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Pennsylvania Workers Comp Safety: Working in the Cold

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Winter is well on its way and, as all Pennsylvania residents know, this means cold temperatures. And, just like working in the heat can lead to serious health problems, so can working in the cold. Those that work in the cold are at risk for developing frostbite, hypothermia, trench foot. These are all very serious conditions. Below are some tips you and your coworkers can use to help prevent these from happening. 
 
Frostbite
Frostbite is when damage is caused to skin and other tissue due to freezing. Signs of frostbite include tingling or stinging in hands, numbness, and bluish/pale waxy skin. If you suspect one of your coworkers is suffering from frostbite, get the person to a warmer location as soon as possible and contact a medical professional. Try to avoid having the person use the frost bitten area (for example, walking with a frostbitten foot). Once inside, the person should immerse the frostbitten area into warm water (not hot). 
 
Hypothermia
Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below the minimum requirement for normal body functions. During this state, the body is unable to replace the heat that is being lost. Symptoms include shivering, blue skin, and confusion. If a person appears to be suffering from hypothermia they need immediate medical attention. While waiting for medical assistance to arrive, the person should be moved into a warm location, have all wet clothing removed, be wrapped in a dry, warm blanket. 
 
Trench Foot
Trench foot is caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary and cold conditions. It is most likely to occur when working in water or deep snow. Although not a common workplace injury since it generally takes at least 13 hours to develop, it can occur to those that work long hours. Symptoms include numb feet, red or blue skin, and swelling. If someone begins showing signs of trench foot, you should contact a medical professional immediately. In the meantime, thoroughly clean and dry the affected feet. 
 
Preventing Cold-Related Conditions
When working in the cold, it’s important to wear appropriate clothing. Be sure to cover all parts of the body with waterproof gloves, hats, and coats, dress in layers, and wear insulated footwear. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and schedule heavier work for the warmer parts of the day when possible. Be sure to take plenty of breaks, especially if you are starting to feel too cold, and work with a partner. 
 
Remember, if you have suffered a cold-related injury, or any other injury, while on the job, you may be entitled to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation. If you live in the Harrisburg, State College, or Wilkes-Barre area, call 877-COMPHELP for a free consultation. 
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Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Injury: Head Injuries

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Head injuries are amongst the most dangerous work-related incidents that can occur. Below is some information including the most common types, how to prevent them, and how they can be treated. 
 
Types of Head Injuries
A head injury is any type of trauma that damages the skull, scalp, or brain. One of the most common head injuries is called a concussion. A concussion occurs when the brain shakes and crashes into the skull, usually as a result of a blow to the head. Other more serious head injuries include contusions, skull fractures, and hematoma. Contusions occur when the brain becomes bruised and causes swelling. A skull fracture is when one of the cranial skull bones receives some type of break. Hematoma is when the brain begins bleeding and clots. 
 
Signs for all of these injuries include confusion, slurred speech, headache, nausea, loss of balance, loss of memory, ringing in ears, and changes in behavior. Signs that the head injury is more serious include the inability to move one or more limbs, convulsions, changes in pupil size, loss of consciousness and vomiting. If any of these symptoms occur to somebody on your jobsite, it is imperative that they receive immediate medical attention.  
 
Causes of Head Injuries
Head injuries generally occur to those that work in manual labor. Examples include construction, maintenance, and landscaping. However, head injuries can also happen to people that work in other fields, such as office work and retail. Below are a few common situations where head injuries occur.
 
Falling objects
Falling from a high distance (ladder, scaffold, roof, etc.)
Tripping over an object on the ground
Slipping on a spill
 
Preventing Head Injuries
Like other work-related incidents, most head injuries can be avoided by following proper safety procedures. One of the most important components to remaining safe on the job is wearing the proper safety equipment. Hard hats should be worn at all times and must properly fit the wearer. A proper fitting hard hat will cover the forehead with the brim parallel to the ground and/or floor. The hat should not be lose enough to fall off the head or slide around, but should also not be so tight that it irritates the skin. 
 
Furthermore, head injuries can be prevented by treating every situation with caution. Do not horse around on the job site, and never throw tools and equipment. Even situations that seem as innocent as asking your coworker to “toss a hammer” can quickly get ugly. Taking the time to walk up to somebody and hand them something as opposed to tossing it across the job site can prevent life-altering injuries. Shortcuts like this simply aren’t worth the risk.  
 
Hard hats aren’t the only safety items that can prevent head injuries. Harnesses, wet floor signs, and slip resistant shoes also need to be used when necessary. Speak with your supervisor if you are unsure about the type of equipment you should be using.  
 
Have you been injured on the job? 
If you have received a head injury while on the job, you may be entitled to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits. If you live in the Harrisburg, Indiana, or Pittsburgh area, contact PaWorkersCompHelpNow at 877-COMPHELP for a free consultation.  
 
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Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation: Can I Represent Myself in a Workers’ Compensation Case?

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The state of Pennsylvania does allow injured workers to represent themselves in court. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor warns that “…you should be aware the WC litigation is complex, and your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier will be represented by an experienced attorney”. And they’re right. It is in your best interest to hire an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney to represent you in your workers’ compensation case.
 
Insurance companies will do all they can to see that you do not win your case, and we guarantee they’ll have hired the most experienced attorney they can afford. It is unwise to go into your case without somebody on your side who understands the way insurance companies think. Workers’ compensation laws are also extremely complicated. Because of this, if you elect to represent yourself in court, it is quite likely that you will miss some key points that will really work in your case’s favor. Especially considering that you may be in the process of nursing yourself back to good health and will not have the time to devote to the case an experienced attorney has.
 
A Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney will help you decipher legal jargon, answer all of your questions, prepare for your workers’ compensation hearing, get all of your medical documents in order, and complete and submit your claim petition. Remember, if you choose to represent yourself, it is your responsibility to prove all necessary points that entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits. It can be very easy to miss something, even in the simplest of cases. 
 
In short, yes, you can represent yourself in a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation case. However, it greatly decreases your chances of winning the case. Remember, you have nothing to lose by contacting PaWorkersCompHelpNow for a free consultation. If you live in the Harrisburg, State College, or Bethlehem area and you think you are missing out on the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to, call 877-COMPHELP right away. 
 
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Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

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Pennsylvania workers’ compensation death benefits are among the most difficult cases to discuss. Unfortunately, on-the-job fatalities do occur and can bring serious emotional and financial burdens. When on-the-job fatalities do occur, there are situations where surviving kin are entitled to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits. If you have a loved one that has passed away as a result of a work-related injury, here is some information to help you know whether or not you are entitled to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation death benefits. 
 
In most cases, in order to earn workers’ compensation death benefits, the recipient must be either a dependent of or a member of the deceased person’s household. Usually, family members such as children under the age of 18 and spouses are assumed to be dependents. However, dependents that fall outside of these categories will often be asked to prove their dependency. This can be done by showing that the deceased loved one regularly provided money for bills or paid them on the person’s behalf. A workers’ compensation attorney can help gather the proper documents if this is necessary. 
 
The purpose of these benefits is to aid those that have been financially and emotionally affected by the worker’s death. The amount received varies from case to case. Children will usually receive benefits until they turn 18, while spouses can receive benefits for a certain amount of weeks, until they remarry, or for the rest of his or her life. Some beneficiaries may even receive money to cover burial and funeral expenses. 
 
If you have lost a loved one as a result of a work-related injury, you may be entitled to Pennsylvania workers' compensation benefits. If you live in the Harrisburg, Altoona, or Johnstown area, contact PaWorkersCompHelpNow at 877-COMPHELP as soon as possible. Do not miss out on the benefits you are entitled to. 

 

Safety Tips for Working with Hazardous Chemicals

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Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most common injuries that can lead to Pennsylvania workers' compensation. If your job involves hazardous chemicals, here are some tips you and your coworkers can follow to make sure you stay safe in the workplace.
 
Have an Emergency Plan
In the event that there is a leak or spill, know what to do. Know how to clean up each different type of chemical and know where all of the necessary equipment is stored. Only those that have been trained to work with a spilled chemical should be responsible for cleaning up the spill. If you do not have a plan similar to this in place, speak with your supervisor about putting one together and giving all employees a copy, while also making a copy readily available at the job site. 
 
Wear Protective Clothing
When working with dangerous chemicals, be sure to have all appropriate clothing such as boots, gloves, safety googles, etc. If you spill a chemical on the clothing you are wearing, either dispose of or thoroughly clean the clothes (depending on whether or not the item is for one-time use). When spills such as this occur, do not consume any food or beverages until you have thoroughly cleaned all areas of the body that may have come in contact with the chemical. 
 
Keep the Job Site Clean and Organized
Keep all working areas and walkways clear of objects that could cause anyone to fall and knock over a chemical. Make sure that all chemicals are properly sealed when not in use and labeled. If a spill occurs, take care of it immediately. Make sure that all protective equipment and first aid kits are kept in easily accessible areas and that everyone knows where to locate them. There should also be warning signs that are clearly visible as well as readily available guides that help workers decipher the chemical labels. 
 
Properly Dispose of All Chemicals
Not every chemical is to be disposed of in the same manner. Be sure to know how to properly manage the chemical waste you are working with as well was everything that may come in contact with it. 
 
Remember, if you have been injured in a hazardous chemical accident while on the job, you may be entitled to Pennsylvania workers' compensation. If you live in the Harrisburg, Hazleton, or York area, contact PaWorkersCompHelpNow at 877-COMPHELP for a free consultation. 
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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Who is at Risk and What are the Symptoms?

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Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common work place injuries in Pennsylvania. Back in April, we shared some tips on what you can do to help prevent this terrible condition. For today's post, we would like to share a great video about carpal tunnel syndrome from the folks at Every Day Health. The video discusses what carpal tunnel syndrome is, who is most at risk for it, what the symptoms are, and how it can be treated.

 
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the thumb, pointer, middle, and ring finger. Women are three times more likely than men to develop this condition, and those with diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk as well. It is also a common issue amongst construction workers, factory workers, and those that do a lot of typing. 
 
If you have pain or numbness in your thumb, pointer, middle, or ring finger, DO NOT ignore it. If left untreated, carpal tunnel can lead to irreversible damage. 
 
Remember, if you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and you think it may be work-related, you could be entitled to Pennsylvania workers' compensation. If this is the case and you live in the Harrisburg, Gettysburg, or Chambersburg contact PaWorkersCompHelpNow at 877-COMPHELP for a free consultation.
 

 

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3 Common Tricks Used By Insurance Companies to Fight Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation

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It’s no secret that insurance companies will go to just about any lengths to avoid covering your workers’ compensation costs. Here are a few dirty tricks they have been known to use against injured workers to prevent them from receiving the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits they are entitled to.

 

1. Hiring a private investigator.

 

This is one of the most talked-about tactics used by insurance companies, and it does indeed happen. These investigators will follow you around with cameras and will try their hardest to get a picture of you doing even the smallest task that could prove your injury isn’t as severe as you claim it is. To combat this, all you have to do is make sure you are following your doctor’s orders. If the insurance company has no evidence of you performing tasks outside of your restrictions, they won’t have a leg to stand on in court.

 

2. Reading Your Social Media Posts

 

This one’s a newer tactic, and with the popularity of social media, it’s coming up more and more frequently. Insurance companies will find any post on your Facebook or Twitter page that suggests you’re feeling better than you claim. This includes examples like photos of you playing with your kids and status updates about doing yard work. It’s a good idea to steer clear of social media altogether until your case has been finalized. But, if you insist on using it, at least adjust your privacy settings so that the public cannot see your posts and avoid accepting any suspicious friend requests from people you do not know. It could easily be somebody working for the insurance company.

 

3. Asking for a recorded statement

 

Sometimes, as early as 1 or 2 days after your injury, a workers compensation claimant will receive a call from the insurance company asking for a recorded statement. It is important you understand that this call is not being made in your best interest. It is the insurance company’s way of getting recorded information that can be used against you in the court of law. You may still be confused because of your pain medicine or you may say something that can be taken out of context. If you receive a call like this, politely tell the caller that you will make no comments without your attorney present and most importantly DO NOT give them permission to record the call.

 

Have you been injured on the job?

 

Has your employer denied your workers compensation claim, even though your medical bills are piling up and you are unable to perform your job to the fullest extent? Contact PaWorkersCompHelpNow immediately. We work with clients in Harrisburg, Scranton, and Allentown, as well ass many other areas through Pennsylvania. Do not miss out on the benefits you are entitled to.

 

 

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OSHA’s Ten Most Cited Violations in 2012

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As we’ve discussed in previous posts, unsafe working conditions are one of the leading causes of work-related injuries. Below is a list of OSHA’s 10 most frequently cited violations in 2012 as well as some information on why they are dangerous and how to prevent them.
 
Falling, from distances both high and low, can cause some of the most serious work-related injuries. To prevent on-the-job falls, OSHA recommends marking and protecting all holes in the floor, providing handrails and guardrails on raised platforms, and utilizing proper safety equipment such as safety nets and harnesses. 
Hazard communication standards ensure that all employees safely handle, use, and store all hazardous chemicals. OSHA requires that all information about the identities and hazards of chemicals be made accessible and comprehendible for all employees. All employees are also to be trained on properly handling these chemicals.  
Scaffolding injuries often occur when support becomes damaged, an employee trips, or an employee is hit by a falling object. Here OSHA outlines all of the requirements for safe scaffolding, including how the structures are to be built and how they can and cannot be used.
Respiratory safety is a factor for those that work around low-oxygen environments, dusts, sprays, mists, smokes, and gases. Non-compliance with OSHA’s respiratory standards can lead to lung impairment, diseases, cancer, or even death. Employees that work in such environments are required to wear respirators. 
This includes mechanical, hydraulic, chemical, pneumatic, thermal, electrical, or other sources of energy in equipment that can be harmful to workers. Some injuries that can result from improper control of hazardous energy include burns, amputations, cuts, and many others. All places of employment that deal with hazardous energy sources should have proper lockout/tagout procedures. A lockout/tagout procedure carefully outlines the procedures of turning machinery on and off in the event of an emergency. Examples include someone’s shirt getting stuck on a conveyer belt or an employee getting shocked when working with electricity. This guide from OSHA provides information on how to properly implement and utilize a lockout/tagout procedure.  
Powered Industrial Trucks, also known as forklifts, are mostly used to move heavy materials. Potential accidents include falling loads, bystanders being hit, and drivers falling out of industrial powered trucks. To avoid accidents such as this, employers must properly train all forklift drivers. 
This covers any profession that works with electricity. Those that work with electricity can be exposed to electrocution, shock, explosions, and fires. Incidents such as these can be avoided by using proper protective equipment and proper training.
Falling from a ladder can cause neck, shoulder, back, and many other types of injuries. Make sure that the ladder you are using is in good condition and that you are not using it for anything other than what a ladder is supposed to be used for. 
Machines can cause injuries such as crushed hands and fingers, amputations, blindness, and burns. Because of this, any machine part or function that may cause injury must be safeguarded. Also, workers must be properly trained to work with the specific type of machine they are using on the job. 
This covers the proper installation of electrical equipment. Electric equipment is to be free from hazards that can cause death or serious harm to employees.
If your place of employment is in violation of any of these examples and you have been injured on the job as a result of your employer’s negligence, contact a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney right away. 

Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses on the Job

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In Pennsylvania, it is your employer’s duty to provide a hazard-free work zone. And in the summer time, one of the biggest concerns for those working outdoors is heat related illness. Below is some information about heat related illnesses as well as some measures you, your coworkers, and your employer can take to ensure a safe work environment for those hot summer days. 
 
Heat-related Illnesses
The four most common types of heat-related illnesses are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash. 
 
Heat stroke is the most serious of these issues. Heat strokes occur when the body can no longer control its core temperature. Those that are suffering from heat stroke lose their ability to sweat and can no longer rid their body of extra heat. Symptoms include seizures, loss of consciousness, and confusion. Heat strokes are a VERY SERIOUS matter and can lead to death. If any of your coworkers experiences ANY of these symptoms, you MUST call 911 immediately. While waiting for medical professionals to arrive, you should place the worker in a cool area, loosen their clothing, fan them and provide cold packs, splash them with water, and get them something to drink.  
 
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much salt and water from excessive sweating. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, headache, irritability, thirst, weakness, and excessive perspiration. If you see somebody suffering from heat exhaustion, move them to a cooler area, and get them some water and ice packs. Make sure that this person gets the rest of the day off and if the symptoms do not improve within 60 minutes, take them to the emergency room. 
 
Heat cramps are caused by low salt and fluid levels in the body. The main symptom is painful muscle cramps and can occur both on the job and at home. When experiencing heat cramps, the worker should rest in a cool area, drink water, and wait a few hours before returning to any heavy work. If the cramps do not go away, the worker should see a doctor. 
 
Heat rash is a skin irritation that takes place when sweat does not evaporate from the skin. Symptoms include red bumps on the skin. If somebody experiences heat rash, they should make an effort to keep the affected area dry. 
 
Safety Measures for Working in the Heat
It is your employer’s duty to provide you and your coworkers with a safe work environment. Below are a few measures you, your coworkers, and your employer should take to ensure that no heat-related illnesses occur. 
 
Stay Hydrated – Employers should allow their employees to consume ample amounts of water. This is especially true in hot conditions. The Center for Disease Control says that those working in the heat should drink one cup of water every 15-20 minutes. Employers should provide their workers with drinks of water, or at least allow them to bring their own and give them regular drink breaks. 
 
Provide Training – All workers should be trained on how to prevent, recognize, and react to heat-related illnesses. There should be an official company procedure for dealing with heat emergencies. 
 
Adjust The Workload – Workers should not be pushed in extreme heat conditions. On hot days, employers should advise their employees to move slower, take more breaks, and perform light-weight tasks. Strenuous jobs should be saved for other days.  
 
Wear Appropriate Clothing – Clothing should be lightweight and breathable. If a job requires items like heavy gloves, goggles, and heavy shirts and/or pants, the task should be saved for a cooler day. 
 
Workers in Pennsylvania who have suffered from heat-related illnesses may be entitled to workers compensation and should contact a workers compensation attorney immediately. If you are in the Harrisburg, Scranton, or Allentown area, call PaWorkersCompHelpNow at 877-COMPHELP. 
 
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Mental Health and Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation

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In recent years, mental health issues have become more recognized by medical professionals. And, like many other illnesses, mental health issues are often work-related. Although it can be a difficult process, those in Pennsylvania that suffer from work-related mental illnesses are entitled to workers’ compensation.   
 
Work-Related Mental Health Issues
Work-related mental health issues are usually brought on by either stressful or traumatic experiences. Examples include a manager pressuring an employer to the point of having an anxiety attack, or a worker experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing a coworker receive a serious injury. Other common work-related psychological health problems include depression and panic attacks. 
 
Before persuing a workers’ compensation case for a work-related mental health illness, it’s important to understand what type of mental health issue you are facing. Work-related mental health issues are sorted into three different categories: 
 
1. Mental/Physical: This is when a psychological condition leads to a work-related physical injury. For example, a worker having an anxiety attack, fainting, and then hitting their head on the ground. 
 
2. Physical/Mental: This is when a physical injury leads to a mental issue. For example, a worker becoming depressed as a result of being bed-ridden for a long period of time.
 
3. Mental/Mental: This is when a psychological condition leads to another psychological condition. For example, witnessing a fatal fall and developing a fear of heights.   
 
Receiving Workers’ Compensation for Your Mental Health Issue
Unfortunately, receiving workers’ compensation for a work-related mental health issue is not easy. The most effective way to get your injury covered is to talk to a specialized Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer. 
 
You will need to prove that your mental condition was brought on by your working conditions and that the condition was not pre-existing. A certified Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help you do that.  
 
If you have a mental health issue that has been brought on by working conditions in the Harrisburg, Scranton, or Allentown area, contact PaWorkersCompHelpNow at 877-COMPHELP as soon as possible. 
 
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