Unfortunately, accidents in the workplace are all too common, and every profession has its risks—whether it’s chemical exposure at a manufacturing facility or carpal tunnel syndrome from working at an office or on an assembly line. Some workplace accidents are more dangerous than others, but any accident has the potential to cause serious injury or even death.
While workplace accidents are sometimes the result of negligence on the employer’s part, others occur when employees fail to follow safety protocols or because of malfunctioning equipment. Employees who work in hazardous conditions should be especially careful to follow all safety procedures to avoid accidents.
Amazon Warehouse and Workers’ Safety
Amazon’s accident and injury records are not nearly as positive as its record of business expansion and profit-making. Moreover, its record of injuries and fatalities is getting worse.
Workplace accidents can happen at any type of job, although it’s widely recognized that construction work, manufacturing work and offshore operations are particularly dangerous jobs. However, an office worker can also suffer an accident or injury that is covered by workers’ compensation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that nearly 631 American workers’ lives could be saved every year by eliminating just 4 common work hazards. Dubbed the “fatal 4,” these include falls, being struck by an object, being caught in or between objects, and electrocutions. Such accidents were responsible for more than half (63.7 percent) of construction worker deaths in 2016.
Fortunately, workers’ compensation laws were designed to protect employees by compensating them for lost wages and covering their medical expenses without having to prove negligence, as required in a personal injury lawsuit.
It’s not uncommon for employers and their insurance companies to try to pressure workers into accepting a low settlement offer to cut costs, but an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you obtain the benefits you deserve.
Types of workplace accidents
Below are some of the most common types of on-the-job accidents.
Whether you’re driving for work or your job requires you to be a passenger in a car, you’re at risk of being involved in a car accident. Car accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, including speeding, distracted driving and poor road conditions. These accidents can happen in company vehicles or when employees use their own vehicles for work-related purposes.
Commercial truck drivers, delivery drivers, and others who drive as part of their job may be entitled to compensation if they’re injured in a car accident during the course of their employment.
The combination of heavy equipment, hazardous materials and working from heights makes construction work inherently dangerous. Some construction-related accidents are relatively minor, but others can be fatal.
Construction workers should always wear appropriate safety gear to avoid serious injury. Unfortunately, crane accidents, scaffold accidents, ladder accidents and forklift accidents happen every day because employers cut corners when it comes to employing OSHA mandated safety measures.
Cranes are a common piece of equipment not only used on construction sites but also in manufacturing plants, warehouses, airports and retail stores. Crane accidents can be extremely dangerous, especially when they involve heavy loads that can fall from the crane onto workers below. These accidents often occur when the crane operator loses control of the load or when the crane itself collapses.
Electrical burns commonly occur on construction sites, but they can happen anywhere. Employers are required to ensure that workers are properly trained and that equipment is maintained and in working order. Electrocution injuries can cause internal or external burns, typically requiring extensive hospitalization.
Elevator accidents are relatively rare, but they can be very serious when they do occur. These accidents often happen to workers fixing a broken elevator when the elevator suddenly drops, and they get trapped between the elevator and the wall.
These types of accidents are common for those working in the manufacturing and meatpacking industries. Large, sharp or hot equipment typically causes the most severe injuries. Those working around dangerous equipment should always follow safety protocols, which include keeping hair tied back, avoiding loose-fitting clothes and removing all jewelry.
Fatal work accidents
Fatal work accidents are, sadly, all too common. These accidents can happen in any workplace, but they are most likely to occur in workplaces that are dangerous or have hazardous conditions. The most common fatal accidents are falls from forklifts and cranes at great heights. Other common causes of fatal work accidents include electrocutions and being caught in or between machinery.
Every year, there are approximately 1,500 fatalities caused by forklifts. Forklifts are used in several industries, including retail and construction, and injuries can range from minor to fatal.
Ladder accidents are common in many workplaces, especially those where employees have to work at heights. These accidents often happen when the ladder is not properly secured or employees lose their balance and fall off it.
Not only are those working on ladders susceptible to injuries, but workers below can also be struck by falling objects. It’s important to always wear a hard hat on the job to protect yourself from injury.
Machine accidents can result in lacerations, amputations, burns, repetitive stress injuries and more. It’s best to ensure that any machinery you use at work is properly maintained. Request safety training from your employer if you’re working around dangerous machinery.
Mental health issues
Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are becoming more common in the workplace and can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, bullying, harassment and trauma.
PTSD often develops after workers witness or experience a traumatic event. Symptoms include extreme anxiety, difficulty sleeping, increased sensitivity, depression and flashbacks. PTSD can seriously impact an employee’s ability to do their job and can even lead to physical health problems.
Workers at an increased risk of experiencing work-related PTSD include military personnel, police officers, first responders and health care workers.
In order to receive workers’ comp for a mental health issue, you must prove your job was the primary cause of the condition and that it resulted from activities that occurred during the course of your employment. These cases can be especially difficult to prove without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Occupational diseases are illnesses that are caused by exposure to hazardous conditions in the workplace. These diseases can be caused by toxins, chemicals or other dangerous substances. Examples of occupational diseases include black lung disease and asbestos-related illnesses.
Repetitive motion injuries
Repetitive motion injuries (such as carpal tunnel syndrome) are common in workplaces where employees have to perform the same task repeatedly. These injuries can happen to any body part, but they are most common in the wrists, hands and shoulders.
Scaffolding accidents are common in construction and other workplaces where employees have to work at heights. These accidents can happen when the scaffolding is not properly secured or employees lose their balance and fall off the scaffold. Hammers, tools and other objects can also fall from scaffolding, injuring workers below.
Falls account for about 35 percent of workplace accidents and are common in many workplaces, especially where there’s a lot of foot traffic. The most common slip-and-fall accidents happen in restaurants, hospitals, distribution centers and factories, resulting in fractures, sprains, and knee and wrist injuries. These accidents often occur because of spilled liquids, cluttered floors or uneven flooring.
Workplace violence is a growing concern in today’s workplace. This type of violence can include anything from threats and harassment to physical assault and homicide. Workplace violence can happen in any workplace, but it is most common in workplaces where there’s a lot of contact with the public, such as retail stores and health care facilities.
by Bill Smith
The good news is that the answer is no.
And this answer is the same whether those benefits are weekly temporary total compensation or a permanent partial or total disability settlement or award.
Publication 525 of the Department of Treasury/Internal Revenue Service provides, “Amounts you receive as workers’ compensation for an occupational sickness or injury are fully exempt from tax if they’re paid under a workers’ compensation act or a statute in the nature of a workers’ compensation act.”
The exemption also applies to your survivors if you suffer a fatality as a result of an on-the-job injury.
In short, workers’ compensation benefits are not taxable.
One variation of this, however, is the Social Security disability offset.
If you are receiving both Social Security disability benefits and workers’ compensation benefits, the amount of Social Security benefits could be reduced.
One thing we always try to do is an “allocation” at settlement. By inserting allocation language into the settlement agreement, we can maximize our client’s workers’ compensation and Social Security monies. The effect of this is that the client receives more money.
However, Social Security disability benefits can be taxable. If part of your workers’ compensation reduces your Social Security check, that part is considered Social Security benefits and may be taxable.
In summary, workers’ compensation benefits are not taxable. However, if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits and are receiving or may receive Social Security disability benefits in the near future, please call us to see if we can help maximize your award.
Contact Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. for help with your workers’ comp claim
Work injuries can be physically and financially devastating, so you need the best representation possible to help you get the compensation you deserve. Workers’ compensation cases are often complicated, and legitimate claims are denied for a variety of reasons every single day.
An experienced attorney can work with you to build a case based on the available evidence to prove your injury claim. They’ll also handle all communications and negotiations with your employer and their insurance company so you can focus on recovering from your injury.