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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

What is the Second Injury Fund?

As you may have discovered when you started receiving workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey, there is a limit on how long these payments will last. If you have suffered an injury that has made it impossible to work, you may be concerned about what you will do when your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance no longer has to pay.

According to the State of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, you may qualify for continuing payments from another source if you already had a disability when you began the job. These benefits come from the Second Injury Fund, which was set up for people in circumstances like yours.

New Jersey work-related health problems

Even the most seemingly benign workplace in Bergen County may put a worker in harm’s way. Whether someone lifts heavy loads or sits at a desk, for example, the spine is at risk for serious issues. The U.S. Department of Labor gathers the statistics for all workplace-related illnesses and injuries via an employer reporting system. By taking a look at the most recent numbers for New Jersey, researchers can analyze the safety of various industries, and develop improvements to prevent further harm.

In the private sector, illnesses only accounted for 4.4 percent of the recorded issues employees suffered, and 32 percent of the 3,100 cases involved breathing conditions, skin problems and hearing loss. Roughly 68,800 sustained injuries on the job. Including both categories, there were 40,900 workers who missed work for days, were restricted from performing their normal job duties or required a transfer to a new job. More than 31,000 suffered less severe issues that were significant enough to be reported, but did not lead to restriction or transfer, and the employees did not miss days of work.

Protecting yourself from a lifting injury

If you work in a Bergen County warehouse, you are probably required to lift anywhere from 50 to 100 pounds on a regular basis. This kind of repetitive work can take its toll and one of the most common injuries we see here at Parisi & Gerlanc Attorneys at Law are those related to lifting. While not all work injuries can be prevented, there are certain things that you and your employer can do to reduce your risk.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration points out that the warehouse should be sufficiently lit. While this seems like common sense, it can be easy for warehouse managers to overlook a lightbulb that is not burning at its full capacity. If a job is a one-time assignment in the far corner of the building, you or others may dismiss the fact that it is a bit dark there. However, you should always bring any lighting deficiency to the attention of your supervisor or bring in additional lighting to make sure the work is done safely.

What you post on social media could hurt your workers’ comp claim

For many people in New Jersey, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are part of their daily routine. These sites enable people to post photos and messages about their activities, but they can also be used to deny a workers’ compensation claim.

For example, one woman posted videos of herself competing at a beauty pageant on YouTube, according to Insurance Journal. However, at the same time, she was collecting workers’ compensation for an injury to her foot. She claimed that she was unable to wear a shoe on that foot, move it or place any weight on it. The videos though, show her walking in high heels without any problem. Consequently, she charged with committing fraud.