Paula Robinson's Blog for Workers Compensation & Disability

Workers’ Compensation as It Relates to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

As of March 20, 2020, the Workers Compensation Insurance Organizations (WCIO) approved new codes, referred to as “Nature” and “Cause” codes to help in the reporting of workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19 claims.  The Cause is Pandemic and the Nature is COVID-19.

As of March 24, 2020, Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation system has been updated to accept these codes for reporting COVID-19 claims effective as of December 2019 or later. The International Association of Industrial Accidents, Boards, and Commissions (IAIABC) recommends that Workers’ Compensation Insurance Companies modify their reporting and collections systems to recognize these codes by April 1, 2020.

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Brain Injury in The Workplace

Brain Injury Workplace

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month in the US. As many as 137 Americans die every day because of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and many more suffer lifelong disability. 

Accidents at the workplace are a leading cause of brain injury. Falls from heights and struck-by object accidents together comprise more than half of all TBI-related injuries, according to the Brain Injury Awareness Association (BIAA).

Common Causes of Brain Injuries at the Workplace

Construction Site Accidents

Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggest that preventable falls from heights at construction sites result in a large number of occupational traumatic brain injuries. 

Apart from falling from heights, construction workers are exposed to additional brain injury risks, such as getting struck on the head by heavy construction equipment, falling objects or metal beams, or getting hit by a moving construction vehicle.

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Trucking

The trucking industry is thriving, with more than 3.5 million people working as drivers in the United States according to www.census.gov. Every time we buy something from a store or online, chances are the product was “trucked” in from its origin. Automobiles, equipment, and fuel in many forms are just a few more examples of goods that are transported by tractor trailer.

We all know what the trucking industry is, but many people are unfamiliar with the term intermodal. According to www.businessdictionary.com, the definition of intermodal is the movement of containerized (unitized) cargo over air, land, or sea through the use of different transport modes (aircraft, truck, rail, boats, ships, barges, etc.) capable of handling containers.

In addition to the typically expected motor vehicle accidents, there are some less thought of injuries that can also occur in the trucking industry. These include bodily reaction injuries that can occur when you dislocate body parts, overstress joints, or pull muscles while trying to prevent yourself from falling after tripping or slipping. Other injuries can occur while trying to carry objects up or down stairs, or lifting at an awkward angle, throwing yourself off balance. Concussions are also a commonly overlooked injury in the trucking industry. 

Another type of serious injury is being physically pinned between equipment or objects, such as the floor, a wall, supporting pole, crates, moving machinery, loading docks, or appliances. Falls from high areas on the truck cabs or trailers can also occur. Truckers are required to clean off their windows and the tops of their trailers of debris, snow, and ice. This must be done manually which requires climbing up on the truck themselves or using some type of ladder. This is dangerous – especially if the footing is slippery. 

Although motor vehicle accidents are the most obvious danger factor for truck drivers, there are a number of other injuries that they can incur while on the job. At Robinson Law, we have represented claimants with these types of injuries and understand the dynamics, including prolonged treatment programs sometimes necessary for these types of injuries. 

PA Workers’ Comp Numbers in 2018

*Information based on the data found in the PA Workers’ Compensation Annual Report.

Impact of Stress on Job Safety

Impact of Stress

Even though February is traditionally the month for lovers, it is also the American Heart Month. Studies show that work-related stress affects the heart health of as many as 83% of employees in the US, taking the lives of nearly 120,000 workers each year. 

How Workplace Stress Affects the Employees

The first thing workers need to realize is that constant stress – whether from heavy workload or traffic-choked daily commute – can have real physical impact on the body. Stress has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including appetite problems, poor sleep, mood swings, and of course, heart diseases.

Medical researchers at the University of Rochester, NY, have said that long-term stress leads to high levels of cortisol, which causes the person to experience enhanced levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, and hypertension. All these factors result in a poor heart condition which can trigger a variety of issues, including increased risk of stroke. 

Chronic stress also causes inflammation which is a well-known instigator of heart disease. 

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Manufacturing and Warehousing

Warehouses across the world are used to store all sorts of goods, chemicals, and material objects. They are used by manufacturers, governments, retailers, wholesalers, exporters and importers. Warehouses are typically huge and located near waterways and/or major transportation locations, such as railroads, highways, and byways.

Manufacturing can take place in massive plants to mom and pop small shops. Think about all of the products, foods and beverages that are manufactured….all of our clothes, shoes, wood and paper items, computers, phones…..the list goes on and on.

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Firefighters/Medics/Police

Fire Fighters

These brave workers risk their lives everyday while in the line of duty.  Typical work-related accidents can include motor vehicle accidents, falls from elevated heights, overexertion, shooting accidents, which can result in broken bones, burns, and scarring. 

Robinson Law is well versed with these types of injuries and can provide assistance if you have a potential third party lawsuit against another entity, in addition to your employer.  They can also advise if you are entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits, besides the usual indemnity and medical benefits.

Firefighters, for example, perform a wide array of duties other than just putting out fires. Using heavy specialized equipment such as actual fire extinguishers, hoses, and water vessels and pumps, firefighters tackle the many different obstacles in their path. They also use equipment to combat hazardous material fires, which must be cleaned, inspected and maintained.

These hard workers have to be in tip-top shape and undergo rigorous ongoing training in all aspects of their jobs. Consider that when these brave souls approach and go into burning buildings. They may very well have to search for and rescue people and/or animals and further, treat sick or injured people. Most of this work is fast-paced, with injuries to muscles and bones being common. Despite the heavy protective equipment being worn, burns can still occur, leaving scarring and disfigurement. 

Because these are emergency situations, time is of the essence. Knowing this, the hurry could cause motor vehicle accidents involving fire trucks and emergency vehicles. There are a host of injuries that can occur from these particular accidents, such as neck and back injuries, loss of use of limbs, internal injuries and concussions, to name a few. For a more in-depth look at what firefighters must do and endure, click here

Medics and Police also face many of these challenges. Although they are not necessarily dealing with fires, they can unfortunately deal with more sinister injuries such as knife and gunshot wounds, or even death. 

Don’t take any work injuries lightly, consult with a certified specialist in the practice of workers’ compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Section on Workers’ Compensation Law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Paula Robinson.

Preventing Injuries in a Warehouse

Warehouse Injury

Warehouses have multiple activities going on at any given point of time, with a regular stream of incoming goods, order picking, shipping, and replenishment. The risk of worker injuries is significantly higher in warehouses than retail centers and many other workplaces. 

Employers can take several steps to prevent workplace injuries in warehouses and reduce their risk of workers’ comp claims. Employers should also review the Guide on Warehouse Safety published by OSHA, which provides recommendations on safe warehouse practices and policies.

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What is a Modification of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Workers' Compensation

Understanding a Modification of Workers’ Comp Benefits

A Modification of Workers’ Compensation Benefits is when the Workers’ Compensation Carrier will modify or adjust your wage loss benefits based on your ability to return to work based on an offer of return to work, usually in a light or sedentary capacity, as a result of an IME report or your own Dr. indicating your ability to work.

When you are receiving workers’ compensation wage loss benefits as you are totally out of work, the workers’ compensation carrier will eventually send you to an Independent Medical Examiner, a doctor they pay to examine you. This doctor will give an opinion as to whether you are still disabled, fully recovered, or capable of some type of work. For example, if this doctor indicates in his report that you are capable of light duty work, the workers’ compensation carrier will reach out to your employer to see if any light duty work is available for you to return to so that the carrier can limit the amount of compensation you are receiving.

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What is a Workers’ Compensation Claim Denial?

file for a workers comp claim

What is a Workers’ Compensation Claim Denial?

Have you received a Denial of your workers’ compensation claim? After you suffer a work injury, you as the injured worker are required to give “Notice” to your employer of your injury as soon as possible but no later than 120 days from the date of the injury or from when you receive a diagnosis from a physician relating it to your work.

After you give “Notice” to your employer, your employer must relay the notice of the work injury to their workers’ compensation carrier. From the date the assigned workers’ compensation adjustor receives the claim, they have twenty-one (21) days to either accept or deny your claim. There are several ways that your claim can be accepted and if a Denial is issued, there must be a reason checked off as to why it is being denied. For purposes of this article, let’s focus on the reasons why your claim could be denied.

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