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Friday & Cox LLC Workers' Compensation, Personal Injury and SSD/SSI Blog

Would you qualify for workers’ compensation with PTSD?

There are many jobs in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States that are dangerous, high-stress and carry the potential for an employee to experience emotional trauma. Some of the most obvious include active military positions, law enforcement and firefighters. However, you don’t have to work in an overly dangerous job to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

How might you be affected by PTSD? After you experience a traumatic event or an incident causing great stress, you may develop pervasive feelings of fear, anxiety or panic relating to the incident. These emotions may take months or years to lessen and can be debilitating.

Pennsylvania tree cutter seriously injured by falling tree

Any Pennsylvania resident with a job understands that there are certain risks that come with the job, no matter how seemingly harmless the position is. For example, those working in an office setting where they sit most of the time might suffer from repetitive stress injuries by working on computers. They might also trip and fall over an item left on the floor, or come down with a contagious illness that a co-worker brought to work. Even so, some industries are more dangerous than others. The construction field comes to mind, with its high risk of being injured by operating heavy equipment and other construction duties. The logging and forestry industries are also dangerous jobs due to numerous factors.

The above statement was illustrated earlier in August in a work accident that occurred in Coolspring Township. According to the Pennsylvania State Police, employees from a tree company were cutting down several trees in a wooded area. One of the tree cutters suffered serious injuries when the tree he was working on fell on top of him. The 45-year-old man was hospitalized in critical condition and later flown to a Pittsburgh trauma center. It is unknown yet whether the unfortunate man will recover from his injuries.

Grain engulfment poses serious danger to farm workers

The farming industry is a booming job market in Pennsylvania that carries the potential for many workplace accidents. These may include such incidents as faulty machinery causing an injury, products or equipment falling on a worker or livestock injuring someone. Farm workers may also be seriously injured or killed in incidents known as grain engulfment.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, grain engulfment occurs when a worker is buried or suffocated by grain in a silo or other grain storage compartment. There are numerous ways this can happen, which include the following:

  • A wall of grain, commonly corn, which caves in on a worker
  • Flowing grain that mimics quicksand, sucking a worker down in seconds
  • A “bridge” of clumped grain that caves in beneath a worker standing on it, burying him or her in the empty space that often forms beneath such bridges
  • Hazardous gases or unsafe oxygen levels present inside a storage bin, resulting in asphyxiation

The dangerous job of helping people

There is irony in the reality that some of the most dangerous jobs in America involve helping others. Police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, nurses and others regularly put their health on the line -- and in many cases their lives are on the line -- to help ordinary citizens in a wide variety of emergencies.

Who do we call in a medical emergency? For most people, the first inclination is to call an ambulance so that EMS workers can assess the situation, begin administering aid and get the injured or ill party to a Pittsburgh hospital as quickly as possible. Those EMTs put themselves at risk of injury every time they answer a call, however.

Back injuries: Leading cause of workers' comp claims

It's the most common complaint doctors hear from patients who have sustained an on-the-job injury: "My back hurts." Back injuries are the leading type of workplace injuries, according to the National Safety Council.

A recently released study shows that treatment of common back injuries varies widely from state to state. For instance, a worker who injures his back in Pittsburgh might be more likely to undergo surgery than a person who injures his back in San Francisco.

How low can employers and workers' compensation insurers go?

Pretty low, as many Pittsburgh-area workers who have suffered on-the-job injuries can tell you. There are many cases in which an employee is hurt at work, and then files a legitimate claim for deserved workers' compensation only to find out that their employer and employer's workers' comp insurer will try to deny benefits.

We read recently of an Allegheny County case that might make your jaw hit the floor. A construction worker was severely injured while trying to rescue a worker who had fallen into a concrete pit on a Sewickley Borough job site. The man's employer and the employer's insurance company both argued that he should not receive workers' comp because his "compulsion to act as a Good Samaritan was not employment-related."

Dangers of oil and gas extraction

If you ask people around the nation to name a few states in which oil and natural gas production are important industries, Pennsylvania's name rarely comes up. But those of us in the western part of the state especially know of the Marcellus Shale formation that sweeps underground, providing rich deposits of shale oil and shale gas -- as well as being a source of good jobs.

Those jobs, like all natural resource extraction jobs, carry with them dangers of on-the-job heavy-machinery accidents and explosions. Injuries to gas and oil employees include severe burns, falls from platforms, having limbs crushed by machinery and also repetitive movement disorders from repeated lifting or pushing/pulling motions.

Pennsylvania bridge collapses; kills worker, injures two others

About 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, a bridge being overhauled suddenly collapsed on three workers, killing one of them. The other two construction workers were injured, according to reports.

"It just buckled," a spokesperson for the contractor said of the 103-year-old bridge. Demolition crews were at work when the collapse occurred.

Pittsburgh-area worker's leg crushed in industrial accident

Just a half-hour drive northwest of Pittsburgh brings you to Ambridge. Named after a bridge-making company, the town was once one of the centers of the American steel industry. While times have changed, steel fabrication continues in the town along the Ohio River.

A worker at an Ambridge steel plant was apparently badly injured recently "when his leg was crushed under a piece of pipe," a news report stated. The report did not contain a status report on the man's medical condition.

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