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Bettendorf Workers' Compensation Blog

You're probably at risk for workplace violence

Even if you do your very best to be safe at work, you could still be unknowingly at risk for a serious injury. Some risk factors are simply out of your control. Workplace violence is a real and growing threat not just to your safety, but also to the safety of all workers in Iowa.

Like most people, you might associate workplace injuries with things like falls or faulty equipment. However, any injury you suffer while on the job typically counts as a workplace injury. This includes acts of violence like assault.

Landscapers' equipment can cause catastrophic injuries

Workers in all industries in Iowa face safety hazards, but those who work with dangerous equipment are often at a higher risk. Landscaping is one of the jobs in which noncompliance with safety standards can have devastating consequences. As in any other work environment, you have a right as a landscaper to a safe work environment with adequate safety training and appropriate personal protective equipment.

Your job will undoubtedly require you to operate chainsaws, log splitters and other equipment that could trim hours off the projects. However, without proper training and safety standards, it could also trim years off your life. Your employer must ensure that you and all your co-workers are well-versed on the prevention of injuries.

Construction falls continue to take too many lives

There are few jobs as physically and mentally challenging as construction. If you work construction, you may find the work satisfying and rewarding, but not without its drawbacks. Perhaps you enjoy working outside in a variety of weather conditions, or you may dread when the Iowa weather turns extreme.

However, aside from these inconveniences, one of your greatest concerns about working construction may be falling from a height. While you may be at greater risk of numerous other injuries on the job, a fall can result in catastrophic, even fatal injuries. Unfortunately, statistics show that the rate of workers falling on construction sites continues to rise despite improvements in safety technology.

Will vocational rehabilitation get you back to work?

Your workplace injury came as a shock, as most accidents do. Suddenly, your world came to a halt while you went through hospitalization, a long recovery and physical therapy to regain strength and mobility. Fortunately, workers' compensation covered your medical bills and time off work. Nevertheless, your aim was to get back on your feet and back to your job as quickly as possible.

Perhaps you realized from the moment of the accident that your injuries would prevent you from returning to your previous job, or maybe it was the conclusion of your doctor after your treatment failed to return you to your former ability to function. Whatever the case, you may now be facing the challenge of finding a new line of work that your current limitations will allow you to perform.

What will you do if your workers' compensation claim is denied?

Most employers in Iowa must carry workers' compensation insurance to provide financial assistance to employees who suffer work-related injuries. Regardless of whether you work in a meatpacking facility, factory, warehouse, construction site or another industry, the no-fault insurance system will have your back -- or will they?

Occupational illnesses or injuries can leave you without an income for weeks or even months. Your injuries could cause temporary or permanent disabilities that might jeopardize your ability to care for your family. If you face such a dire situation, you might have found out that there is no guarantee that you will receive workers' compensation benefits.

Did you know that exposure to chemicals can affect your hearing?

If you thought that only the excessive noise levels at your workplace caused your loss of hearing, you might be mistaken. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says ototoxicants can cause balance problems and hearing loss. Ototoxicants are certain types of chemicals to which many workers in Iowa are exposed.

If you work with solvents, pharmaceuticals or pesticides that contain ototoxicants, your hearing might be at risk. OSHA also warns that ototoxicity combined with excessive noise levels exacerbate the potential adverse effect on your hearing.

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.


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