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Explosion Accidents and an Aging Workforce

While overall rates of workplace injuries and deaths have decreased over the last five years (according to a story in the U.S. News & World Report), the number of workplace deaths for older workers has increased. This disturbing trend has a lot to do with the aging workforce in the industrial sector and the failures of many companies to address this issue and make the workplace safer for older workers.

Explosion accidents, in particular, can have devastating effects on elderly workers. The U.S. News & World report story highlights the fact that “older workers were involved in about 1 in 4 fatal workplace accidents related to fires and explosions from 2011 to 2015.” These elderly workers may be unable to quickly avoid and escape such violent accidents, and may not be healthy enough to withstand the force of the blast if they are caught in a tragic event like an explosion on the job.

In Texas, in particular, the fatality rate for older workers was 43 percent higher than the accident rate for all other workers examined in the study. Overall, the fatality rate for older workers registered at 6.1 deaths per 100,000 workers in the state. When faced with these numbers, it is reasonable to assume that factories, plants, and other hazardous workplaces across the state have failed to implement the proper safety protocols and training to prevent unnecessary deaths among their older workers.

The story also highlights an explosion accident at the Bryan Texas Utilities Power Plant that resulted in the death of a 60-year-old worker, Earle Robinson. The explosion occurred at the power plant (located about 100 miles north of Houston) and caused serious burns to the elderly worker, which later resulted in his tragic passing at a Houston area hospital. While there was no immediate word about whether the victim’s family considered hiring an explosion accident attorney in Houston to handle a civil claim, the National Center for Productive Aging and Work is spearheading initiatives to make the workplace safer for aging workers.

A part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the NCPAW has partnered with industries, labor and trade associations, and other professional organizations to help push advancements in safety, health, and the overall well-being of America’s aging workforce. By emphasizing safety and awareness of the unique challenges that elderly workers face, they hope to make strong inroads with the most dangerous industries like oil and gas, manufacturing, drilling, and other professions that may expose their employees to serious accidents like workplace explosions.

While it may be too late for families like the Robinson family, we hope that these initiatives may make a difference for other families of older workers. As America’s workforce continues to grow older (especially in the industrial sectors), we need to make safety a major focus to prevent avoidable injuries and death. To learn more about this, we encourage you to read the full story on the U.S. News & World Report linked above and visit the website of the National Center for Productive Aging and Work to learn more about their latest initiatives.

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Sources of Long-Term or Permanent Disability Benefits

Workers’ Compensation, or Workers’ Comp, and Social Security Disability are the two largest programs in the U.S. which offer cash benefits to workers who sustain serious injuries or illnesses that render them disabled. Though both programs consider employment as the basic requirement for eligibility to make a claim, these still significantly differ with regard to details of eligibility. While the Workers’ Comp considers a person already qualified even on the very first day of his or her employment, Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI requires a substantial work period and the payment of Social Security taxes which are automatically deducted from an employee’s monthly pay (this monthly tax, which is included in an employee’s paycheck, is called the Federal Insurance Contributions Act or FICA).

The type of injury or illness eligible for compensation, as well as the amount of benefits given by Workers’ Comp depends on the state. Though states may differ in some of the benefits awarded, these are sure to cover lost wages and cost of medical treatment, among others.

Workers’ Comp benefits are fast and sure financial benefits for workers who get injured on the job or who develop occupational illnesses due to exposure to hazardous substances. If an injury or an illness ends in disability, the amount of benefit will depend on the classification of the disability. Health providers classify disabilities under four types: Temporary total disability; Temporary partial disability; Permanent total disability; and, Permanent partial disability.

According to the law firm Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC, total permanent disability (TPD) benefits are available for workers whose injuries are so severe that they cannot continue to work in any occupation; partial permanent disability (PPD), on the other hand, are available for workers whose injuries are permanent, but who can continue to work.

Injured workers usually have 30 – 45 days (from the day the injury was sustained or the illness was discovered) to notify their employers about such injury or illness. Failure to notify one’s employer can mean loss of right to file a workers’ comp claim. Besides this, there is also a statute of limitations within which the injured worker will have to file his or her application for benefits. States have different guidelines with regard to statute of limitation, but for guaranteed safe filing, this should be done within one year from the date of the accident or discovery of the illness.

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The Dangers of Construction Work and Bouncing Back After an Accident

Accidents can happen at any given time or place. However, the risk of facing a serious accident is much greater if you are employed in a high risk job such as construction work. As noted by the U.S. Department of Labor, a total number of 2.9 million cases of workplace injuries were reported in the private industry during 2013. Majority of these cases involved accidents that occurred in manual labor industries. Similarly, the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® reports that there are thousands of construction accidents leading to serious injury and death annually in America.

Working manual labor jobs like construction work involves certain risks and hazards that are obviously not present for an employee in a desk job. Construction work involves the use of high powered tools and heavy machinery. To reach heights, workers need to make use of scaffolding that could quickly become unstable causing them to fall. Certain hazardous materials are also used in a number of tasks and workers can end up getting exposed to harmful chemicals. That’s why it comes as no surprise that so many of these workers end up falling victim to serious injuries. Anything from fractures to spinal cord injuries can result from the often dangerous conditions they are working under.

When these accidents do take place, it’s obvious that the burden on workers only become greater and greater. The injuries commonly associated with the dangers of construction work often require a long and difficult recovery. There’s also the question of medical expenses and other financial burdens caused by the worker’s inability to return to his or her job and earn an income. In such cases, workers need to be able to rely on financial assistance provided by their employers. As noted by the website of Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC, these injured employees can look to workers’ compensation benefits to cover the expenses caused by their accident.

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