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Hudson Legal Blog

Amputations are common for manufacturing workers

When it comes to traumatic workplace accidents, amputations are some of the most serious survivable injuries that can occur.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, last year 10,388 severe injuries occurred due to workplace conditions. Of those, 2,644 were amputations.

You can be compensated when you're hurt on the job

Working in construction can put you in harm's way in more than one set of circumstances. The "Fatal Four" is a nickname for the top four most fatal accidents in the construction industry. Falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object and being caught in-between objects are the main risks to these workers.

Falls caused 359 out of 899 total fatalities in the construction industry in 2014. That's 39.9 percent of all fatalities. In comparison, being caught between objects only accounted for 4 percent of fatalities, making it less of a risk but a major risk none the less.

What benefits are available under Wisconsin worker's compensation?

In 1911 Wisconsin became the first state to protect workers with the nation's first workers' compensation program. The system was enacted as, and remains, a no-fault system. However, in 2015 the Wisconsin legislature enacted some changes to the workers' compensation program.

What benefits are available in Wisconsin?

The Worker's Compensation program was created to protect workers - and their families - in the event of a work-related relation injury, illness or death. The basic protection offered by the state's workers' compensation system includes:

What you should know about working with ladders

The right kind of ladder safety is important in any workplace where employees may be expected to use ladders to reach a height. Not all ladders are the same, so using them incorrectly could lead to an accident. For employees who are hurt when using a ladder, workers' compensation should kick in to pay for medical expenses and potentially lost wages.

What should you know before using a ladder?

Looking a bit more at Wisconsin’s Safe Place statute

We’ve previously mentioned on this blog that employers have the duty to furnish a safe place to work and to protect their health, safety and lives of their employees. Under the so-called Safe Place statute, which imposes this duty, employees who are injured as a result of their employer’s failure to provide a safe place to work are entitled to increased workers’ compensation benefits.

One issue that has been addressed in case law concerning the Safe Place statute is that the standard of fault in the statute is that of ordinary negligence. In any negligence case, it is up to the plaintiff to demonstrate: first, that the defendant had a duty of care toward the plaintiff; second, that the defendant breached that duty; third, that the plaintiff suffered harm; and fourth, that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach of duty. 

Exposure to toxins in the workplace

Many Wisconsin employees are exposed to toxins at work. When workers are expected to perform jobs around hazardous chemicals, their employers should provide them with information about the toxins. Information about toxins and safe handling procedures is usually found in a 'Material Safety Data Sheet." An MSDS will tell workers about the health effects of a particular toxin, what protective equipment to use while working around it and how to safely dispose of it.

Though employers are legally required to let their employees know about workplace toxins and provide information about them, some employers may not have MSDS's readily available. Information about a particular toxin can also be found on the warning labels that are attached to packaging. Workers may also search websites for information about the toxin that they are working with.

Diacetyl linked to serious lung diseases due to exposure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called for more protections for coffee workers and others who are working in the food industry. The CDC has warned that there is a potential for contracting deadly and permanent lung diseases in this industry because of exposure. What causes it? It's a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical is used when making popcorn, coffee and other food and beverages.

Usually, this chemical is safe to consume when it is consumed in trace amounts. However, workers who work around it often inhale it, and this can be deadly. The chemical exposure occurs during the coffee roasting process and is also released in high concentrations when the beans are ground or taken out of storage bins. The chemical also creates a buttery flavor that is added to food items. It's been estimated that around 600,000 people alone have been exposed to diacetyl.

Workplace safety and firearms

While many Wisconsin residents might have strong feelings about the Second Amendment, there are also substantial concerns about various types of violence inflicted because of the misuse of weapons. OSHA notes that approximately 2 million U.S. residents are directly affected by workplace violence annually, and homicide is one of the five leading causes of deaths in the workplace each year.

Although OSHA regulations don't specifically address an employer's responsibility with regard to workplace violence, they do mandate that employers provide environments free from serious hazards. Employers may be guided by state laws related to issues such as firearms. An employer might not be able to dictate an employee's use of weapons privately, but there may be room for restricting the carrying of firearms on company property.

How to keep Wisconsin temporary workers safe

A joint case study by American Staffing Association and National Safety Council created a fictional scenario involving a temporary worker assigned to an employer. In this scenario, the worker was assigned to do welding work indoors with a portable generator and portable welding equipment, and fumes were emitted by the equipment. The goal was to help staffing agencies and employers determine who is responsible for any safety and reporting issues that may develop.

Before the workers start their assignment, the staffing agency and host employer should determine who will control workplace conditions. The party that controls work conditions should be the one that is best able to keep hazards to a minimum or be in a position to help workers who are injured. Generally, the host employer is the one that will report to OSHA if an injury results in hospitalization or amputation.

What can chemical exposure do to the body?

Chemical exposure can happen anywhere and at any job. For example, a teacher is exposed to chemicals when cleaning desks, and a chemist is exposed to chemicals as a part of his or her job. Chemical exposure can be very dangerous. While not all interactions with chemicals will lead to injury, those that do can lead to severe injuries or death.

The way chemicals affect your body depends on what you were exposed to and in what manner. For example, asbestos that is found in old insulation won't cause much harm if you touch it, but it can affect the respiratory system if it is breathed in. Mercury, which is found in thermostats and thermometers, can affect the renal system and damage the bladder, kidneys and urethra if it's eaten or absorbed into the body.

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Mudge Porter Lundeen & Seguin, S.C.
110 Second Street
Post Office Box 469
Hudson, WI 54016

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Phone: 715-338-3312
Fax: 715-386-5447
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