Paula Robinson's Blog for Workers Compensation & Disability

Workers’ Compensation While Working From Home

With a growing number of companies boosting their digital infrastructure, work-from-home (WFH) is becoming an increasingly popular concept for businesses. However, this has given rise to an important question: what happens when a remote worker suffers an injury while working from home? Are you still eligible to receive workers’ compensation for your injury? Let us address this issue in the context of workers’ comp laws in Pennsylvania.

How to Determine if a WFH Injury is Work-Related? 

According to the workers’ compensation laws in PA, off-site injuries (which occur outside the workplace) are covered for workers’ comp as long as the injury is work-related. This can be somewhat difficult to prove when you are working remotely because, in theory, the injury could also have occurred at home or elsewhere at a time when you were not working.

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Construction & Utility

Construction

Did you know that there are over 100,000 different building and construction companies in PA? Construction isn’t just limited to residential and commercial building, but roads and even bridges as well. From wood framers, building repair carpenters, interior finish carpenters, painting contractors, bricklayers, roofers, electricians, to plumbers, road workers, equipment operators, and even inside workers, including management –  they can all suffer from disabling work injuries. These injuries can be sustained by falling, lifting, carrying, being struck by a variety of objects, overexertion, burns, heart attacks, machinery accidents, electrocutions, or even noise injuries, just to name a few.

Also, think about the heavy equipment that is required to carry out these jobs. According to The Constructor, worksites can consist of bulldozers, cranes, dump trucks, backhoes, excavators, trenchers, graders, pavers, and much more. Operation of these machines can pose risk factors in and of themselves. Robinson Law has handled many claims that are catastrophic in nature, and can advise you on your specific claim to ensure you are getting the necessary treatment and benefits you and your loved ones deserve.

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Going Back to Work Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic caused thousands of businesses in Pennsylvania to temporarily shut down or operate at reduced capacity. Many of these businesses – particularly those in the yellow and green phases – are starting to reopen gradually, as the government has lifted its stay-at-home and business closure orders in many counties. 

With businesses reopening, employers have a duty to provide a clean, safe, and hazard-free environment for their workers. Apart from following OSHA’s guidelines regarding workplace safety, they are also required to take additional steps to prevent the spread of the virus at the workplace. 

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Robinson Law LLC Never Stopped

I am Paula Robinson, owner of Robinson Law LLC and I only practice in the field of PA Workers’ Compensation, being Certified as a 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.

While many law firms in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been forced to temporarily close down, lay employees off, or have a decline in their new cases coming in the door due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, I have fortunately been virtually open and practicing almost as normal.

The PA Department of Labor & Industry implemented a new electronic system for workers’ compensation, which went live on September 3, 2013 known as WCAIS, PA’s Workers’ Compensation Automation and Integration System. (dli.pa.gov). The workers’ compensation system allows injured workers to file claims for their injuries, which if accepted, can result in receipt of both wage loss and medical benefits. 

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Hospital & Nursing Home

In our world today, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic, our healthcare workers are at risk for work injuries, whether they be in a hospital or nursing home. So often, there are emergency situations that call for fast action that can lead to an array of physical injuries. Such injuries could be musculoskeletal pain, bruises, cuts and puncture wounds, broken bones, burns, and infections. These injuries can occur from simple body mechanics of lifting and transferring patients who cannot help move themselves, slips in liquids such as water, urine, and blood, and trips and falls over objects. Although one may not think about it, some patients and/or their family members can be violent, due to mental issues, drug use, or simply being upset, leading to physical assaults on health workers. It is also very common for these caregivers to suffer upper and lower extremity injuries, including back injuries from physically assisting patients in movements (for example, from beds to chairs or wheelchairs to x-ray tables). 

Besides the physical, there can also be psychological work injuries stemming from work-related stress and depression. Psychological trauma can occur from working with sick and injured individuals, work overload with short staff, and even working night and shift work with disruptions in sleep.

If you are a healthcare worker and suffer a work injury, don’t put yourself second; give your employer “Notice” of your work injury and get the proper treatment. However, even if your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier accepts your work injury, it may be only temporarily accepted. Also, many times the injury description is not accurate, leading to unpaid medical bills. Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Paula Robinson can help ensure that the proper diagnoses are recognized by the insurance companies, so that proper treatment can be given.

Robinson Law LLC thanks all of the dedicated hard-working healthcare workers for their unselfish treatment and care to all in need.

COVID-19 Contracted in the Workplace and PA Workers’ Compensation

According to the PA Department of Labor and Industry, “an illness caused by work exposures can be considered an injury or an occupational disease.” Under the PA Workers’ Compensation Act, when a person suffers an illness, it can either be categorized as a work related “injury” or an “occupational disease”. 

An “injury” in PA workers’ compensation can be a one-time incident such as a motor vehicle accident, fall, or strain/tear of a body part. It could also be repetitive in nature, injuring a body part by doing the same work over and over again. Also, pre-existing conditions can be aggravated by one’s work, being categorized as an injury.

Occupational diseases, on the other hand, are usually typical with specific occupations. An example of this was asbestosis and silicosis illnesses related to the steel industry in its heyday. Workers can be exposed to certain chemicals or poisons on a daily basis with their work which can lead to illness and/or death.

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Pennsylvania Workers Affected by COVID-19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This type of illness may be considered an injury or an occupational disease. Occupational diseases are identified in the PA Workers’ Compensation Act. Contracting COVID-19 at your place of work would most likely be considered an injury but could also be an occupational disease depending on the type of work performed.

If you suspect that you may have been infected at work, you should immediately report it to your supervisor/employer. You can file your claim in one of the following two ways: 

  • Notify your PA employer to file a workers’ comp claim for “disease-as-injury”. In this case, you will be required to prove through medical evidence that your COVID-19 exposure occurred at your workplace. 
  • Notify your PA employer to file a workers’ comp claim for “occupational disease”. In this case, you will be required to prove that the frequency of occurrence of COVID-19 is higher in your industry or occupation when compared to the general population.
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Hotel/Motel/Retail

HOTEL/MOTEL

In the hotel/motel industry, there are hundreds of different types of jobs that need to be filled for hotels and motels to run smoothly and be profitable. These job categories include, but are not limited to, development and construction, administration, managers, corporate, sales & marketing, food and beverage service, guest services, human resources, housekeeping, meetings/events, catering, accounting/finance, security, recreation/entertainment, technology/IT departments, gaming/casino operations, etc. Think about the thousands of individuals that actually work in these job categories.

Some of the jobs listed above are very physical in nature.  Scrubbing and cleaning while bent in awkward positions can place you at risk for neck, shoulder and arm injuries.  Also, making beds and lifting mattresses can lead to back injuries.  Even with jobs in office-type settings, accidents can and do occur. In fast-paced kitchens, injuries can come in the form of slips and falls, burns, cuts, different types of sprains and strains, or even broken bones. Robinson Law knows the mechanics of these injuries and can help you get the benefits you deserve.

RETAIL

Retail trade encompasses a wide variety of different businesses, such as grocery stores, car dealers, furniture stores, malls, garden and hardware stores. The level of physical activity in these trades can vary greatly.  Whether it is backbreaking hard labor or standing around doing mundane tasks, all jobs can result in different types of injuries. 

Almost always, retail trades require goods to be unpackaged using sharp cutting tools and could result in cuts or even serious lacerations.  After they are unpackaged, the goods need to be shelved or displayed. This requires employees to move and bend their body in many different directions, leading to possible musculoskeletal injuries. Constant standing around as a security guard or sales associate can result in back, foot, and leg pain or cramping.

These are just a few examples of injuries that can be sustained while working in retail. If you find that you have been injured on the job and your injuries have stopped you from working, contact Robinson Law for a free initial consultation.

Virtual Service

Yes, we are open and working remotely to serve our new and existing clients. If you have questions or want to review your case, please call us at 215-530-7166.

Work Injuries & Risks During a Pandemic

While the devastating health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic are in the spotlight, many people are unaware of the increased risk of injuries for workers during this time. Workers are operating not only at an increased risk of coronavirus exposure but are also more vulnerable to workplace accidents and injuries in these challenging circumstances.

Increased Risks due to High Work Pressure 

The fear of the pandemic has led Americans to stockpile essential commodities and order just about anything they can through e-commerce websites such as Amazon. To fulfill this surge in demand, manufacturers of various products are willing to pay overtime to their workers. 

This is particularly true for the manufacturers of critical medical devices such as ventilators, surgical masks, hand sanitizers, and pharmaceutical products. Manufacturers, packagers, and suppliers of essential commodities such as food products and groceries are also impacted.        

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