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Warehouses Becoming Increasingly Dangerous Places For Workers

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Firm News

In the bustling world of online shopping, warehouse workers are the unsung heroes ensuring that consumers receive their products swiftly. The rise of e-commerce has significantly increased the demand for these workers, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 1.8 million people worked in warehouses in 2023.

With the rapid pace and high volume of goods moving through shipping warehouses, the risk of workplace injuries has surged. These environments, with their heavy machinery and constant activity at all hours, can be a hotbed for accidents if safety measures are not strictly followed. In fact, a 2023 study by the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois Chicago found that half of all Amazon warehouse workers are injured if they work there for more than three years, and 69% have taken unpaid time off due to pain or exhaustion, half them doing so three or more times.

Common Warehouse Injuries

Injuries and their severity will vary, but these involve the more serious ones that can include long-term disability or death:

  • Forklift Accidents: Forklifts are vital in warehouses but can be deadly. Workers may be struck by or trapped under these vehicles.
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls:Wet floors or misplaced items often lead to these accidents, which can cause severe injuries like fractures or head trauma.
  • Lifting Injuries:Improper lifting techniques can result in musculoskeletal disorders, including herniated discs and chronic back pain.
  • Falling Objects:Improperly stored items can fall, potentially causing concussions or even fatal injuries to workers below.
  • Loading Dock Incidents:Workers can fall from docks or be crushed between docks and vehicles, leading to serious injuries or death.
  • Conveyor Belt Mishaps:Entanglement in a conveyor can cause crush injuries or amputations, particularly when safety guards are not in place.
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries:Constant repetition of tasks can lead to conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, affecting nerves and muscles.

NBC also recently broadcasted a profile of Amazon workers in California who are dealing with extreme heat during the summer months. Many warehouse workers also work second and third shifts, where fatigue can also play a greater role. These and other circumstantial factors likely contribute to the above causes of the injuries and the need to take unpaid time off.

Post-Injury Steps to Take

When a worker is injured on the job, reporting the injury and immediate medical attention are the first and foremost steps to be taken. Following initial treatment, understanding one’s rights and the subsequent legal steps is crucial, especially for workers facing long recovery periods (or families dealing with the aftermath of a fatal accident). Filing a Worker’s Compensation or personal injury claim is not just about seeking justice; it’s about securing the financial support needed for medical bills, lost wages, and related expenses during a challenging time. In Maryland, Worker’s Compensation is a vital safety net for those hurt on the job, and it’s important to file a claim promptly to better ensure coverage of these costs.

How Worker’s Compensation Is Different Than Personal Injury

Worker’s Compensation is an insurance program mandated by the state to provide benefits to employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. This system is designed to help cover medical care, provide wage replacement benefits, and offer vocational rehabilitation if necessary. If there is a permanent injury from the accident or illness then an additional monetary award is made to the injured employee. For families of workers who have died due to a workplace accident, Worker’s Compensation can provide death benefits to help with financial burdens. The purpose of this program is to support injured workers and their families without the need for a lengthy legal battle over liability. Worker’s Compensation is typically a no-fault system, meaning employees need not prove the employer’s negligence to receive benefits and negligence on the part of the injured employee in causing the accident is not a bar to recovery. Benefits to the injured employee are often started quickly after a serious accident.

Conversely, a personal injury claim is a legal process where an injured party seeks compensation from those responsible for their injuries due to negligence or intentional harm. Unlike Worker’s Comp, fault must be established, and the claim can result in compensation for pain, suffering, and other damages not covered by Worker’s Compensation. These benefits are paid, in most cases, months or years after the accident in a lump sum either by settlement or court judgement.

Precautions that employers can take

We’ve established that warehouses are dangerous places for employees. Still, there are several precautions that employers can take to reduce the risk of injuries:

  • Provide proper training on equipment and tools.
  • Implement strict safety protocols and procedures.
  • Encourage regular breaks to prevent fatigue.
  • Maintain a clean and organized work environment.
  • Invest in ergonomic equipment.
  • Conduct routine safety inspections.
  • Promote open communication about safety concerns.
  • Offer incentives for following safety guidelines.
  • Provide access to personal protective equipment.
  • Create a culture of safety awareness and accountability.

By implementing these safety precautions, warehouse employers can create a safer work environment for their employees. Employers can also benefit by saving money on insurance costs and reducing disruptions to staff and production.

Lawyers Can Be An Ally in Recovery

A worker’s compensation attorney plays a critical role in helping injured workers navigate the complexities of filing a claim. From gathering the necessary documentation to representing clients in hearings, an attorney ensures that the injured party receives the maximum benefits they are entitled to. Services provided by these legal professionals include evaluating the claim’s validity, advising on the legal process, and fighting for the worker’s rights against insurance companies or employers who may attempt to deny a legitimate claim.

Here in Maryland, warehouse workers and their families do not need to face the aftermath of a workplace injury alone. By partnering with a knowledgeable worker’s compensation attorney, they can focus on recovery and rehabilitation, knowing that someone is vigorously pursuing their legal and financial interests.

  • AABA