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Denver Workers' Compensation Law Blog

OSHA: Hospital workers need protection from violent injuries

When you think about workplace safety, you likely picture employees participating in training on how to use equipment or how to avoid an accident. For some Colorado professionals, there are other occupational hazards that can lead to on-the-job injury cases. As a recent incident in another state demonstrates, businesses should analyze every aspect of employee safety in order to ensure maximum protection.

A security hospital in Minnesota has been pressured lately to handle patients differently through putting them in isolation or restraints less often. Additionally, security guards work more closely with patients now than compared to years past. According to a union representative for the staff at the hospital, there have been more injuries to employees as a result of the changes. In fact, the situation has become so dangerous that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the facility $4,900 for failing to protect staff from violent patients.

Common misconceptions of workers’ compensation in Colorado

Workers’ compensation is not something most people have to deal with until an injury or illness occurs, and many employees may have a misconception about how the process works. In Colorado, state laws strictly govern the way a worker may apply for and receive benefits. We know that clearing up any confusion regarding those laws is an essential part to securing the compensation an injured employee deserves.

For example, many workers may simply think that alerting their supervisor of the injury within a reasonable timeframe suffices. However, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, someone who has suffered a work injury must turn in written notification within four days of the incident.

Selecting a Colorado physician following a work injury

There are several struggles associated with workplace injuries, one of which is finding the right doctor for treatment. Most people in Colorado prefer to work with their own physicians because they know and trust them.

However, under state law, the employer has the right to designate the doctor who will be used to treat the injury or illness. We know how important it is for patients to be able to work with a doctor whom they can trust. Often, the employer may select physicians that the insurance company has already designated. In some cases, that could mean that the doctors are acting in the best interest of the insurance company and not the patient.

What do I do if my workers' compensation claim is rejected?

Once you have filed a workers’ compensation claim following an on-the-job injury, you may get one of two responses from the insurance provider. The first is that they have accepted the claim, and the other is that your claim has been denied. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, workers’ comp claims may be rejected for several reasons.

In the event that the claim is rejected due to incomplete or inaccurate information, you should contact the insurance adjuster as soon as possible. In many cases, you may be able to supply the necessary information in order to complete the application and receive the benefits.

What steps do I take following a work-related injury?

Getting injured at work can be a traumatic experience. In addition to the physical pain you might experience, there is often the added mental stress or anxiety regarding how to pay for the associated medical bills, especially if you have to take time off work. Companies that carry workers’ compensation insurance have policies in place to provide workers with the funding necessary to pay medical expenses, compensate workers for time lost and even provide a death benefit to families in the event a worker is killed.

As workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, it is important for people to know what to do should an accident occur in Colorado. According to the state’s Division of Human Resources, those who have suffered a work injury or illness have four days to report the incident in writing to their supervisors. The supervisor must then fill out a form titled the “Employers’ First Report of Injury” using the worker’s written statement.

Claiming workers' compensation in Colorado

Experiencing an on-the-job injury is more than just a pain. Some injuries can limit people's ability to do their job, or it may mean missing work for certain periods of time. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, strains and sprains account for half of all workers' compensation claims that result in missing time from work. In order to file a claim, it is important to understand which injuries qualify.

There are three basic requirements that must be met in order to file a claim:

Serious risks associated with construction industry

A construction worker faces a higher-than-average risk of being involved in a workplace accident. Every day, Colorado construction site employees put themselves in the line of danger when executing their jobs. While a machinery accident may result in only minor injuries, a crane accident can cause serious injuries or even death. Depending on the circumstances, workers' compensation may be required as one means of providing financial support to victims unable to work for some period of time.

Fatal construction accidents are more common than many people may wish to know. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2012 data, the construction sector saw more deaths than any other in the state of Colorado. A total of 21 out of 82 workplace fatalities happened on construction sites. This is more than twice the number of deaths that occurred in the mining sector as well as in businesses in the transportation and warehousing industry.

Denver roofers receive a record number of OSHA citations

Even a little bit of damage on a roof can cause major destruction. In addition to mold, leaks and other issues, Colorado homeowners may have to worry about roofers suffering a work injury. Not only should roofing companies be diligent in protecting their employees, but consumers should take care to hire businesses with proper safety policies. As recent reports indicate, the local roofing industry is not always up to par with safety standards.

The Colorado Roofing Association notes that homeowners could be held liable if a roofer is injured while working on their residence. If a contractor is uninsured, the association states that the homeowner may face a lawsuit and be held financially responsible for injuries and even property damage. The agency is warning consumers to avoid companies that do not carry the proper insurance and licenses.

Possible anthrax exposure sparks FBI investigation at CDC lab

There are many threats that workers face no matter what kind of job they hold. A slip-and-fall or equipment malfunction can happen in just about any Colorado business, prompting a workers’ compensation claim. Exposure to toxic chemicals or substances is a bit more industry-specific, and the results of such an incident should be taken seriously. As a recent accident demonstrates, it is imperative for organizations to address potential issues promptly and thoroughly.

According to initial reports, workers at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Atlanta did not inactivate samples of anthrax appropriately. The substance was then used in experiments in three other labs that did not have the tools necessary to handle live anthrax. As a result, the CDC has stated that up to 86 workers may have been exposed to the substance, which can be lethal when left untreated.

Colorado worker dies under 4,000 pounds of glass

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a government agency that has the task of ensuring that businesses in the country are operating safely. Many Colorado companies have been inspected following on-the-job injury cases or as part of a random evaluation. In some instances, a business may receive instructions on how to improve operations in order to decrease the risk of an accident. When management ignores those recommendations, results can be deadly.

In 2011, inspectors from OSHA fined an Aurora window company more than $11,000. Investigators found violations that included issues with power tools, trucks, machinery and safeguards along exit routes. Today, following a deadly incident, the organization is returning to the business to open another investigation.

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