Business Challenges Add Weight to Employees’ Shoulders, Increasing Potential for Back Injuries
As businesses and organizations cope with the changing economic climate, many are trimming costs and cutting back on personnel. A leaner staff may be easier to manage, but the added weight of new or added job expectations, deconditioned workers, and increased stress may lead to injuries.
Workplace injuries are on the rise as a result of COVID-19. The decreased activity, lifting, flexibility and cardiovascular health from stay-at-home orders and business restrictions has led to deconditioning. When out-of-shape workers return to work, employers must be especially diligent to ensure workers are healthy and reconditioned to do the work. This is a significant challenge when staff capacity is limited and balance sheets demand greater output to keep businesses viable.
Back Injuries - Common, Debilitating and Costly
Back pain is one of the most common workplace injuries and reasons for missed work according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the US, there are more than one million back injuries each year and the rate of low back injuries is growing.
According to William Marras, Ph.D., executive director at the Spine Research Institute and professor at Ohio State University, low back injuries are the most disabling condition. He asserts that back injuries have increased 17% in the last 30 years, causing their prevalence to exceed that of diabetes, COPD and asthma.
The cost of back injuries is crippling to businesses – costing the US more than $100 billion each year. The average cost to employers is $1,685 per employee, per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The average compensation for a back related injury ranges from $24,000 up to $80,000.
Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace for their workers, including training and safety equipment to protect employees’ bodies. Thorough training, appropriate safety measures, and regular ergonomic reminders are just a few measures employers can take to decrease back injuries and workers’ compensation claims.
When a Work-Related Injury Happens
Accidents are unavoidable. When injured at work, immediately report the injury to the HR department or supervisor and complete any necessary paperwork promptly. In Pennsylvania, if employees fail to report injuries within 21 days, they risk losing retroactive wage loss benefits. Full eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania may be lost if an accident report is not filed within 120 days.
Reporting the injury right away ensures both the employee and the employer have documentation that the incident occurred in the workplace. Also, ask anyone who witnessed the injury to provide a statement in support of your story. These measures protect against claims by workers’ compensation insurers that the incident occurred outside of the workplace.
Take detailed notes about what happened. While it is challenging to write things down in the moment, listing what happened, when, where and how, and including dates, affected areas and limitations as soon as possible will protect you.
Confirm that the accident report lines up with your medical exam records too. These notes guarantee the circumstances of your back injury are communicated the same way to the examining physician, the employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company.
Seek medical treatment in a timely manner from an approved medical provider. Do not “tough it out.” If injured on the job, even due to a pre-existing condition, seeking medical treatment right away communicates the validity of your claim to the employer and workers’ compensation insurance company.
Pennsylvania employees should receive a list of designated medical providers from their employer. You must visit one of these providers within 90 days of the injury and also receive treatment from an employer-approved medical provider for 90 days from the date of initial treatment.
If you do not receive treatment from an approved provider, the workers’ compensation insurer can deny payment of medical bills.
Ensure your medical provider knows the injury occurred on-the-job. Explain what happened to each provider to establish a timeline for the workers’ compensation benefits and appeal, if necessary.
Be honest. Expect that workers’ compensation claims will be investigated, so share all facts clearly and consistently, referring to your detailed notes.
Help with Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation for Back Injuries
Workers’ compensation exists to help people who are accidentally injured while doing the job, not just on a worksite. Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, though some exceptions do occur. Workers’ compensation covers medical bills and lost wages while the worker recovers, sometimes even if the worker had a pre-existing condition.
Due to the growing prevalence of back injuries and how expensive they can be, some people experience delays, obstructions or denials of valid workers’ compensation claims for their back injuries.
Generally, the employee has the burden of proof to show the back injury happened due to the job and that it is disabling. This can be overwhelming, especially when trying to recover from an injury.
Contact an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney, like Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC, to discuss your case. With the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer, the likelihood of claim acceptance increases significantly and the workers’ compensation benefits awarded grows.
Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
The Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC team has decades of experience and success in workers’ compensation.
Partner and Attorney Douglas Engelman has more than 25 years of experience, successfully recovering tens of millions for thousands of victims in Pennsylvania and several other states.
Partner and Attorney David Wilk previously defended insurance companies from personal injury lawsuits, uniquely informing his approach to workers’ compensation cases over the past decade.
Attorney Gary Black has devoted his practice over the past 30 years to assisting employees in workers’ compensation matters with great success.
Contact us today to discuss the options for your workers’ compensation back injury case and ensure you receive the workers’ compensation you need to recover.