How to receive compensation for
warehouse and factory injuries
Factory workers play a vital role in North and South Carolina’s economies, but they also have a higher-than-average injury rate. Factory equipment failures, slips, trips and falls, and other accidents can easily result in months away from work or even the end of a career.
Fortunately, workers in North and South California have rights to workers’ compensation benefits that cover lost earnings and medical expenses.
Risk of injuries for warehouse workers in North and South Carolina
Due to many factors, including a low corporate tax rate and robust labor pool, manufacturing is one of the backbones of North Carolina’s economy. Thousands of North and South Carolina residents work in factories and warehouses from Charlotte to Raleigh and Asheville to the Outer Banks.
Every job comes with a certain degree of risk of injury, but warehouses and factories are particularly dangerous and deadly.
Warehouse workers are exposed to a vast array of hazards as they have to handle bulky items and work with heavy machinery. Working alongside machines, these workers are exposed to moving parts, noise, heat, vibration and the risk of injuries from entanglement.
If you’ve been injured in a warehouse, you should know that you are likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Continue reading to find out what benefits you may be entitled to and how to file a workers’ comp claim.
Did You Know?
Common factory and warehouse worker accidents and injuries
Even in this age of automation and robotics (or rather because of it), human workers are regularly injured when working alongside machines.
Virtually all manufacturing jobs pose high levels of risk. Such injuries lead to medical costs and lost wages. In addition, workplace injuries that lead to permanent disability can negatively affect the entire organization’s morale.
Charlotte work injury attorneys discuss common workplace injuries. Our accident attorneys represent all injured workers across North and South Carolina.
Some common accidents that result in warehouse and factory worker injuries include the following.
Slips, trips and falls caused by spills, poor lighting and uneven surfaces are among the most common manufacturing injuries. Workers may suffer the following injuries after a slip-and-fall accident:
- Broken bones
- Spinal injuries
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Traumatic brain injuries
These injuries could potentially prevent a worker from working for a long time.
However, slip and fall accidents are usually challenging to prove. You may need an experienced attorney to prove that your injuries occurred in the course and scope of your employment.
Factory jobs require a lot of muscle strength and endurance. Employees frequently have to stand still for extended periods and lift heavy materials. Workers run the danger of suffering overexertion injuries like strained or torn muscles or tendons or herniated discs. Heavy lifting can also cause back and neck ailments.
Employees working in factories near hot machinery who don’t take regular breaks or drink enough water may also become dehydrated, making them susceptible to heat exhaustion. These circumstances can also lead to passing out and falling, resulting in even more serious injuries like a traumatic brain injury.
Forklift accidents are one of the most common causes of injury in factories and warehouses. Experienced forklift operators should adhere to all safety protocols to avoid injuries. Most importantly, they should avoid operating poorly maintained forklifts whose state of disrepair could lead to brake or steering failure.
If a forklift overturns, it could pin or crush workers and lead to severe injuries like:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
If a forklift hits you at work, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Employers can help prevent these injuries by ensuring proper visibility, maintaining floors and only using forklifts in open yards or wide alleys.
Injuries from falling objects
If items aren’t stacked properly on shelves, factory and warehouse workers are at risk of getting hit by falling objects. In addition, poorly installed floor-to-ceiling shelves can fall and cause dangerous crashes. Generally, safety experts recommend putting the heaviest objects at the bottom and stacking the lighter items above.
Injuries resulting from falling objects may include:
- Head and brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Herniated discs
- Back and neck injuries
- Rotator cuff tears and lumbar disc herniation
- Spinal cord injuries
After such an accident, workers should seek medical attention immediately so a doctor can diagnose the nature of the injuries. With the help of an attorney, such reports can form the basis of your compensation claims.
Exposure to hazardous chemicals can have both short-term and long-term effects. Manufacturers should have proper warning labels that indicate the nature of the materials and all associated hazards.
The most common hazardous materials include flammable fuels and gasses. Other substances can also pose several risks, including:
- Respiratory distress
- Chemical burns
- Skin rashes
- Nervous system disorders
- Congenital disabilities
If hazardous substances injure a worker, an attorney can help by identifying the guilty party that failed to implement safety precautions as mandated under 3 pieces of legislation:
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)
- Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
- Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)
Conveyor belt injuries
While in motion, all parts of a conveyor system pose inherent risks. Pulleys and belts continuously spin at high speeds.
Unsuspecting employees are at risk of the following injuries:
- Broken bones
It’s essential to have a legible sign that stipulates all the safety precautions. To avoid these warehouse accidents, workers should avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry.
The employer is responsible for ensuring that all conveyor belt systems are properly guarded to protect employees from pulleys, belts, power transmission couplings, sprocket chain drives and vertical shafts. The company is also responsible for maintaining the equipment and offering proper training on using the equipment to employees.
How to prevent a warehouse accident
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stipulates that business owners owe a duty of care to ensure that all workers and guests are kept hazard-free and reasonably safe.
In other words, the employer should have known that a hazardous condition could expose workers to risks, and failure to take the necessary precautions amounts to negligence by breaching the duty of care.
In order to prevent warehouse injuries, all parties involved in the manufacturing process must take appropriate steps to keep workers safe.
Manufacturing employers, in particular, should take all necessary precautions, including:
- Scheduling routine inspections and maintenance of machinery
- Providing employees with appropriate training and safety equipment
- Providing scheduled breaks to prevent accidents from fatigue and overexertion injuries
- Ensuring proper ventilation in areas where toxic chemicals are used
Unfortunately, even if you comply with these safety standards, you might still suffer as a result of someone else’s negligence. In such a scenario, our Charlotte-based workers’ comp attorney can help you to recover maximum damages to cover your losses.
What workers’ comp benefits am I entitled to after a factory or warehouse injury?
In North and South Carolina, most employers are required to provide their workers with workers’ compensation insurance to protect them in the event of a work-related injury or illness.
Workers’ compensation insurance is no-fault insurance, meaning that workers don’t need to prove their employer caused their illness or injury in order to be compensated.
Workers only need to prove that their illness or injury was a direct result of their work or work environment and that it occurred while they were performing their work duties.
Workers who suffer a work-related injury or illness in North and South Carolina may be entitled to the following benefits:
- Medical expenses. This includes reimbursement for all necessary medical treatment, including hospital stays, doctor and emergency room visits, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and medical supplies and equipment.
- Lost wages. If your injury or illness temporarily or permanently prevents you from working or only allows you to work in a limited capacity, you’re entitled to receive a portion of your lost wages (which is typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage).
- Death benefits. If you die as a result of your work-related injury or illness, your dependents are entitled to certain benefits for burial expenses and future lost wages.
What to do after a warehouse accident
After an industrial accident, it’s imperative that an injured worker takes the following steps:
- Seek immediate medical care. It’s important to see a doctor after an accident to prevent the injuries from getting worse. A doctor will also be able to provide documentation that connects your injury to your work accident, which is necessary if you want to receive workers’ compensation.
- Notify your employer as soon as possible. According to workers’ compensation law in North Carolina, an injured worker should notify their employer within 30 days of the date of the incident and file a claim within 2 years. In South Carolina, notice must be given within 90 days. Compensation benefits may not be payable if you fail to comply with the statute of limitations.
- Your employer must file a claim. After you provide your employer with written notice of your injury, they’re responsible for filing a workers’ comp claim on your behalf. Be sure to verify that they’ve filed the appropriate paperwork so you can start receiving compensation.
- Contact a workers’ comp attorney. For the best chance of success, consult an experienced workers’ comp attorney near you to help with your claim.
A detailed overview of the workers’ compensation claims appeals process in North Carolina, and what to expect after contacting an attorney.