you need.

New bill helps PTSD victims file for workers' comp in Minnesota

For fire fighters, police officers, paramedics and other professionals dealing with crisis situations regularly, it’s common for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to develop after an extraordinary event.

Recently, Gov. Dayton signed a PTSD workers’ compensation bill with provisions that assume a PTSD injury is work-related for certain public safety and emergency workers.

On the job injuries common to the meat and poultry industry

The average American male eats 6.9 ounces of meat per day and the average American female eats 4.4 ounces. To support the high demand of meat consumption an estimated 482,00 people work in meat and poultry processing and packing plants across the U.S.

Closer to home, Minnesota is the top turkey producing and the third highest pork producing state in the nation. Everyday Minnesota workers face on the job hazards to provide meat and poultry to society.

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