How to receive compensation for warehouse and factory injuries
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 surrounded by heavy machinery.
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 residents here work in factories and warehouses from Charlotte to Raleigh, and Asheville to the Outer Banks. 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 how much you are owed, what your rights are and what to do next.
What is a warehouse accident?
Injuries that happen in a warehouse range from minor to fatal. These include slips and falls, sprains or sternum injuries that result from hauling heavy loads. Even in this age of automation and robotics (or rather especially because of it), human workers are still regularly injured when working alongside machines.
In order to prevent warehouse injuries, all parties involved in the manufacturing process must take appropriate precautions to keep workers safe.
Manufacturing employers, in particular, should take all necessary precautions by scheduling routine inspections and maintenance of machinery, and continually training their employees to handle the equipment more safely.
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.
Virtually all manufacturing jobs pose high levels of risks. Such injuries lead to high medical costs and lost wages. In addition, workplace injuries that lead to permanent disability can negatively affect the entire organization’s morale
How to pursue compensation for various warehouse accidents
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.
Employees can pursue compensation if they’re injured in the following instances.
1. Slip and fall accidents
Slips, trips and falls caused by oil spills, poor lighting and uneven surfaces are among the most common manufacturing injuries. The severity of the injury an employee suffers can give rise to compensation for medical costs, lost wages and additional payment if the employee is unable to earn wages while recovering or in the future.
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. While your employer probably didn’t intentionally mean for you to get hurt, their actions (or inactions) may have created the unreasonable risk that makes them legally responsible for your injuries.
What’s more, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means you are entitled to benefits regardless of who or what causes your injury.
2. Forklift injuries
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. If a forklift hits you at the workplace, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Employers should create a safe working environment for forklifts by ensuring proper visibility, maintaining floors and only using forklifts in open yards or wide alleys.
3. Risks 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.
After such an injury, workers should seek medical attention immediately so that the doctor can diagnose the nature of injuries that may include herniated discs, back and neck injuries, rotator cuff tears and lumbar disc herniation. With the help of an attorney, such reports can form the basis of your compensation claims.
4. Hazardous materials
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 include flammable fuels and gases. Other substances pose several risks, such as poisoning, nausea, chemical burns, skin rashes, nervous system disorders and 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)
5. 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 scrapes, broken bones, lacerations and amputations. 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.
What to do after a warehouse accident
After an industrial accident, it’s imperative that an injured worker seeks immediate medical care, notifies their employer as soon as possible and fills out the appropriate form to begin the workers’ compensation claims process. North Carolina’s DWC-1 claim form is a declaration that you’ve been injured at the workplace and that you require compensation to cover your medical bills.
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. Compensation benefits may not be payable if you fail to comply with the statute of limitations. For the best chance of success, consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney near you.