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Baltimore Workers' Compensation Law Blog

The Maryland workers' compensation process

Employees in Maryland may be interested in learning more about some of the common questions involving certain workers' compensation issues. When a covered worker misses at least three days due to an illness or injury suffered on the job, they are entitled to receive wage replacement benefits. When employees miss at least two weeks due to a condition caused by work, they may be entitled to recover benefits for the first three days missed as well.

Injured workers are assigned a consideration date and claim number once the state Workers' Compensation Commission receives the incident report. The consideration date is the time allotted that the employer or its insurer can dispute or object to the claim. Workers' compensation insurance is designed to cover physical therapy, hospital bills, prescription, doctor bills and other costs related to the injury. The coverage limit for the insurance is governed by the state's Workers' Compensation Medical Fee Guide.

Construction accident kills maryland worker

It has been reported that a worker at a road construction site near Rocks State Park was killed while working on Jan. 16. The incident reportedly happened around 1:30 p.m. at the bottom of a ravine on MD Route 24.

Construction crews were engaged in a project to shore up the road. While in the ravine, two workers were struck when a jersey wall fell. The wall landed on one worker and debris pummeled the other. Three people were transported from the scene for treatment at the hospital, one of them in grave condition.

Fatalities involving construction workers' accidents

Highway work zones are dangerous for both drivers and construction workers. While Maryland is not ranked in the top three states for fatalities involving highway work zone accidents, drivers and workers need to be aware that fatalities too often occur in the state as well.

Road work zones are riddled with barrels and signs to warn drivers about construction coming up and to guide them safely around the workers who repair and build bridges, highways and other roads. The number of road maintenance and construction worker fatalities combined reached a peak of 1,095 in 2003 but declined in 2012 to 609. Work zone crashes caused the deaths of eight workers in Maryland in 2013, and four of them were driving or riding as passengers through construction sites.

New OSHA reporting rules are now in effect

All employers subject to oversight by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, including those located in Maryland, are now required to promptly report fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations related to workplace incidents. A time limit of eight hours has been imposed for employers to make reports for cases involving a death on the job. Loss of an eye, amputation, or hospitalization must be reported within 24 hours of learning of an incident.

Companies of smaller sizes that are exempt from certain OSHA record-keeping requirements, particularly those with less than 10 employees, are also required to comply with this new rule. Previously, hospitalizations for workplace injuries only needed to be reported when three or more workers were involved in the same work-related incident.

Car accidents leading cause of workplace accidents

Maryland readers may be surprised to learn that nearly 40 percent of all work-related fatalities in the country are associated with motor-vehicle accidents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to the personal, human costs of vehicle-related workplace accidents, there is a significant economic impact. The annual cost for United States employers averaged an estimated $60 billion annually between the years of 1998 and 2000.

Average statistics gathered between 2003 and 2010 revealed that 311 workers were killed in accidents on industrial premises or highways, 338 workers on foot were struck and killed by motor vehicles, and a total of 1,275 workers were killed in accidents on public highways. A critical component in the reduction of job-related car accidents are employer safety training and policies. Employers can take steps to manage employees' road risk by making sure that employee vehicles are maintained and safe and implementing safe-driving policies.

The workers' compensation claims process

Maryland workers may be interested in some information regarding the process of filing a workers' compensation claim if they are injured on the job. Depending on how the claim is treated, the employee may need to file for an appeal or attend a hearing.

When a workers' compensation claim form is sent to the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission, the amount of processing time necessary can vary. This depends on whether the form itself was filled out completely and accurately. When there are no issues with the form and the information on it, the processing of the claim usually takes just two or three business days. However, if there is missing information, the claim form will be sent back to the worker for corrections. The commission itself cannot make changes to the form.

Injuries in the agricultural industry

Agricultural workers in Maryland are employed in one of the country's most dangerous industries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While working on farms and with farm equipment, agricultural workers are regularly exposed to conditions that put them at risk for serious injuries that could potentially be fatal.

Using data that was collected in 2012, the CDC found that 374 agricultural workers died that year as a result of workplace accidents. Among these fatal accidents, the leading cause of death was tractor overturn. Data that was collected between 1995 and 2002 found that about 113 youths under the age of 20 die every year while working on farms. Most of the fatal injuries involving youth involved some type of machinery like a tractor.

Reducing muscle-related injuries in the workplace

Residents of Maryland who work in the retail or wholesale industries may benefit from a recently published report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that offers several tips that could significantly reduce the growing amount of work-related musculoskeletal injuries. These types of injuries, which affect people whose job involves lifting and moving large amounts of stock, freight and other heavy materials, account for about a third of all reported workplace illness and injury cases for 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The common workplace injuries that retail establishment manual laborers experience stem from overstrained muscles, joints and ligaments within their shoulders, arms and lower back area. To lessen these occurrences while increasing business productivity, the report suggests employers should use devices to help workers as they lift and transport goods. This can be especially important for industries heavily involved in transporting large amounts of internet orders, but have only a handful of workers to do the work.

Maryland subcontractor hurt when tree falls on him

A tree trimmer subcontracted by Baltimore Gas and Electric was seriously injured when a tree fell on him in Fallston Nov. 25. The accident happened around 9:40 a.m. on the 2800 block of Pleasantville Road.

According to authorities, the worker was trying to remove a dead tree near power lines about 60 feet from the road when he was struck by a falling tree. A representative with the Fallston Fire and Ambulance Company said the victim was not trapped or pinned by the tree, but he suffered serious injuries to his upper body. He was transported by ambulance to a nearby church parking lot where he was placed on a Maryland State Police Medevac and airlifted to Shock Trauma in Baltimore.

The three most common causes of repetitive stress injuries

The first time doesn't hurt.

Neither does the second, the fifteenth or the one hundredth time. But after repeating the same motion several thousand times, the human body often begins to feel the wear and tear. In fact, repetitive motion or repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) account for myriad work-related injuries every year. Sometimes the damage is so severe that the employee is no longer able to perform his or her job at all.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists the three most common causes of RSIs:

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