by The Bainbridge Firm, LLC | Jun 17, 2020 | General Information
Common Ohio Workers Compensation Injuries
Workplace accidents can happen, which is why the State of Ohio requires employers to carry workers compensation insurance. Sometimes these injuries will put an employee out of work for a few weeks. Sometimes these injuries can disable a worker for a longer period of time, or even for life. And sometimes incidents in the workplace can result in death.
Every few years, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles stats around common workplace injuries. Among 158 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in Ohio in 2018, the most common were transportation (38%), contact with equipment or objects (17%), violence or animal attacks (16%), and falls, slips, and trips (14%), with the remaining 15% ascribed to accidents of other varieties. Incidentally these percentages were close to the national average.
Fatal workplace accidents usually occurred in private transportation (like trucking), warehousing, and private construction. Specifically, truck drivers, material movers, and transportation professionals accounted for 55 of the total number of workplace fatalities. Construction workers accounted for 28. Maintenance workers accounted for 15. Incidentally, transportation, warehousing, and construction also generally see the largest number of non fatal workplace injuries as well.
What are the most common workplace and general work injuries?
Roughly 33% of workplace injuries involve slipping, tripping, and/or falling, and according to some estimates, as many as 50% of workers compensation claims involve one of these injuries. Ice, loose carpeting, and wet floors can easily cause slips, while clutter, poor lighting, and exposed wires are frequent causes of trips.
Muscle strains are also a very common acute injury. Not to be confused with Repetitive Strain Injury (covered later), a muscle strain can occur when heavy lifting is done without the proper technique. These types of injuries are common enough in a warehouse setting, but they can even occur when an office employee lifts a heavy box of Xerox paper in the printer room.
Another common workplace injury involves being caught in machinery or struck by an object. This type of injury is more common in factory settings, on construction sites, and on farms that use heavy machinery—all three venues being a sizable part of Ohio’s Midwestern agrarian and manufacturing economy. These types of incidents can result in disastrous consequences like crushed or severed limbs or death.
Vehicle accidents involve collisions, being struck by a moving vehicle, falling from a vehicle, or getting hit by items falling from a vehicle. Of course, these accidents typically happen in the transportation industry, but they can even happen in the parking lot of an office building. Sometimes they can even happen inside of the workplace, when a forklift, small vehicle, or even a pushcart collides with an employee.
Fire and explosions account for only a small percentage of workplace injuries, but have the highest mortality rate. Fires can severely damage body tissue and the respiratory tract, while explosions can also lift workers off the ground and release flying objects. They can be triggered by faulty gas lines, improperly secured chemicals, or even intentional acts of arson.
Fights and attacks are not the most common form of workplace injury, but they are common enough. Sometimes tension between employees can erupt into a physical altercation. Sometimes an employee and a customer can get into an altercation. And in workplaces where animals are involved, injuries from an animal attack do occur.
What about accidents and injuries that happen over time?
There are some workers compensation claims that do not stem from an acute incident like those mentioned above, but that occur some time later as a disease or chronic condition that can be traced back to a workplace or working conditions.
Repetitive strain injury or RSI is a common work injury that is unfortunately not taken seriously by employers. Any repetitive motion involving muscles or joints can result in RSI, especially when best practices are not used in the workplace. Though you might think RSI is sustained by heavy lifters in a warehouse setting, it can even impact office workers using a keyboard all day.
Exposure to dangerous substances such as the ongoing inhalation of toxic fumes or dangerous materials like asbestos can create chronic diseases. Personal protective equipment such as face masks and goggles are indispensable for maintenance workers in certain cleaning contexts, and workers in construction or manufacturing contexts who may come into contact with dangerous chemicals and compounds.
If you discover a disease that your doctor tells you may be linked to your work or a previous workplace, you will have a six month statute of limitations to file a workers compensation claim. Workers compensation attorneys in Columbus can help you navigate that process and explore other options like a settlement or a trust fund that has already been set up to help injured parties.
How to avoid workplace injuries:
Workplace injuries can happen in any type of setting, but they are easier to avoid if a business follows a set of best practices. These best practices will vary from industry to industry, but in many cases they will be recommended by a state or federal organization like OSHA—The Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Unfortunately, many businesses are lax about posting these recommendations or enforcing them. Some industries and especially large corporate employers in these industries may create mandatory safety training, but in other more casual contexts or workplaces where work is self directed, employers may be more lax about recommending or enforcing worker safety rules. Yes, it is the responsibility of an employer to do what they can to make their workplace safe. But you owe it to yourself to proactively seek out a set of best safety practices, even if you work in an office setting. If you have any doubts about safety in your workplace, do not hesitate to speak with a workers compensation attorney in Columbus.
What do I do if I’m injured at work?
If you are injured at work, your employer may attempt to diffuse the situation by giving you paid time off or paying for your medical insurance or medical expenses. You may feel—or they may intimidate you into feeling—afraid to file a workers comp claim. You may be concerned about losing your job or even just your wages or salary, even if only temporarily.
It’s at a moment like this you should certainly consult with a workers compensation lawyer in Columbus. A Columbus workers comp attorney is familiar with the rules and regulations of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and can help you navigate the process of filing your workers comp claim. In some cases your employer will be allowed to steer you toward a particular doctor in order to assess your injury, which can obviously present a conflict of interest. No employer wants to have the BWC approve a workers compensation claim, because it will make their insurance premium go up.
Do keep in mind that an employer is required to furnish you with the paperwork to start your claim with the BWC. Do not accept any attempt on their part to wait out the injury or have them cover your medical expenses for you. Consult with a workers comp attorney in Columbus, Ohio as soon as possible and get started on filing your claim, because there is a one year statute of limitations on acute injuries.
What type of compensation do you get for work injuries and fatal accidents?
An Ohio employee disabled beyond the point of work can collect 72% of their wages for four months, and then 66% of their wages every week afterwards for up to 200 weeks—subject to a weekly maximum of $932. The BWC will also cover medical expenses, including travel to appointments, if applicable. After those 200 weeks are up, the injured employee will either need to return to work, find new work, or file for disability related unemployment through Ohio or perhaps Social Security Disability Insurance payments through the Federal Government, if they can get approved. A workers comp lawyer in Columbus, Ohio can help you navigate which option makes the most sense. In some cases, permanently disabled professionals who can collect 66% of their former weekly pay for the rest of their life.In addition to covering these lost wages or salaries and medical costs, the BWC also pays death benefits to survivors, along with issuing up to $5,500 to cover funeral and burial expenses.
Ohio employers with even one employee must carry workers comp. They must cover all medical expenses, even mileage to appointments. If an employee is disabled to the point of not being able to work, they can collect 72% of their wages for four months, and then two-thirds of their former paycheck every week after that, subject to a $932 cap for 200 weeks—after which they will either need to return to work, seek alternative employment, or file of a special disability-related type of unemployment. Employees who are permanently disabled can collect two-thirds of their former paycheck every week for the rest of their life.
There are many more details about workers compensation benefits as issued by the Ohio BWC, and how to apply. The Bainbridge Law Firm specializes in helping clients navigate these concerns so they can obtain the benefits they deserve. Though the firm is based in Columbus, we also serve communities in Cambridge, Portsmouth, Waverly, Springfield, Ironton and Marion.
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