Does workers’ compensation cover injuries to federal employees?

Like employees for private organizations, those who hold federal government positions are at risk for workplace injuries. However, the way these employees receive benefits or compensation for such injuries…

Like employees for private organizations, those who hold federal government positions are at risk for workplace injuries. However, the way these employees receive benefits or compensation for such injuries is much different. Where private company employees turn to workers’ compensation for recovery, federal employees must rely on the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation.

The DFEC provides many benefits to injured federal employees including monetary compensation for lost wages, payment of medical expenses and disbursing death benefits to survivors. However, the program also provides valuable assistance with returning to work as quickly as possible. Here is a breakdown of some of the work return assistance an injured federal employee might expect:

A registered nurse can work with employees suffering long-term recovery to ensure the worker is receiving the proper care. The nurse also helps the federal employees recover enough to return to work.

Injured federal workers can gain referrals to medical specialists in order to acquire additional medical opinions, when necessary.

Injured workers can also be referred to vocational rehabilitation services if their injuries prevent them from returning to their previous job categories.

A major focus of DFEC services is speed and timeliness. The division stresses that employees suffering from workplace injuries will receive a prompt ruling on their compensation claims.

Despite the good work of the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation, some injured federal workers may need additional assistance to become whole once more. In these situations, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against third parties that either caused or contributed to the workplace injury. An attorney can provide more information on such lawsuits.

Source: United States Department of Labor, “Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC),” accessed July 14, 2015

Are repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel truly serious?

For whatever reason, a lot of people don’t take repetitive stress injuries seriously. Maybe it’s because they’re harder to conceptualize than sudden, traumatizing injuries. Maybe people assume the slow degeneration…

For whatever reason, a lot of people don’t take repetitive stress injuries seriously. Maybe it’s because they’re harder to conceptualize than sudden, traumatizing injuries. Maybe people assume the slow degeneration of your bones, muscles and tendons is just a fact of life.

Workers’ compensation insurers routinely fight repetitive stress claims, even when they’re fully backed up by medical evidence. That doesn’t mean repetitive stress injuries don’t qualify for workers’ comp — they do. Sometimes it seems like insurers just deny them on principle.

What are repetitive stress injuries and how do they happen?

Most people have heard the term “carpal tunnel syndrome,” which is one example of a repetitive stress injury. There are many others, however, and they can affect many parts of the body. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the wrist, but people also commonly suffer repetitive strain to your knees, shoulder or back.

You might suffer a repetitive stress injury at work if your job requires you to perform the same physical motion over and over. Other factors can make the situation worse, including vibration and cold. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, a construction worker doing a repetitive task with a vibrating tool in freezing weather would be at pretty high risk for this type of injury.

Typical symptoms of repetitive stress injuries include pain, tingling, numbness, stiffness, swelling, weakness and temperature sensitivity. However, because the body’s bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments work in a highly coordinated way, the area affected by the symptoms might not actually be the injured area. For example, a number of conditions can cause pain, tingling and numbness in the hand, but not all of them are caused by hand trauma. Shoulder injuries, for example, may cause very similar symptoms.

Isn’t carpal tunnel syndrome caused by excessive computer keyboarding?

It was once widely assumed that excessive keyboarding caused carpal tunnel syndrome, but studies don’t bear that out. It turns out that carpal tunnel syndrome is relatively common across all types of jobs. Don’t assume your suffering isn’t job-related simply because you don’t sit at a desk.

If you’re suffering from pain, swelling, numbness or difficultly using your hands or any body part, see a doctor. Employers are legally required to help prevent repetitive stress injuries and, as long as you can demonstrate that your job duties caused or contributed to your injuries, workers’ comp is supposed to cover them.

Hazardous noise: a top workplace health issue for decades

When you think of the term “workplace injury,” what comes to mind is probably along the lines of a construction worker being struck by a mishandled object; a machine operator…

When you think of the term “workplace injury,” what comes to mind is probably along the lines of a construction worker being struck by a mishandled object; a machine operator flipping the wrong switch; or a warehouse worker straining her back when a heavy box shifts. You might even picture someone suffering from a repetitive stress injury like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Preventable hearing loss is among the most common job-related injuries, and yet few people ever think they may be at risk. Did you know that an estimated 30 million people are exposed to hazardous levels of noise on the job? It’s true and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, thousands of people suffer permanent, significant loss of hearing every year — for example, over 21,000 in 2009 alone. That’s why OSHA and the BLS have considered hearing loss from work-related noise levels as one of the top occupational health issues in the U.S. for more than 25 years.

Dangerous levels of noise on the job can damage hearing instantly — but also over time

OSHA considers it unsafe for workers to be exposed to noise of 85 dBA (weighted decibels) or higher over the course of 8 hours. In general industry, employers must implement an effective hearing conservation program whenever noise levels average 85 dBA or more, weighted for time, over an 8-hour period.

That said, very loud noises can cause permanent, physical damage to your ear quite quickly. Like other injuries caused by repetitive stress to the same body part, however, chronic exposure to lower levels of noise can cause the same or similar damage over time.

OSHA’s noise exposure rules take that into account by limiting the amount of time a worker can be around that noise. The louder the noise, the shorter the period of exposure the rules allow.

How would I know if the noise levels are dangerous at my job?

Do you have to shout to have an ordinary conversation? At the end of the day, do you hear humming or ringing in your ears? Those are signs your hearing is at risk.

Interested in knowing how many decibels of noise some familiar noises cause? To help you get a sense of decibel levels, listen to them on the NIOSH Sound Meter, a simple tool developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Even minor workplace hand injuries can be very debilitaitng

Anyone who has ever had a hand injury knows how much even a minor wound to a finger or palm can impact your ability to work. Any job that involves…

Anyone who has ever had a hand injury knows how much even a minor wound to a finger or palm can impact your ability to work. Any job that involves using your hands can become impossible, especially if the injury occurred at the workplace.

Hands can be struck by a heavy object, penetrated, twisted, jammed, bent abnormally or crushed. These accidents can cause injury to the hand’s ligaments, tendons, joints, bones or muscles.

Another possible hand injury is dislocation. If a finger gets pulled or pushed out of place by a blow, falls or sudden twisting, it can get dislocated, or taken out of joint. Even after the finger joint is popped back into place, the dislocation can cause problems for the victim, such as damaged soft tissues, nerves or blood vessels. In some cases, a piece of bone from the base of the joint can break off, causing further fractures or other problems.

Without full use of both hands, many work tasks, like manufacturing, lifting, construction and typing can be very difficult. The victim may need time off of work to recover. Some hand injuries are relatively mild, and RICE treatment (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) can be effective in the short term.

Other injuries require more involved treatment. Your doctor may put the injured hand in a splint of cast, and surgery may be necessary.

Meanwhile, you may need workers’ compensation to make up for your lost income, and pay for your medical bills. If your initial claim is denied, an attorney can help you with your appeal.

Types of work-related back injuries

The back is the part of your body that holds you upright. Many work tasks require a strong, flexible back, and an injury can severely limit what you are able…

The back is the part of your body that holds you upright. Many work tasks require a strong, flexible back, and an injury can severely limit what you are able to do. Back injuries can take a long time to recover from.

The back can get injured in a variety of ways. According to the National Institutes of Health, common forms of back injury include sprains, strains, herniated disks and fractured vertebrae.

Sprains and strains are related, but they are not the same. A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament, which connects bones to joints. A strain is a stretch or tear in a muscle or tendon, the tissue that connects muscle to bone. Back sprains and strains can cause pain, swelling, and immobility.

The spine is made of 26 bones called vertebrae, with soft disks providing cushioning in between. When one of these disks ruptures, it is known as herniated. The jelly-like substance leaks, irritating nearby nerves and causing sciatica or back pain. Meanwhile, a fractured vertebra can cause severe pain, curvature of the spine, numbness, weakness and difficulty walking.

Effective treatment for your back injury depends on the nature and location of where you are hurt. Minor injuries can be treated with rest and ice. More serious injuries may require medicine and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

Meanwhile, you are unable to work, and may not be getting any income into the house. Rather than maxing out the credit cards to pay for your bills, workers compensation can help make sure you do not suffer financially for an on-the-job injury.

When you can’t turn to your employer after a work injury

You may have worked for your current employer for years before your accident. If it was your first time getting hurt at work, it may be a scary time, as…

You may have worked for your current employer for years before your accident. If it was your first time getting hurt at work, it may be a scary time, as you rehabilitate and hope you regain full function of your injured body part eventually.

One motivation to heal is so that you can go back to work at full capacity. Few want to be laid up any longer than they have to be. Unfortunately, this loyalty to one’s employer does not always work both ways after an on-the-job injury.

Suddenly, for many workers, their company becomes a sort of adversary. Seeking to avoid having their insurance pay a workers’ compensation claim, the employer may dispute the claim. They may say it was unrelated to the worker’s job. Or even claim the worker’s reports of injury are fraudulent.

At MHK Attorneys, we understand that you might feel alone after a workplace accident. Speaking to an attorney, and getting help with the application, can help remove that sense.

An appeal might be necessary, even when your case seems to be cut and dried. This is your chance to overcome this unfair result and get the compensation for your lost wages and medical bills that you deserve.

An injured worker should focus on getting better as much as possible. They should not have to worry about how they are going to pay for their care and help provide for their families. At least, they should have the help and support of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Tendinitis can be the result of repetitive work tasks

Tendinitis is a painful, debilitating condition that can affect nearly any part of the body. It perhaps receives the most attention when a star athlete comes down with it, but…

Tendinitis is a painful, debilitating condition that can affect nearly any part of the body. It perhaps receives the most attention when a star athlete comes down with it, but anyone can develop tendinitis, especially if their job involves repetitive tasks.

Thick cords called tendons connect our muscles to our bones. Over time, work like carpentry, house cleaning or painting can inflame or irritate a tendon, causing pain in the affected area. The pain can gradually increase, or can appear without warning.

Common sites of tendinitis include:

  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Achilles tendon
  • Base of the thumb

When tendinitis affects the shoulder, it can cause loss of motion. This is known as “adhesive capsulitis” or frozen shoulder.

Obviously, pain in any of these body parts would make everyday tasks more difficult. It can force the sufferer to take time off work to receive treatment and recover. People who can tie their tendinitis to their jobs may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

One risk factor for tendinitis is taking on a new physical task too quickly. This applies to sports as well as workplace activities. WebMD recommends building up your activity level slowly, to give your body time to adjust. Limit your number of repetitions at a time and avoid exerting full force.

Once tendinitis develops, rest, ice and anti-inflammatory drugs may help. If they do not, physical therapy, steroid injections and even surgery may be necessary. Symptoms such as high fever, swelling, redness, warmth or inability to move the affected area could be signs of a more serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.