Constantly moving, whether it is walking across the giant warehouse numerous times a day or repetitively reaching for all sorts of objects and packages on high shelves, warehouse workers are no strangers to injuries while on the job. In warehouses, common accidents include slips and falls, falling objects, forklift crashes, and rack collapses. Almost everywhere you look in a warehouse, there may be an accident waiting to happen. Workers can sustain severe injuries, and they should be compensated through their workers’ compensation benefits.
Recently, a video has been making the rounds on TikTok that features a warehouse worker being trapped down the long aisles of robotic shelving which moved continuously to block his escape. While the video may be shocking for its seemingly ominous technology, it also shows how easy it would be to be injured while working on the job.
Common warehouse accidents and injuries in Delaware
While there are all sorts of accidents that can happen in the warehouse work environment, the most common include:
- Pallet/Rack Collapses.When materials are not stored safely, become unstable, they become dangerous. When these pallets or racks are stored somewhere high such as a mezzanine, and items from the racks fall, or the racks or pallets themselves fall, down onto the people on the lower levels, severe injuries can happen. Even the smallest objects can become deadly when dropped from up high enough.
- Slips, Trips & Falls.According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “Slips and falls are one of the most frequent causes of accidents, both on and off the job. Each year in the United States, more than 300,000 people suffer disabling injuries from falls. Slips and falls can be fatal as well; they rank second only to automobile accidents, causing nearly 12,000 deaths a year. ” These accidents, while common, can also lead to severe injuries with long-lasting symptoms and conditions. The most serious injuries happen when a worker falls from a height.
- Hazardous Material Incidents.Many warehouse jobs require handling of dangerous or volatile materials. This leads to accidental spills, which can seriously injure the worker. When we think of chemical spills, we often think of the large-scale, breaking news spills that you see on the news, but often even the smallest leaks and spills can seriously harm workers.
- Forklift Crashes. Forklift crashes can happen when a new worker joins the team and makes a wrong turn, or the operator of the forklift is just having a bad day. There are many ways in which the operation of this vehicle can go wrong. Of course, operator error is not the only way in which these accidents can happen; Maybe if there is something in the way of the forklift, or perhaps there’s not enough lighting where you are driving the forklift, or perhaps the forklift itself has a problem.
What injuries happen from warehouse accidents?
The list of injuries that we could make is endless, but you should at least know about some of the most common, and some of the most severe, injuries that you can sustain while working in a warehouse.
- Chemical burns:In warehouses, depending on the type of work you do, you may be asked to handle or transport certain chemicals or other hazardous liquids. If these liquids somehow get onto your skin, in your eyes, or even if you inhale fumes you could end up with serious injuries. Symptoms of a chemical burn include irritation or redness of the area, blackened or deadened skin, and numbness. If the chemicals come in contact with your eyes, you may experience loss of vision. Scarring from burns can leave the victim disfigured.
- Broken bones:While some broken bones merely require a cast and a few weeks of rest, other more severe broken bones can require surgery or implants. Treating the injury quickly and properly is important because if it is ignored or improperly seen to, it can lead to long-lasting effects such as chronic pain or stiffness. With more severe injuries, the medical treatment may need to stretch into your future depending on the implants or surgeries that were done.
- Spinal injuries, including full and partial paralysis: One of the more severe types of injuries, spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can often happen when you fall from somewhere or if a large object or piece of equipment falls on you. As the spinal cord is the central highway for your nervous system, every command sent from your brain first travels through the spinal cord, and along all the nerves there. Suffering an injury to your spine can leave you partially or fully paralyzed, depending on the type of spinal cord injury you received. A complete SCI results in full paralysis, where every part of your body below the injury is numb to sensation and feeling. If you suffer from an incomplete SCI, then you may retain feeling and sensation beneath the point of your injury, though you may still be partially paralyzed for the rest of your life.
- Traumatic brain injuries:Falling onto your head or having something fall onto your head is a common way to suffer an injury to the head. Whether the injury is a mild concussion or an open and bleeding wound, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible. When your brain is jostled hard enough, whether that be from a fall or from something hitting your head, it can bruise your brain and lead to internal bleeding and pressure on the brain. One of the most common causes of head injuries and TBIs are falls. One TBI can lead to effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and amnesia. Wearing a safety helmet on the job is one way in which you can help prevent TBIs.
- Fractured cervical spine. Also known as a broken neck, this is one of the most severe injuries that can happen to the neck, and to the body. As the neck partially houses the spinal cord (cervical spine), it is an important part of the body to protect. A broken neck is when one of the bones in your cervical spine is broken or fractured. Symptoms of a broken neck include: bruising and swelling of the neck, loss of consciousness after injury, pain that spreads through the shoulders and arms, severe neck pain. Treatment requires risky and complex surgery, physical therapy, and ongoing medical treatment. After suffering a broken neck, the victim’s life usually is forever changed.
What should I do if I am injured at a warehouse in Delaware?
According to the Delaware Department of Labor, if you are injured in the workplace, there are certain steps to follow so that you can receive proper workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. These steps are as follows:
- If you sustain an injury or develop an occupational disease, inform your employer in writing quickly and request medical services. Neglecting to do so or refusing medical assistance may jeopardize your right to receive compensation.
- If your disability extends beyond three days after the accident, promptly notify your employer or supervisor about your claim for compensation. In case of a fatal injury, one or more dependents of the deceased or a representative must provide the notice.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with your employer regarding compensation as per the law, you must file an application with the Office of Workers' Compensation for a hearing before the Industrial Accident Board. This application should be submitted within two years of the accidental injury date or within one year of being aware of the diagnosis of an occupational disease or ionizing radiation injury. You can obtain all necessary forms from the Office of Workers' Compensation.
Do I need a Delaware workers’ compensation lawyer?
If you suffer a serious injury while working on the job at a warehouse, you deserve the benefits of workers’ compensation. There are often many steps and a lot of paperwork that can be involved in receiving workers’ compensation, and your employers’ workers’ compensation insurer will look for any little thing in order to poke a hole in your claim. Even if the insurer agrees to your claim, they may not award you the proper amount of compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries.
This is why it is vital to work with the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman. We can make sure that every avenue is investigated and that you secure the benefits you deserve. We understand the challenges and complexities that come with workplace injuries, and we are dedicated to advocating for your rights and securing the compensation you deserve.
When you reach out to us, we will conduct a thorough evaluation of your case, gathering all relevant details and evidence to build a strong claim on your behalf. We will guide you through the entire claims process, ensuring that all necessary paperwork is completed accurately and submitted on time. Our team will also handle communication with the insurance company, sparing you from the stress of dealing with them directly.
If your claim is denied or disputed, we will not hesitate to take the necessary legal actions to appeal the decision. Our goal is to protect your interests and fight for the maximum benefits available under workers' compensation laws, covering your medical expenses, lost wages, and any other damages resulting from the accident. Throughout the entire process, we will provide you with clear and honest communication, keeping you informed of the progress and your options.
If you have been injured while at work, and you need help with your workers’ compensation benefits, call Silverman, McDonald & Friedman at 302-746-6084 or fill out our contact form. We provide workers’ compensation legal services throughout Delaware from our offices in Newark, Wilmington, and Seaford.
Attorney Jeffrey S. Friedman joined Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in 2001. He graduated from Widener University School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and in several Federal Circuit courts. He areas of concentration include auto accident and workers’ compensation cases. Read more about Attorney Friedman here.