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Wauwatosa Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Wisconsin sees third consecutive jump in workplace deaths

If you or one of your family members in Wisconsin works in an industry known to be dangerous, like construction or transportation, you will want to know what companies and the state may be doing to keep these employees safe. Having an idea of how many people are involved in serious accidents may also provide insight into how effective any safety efforts actually are.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the state of Wisconsin, 2016 marked the third year in a row in which the number of people killed in job-related incidents rose. In 2013, there were 97 workplace fatalities statewide. That increased first to 99 in 2014, to 104 in 2015 and then to 105 in 2016. This trend is consistent with the trend seen across the nation during this same period of time.

What are the steps of a workers' comp case?

The benefits of workers' compensation are twofold. It protects injured workers from having to bear the brunt of their expenses after a workplace injury occurs and it also protects the companies themselves from litigation filed by injured employees.

Some workers, however, mistakenly believe that workers' comp benefits are automatic. They are not, as injured workers have responsibilities in order to collect benefits. Also, certain procedures must be followed or a claim may be denied outright after an on-the-job accident.

Workers' compensation dispute continues nine years

When a person is injured on the job in Wisconsin, they should be able to trust that the system of workers' compensation will be there to help them. For many people, this can and does happen. However, for other persons, receiving the benefits and assistance they need can be an ongoing challenge. Such has been the case for one woman who had worked for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

As reported by the Journal Sentinel, the woman has been employed by the university for nearly 20 years when she was injured after falling out of her chair at her desk in the summer of 2009. It is not known if she had ever sought workers' compensation prior to that but due to the soft tissue injuries, she was granted nine months of workers' compensation benefits. After this, the physician for the university declared her injury healed and benefits ceased.

Concrete worker dies from blunt force trauma

Residents in Wisconsin who are either themselves employed in the construction field or who have family members that work in construction jobs know that dangers abound on jobsites every day. However, also prevalent are strong laws that require construction companies and other employers to provide to their workers robust safety training, properly maintained and operating equipment and clear procedures to be followed in order to keep people safe while on the job.

While it may be good to know that workers' compensation may be available in the event that an accident does occur, the preferred situation is for a person to not need to make such a claim. Sadly, the family of one man may well be seeking some form of compensation today. The man was employed by a masonry company and was said to be working on a construction site when he was killed in a work-related accident.

The dangers of popcorn lung

Wisconsin residents who work in large factories are exposed to danger constantly. They may end up dealing with occupational health hazards that can lead to long-term pain, injuries, issues like spinal disc degeneration, or chronic work-related illnesses. One such ailment is called "popcorn lung", and its consequences can easily impact the sufferer's daily life.

As WebMD states, "popcorn lung" is the colloquial name for bronchiolitis obliterans, an ailment in which the smallest airways in a person's lungs are damaged. This can lead to a shortness of breath, constant coughing, and wheezing. Diacetyl is the main ingredient that causes concern in the workplace for popcorn lung. It's where the illness got its name from as well, since this was a common chemical used to flavor microwave popcorn. Though it's not used in popcorn as much after public outcry against the chemical, it's still a common ingredient in electronic cigarettes.

At least one dead after gas explosion at worksite

Workers in Wisconsin who must dig into ground to perform their jobs should be educated and trained by their employers about how to properly do so in order to avoid hitting and disturbing gas lines or causing other problems. Companies have a responsibility to safety at all times for their workers and even for their subcontractors and others in an area that may be affected by any dangerous incidents.

Today there are many more questions than answers about what exactly happened to cause a gas line explosion in Sun Prairie. The incident occurred in an area in which TDS Telecom had been working on some fiber optic cables for a while but reports from CBS 58 Milwaukee indicate that this work may not have been involved in the explosion. Other work was being conducted by a company called Bear Communications for the communications giant, Verizon.

What your employer must do after a workplace injury

When you go to work, you expect that your workplace is safe. Your employer is supposed to make sure that you won't end up injured as a result of recognizable hazards, and everyone on the job should receive the training necessary to avoid serious accidents.

Despite that, people get hurt on the job all the time. When that happens, employers have steps they must take to stay in compliance with labor laws. Here is what you should know about what your employer needs to do after you're hurt on the job.

Does workers' comp cover retraining?

If your workplace injuries prevent you from returning to your position, you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation services provided through Wisconsin’s workers' compensation program. According to the Dept. of Workforce Development, services can include retraining or help to find a suitable replacement job if you meet eligibility requirements and are not already receiving such services under another agreement.

You must first submit documentation of any work restrictions you have to the company where you worked at the time of the accident. This initial step gives the employer the opportunity to determine whether there is work you can do and offer you “suitable” employment. Along with being able to accommodate your physical restrictions, suitable work is a position in which you can earn at least 90 percent of the salary you were receiving when hurt.

Software may help contractor reduce accidents

It is no surprise to anyone in Wisconsin that many people are injured or even killed while performing their jobs on construction sites. Even with strong laws in place that provide direction on proper safety procedures and required personnel education and management, accidents on construction job sites continue to happen. Some people might even believe it is just something to be accepted as part of the construction industry. Others, however, may have a different view.

One general contractor based in Boston, Massachusetts appears to be in the latter category. In an effort to reduce jobsite accidents, the company is investing in the development of algorithmic-based software. As reported by Technology Review, the software might be able to take in data from multiple sources and one of those sources could be photographic images in real time. The software would scan the images and be able to detect safety violations or risks and create some sort of alert so action might be taken if need be.

Important details about OSHA's Focus Four

When it comes to staying safe while on the job, Wisconsin residents should be able to trust that their employers have established proper policies and procedures designed to keep everyone safe while performing their work. Part of helping make this happen and come to live is training not just supervisors and managers but all staff members.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed a wide array of materials to be used in this type of training. Some materials focus on what OSHA calls the Focus Four. These are the four most commonly seen factors in accidents in the construction industry in particular but they may also be factors in accidents in other industries as well. The Focus Four includes electrocutions, being caught in an object or between objects, being struck by an object and falls.

Contact Us Today For Your Free Consultation

We invite you to contact our office today by calling 414-727-7003 or by sending us an email to schedule a free initial consultation regarding your workers' compensation claim. We are located in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and evenings and weekends by appointment. If we take on your case, we only charge fees when we obtain compensation for you.

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Paul M. Erspamer Law Offices, S.C.

Paul M. Erspamer Law Offices, S.C.
8112 West Bluemound Road
Suite 108
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Phone: 414-727-7003
Fax: 414-727-7004
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