Every seven seconds a worker is injured on the job. That’s according to data from the National Safety Council, which also reports that injuries from machinery accidents make up 25 percent of all workplace incidents resulting in days away from work. Employees in jobs that rely on the use of heavy machinery and equipment, including manufacturing, construction, and transportation, are at especially high risk for machinery accidents. Even when all machine safety precautions are complied with, machinery hazards in the workplace are all too common. There’s always a chance that a piece of machinery could malfunction and lead to injury or even death.
If you have been hurt in a machinery accident at work, you’re probably wondering what to do next. The most important thing to do, after reporting the injury to your supervisor, is to seek emergency medical attention if you need it. You do not have to pay out of pocket for your hospital or doctor expenses. If you are an eligible employee, workers’ compensation benefits will cover the costs of your recovery.
Types of Machinery Accidents in the Workplace
Regardless of how careful you are to avoid a workplace injury, accidents happen. In fact, they happen a lot. An estimated 12,300 workers are injured on the job every single day. Contact with objects and equipment is the second most common type of workplace injury; this includes machinery and equipment injuries. These accidents can happen in many ways, but the worst culprits on the machine hazards list include:
Being Struck by or Against an Object or Equipment
For example, a worker who is hit by a forklift or another piece of heavy machinery could break a bone or endure a spinal cord injury.
Getting Caught in or Compressed by Equipment or Objects
For example, a worker who’s clothing gets stuck between the moving parts of a machine could suffer a crushed limb.
Being Struck, Caught, or Crushed in a Collapsing Structure, Equipment, or Material
Late last year, an Illinois man who worked at a concrete and building material facility died after an accident involving a collapsed hopper.
Other common machinery injuries include:
Workers who are injured in machinery accidents have a right to workers’ compensation benefits that will pay for their medical bills and a portion of their lost income, as well as compensation for any permanent disability caused by the machinery injury. Here’s how to gain access to the benefits you deserve.
What to Do Following a Machinery Accident
After reporting your injury and seeking emergency medical treatment, you should receive a workers’ compensation claim form (DWC 1) from your employer. If he or she does not provide you with a copy of this form, you can download and print one from the California Department of Industrial Relations website. You must complete this form and return it to your employer within 30 days of your machinery accident. The sooner you complete and return your claim form, the faster you will receive the benefits you desperately need. If you mail the form to your employer, use first-class or certified mail.
Seek Medical Treatment
Your employer is required to make sure you have access to emergency medical care within one working day of reporting your accident. For non-emergency care, the claims administrator will authorize treatment within one working day after you file your claim form.
After your emergency room visit, your next logical thought may be to make an appointment with your regular doctor. But workers’ compensation rules state that you can only see your regular doctor if you told your employer in writing before you were injured the name and address of your physician. If you did not pre-designate your doctor, you will have to visit a doctor from your employer’s medical provider network. Your employer will give you this information.
It’s important to attend all of your doctor appointments and follow your physician’s recommendations exactly. If you fail to comply with your doctor’s orders, it gives the claims administrator a reason to investigate or deny your workers’ compensation claim. However, if you disagree with the treatment prescribed by your doctor, you have a right to get a second opinion.
Wait to Hear From the Claims Administrator
You should receive written notice as to whether your claim was accepted or denied within a few weeks. If you do not hear from the claims administrator, contact him or her directly. When your claim is approved, you will begin receiving temporary disability benefits within 14 days of your doctor stating your injury prevents you from doing your job. After the first payment, payments are made every two weeks for as long as you are eligible. If your doctor says you will never fully recover from your machinery accident, you may be eligible to receive permanent disability benefits or a voucher to pay for training at a different job.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The hours and days following a machinery accident are a blur. If you’re unsure of what to do next, call a workers’ compensation attorney. At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, our lawyers have decades of experience helping workers injured in machinery accidents get the benefits they deserve. We can assist you with filing a claim, choosing the right doctor, and filing an appeal if your claim is denied. Call us today at (619) 528-9800.