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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Soft tissue injuries in the workplace

Some injuries are obvious from the moment an accident takes place at your New Jersey job. A broken bone, head trauma or burn may send you or your co-worker to the emergency department immediately. At Parisi & Gerlanc, Attorneys at Law, we understand that not all workplace injuries are instantly visible at the moment of the incident, and some even develop slowly, making them difficult to identify. We often support workers who suffer soft tissue damage on the job. explains that a soft tissue injury can be the result of a trauma to one of your muscles, tendons and ligaments. This does not always occur at a single point in time, though. Overuse and repetitive stress are also hazards to your soft tissues. For example, tendonitis is an inflamed tendon, and that damage could progress gradually. Bursitis is a condition that often coincides with tendonitis, and it involves damage to the fluid pouches that prevent friction from the movement of muscles and tendons over the bones.

Why more people aren’t filing for workers’ compensation benefits

Workers’ compensation insurance should provide a safety net for employees who are hurt on the job in New Jersey. After an injury, this system should cover medical costs and a portion of lost wages. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, of the injured workers who qualify for benefits, less than 40 percent apply. Those with job-related illnesses are even less likely to receive benefits; estimates of those who are not compensated for their illness go as high as 97 percent.

Unethical employers are part of the problem. Because independent contractors are not eligible for benefits, many employers misclassify their employees. This practice is particularly widespread in the construction industry, where it is common for companies to contract out the labor rather than hiring and training their own employees. Other companies use temporary employees for their most dangerous jobs. Although these workers should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, fear of putting their job prospects in danger may keep them from reporting injuries and filing a claim.

What is killing NJ workers?

An accident can happen to anyone anywhere, and your workplace in New Jersey is no exception—a fact that data confirms each year. The Insurance Journal explains that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects this information on fatal workplace accidents from a wide range of agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, among others.

Although you may check various state and federal information sources to see the preliminary numbers throughout the year, the official statistics go through a rigorous verification process before being released to the public. After a review of over 21,000 documents, the BLS has concluded its research for 2015 and made the data available.

What you should know about back injuries

It is natural to make plans for the things you want to do when you get off work in Bergen. However, a workplace injury could upset more than one evening’s activities, especially if your back is affected. At Parisi & Gerlanc, our team often answers questions about spinal injuries for those who have been hurt on the job.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that more than 600,000 workers are affected by back disorders every year, whether from a trauma or a series of repeated motions that put strain on the discs, vertebrae, muscles or ligaments. Even though your back injury is not likely to be fatal, they are among the top reasons for work-related disabilities.

What does a workers’ comp insurance investigator want to know?

Your New Jersey employer is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Like any type of insurance, after a claim is made, the company investigates the circumstances that led to the injury. According to the FHM Insurance Company, an investigator uncovers the details of your workplace accident by asking some standard questions.

The insurance company wants to verify that you were injured, and also wants to document the specifics of the accident. This may entail asking witnesses what they saw, and if there was anyone else involved in the situation. If there were machines or tools being used, the investigator will ask whether you were trained in the proper operation of them and if you were supplied with the necessary protective equipment.

Burn injuries: hazards and outcomes

Regardless of what profession you work in, one on-the-job injury that you are not exempt from is a burn. Your New Jersey workplace should have safety measures in place to minimize your risk, from providing personal protective equipment such as gloves and eyewear to replacing frayed electric cords. At Parisi & Gerlanc, we have provided legal assistance to many people who sustained burn injuries at work.

The American Safety Council states that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act has placed responsibility on your employer to ensure that you are safe at work. Not only does this involve removing obvious threats, it also includes placing warning labels on substances or in areas that may pose a danger. You and other employees should undergo training in how to identify burn hazards, and how to interact with any substances or situations that are common to your job duties and your workplace.

Biopharmaceutical workplace hazards: dangerous drugs

People who work to produce life-saving medications may enjoy job satisfaction that is not common to other fields. As Choose: New Jersey points out, because the state is known for its significant contributions to the biopharmaceutical industry, thousands of residents are part of the process of developing and manufacturing these drugs. In fact, there are over 400 biotechnology companies in the state, employing more than 116,000 workers.

Although drugs are invaluable in health care, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention points out that many of them are still considered hazardous to workers. Criteria that may result in the identification of a potentially dangerous drug includes the following:

  •          Ability to alter cell structure and lead to cancer
  •          Toxicity to embryos or fetuses that lead to birth defects
  •          Adverse effects on fertility or other reproduction factors
  •          Harmfulness to specific organs of the body
  •          Ability to cause cell mutations

What is your workplace injury costing you?

Sustaining a serious injury while you are at your workplace in New Jersey leads to lost time on the job, lost wages and often a permanent loss of health. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workers’ compensation programs are designed to cover medical expenses, and if you miss work, a portion of your average earnings should also be covered. However, these benefits alone may not do much to alleviate the true cost of your injury.

If your regular earnings do not allow your family to rise above the poverty line, you are particularly susceptible to financial problems due to the fact that these benefits only provide you with a portion of your regular wage. Even if your spouse is the primary earner in your family, the reduction may have drastic consequences to your budget. If you work more than one job, and you are unable to maintain the second one due to the injury, there is no compensation to make up for that loss. The stress from this and other aspects of your situation is likely to create further issues for you, including emotional strain on your relationships and the potential for lowered self-confidence from your inability to work.

Temporary work—full protection

As a temporary worker in New Jersey, because you may spend a limited amount of time on any given job, employers may be tempted to forgo some of the safety training and protection you should receive. We at Parisi & Gerlanc understand that, regardless of the terms of your employment, you have the right to a safe workplace.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, each employer and the staffing agency that assigns you to the job are responsible for preventing a workplace injury from happening to you. The staffing agency has several duties that are designed to keep you safe. There must be an understanding of what hazards may be present at a workplace before you are assigned to the job. OSHA does not waive the responsibility of the agency because there was no knowledge of the dangers. The agency is required to contact the employer to make sure that any hazards are addressed and safety precautions are taken before sending you there.

A desk job could raise your risk of death

People in New Jersey may be aware of the discomfort that comes from sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day. Even with an ergonomic computer keyboard and desk chair, an office worker may be at risk for injuries and long-term complications if other factors are not considered and compensated for. According to the Washington Post, a person who sits all day has a higher chance of heart disease, muscle and bone disorders, poor brain function and some types of cancer, in addition to spinal damage.

Proper posture may help, but gluteal, hip and abdominal muscles are not used while a person is sitting, and this allows them to degenerate. Without strength in these regions, stability, mobility and range of motion are impaired. Circulation in the legs is also negatively affected by long sessions in a chair, and this can lead to blood clots. When clots develop in the lower limbs, these may travel up the veins to the heart and lungs, putting a person at risk for stroke or heart attack.