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.
The high work pressure on the factory workers, warehouse employees, truck drivers and other delivery and logistics personnel is taking its toll on their physical and mental health, on top of coping with the worries related to the virus infection.
According to the feedback from workers operating in essential products and services, in many cases they are being called in to work for an extra 10-hour shift (50 hours or more in a week, instead of the usual 40 hours). This kind of work demand is usually seen in the peak holiday season, but it is becoming the norm in the current pandemic situation for some categories of workers.
Typical accidents and injuries related to factory workers, warehouse workers and delivery drivers in these times include:
- Head and spinal injuries (truck/forklift accidents)
- Amputation (machine accidents)
- Hit by moving objects or falling objects (factory/warehouse)
- Loading dock injuries
- Chemical burns and hazardous gas exposure (pharmaceuticals)
- Slip and fall injuries
Injury Risk to EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians)
Body Motion / Overexertion Injuries
Lifting, carrying, or transferring of patients may cause neck and back strains and sprains. Repetitive motion, awkward posture, or excessive physical effort may also cause injuries in different body parts.
Exposure to Hazardous Substances
One of the key dangers to EMTs is exposure to hazardous substances, chemicals, and exposure to respiratory secretions or blood. Even when the EMS personnel are using gloves, face masks and protective gowns, they can still get infected by a needlestick.
Slips and Falls
EMS providers are at a high risk of slips, trips or falls when going up or down a curb or steps. Slipping on slick or wet floors, getting in or out of an ambulance, carrying, lifting, pulling, or pushing medical equipment or a patient can also cause serious injuries.
In a pandemic situation, it is common for employers to require many of their employees to work from home. The modifications to their home to create a workspace may increase their risk of slip, trip, and fall injuries. An increased reliance on online work, phone calls, and video conferencing may cause posture-related injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome.
If the injury occurred while performing work activity, the employee may have a valid workers’ compensation claim even when they are working from home at the employer’s instructions.
Consult with a Seasoned Workers’ Comp Attorney in PA
If you have suffered workplace injuries related to the prevailing pandemic situation or otherwise, you should seek legal advice from a dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer in Pennsylvania. Robinson Law has extensive knowledge and expertise to handle your workers’ compensation case most effectively. To schedule a consultation, call us today.