7 Common Causes and Mitigating Risk Factors in North Carolina Worker Compensation Claims

Worker compensation claims play a crucial role in safeguarding the rights and well-being of employees injured in North Carolina. When workers are hurt while performing their jobs, these claims offer crucial financial support to pay medical bills, missed earnings, and rehabilitation expenditures.

However, understanding the common causes of workplace injuries and implementing effective risk mitigation strategies is vital to prevent accidents and enhance workplace safety. Throughout this article, we will showcase the prevalent causes of workplace accidents in North Carolina and explore essential risk mitigation measures that employers can adopt to protect their workforce and reduce the likelihood of injuries.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slips, trips, and falls are among the foremost causes of workplace injuries in North Carolina, affecting employees across various industries and work environments. These accidents can result from wet floors, cluttered walkways, inadequate lighting, and uneven surfaces. To mitigate this risk, employers should establish strict housekeeping standards, ensuring that walkways are clean, dry, and free of obstructions.

To quickly detect and resolve any hazards, routine flooring and walkway inspections and maintenance are crucial. Employers should also educate employees about reporting spills and hazards and encourage a safety-conscious workplace culture. 

If an accident does occur, and it’s reported correctly, it’s important to then speak with a Greenville worker’s comp lawyer at Whitley Law Firm as soon as possible to ensure fair compensation is dealt out for all injuries sustained.

Treading on a banana skin - an accident about to occur

Overexertion and Repetitive Motion

Overexertion and repetitive motion injuries are common in physically demanding jobs where workers are required to lift, push, or pull heavy objects or perform repetitive tasks for extended periods. These injuries often manifest as sprains, strains, and tendonitis. 

Employers can mitigate this risk by implementing ergonomics best practices, such as providing adjustable workstations, ergonomic tools, and regular opportunities for rest and stretching during repetitive tasks. Training employees in proper lifting techniques and promoting body mechanics awareness can significantly reduce the likelihood of overexertion injuries.

Machinery Accidents

Machinery accidents are a significant concern in industrial settings, and they can lead to severe injuries or fatalities. Lack of training, inadequate machine guarding, and equipment malfunction are common contributing factors. 

Employers must prioritize employee training to ensure that workers are proficient in operating machinery safely. Additionally, they should implement effective machine-guarding protocols to prevent accidental contact with moving parts. Regular maintenance and machinery inspections are critical to identify potential issues and address them promptly.

Falls from Heights

In industries like construction and maintenance, falls from heights are a prevalent risk, posing severe dangers to workers. Falls from ladders, scaffolding, or elevated platforms can result in catastrophic injuries. To mitigate this risk, employers must prioritize fall prevention measures and provide workers with proper personal protective equipment (PPE), including harnesses and guardrails. Adequate fall protection and safety protocol training is essential for all employees working at heights.

Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is a growing concern in various industries, and it can result from conflicts among employees, interactions with clients or customers, or external threats. Employers should establish comprehensive workplace violence prevention programs to address this risk, including risk assessments, conflict resolution training, and clear reporting procedures for potential threats or incidents. Promoting a workplace culture of respect and zero tolerance for violence can help prevent violence on the job site.

Electrical Hazards

Construction, maintenance, or industrial workers may encounter electrical hazards that can lead to electrocution or serious injuries. Employers should ensure that workers receive proper training on electrical safety and that all electrical equipment is regularly inspected and well-maintained. Implementing lockout/tagout procedures for electrical equipment maintenance can further enhance safety.

Exposure to Harmful Substances

Certain industries, such as manufacturing, construction, and healthcare, expose workers to harmful substances like chemicals, toxins, or infectious agents. Employers must prioritize worker safety by providing appropriate PPE and thorough training on handling, storing, and disposing hazardous materials. Regular monitoring and maintaining well-ventilated workspaces are also essential to minimize exposure risks.

Don’t Fear Your Workplace!

Preventing workplace injuries and promoting a safe work environment is a responsibility shared between employers and employees in North Carolina. By identifying common causes of workplace accidents and implementing effective risk mitigation strategies, employers can create safer work environments, reduce the likelihood of accidents, and protect the well-being of their workforce.

Additionally, fostering a safety-conscious workplace culture, providing comprehensive training, and implementing best practices are crucial in preventing workers’ compensation claims and ensuring the overall success of businesses in the state.

Together, with a collective commitment to safety, employers and employees can work towards reducing workplace injuries and creating a safer and more productive working environment in North Carolina.

A workman with a checklist and a laptop

Steps to Making Worker Compensation Claims in North Carolina

Making worker compensation claims in North Carolina involves several steps. The general process is as follows:

  1. Immediate Medical Attention: If injured on the job, the worker should seek immediate medical attention. It’s crucial to inform the healthcare provider that the injury occurred at work so that they can document it properly.
  2. Notify the Employer: The injured worker must report the injury to their employer in writing as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days from the date of the injury. This notification should include details about how, when, and where the injury occurred.
  3. Employer’s Responsibility: Upon receiving notice, the employer is required to file a report called the “Employer’s Report of Employee’s Injury to the Industrial Commission” (Form 19) with the North Carolina Industrial Commission within five days of learning about the injury.
  4. Employee’s Claim Form: The injured employee should also file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission using “Form 18” or “Form 18B” for lung disease. This ensures the state is aware of the claim and can intervene if there are any disputes. This form should be filed within two years of the date of injury.
  5. Medical Evaluation: The employer or its insurance company will usually select the treating physician. If the employee wishes to change doctors or seek a second opinion, they typically need approval from the employer, the insurance company, or the Industrial Commission.
  6. Benefits: If the claim is accepted, the worker may receive benefits, which can include medical treatment coverage and compensation for lost wages if unable to work for more than seven days. If the disability lasts more than 21 days, the worker can also be compensated for the first seven days.
  7. Disputes: If the employer denies the claim or if there’s a disagreement about benefits, the employee can request a hearing before the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The Commission will then review the case and make a decision.
  8. Appeal: If any party disagrees with the decision of the Industrial Commission, they have the right to appeal. The appeal process can be lengthy and may involve multiple stages of review.
  9. Settlement: Some cases may result in a settlement, where the worker receives a lump-sum payment or other benefits in exchange for releasing the employer from future liability related to the injury.
  10. Continued Reporting: If the worker is receiving ongoing benefits, there may be requirements to periodically update the Industrial Commission or the insurance company about their medical status and ability to work.

It’s advisable for injured workers seeking to make worker compensation claims to consult with an attorney experienced in North Carolina workers’ compensation law. This can help ensure they understand their rights, meet all deadlines, and maximise their potential benefits.

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