Georgia Begins Tracking Violence Against Healthcare Workers

While some jobs have more inherent risks than others, any workplace is subject to accidents. Incidentally, the people whom we trust when we are injured–our healthcare professionals–work in some of the most accident prone environments. In fact, the healthcare industry has one of the highest rates of injury and illness and it is not uncommon for more of its workers to be injured on the job than in any other sector. Georgia hospitals are now taking action to further prevent one of the risks: physical and verbal assault of workers.


Violent Acts in the Healthcare Industry


Workplace violence is not uncommon, and roughly two million Americans report being the victim of such an incident every year. In emergency rooms and hospital settings, however, both physical and verbal assaults are constantly a threat. A patient might become angry and physically violent if refused narcotics, lash out if they are feeling stressed, or act out physically if they are mentally disturbed. As many as 21 percent of registered nurses and nursing students report being physically assaulted in just a 12-month period. Georgia is now toughening penalties for violent acts against healthcare workers, joining 18 other states which have done so.


Hospital workers are often reluctant to press charges, as dealing with difficult patients is generally considered part of the job. It’s a mindset that needs to change, says Lisa Falk, a research director with the Emergency Nurses Association, especially since roughly one-third of nurses consider switching jobs to be in a safer environment. In addition to the 56 percent of emergency nurses who are subject to violence per week, 75 percent of emergency room physicians face at minimum one violent act per year.


Nurses aren’t the only ones subject to violence. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychiatric aides have the highest rate of violent injuries, experiencing roughly 590 injuries per 10,000 full-time employees. It’s a rate that is 10 times higher than that experienced by the next highest group, nursing assistants. Emergency departments, geriatrics, and behavioral health workers are all considered high-risk areas for violence.


Additional Hazards In Healthcare


Any worker involved, directly or indirectly, with providing health services to individuals is considered to be part of the healthcare industry. In Georgia alone, there are more than 300,000 people working in a number of different work settings, including hospitals, dental offices, birthing centers, clinics, nursing homes, emergency medical care, out-patient surgery centers, and more. In addition to the threat presented by violence, other hazards they face every day include:


  • Biological hazards and bloodborne pathogens (including HIV/AIDS, TB, hepatitis, etc.);
  • Chemical and drug exposure (formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, peracetic acid, etc.) used in laboratories or on patients;
  • Ergonomic hazards, including lifting of patients and repetitive tasks;
  • Psychological hazards, including stress or shiftwork;
  • Laser, X-ray and radioactive hazards;
  • Electrical hazards from medical equipment; and
  • Fire and explosion hazards caused by various equipment and tools.


Just as all other workers, healthcare workers need protection from injuries and illnesses they face at work. Risk of injury becomes greater when healthcare facilities are strained for money and staffing needs.


Who Is at Risk and Types of Injuries

When we think of the healthcare industry workers, our thoughts immediately jump to doctors, nurses, and various medical staff. Of course, these are not the only people working in many large healthcare facilities. In addition to medical personnel, there are also many additional workers to support them. Other workers who are also at risk for the many health and safety hazards in hospitals and healthcare facilities include administrative staff, laundry, food service, housekeeping, mechanical maintenance, medical equipment maintenance, building and grounds maintenance.

Generally, healthcare worker injuries fall into a few different categories: overexertion and bodily reaction (48 percent); slips, trips, and falls (25 percent); contact with objects (13 percent); violence (nine percent); exposure to substances (four percent); and other causes (one percent). Nearly half of all injuries in hospitals result from overexertion or related-events. Musculoskeletal disorders, such as sprains and strains, are by far the most common reason healthcare workers needed time off for injury, and patient interaction is the leading cause for these types of injuries. For workers filing claims for illnesses related to the job, skin disorders and respiratory conditions are the most commonly recorded, though unspecified illnesses are the most prevalent (75 percent).

Why Injuries Are Prevalent In Healthcare

Workplace injuries have decreased significantly across all industries, but despite drops, the healthcare industry still has double the rates of injury as private industries. There are many reasons why hospitals and other healthcare facilities continue to have high rates of injury. Some of the biggest reasons are the unique circumstances faced by hospitals that don’t often occur in other industries.

Hospitals are very dynamic and unpredictable workplaces. It is difficult to predict how many and what type of patients will need assistance. In a busy environment, workers are put in contact with potentially contagious patients and next to sharp objects that could be contaminated. Handling of patients, including lifting, repositioning, or transferring patients with limited mobility can cause many injuries, which are precipitated when dealing with patients who also have mental and physical health issues and may be prone to violent outbursts.

Another unique problem faced by healthcare workers is the culture of the industry. Working as caregivers, they have certain ethical duties, one being “do no harm” to the patient. Unfortunately, this stance often times compels workers to compromise their own self and safety for the benefit of the patient. When this emphasis on patient safety is combined with a lack of safeguards for workers, further risks for healthcare workers may be created.   

Workers’ Compensation Attorney In Georgia

Doctors, nurses, psychiatric nurses, and all other medical professionals and hospital staff dedicate their lives to helping their patients. If you are an Atlanta healthcare worker who has sustained an injury at work due to violence or through another workplace accident, you can get help. Contact the dedicated Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Atlanta to find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call of today to discuss the specifics of your case and get started on your claim.


Workers Injured In Georgia Aluminum Plant Explosion

Industrial accidents and disasters are some of the worst possible work-related accidents. It is not uncommon for there to be serious injuries and fatalities among workers, but also civilians. Typically, the accidents can be traced back to some failure in safety management, maintenance issues, regulatory or design regulation violations, manufacturing or premises defects.


This summer, an aluminum plant explosion left five Georgia workers injured.


Explosion at Bonnell Aluminum


A blast in the early morning hours at the Bonnell Aluminum plant in Newnan, Georgia, located 35 miles southwest of Atlanta, rocked buildings as far as a mile away. The explosion left five employees injured, two of whom needed to be sent to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment and three who were treated at the local hospital. A gaping hole in the plant’s roof and crumpled metal were scattered all around the scene. In addition to the damage caused to the aluminum plant, the explosion also damaged the building of an adjacent business, Sewell Marine, where a fire began in a boat on the lot.


After a few days, executives at the plant moved to reopen for work. According to a statement from the company, the explosion occurred in a casting area which is separate from the rest of the plant. They assured the building had been thoroughly inspected by an engineering firm and it was safe to resume operations in the rest of the plant. As for the casting area, it will remain closed until the cause of the explosion can be determined.


Injuries Associated With Explosions


Explosions are particularly serious workplace accidents because there is a great potential for life-threatening injuries and multiple injuries. How much a worker is injured is usually determined by how close they were to the explosion site. If chemicals, radioactive materials, or biological contaminants were part of the explosion, there’s even further risk of severe injury to any victims.


Worker injuries caused by explosions can be sorted into four different types. The primary blast from the explosion usually leads to body tissue injuries in the ears, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. They are the result of pressure on the organs, which are susceptible to compression from the pressure of the explosion. Flying objects from the explosion that strike workers are considered secondary injuries. Tertiary blast injuries, on the other hand, are from high-energy explosions which through people into the air, causing them to land on the ground with a forceful impact. Finally, quaternary explosion injuries are any other injuries that could result from an explosion, such as being crushed, burns, and inhalation of toxins.


Major Causes of Georgia Industrial Accidents


Industrial accidents have dropped significantly since the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Nonetheless, fatal work injuries are still more frequent than they should be an several workers lives have been lost in industrial explosions and fires.


In Georgia, numerous manufacturing plants continue to be cited by OSHA for safety violations that put their workers at risk, with everything from failure to provide proper fall protection to faulty safety equipment. Some of the most common causes of industrial accidents, such as the aluminum plant explosion include, but are not limited to:



  • Improper supervision – Workplace safety relies heavily on the role played by supervisors and managers, who often times fail to do their jobs when it comes to ensuring worker safety.




  • Lack of training – All industrial workplaces should have detailed safety procedures and take the time to properly train all employees on safe use of equipment, maintaining machines, and recognizing defects.




  • Defective or poorly maintained machinery – Manufacturing is heavily reliant on large, dangerous machines. When equipment is not in proper working order, either from defects or lack of maintenance/inspections, workers are at risk for severe and fatal injuries.




  • Insufficient protective gear – Workers must be provided with necessary protective gear, including hard hats, goggles, gloves, and earplugs. It is also the responsibility of supervisors to ensure workers are using protective gear needed to prevent injuries.




  • Hazardous chemicals –  Chemicals can damage equipment, cause fires and explosions. It is imperative that companies have policies and procedures for handling, working with, and storing such chemicals safely. Some of the worst industrial disasters can be traced back to improper handling of hazardous materials.




  • Repetitive motions – Industrial workers must often repeat the same tasks over and over. These repetitive motions can cause injuries to employees and lead to performance issues. Such injuries can be prevented by making sure equipment is tested to work ergonomically for workers and taking adequate breaks.



Getting Compensation after an Industrial Accident


Nearly all employers in Georgia are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. In the event of an industrial accident, such as an explosion or fire, an injured worker would be able to collect financial compensation for their injuries. Benefits for the worker would include compensation for any medical expenses related to the injury as well as income benefits for time away from work.


Possible Third Party Claims


Depending on the circumstances of the accident, workers may be entitled to more than just workers’ compensation benefits. If a party other than employer was responsible for the accident, there may be a possibility of a third party claim. For instance, an explosion that was caused by a defect in machinery could mean the machine manufacturer was liable for the accident and injured workers could file a claim against the manufacturer. In a third party claim, it is possible to collect compensation for not just lost income and medical expenses, but also less tangible damages like pain and suffering.


Help With Your Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Claim


After a serious work injury, recovery can be difficult for not only the worker, but also their loved ones. Ensuring you get the most out of your workers’ compensation claim is best done by a skilled Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney. At Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Atlanta, our legal team will answer any questions you have regarding a claim and what benefits you are entitled to. Call us today to discuss the specifics of your case and get started on your claim today.

Burn Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

Thousands of Americans suffer from burn injuries every year, with roughly eight percent of those people sustaining their burns in a workplace accident. In fact, there are over 5,000 burn-related injury cases due to fires and explosions at job sites. According to the American Burn Association, the survival rate from burns is 96.8 percent. While most people recover from burns without any serious long-term health consequences, serious burns can leave people scarred for life. Anyone who has ever had a severe sunburn, however, can attest to the fact that even minor burns can be agonizing.


A burn injury can cause substantial economic and social problems for workers and their families. Most Georgia workers who sustain burns while on the job qualify for workers’ compensation and should speak to a qualified workers’ compensation attorney to find out more about how to file a claim.


Types of Burn Injuries in the Workplace


Although we may immediately think of open fires or the scorching sun, burns can be sustained in a variety of ways. In the workplace, the most common types are thermal, electrical, and chemical burns. Workers in manufacturing or industrial jobs often come into daily contact with machines and hazardous materials that could cause burns. Common burns are characterized by the following:



  • Thermal burns – Any burn that is caused by exposure to flames, steam, flash, hot surfaces or hot liquids (scalds) over 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Contact burns from hot surfaces can be particularly deep.




  • Electrical burns – Since electricity follows the path of least resistance, it is not unlikely for a worker to be injured as either AC or DC current travels through their body tissues. Both external and internal burns may result from electricity, which are technically thermal burns at extremely high temperatures.




  • Chemical burns – Usually caused by strong acids or alkali substances, chemical burns can cause damage to the skin with or without heat production. What makes chemical burns more severe is that they continue to cause damage until the chemical is completely flushed away or inactivated.




  • Radiological burns – Caused by exposure to alpha, beta, or gamma radiation, these types of burns are not as common. However, when they do happen, usually they will need some sort of decontamination to stop the injury from getting worse.



Immediate medical attention is necessary for chemical, electrical, and radiation burns because they can affect the inside of the body, regardless of whether or not the skin appears to be damaged.


Understanding Burn Severity


Burns are typically classified into three levels of severity–first, second, and third degree burns–with third degree burns being the worst. Although it is possible to sustain burns worse than third degree, it is very unusual for anyone to survive them.



  • First Degree Burns – These burns are strictly superficial, meaning they only affect the outermost layer of skin, the prime example being a sever sunburn. First degree burns are painful and symptoms include redness, minor inflammation/swelling, and dry, peeling skin as the burn begins to heal. Using antibiotic ointment and pain relievers as home care, first degree burns will usually heal in seven to 10 days.




  • Second Degree Burns – If a burn reaches beyond the top layer of skin, making it no longer simply superficial, it has become at least a second degree burn. These type of burns may cause blistering in the skin and are either red and wet or white and dry depending on the degree of vascular injury. It’s extremely important to keep burns clean and bandaged properly, especially if blisters begin to pop as there is a high risk of infection. Although they sometimes take more than three weeks to heal, typically second degree burns will clear up after a week or two without any scarring.




  • Third Degree Burns – Third degree burns extend through all the layers of the skin, destroying both the outside skin and the tissues below. Aside from higher level fourth degree burns, these are the most severe. It might seem counterintuitive, but third degree burns are actually not painful because at this point the nerves have been damaged. Third degree burns will not blister, but rather look waxy and white or dark brown in color and have raised/leathery texture or charring. These burns should never be attempt to be treated at home and it’s imperative a medical professional handles it. Even with surgery and skin grafts, third degree burns can leave scarring.



While first and second degree burns can heal on their own and are relatively free of complications, victims with third degree burns run the risk of infections, blood loss, and shock that could lead to death. Any type of burn, regardless of severity, should be treated by a doctor if the area is larger than three inches.


Who Is Most at Risk?


Nearly all workers could be exposed to burn risk on occasion, but the it is those who work in jobs involving cooking, high temperature material or equipment, and flammable chemicals who are most in danger. Of all hazards, flammable liquids are the biggest culprits, accounting for 66 percent of all flame burns in the workplace. Restaurant workers, firefighters, manufacturing and industrial plant employees, electricians, and researchers in laboratories are examples of workers who would be exposed to burn risks on a daily basis.


Preventing burn accidents comes down predominantly to proper training and following the safety standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Companies should provide preventative safety measures as well as first aid access in case of burns.


Why You Need A Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney


Thousands of workers in Georgia are at risk for burn injuries everyday. If you’re an Atlanta worker who has sustained a burn injury on the job and need help filing a workers’ compensation claim, you need the help of a qualified Atlanta, GA work injury claim attorney. Contact Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Atlanta to speak to an experienced legal team about your options. In a time you need to be focused on recovering from your injuries and getting back to work, we’ll be there to support you and help ensure you receive the workers’ compensation settlement you deserve.

What Happens If You’re Injured and Your Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation?

Imagine you are a dishwasher in a restaurant and you’re at your job scrubbing dishes on a busy night. Naturally, the floors have gotten a bit messy and suddenly you slip, coming down hard onto the ground. Because you were at work, surely your boss will have your back because workers’ compensation is required. Your medical bills are piling up, but when you go to file a claim with the supervisor, they tell you the company does not have workers’ compensation. Now what?


What Is Workers’ Compensation?


Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that states require employers to buy in case of worker injuries. If an employee suffers from a job-related injury or illness, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will provide benefits to cover any medical expenses resulting from the injury as well as time missed from work. The federal government provides workers’ compensation for federal and certain types of employees while individual states have their own regulations and programs within their state. In Georgia, the laws governing workers’ compensation and administration is the prerogative of the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.


Georgia Employer Requirements for Workers’ Compensation


According to Georgia law, any business that has three or more employees is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. This includes part-time employees as well. If you are unsure of whether or not your company has coverage, you can verify workers’ compensation coverage online with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.


In addition to providing coverage, your employer also has the duty to post a notice in a prominent part of the workplace to prove they are in compliance. Employers should post the name of the insurance company or a self-insured certificate in a conspicuous place. In addition to this, they must also post the State Board of Workers’ Compensation Bill of Rights for the injured workers as well as the Panel of Physicians from which injured workers may seek treatment.


Employer Liability and Civil Penalties


Just as an employer is liable for providing workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, they are also legally responsible for any injuries if they fail to provide coverage. If a worker or workers are injured in an accident and the employer is found to willfully have neglected securing insurance, there are consequences. In these cases, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation can assess fines, civil penalties, and a 10 percent increase in compensation to the injured employee.


Civil penalties for employers who willfully fail to report required forms to the Board or follow regulations can be fined anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per violation. In addition, knowingly making false or misleading statements in order to deny benefits or workers’ compensation benefits can also lead to fines between $1,000 and $10,000 per violation. Finally, for intentional failure to provide coverage specified by the Workers’ Compensation Act, an employer may be fined $500 to $5,000 per occurrence of violations.


Criminal Penalties for Failing to Provide Workers’ Compensation


Employers who knowingly fail to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees are not only subject to civil penalties, but also to criminal penalties. Not providing workers’ compensation is considered a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, the employer is subject to another fine of $1,000 to $10,000 and/or a prison term of up to one year.


If you wish to report your employer for breaking any provisions of the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act or failing to provide coverage, you can contact the Enforcement Division at 404-657-7285.


Suing Your Employer


With no workers’ compensation available to cover them, injured employees of an employer who failed to acquire workers’ compensation could still be stuck with mounting medical bills and trouble earning an income. One of the options an injured employee has in these cases is suing their employer to recover the necessary expenses. Suing their employer in court gives an injured worker the benefit of being able to seek compensation for the full amount of their losses in contrast to workers’ compensation which offers full medical expenses, but only two-thirds of wage loss (with a maximum amount established). By suing their employer, the injured worker can also collect compensation for any emotional distress, referred to as “pain and suffering” in legal jargon, caused by their injury and consequent loss of work. Sometimes, injured employees are even able to collect punitive damages if their employer willfully neglected to provide workers’ compensation.


Unfortunately, suing an employer in court is much slower than the normal workers’ compensation process. While a workers’ compensation benefits check might arrive within a few weeks (or less), a court case can be drawn out for months or even years. This is why it is very important to understand the process from the beginning and work with a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer who can advise you on the costs and benefits as well as the timeframe.


Temporary Disability and Social Security


Suing your employer is not the only way to get compensation for injuries if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance. Certain temporary and permanent disabilities will qualify the worker for Social Security Disability Insurance. Georgia, like some other states, also has a temporary disability insurance program that can provide some form of short-term benefits while the injured worker is unable to do their job. In some cases, the injured worker may be able to get their medical bills paid for through funds from the Uninsured Employers’ Fund.


Hiring a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney


If you are an Atlanta worker who has been injured at work and your employer does not have insurance or is refusing to cover your injuries, you need to contact a dedicated Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney. Call Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Atlanta – our expert legal team will answer any questions you have and ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today to discuss the specifics of your case and we’ll get you the help you need and work hard to get you the compensation you deserve.


Changing Workforce Demographics and Workers’ Compensation

There always changes going on in workforce demographics. When labor laws became stricter, it became illegal to employ children; when the men were shipped off to Europe during World War II, women entered the workforce. Currently there are two major demographic shifts in the national workforce that are of concern for workers’ compensation: the aging worker and the overweight worker.


Nearly all workers in Georgia are covered by workers’ compensation and can file a claim to receive compensation if they are injured. While the demographic shift doesn’t change that, it does mean employers need to adapt to keep workplace safety a priority.


Concerns of an Aging Workforce for Workers’ Compensation


Many people are waiting to retire till later these days. Modern medicine and higher living standards mean people live longer and may need to work longer to ensure they have enough funds to carry them through retirement. The economic downturn and recession also lead many people to come out of retirement. Regardless of the reason, retirement at age 65 is no longer the norm and there are far more older workers across the country, and in Georgia, than there ever were before.


One of the greatest challenges for employers, is making work environments more friendly to older workers. To combat hazards for older workers, the Department of Labor advises employers to take key actions, including implementing wellness programs and developing job design and ergonomics that make jobs less demanding for talented, aging workers.


There is also great concern about how much workers’ compensation costs will change. Although older workers tend to have less injuries, they also are more likely to require more treatment and longer periods of time for recovery. Some concerns include:



  • Comorbid conditions – Older workers are more likely to have comorbid conditions that either increase their risk of injury or make recovery more difficult. This includes many normal age-related conditions, such as diabetes or obesity. An older worker with osteoporosis, for example, would be far more likely to sustain a bone fracture from a fall than a healthy, younger person.




  • Longer Recovery Periods – Although older workers face many of the same risks as younger workers at jobs, they may require more time to heal from similar injuries. While workers ages 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 needed, on average, six and nine days to recover, respectively, those 55 to 64 and 65 or older needed 11 to 12 days to return to work. The more time a worker needs to recover from an injury, the higher the workers’ compensation costs will be for employers.




  • Higher Fatality Rates – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the frequency at which older workers are injured is actually less than other workers, however, the injuries are more likely to be severe or fatal. In fact, at age 60 workers are three times more likely to have a fatal work injury than other age demographics. Falls and transportation accidents are particularly dangerous for older workers and the primary culprits for fatalities.



Estimates show that the number of older workers will continue to rise, far more than any other age group. While older workers can be a great asset in many industries, it does mean employers need to continue developing ways to reduce hazards for older workers and make their work places more friendly to aging employee.


Overweight Workers and Workers’ Compensation


Another key demographic shift in the workforce is the overweight and obese worker. Obesity is a major problem across the U.S. and Georgia currently has the 19th highest rate of obesity in the country with a 30.5 percent adult obesity rate. According to some estimates, by the year 2030 the obesity rate will be 51 percent. Obesity complicates workers’ compensation claims for a number of reasons, primarily because of health problems associated with being overweight. This includes a myriad of disease and health risks including, but not limited to:


  • Heart disease and stroke;
  • Diabetes;
  • Cancer;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Osteoarthritis; and
  • Breathing problems.


The American Medical Association classified obesity as a “disease state” in 2013, essentially making it a condition that needs intervention and treatment. This means obesity can be considered a comorbidity in workers’ compensation claims and, as a consequence, treating physicians of occupational injuries may first need to treat obesity in an injured worker before they focus on the job injury itself. Treating the obesity, usually, would increase the chances of a successful recovery. However, this also means the obesity can be cited as part of a workers’ compensation claim, especially for cases that involve major medical procedures, such as surgery, where obesity increases possible risks.


There’s also evidence that obese workers are more likely to be injured on the job. Overweight individuals are often more likely to experience fatigue, which increases risk for injury. Heavier bodies also put greater stress on muscles and bones, meaning obese individuals are far quicker to sustain injuries, such as sprains or strains as well as back and shoulder injuries. In addition, obese workers may have difficulty using safety equipment and gear made for smaller people, making them less likely to use it due to lack of comfort or correct sizing.


Most companies are generally concerned about worker safety, especially in the interest of keeping medical costs down. In order to keep workers’ compensation costs low, employers are encouraged to help their employees maintain healthy body weights. There are a variety of programs that can be implemented, ranging from bike-to-work days to healthy lunch options.


Get Help from Workers’ Compensation Lawyers In Georgia


Dealing with work injuries can be difficult, especially if you must take an extended leave of absence to recover. Workers’ compensation can help, but navigating the system can be difficult when you’re trying to focus on getting back on the job. If you’ve sustained a work injury in Atlanta, Georgia, there is help available. Contact the skilled work injury legal team in Atlanta at Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Atlanta to talk more about the specifics of your Georgia workers’ compensation case, to find out what your options are, and how you can get the compensation you deserve.