Injuries among assembly/production line workers, warehouse workers, delivery drivers are common in Maryland.
These injuries likely vary in severity and mechanism depending on the particular occupation and the particular products that are being handled. There are precautions that workers should take to avoid injuries on the job however some of the precautions are simply not practical until the industry standards and protocols change.
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Types of injuries sustained by Material handlers, assembly line workers and warehouse workers
As previously mentioned the types of injuries vary depending on the circumstances of the employment. As a Maryland workers compensation attorney I often come across assembly line injuries that occur when the employee is injured in a fast pace setting around machinery and moving parts. These conditions make employees particularly susceptible to being hurt at work. One notable case that I handled was the injured worker who had his hand and arm nearly amputated when it was caught in a conveyor belt leading to a chopping mechanism. Because it was a Baltimore work injury he was able to get immediate medical attention which helped with recover. It was the prime example of an employee under pressure to get the job done as soon as possible. Another employee I represented was working on an assembly line conveyor when she had to quickly move to another location on the line and slipped on some spilled product that was on the ground.
Along with assembly line workers, machine shop workers are often injured on the job due to the risks associated with the machines on which they work. For these workers, the work often becomes so repetitive that it becomes second nature to do their job. As the worker becomes comfortable he or she often throws caution to the wind ultimately leading to a workers compensation claim. One example is when an injured worker left his hand in the steel press and ended up losing multiple fingers when the press slammed down on his hand. There was a safety cover on the press to avoid such an accident however the cover was removed to increase productivity. The case was settled for over $100,000 despite the defense arguing willful misconduct. Another example is the glass burning worker who sustained third degree burns when he grabbed a glass bulb burning at 2,500 degrees.
As online purchasing increases the demands on order fulfillment employees increase. As the holidays approach these employees are often obligated to work at a faster pace and handling more products on any given day. For those who work in fulfillment centers with varying products, it may be required they lift and carry heavier products more frequently. I represented an appliance distribution employee that sustained a back injury when he was required to lift five times his normal product count around the holiday season. Another example is the employee who was working for a retail distribution center and sustained knee and low back injuries when he was rushing from one end of the warehouse to the other and slipped on some water.
How can assembly line workers, warehouse employees, and material handlers avoid injury and a workers compensation claim
There are ways to avoid injuries while working in the material handling industry however it would take a joint effort on both the employer and employees part. Efforts of which often fall short.
In the faster paced environment the solution is to slow the demand down by hiring additional employees. This would require the employers expenses to increase so it is often not an option. It is notable that many retailers do hire seasonal employees to help meet demand around holiday season. Perhaps a more practical and likely solution is to spread the demand equally among employees rather than the expectations remain high among those employees better motivated or more invested.
It is undisputed among accident insurer’s that regular safety meetings take place to address potential safety concerns and provide employees advice on how to avoid being injured. Unfortunately it seems as though “regular meetings” vary depending on the employer. Workers need to be informed of the imminent but disguised hazards around them on a regular basis.
There are certain tasks that should require two employees but it is not mandated by the employer. An employee may feel obligated to perform the task on his own and ultimately, and of no surprise, injury is sustained. Take for example the appliance distribution center employee. He injured his low back when attempted to lift a refrigerator by himself. Had it been a mandatory two person job he would not have sustained the massive disc herniation that he did.
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