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Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Tells the “Shocking” Truth About Workplace Electrical Injuries – 717 Words

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) last reported statistics, between 1992 and 2002 46,598 nonfatal electricity-related injuries occurred in the United States. Workplace electrical shocks can result in a variety of severe injuries and the need for a workers’ compensation lawyer. Here are some statistics from the Fire Protection Research Foundation on the causes of electric injuries:

  • Overhead power lines – 46%
  • Wiring transformers, other electrical components – 29%
  • Current from machine tools, appliances, light fixtures – 18%
  • Other – 7%

All Workers Are at Risk

All employees can be exposed to unsafe electrical conditions which may be caused, for example, by electrical equipment meeting a damp surface or by equipment with frayed or otherwise damaged electrical cords. As NIOSH has reported, “Almost all American workers are exposed to electrical energy at some time during their work day, and the same electrical hazards can affect workers in different industries.”

The sensation of an electrical shock and the severity of the injury vary depending on the voltage, duration, and point of entry. Below is a discussion of various types of electrical injuries.

Heart Injuries

The heart is regulated by its own electrical system which can be disrupted by an external electrical shock. In the most extreme cases, cardiac arrest (heart attack) can occur. A more common serious injury is a condition called cardiac dysrhythmia, where the heart beats in an irregular manner or too slowly or quickly. Electrical injury can also be responsible for necrosis (tissue death) in the myocardium (the muscular inner layer of the heart).

Contact (Internal) Burn Injuries

Significant internal damage can be caused by an electrical burn. The human organism is fortunate in that dry skin is not a good conductor of electricity, but, unfortunately, internal organs are and bones offer significant resistance. What this means is that an electrical current will travel through the human body, burning nerves and muscles along a bone, and leaving charred entry and exit points in the skin. All tissue between these two points (such as a right wrist entry and a left heel exit) has a strong likelihood of damage.

In addition to damage to organ tissues, secondary injuries may include myoglobinemia. Myoglobin is the pigment that causes red meat to be colored red. Internal muscular damage from electrical burns promotes the release of myoglobin and excess levels of myoglobin in the bloodstream can result in acute renal failure (kidney failure).

External Arc Flash Burns and Explosions

Some of the most common and severe external electrical burn injuries are caused by arc flashes. An arc flash results from an electrical current passing through air when isolation between electrified conductors or insulation is no longer enough to cope with the applied voltage. When this happens, the flash is immediate. Electrical arcs can produce some of the highest known temperatures, up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is an astounding four times the temperature of the surface of the sun. Arc flashes which ignite flammable materials can cause chemical explosions.

Government Regulations

Two OSHA-mandated precautions can help prevent serious electrical injury:

Lockout and Tagout (LOTO): These procedures involve locks and tags which must be affixed in a manner that will keep a device from being shifted from the safe/off position. Proper LOTO procedures are required when a worker:

  • Bypasses or removes a guard or safety device.
  • Is required to place a body part where it could be injured by moving machinery.
  • Works on or near exposed electrical conductors.
  • May be injured if accidental startup occurs.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI): A GFCI monitors the current-to-the-load (electrical pressure) and detects any leakage. When leakage exceeds the circuit breaker’s safety limit, the GFCI trips, stopping the current in fractions of a second and preventing electrocution. GFCIs protect workers from common workplace electrical hazards such as worn insulation on cabling and overheated wires.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urges all relevant companies to determine a flash protection boundary (FPB) within which personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn. Arc flash hazard training software also exists for businesses to use as part of their employee safety program.

Workers’ Compensation

If a workplace electrical injury has caused you serious harm resulting in a change in quality of life and you have been unable to claim workers’ compensation, please contact us. We can help you obtain the benefits you are entitled to.

Minnesota Work Injuries and Frozen Shoulder – What You Should Know – 621 Words

Minnesota work injuries and frozen shoulder are very familiar to Minnesota workers’ comp attorneys. Given that many jobs involve employees constantly using their arms for heavy or repetitive lifting, this is not really surprising. Another common cause of shoulder injuries is trauma as the result of someone putting out their hand to brace a fall. Injuries can vary in severity and can include strains, dislocations, and frozen shoulder.

Shoulder Injuries Tops for Missed Work Days

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2014 shoulder injuries caused workers to miss an average of twenty-six days of work, more time than from injuries to any other body part. A report from The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) states that between 2008 and 2012 the frequency of claims for lost work time for most body part injuries dropped an average of 13.9 percent. One notable exception relates to injuries involving the arm and shoulder, which fell by only one percent over the same period.

Frozen Shoulder Explained

Frozen shoulder, also known by its medical name of adhesive capsulitis, is a painful condition that often develops in people who are recovering from another injury. The stiffness in the shoulder limits motion in all directions – reaching up in the air or placing the hand behind the back becomes difficult or impossible. The pain can interfere with daily activities and sleep.

Frozen shoulder happens when the capsule of connective tissue encasing the ligaments, tendons, and bones in the shoulder thickens, restricting the movement of the shoulder joint. People who experience a frozen shoulder are usually in for a long and painful recovery period. The condition usually develops somewhat slowly, with each stage lasting for several months. Typically frozen shoulder patients go through three stages:

  • Freezing: The shoulder joint gradually stiffens over a period of six weeks to nine months.
  • Frozen: Once the joint is frozen, it becomes very difficult to move the shoulder even if the pain has lessened. Performing work-related tasks can be very difficult. The shoulder can remain frozen for between four to six months.
  • Thawing: The thawing stage, where movement gradually returns to the joint, can take between six months and two years. Throughout the thawing period, patients continue to feel pain.

Because the healing time is generally long, many workers are unable to return to their previous jobs. In extreme cases, the shoulder never returns to pre-injury status.

Risk factors

Adults over forty, particularly women, are more susceptible to developing frozen shoulder. Another group at risk includes people who experience injuries or procedures leaving them with limited mobility for extended periods of time. And, with the joints of an aging workforce wearing down, older workers are becoming more and more susceptible to shoulder injuries. And, it’s possible to suffer from a shoulder injury even when not doing strenuous work.

If an employee experiences a shoulder injury or begins to notice shoulder pain, it’s best not to continue to use the shoulder as this can cause the injury to worsen. Ergonomic equipment or more frequent breaks can help to mitigate the risk of a shoulder injury.


The primary treatment centers around stretching and physical therapy. In some cases, corticosteroids or other numbing medications are injected directly into the joint. In extreme cases, surgery is performed to loosen the joint capsule and free up movement.

Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Claims for frozen shoulder are often denied because it’s easy for insurance companies to blame the injury on arthritis or a preexisting condition, or to maintain that the injury happened outside of work. If you have been denied benefits, please talk to us. We can help you to prove your workplace injury entitles you to workers’ comp and make sure you receive the benefits you deserve.

If Your Hospital Says Your Back Injury is Not Its Fault, Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer – 622 Words

When nurses lift a heavy patient, they don’t always realize that they may become part of a troubling set of statistics. Studies performed by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), indicate that there are 35,000 plus back and other injuries among nursing employees each year that are sufficiently severe to cause periods of missed work or even the end of careers. In many instances, where hospitals have denied benefits to an injured worker, it has been necessary for the individual to consult a workers’ compensation lawyer. National Public Radio (NPR) really delved into this situation with a whole series of programs on the subject. To read about a couple of case studies, click here and here.

Nursing Assistants – The Number One Job For Injuries

Nursing assistants and orderlies suffer more back and other musculoskeletal injuries than any other occupation – roughly three times the rate of construction laborers. The number one reason for these injuries is related to the everyday job of lifting and moving patients. Staffing shortages add to the risk; when there are fewer people to assist, nurses are expected to do more. And, because of the surging rate of obesity, patients are heavier than ever before.

In the early 1990s, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) began studying why so many nursing staff were suffering from back injuries. They found that auto factory workers, who were ninety-three percent male, were prohibited from lifting over thirty-five pounds, whereas nursing employees (many of whom are female) typically lift far heavier patients a dozen or more times every day.

Hospitals Know About the Problem

Hospitals have not just suddenly become aware of this situation. Research from decades back demonstrated that the traditional way nurses have been taught to move patients – using “proper body mechanics” by bending the knees and keeping the back straight — is not safe enough.

“The bottom line is, there’s no safe way to lift a patient manually,” says William Marras, director of The Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute, which has conducted landmark studies on the issue. “The magnitude of these forces that is on your spine is so large that the best body mechanics in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem.”

What Are Hospitals Doing About the Situation?

In recent years, a few hospitals have begun using an approach known as “safe patient handling,” and the claim is that this has reduced the incident of back injuries by up to eighty percent. This technique makes use of machinery in the form of motorized hoists to lift patients. But unfortunately, even when a lifting machine is on the premises, nurses often don’t find it to be readily available. They might discover that some other unit has borrowed it, the battery is dead, or the members of the lift team are off performing other duties.

What is the Government Doing?

In January 2012, California passed the Hospital Patient and Health Care Worker Injury Protection Act. This law, which had been advocated for years by public health groups and the California Nurses Association union, requires hospitals to protect nursing staff from getting hurt lifting patients. But only ten other states have passed similar measures – Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.

Workers Compensation Lawyer

Hospitals may deny benefits to injured nurses on various grounds, but a workers’ compensation attorney can help to secure the benefits they deserve. So, if you are a hospital employee and have sustained a back injury at work, you should inform your employer about it immediately and speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer about your legal rights and options. Contact us to see how we can help you.