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Bettendorf Workers' Compensation Blog

Expect the unexpected when you work alongside a robot

There is a significant move toward automation and the use of robotics in the Iowa manufacturing sector. Gone are the days when all robotic equipment was in cages that kept workers away from them. You and many others may already work alongside a collaborative robotic co-worker that does the repetitive and mundane jobs, leaving the more challenging task for you to accomplish.

Although the safety standards for robotics are still evolving, your employer must comply with the general safety regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. To protect you and your human co-workers, your employer must assess the workspaces around collaborative robots to identify and address safety hazards.

Do not forget about your own health as you care for others

If you work in the health care industry in Iowa, it will likely not surprise you to know that some regard nursing among the most dangerous professions in the country. Sadly, many patients and their visitors look down on nurses and other hospital staff, and it is not unusual for them to take their frustrations out on those who take care of them. Many hospital patients are indifferent to the dangers you face and the level of your sacrifice.

While most other dangerous jobs pose obvious hazards, such as those that threaten factory and construction workers, loggers and commercial truck drivers, nurses face unanticipated dangers. Regardless of whether you are a registered nurse, an emergency department nurse or working in OBGYN, facing unexpected risks is likely par for the course.

Are you prepared for the age of smart PPE?

In many industries in Iowa, personal protective equipment has saved many lives. You might be interested and even excited to learn more about the rapid advances in technology. Similar to your FitBit that tracks the number of steps you walk and steps you climb, the quality of your sleep and more, or your smartwatch that can record your vital signs such as your heart rate, smart PPE is becoming available to protect employee safety. Smart helmets, environmental monitoring garments and other developments may soon be part of prescribed safety requirements.

However, it is not plain sailing, and there are many challenges to overcome. Downsides include the steep learning curve that might be more challenging for older workers. Furthermore, responsible parties have not established minimum standards and performance requirements for smart PPE devices, and traditional systems must remain in place as backups.

A cat has 9 lives, but how many near misses can you survive?

How many times have you thanked your lucky stars when incidents that could have claimed your life only left you shaken? Workplaces in all industries in Iowa expose employees to safety hazards, and each company has safety protocols in place to address those dangers. However, it is an ongoing process that needs updating whenever a near-miss incident occurs.

A near miss is an unplanned event that does not cause injuries or death but has the potential to cause very serious repercussions. It could happen when you slip on icy stairs, and as you grab the railing to avoid falling, it breaks, and although you did not fall, you could have -- with devastating consequences. Another example is walking out of the warehouse and narrowly miss being run over by a company truck. Such incidents happen every day, and your employer can only address them if employees report near misses.

Attention Iowa workers: These accidents are common!

Whether you go to work in an office every day or applied for a construction job because you like to be outdoors and building things, like most Iowa workers, you have probably gotten so used to your job that you could do some of it blindfolded. While it's good to be skilled and knowledgeable about your work, it can also be dangerous because you might fall into the bad habit of taking safety for granted.  

Your employer, of course, is obligated to provide information, training and equipment to keep you and your co-workers safe on the job. Some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others; however, no matter where you work, you are at risk for injury if an accident occurs. Some of the most common workplace accidents can happen just about anywhere.  

Despite technological advances, food processing remains hazardous

Despite new regulations by federal and state safety authorities, along with technological advances, thousands of food manufacturing employees suffer on-the-job injuries every year. An unacceptable number of victims do not survive.

If you are an employee in a food processing plant in the Bettendorf, Iowa area, you likely face many hazards during every shift you work. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires your employer to protect you and your co-workers from recognized hazards, it might be smart to take note of potential risks and take your own precautions.

A fall harness might save you -- suspension trauma might kill you

If you are a construction worker in Iowa, you will likely know that you should never work at an elevated level without a fall protection harness. However, have you received training in the proper use of such a harness? Do you know that, even if it arrests your fall, your life may still be at risk? Suspension trauma could cause your death if you hang in the harness for too long.

The purpose of a fall harness and its lanyards is to prevent you from striking the ground or another surface at a lower level. Once it has succeeded in that role, the harness can become a life-threatening hazard.

Which occupational illnesses are threatening your health?

There could be various risks and safety hazards threatening your well-being in your Iowa workplace, and you may not even be aware of them. You may work in a place that does not involve physical labor or strenuous activity, but your safety could still be at stake. There are various environmental factors that could lead to the development of certain illnesses and medical conditions.

Occupational illnesses can develop when workers face exposure to certain things, such as dangerous chemicals, mold or even loud noises. If you became sick because of your work, you have the right to seek benefits through a workers' compensation claim. You may be able to claim financial support for your medical bills, lost wages and other financial losses.

Safety is in short supply on many construction sites

If you are a construction worker in Iowa, you will likely put your life on the line every time you have a task that involves working at an elevated level. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, three of the top 10 safety violations every year involve working at heights. The agency says ladders, scaffolds and the lack of fall protection feature in a significant number of construction workers' benefits claims for workers' compensation.

You might not realize that, although it is dangerous to work at the height of 30 feet, the same risks exist for anyone working at heights of six or 10 feet. In fact, OSHA says more fatal falls happen from lower elevations. This might be because those at 30 feet and higher recognize the danger and take precautions while workers at lower elevations think they are safe and take no precautions.

What do I do if my workers' comp claim is denied?

A workplace injury changes the course of your life. One minute, you are earning the money you need to support your family, and the next, you are in the emergency room wondering if you will even be able to return to your job in the same capacity.

Fortunately, Iowa's workers' compensation system provides support for injured workers. The higher the risk of your job, the more you may depend on the benefits offered, including lost wages and coverage of medical bills related to your accident. However, if you learn that the insurance company has denied your claim for benefits under workers' compensation, you may wonder where to turn.


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