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Tulsa Workers' Compensation Law Blog

National Forklift Safety Day underscores workplace injury hazards

Businesses nationwide, including in Oklahoma, recognize National Forklift Safety Day in June every year. This collaboration between the Industrial Truck Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will aim to remind employers and employees of the importance of forklift safety to prevent workplace injury incidents. OSHA inspectors will also receive relevant training at this time.

Along with the safe operation of forklifts, the need for routine daily quality tests of the equipment to identify potential problems, and the importance of forklift operator training will be underscored. Furthermore, operators will learn that different types of lift trucks, such as motorized hand trucks and high-lift rider trucks, pose different hazards. They type of facility, and the pedestrian movements of each business also play a role in the types of dangers posed by forklifts.

Workplace injuries: Complicated claims might need legal counsel

Many employees in Oklahoma are unfamiliar with the procedures to follow when filing workers' compensation claims. Victims of workplace injuries have every right to seek legal counsel for assistance with the claims process. While simple claims might be straightforward, complexities in some cases can pose many stumbling blocks.

Complications can arise when an employer objects to a workers' compensation claim, or discriminates or retaliates against a worker who filed a claim for benefits. Some employers fail to carry the required insurance or, if they do, awarded benefits might not be paid out correctly. Problems may arise if the insurer challenges the medical treatment options, or it might claim that the injury was a pre-existing condition and therefore not covered.

Some workplace injuries are preventable

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says between six and seven million construction workers risk their lives on building sites nationwide every day. Many of those are in Oklahoma, and regardless of whether they work on high rises or single story residential projects, hazards are plentiful. Although employers are responsible for employee safety, each worker can take specific precautionary steps to avoid workplace injuries.

The first safety aspect is never to avoid training sessions, even if it covers known ground, it can prevent complacency and keep workers aware of potential hazards and how to deal with them. Next is never to avoid wearing personal protective equipment -- even if a dangerous task will take up only a few minutes. Retrieving a tool from a slanted roof might take only five minutes, but slipping and falling off a roof will happen in the blink of an eye -- which makes the short time it would have taken to strap on a fall harness worthwhile.

Prevention might be better than cure for workplace injuries

Workers in all industries are exposed to safety hazards, regardless of whether they work in offices, grocery stores or construction sites. Some risks are universal, and many employees in Oklahoma might not realize that they can ask their employer to arrange or provide safety training. Knowing how to cope with different safety hazards can benefit both employer and employee, and if training occurs at frequent intervals, the complacency that can cause workplace injuries can be avoided.

Ergonomics play an important role in every occupation. It involves the ease and comfort of job-related movements -- particularly those that are strenuous or repetitive. Ergonomic changes can be made to workstations to suit the employee. It can prevent physical problems, such as those that can develop in line workers who repeat the same motions in production lines or data capturers who type on keyboards or manipulate a mouse for hours on end.

Grain engulfment can cause fatal workplace injuries

During the recent national Stand-Up for Engulfment Prevention Week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration used the opportunity to remind private grain companies in Oklahoma and other states that the hazards their workers face are as severe as those faced by employees of large grain and feed operations. Part of the focus during this campaign was on the three situations that are the most frequent causes of engulfment injuries. Many of these workplace injuries have tragic consequences.

One hazard is the clogging of unloading equipment. Workers sometimes enter the bins without giving a thought to shutting off the power. What they do not realize is that the grain will move quickly as soon as the debris is removed. Everything in the bin, including the worker, will be forcefully sucked in with the grain flow, and engulfment or entrapment in the unloading device can happen in the blink of an eye.

Workplace injuries: Research reveals new hearing-loss hazards

Different hazards pose different types of health risks to employees in all industries across Oklahoma. Not all workplace injuries are noticeable, and while open wounds and fractured bones happen in all workplaces, injuries such as hearing loss are also prevalent but often disregarded. However, cuts and broken bones can heal while hearing loss is permanent, and for this reason, safety agencies advise more hearing conservation.

Although some industries are known to produce excessive noise that threatens employees, researchers recently reported that AFFH industries pose significant hearing-loss hazards. This industry sector comprises of agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting within which the hearing tests of 17,300 employees were analyzed. Researchers say a significant percentage of those had suffered noise-related hearing loss.

Workplace injuries: What is the Multiple Injury Trust Fund?

Injured employees in Oklahoma are entitled to financial assistance through the workers' compensation insurance system if their injuries occurred on the job. However, what happens if a worker suffers several workplace injuries throughout his or her career? Will there come a time when the worker is no longer eligible for benefits?

An attorney at the law firm of Lowell & Lahan in Tulsa can answer those and any other questions about workers' compensation. There is a trust fund that receives taxes that are taken out of every approved benefits claim. The Multiple Injury Trust Fund that sets aside funds especially for victims of multiple workplace injuries.

Typical workplace injuries that lead to benefits claims

Oklahoma, like other states, requires employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. Victims of workplace injuries can typically claim benefits to cover doctors' bills, hospital stays, physical therapy and other medical expenses. Compensation is usually also available for a portion of lost wages, along with vocational rehabilitation for those whose injuries caused disabilities that prevent them from returning to their usual occupations.

Although the list of possible accidents across all industries is endless, some types of injuries make up the majority of workers' compensation claims. Vehicle accidents are said to be the primary cause of employee deaths, and this includes not only commercial truck drivers but anybody whose work duties include driving. Next on the list are slips and trips, which can happen just as quickly on a construction site as in an office, sometimes leading to serious injuries.

Workplace injuries happen despite automated loading dock safety

Loading docks are known to be hazardous areas. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says statistical evidence indicates that some of the most significant hazards in loading docks nationwide, including in Oklahoma, involve forklifts -- with an estimated fatality every three days. However, safety authorities say that advanced technology to reduce the number of workplace injuries is being introduced all the time.

Advancement in safety technology has eliminated the need for loading dock workers to manually chock or unchock the wheels of trailers or lift levelers. Automated systems are in place in most facilities, and red and green lights indicate when a trailer is secured or released to travel. Sensors are also used to provide warning lights for as long as there is any activity inside the trailer to prevent it pulling away with the forklift driver still inside.

5 oil rig workers suffer fatal workplace injuries in rig fire

All operations that involve oil and gas extraction are dangerous, and only employers who maintain zero-tolerance safety protocols can protect employees from harm. Workplace injuries are prevalent in this industry in Oklahoma and other states, and many lives have been lost due to safety violations. The latest oil rig explosion is under investigation by state and federal investigators.

Reportedly, an uncontrolled gas release caught fire at an Oklahoma natural gas drilling rig on a recent Monday. Authorities say they believe one worker unsuccessfully tried to prevent the explosion by shutting down the well. Five workers were killed in the blast, and their bodies were only recovered on the day following the fire.

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Tulsa, OK 74136

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