Rough ride for worker leads to expensive injury

by on December 15, 2010 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network
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When unsecured workers and/or unanchored objects mingle in a moving vehicle, don’t expect a good outcome.

“I chewed out Bob good,” Supervisor Bart Stone told Safety Director Dom Cappelli. “He wasn’t supposed to take off like a jackrabbit with two guys standing in the bed of the truck.”

“No,” Dom said. “Why’d he do it anyway?”

“He said he had to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle,” Bart said. “I told him if he’d positioned the truck properly on the roadside in the first place, he wouldn’t have had to move it suddenly, and he wouldn’t have gotten Gus hurt.”

Hurt his spine
“How bad is Gus, anyway?” Dom asked.

“Well, he was thrown up against the traffic barriers the truck was carrying,” Bart said. “And one of them fell on him. He thinks he did something to his spine.”

“Oh, boy,” Dom said. “That could be an expensive workers comp injury.”

“Did Gus and the other guy have to ride in the truck bed?” Dom continued. “Couldn’t they have walked alongside as they picked up the barriers? The truck was moving slowly enough, since it had to stop every 50 yards.”

“In hindsight, I guess I should have told them to do it that way,” Bart said. “But I didn’t imagine Bob would be so stupid.”

Gus, the injured worker, filed a workers compensation claim, arguing that damage to his spine made him suffer pain in his neck and back, become incontinent and severely depressed, and experience memory lapses.

Did Gus’s claim succeed?

The decision
Yes. The state workers compensation commission ordered the company and its workers comp insurer to pay Gus $34,000 for temporary disability and $265,000 for his medical expenses.

Plus, the commission said, the company had to pay Gus $640 a week for life because he could no longer work as a result of the injury.

Takeaway
To avoid costly injuries like this one, supervisors should make sure that:

  • tools and materials are secured if they’re being transported in the same compartment as employees, and
  • employees sit in anchored seats and are belted in when traveling in a work vehicle.

Cite: Melton v. Truman L. Flatt & Sons Co., No. 06WC 33579, Ill. Workers Compensation Comm., 9/9/10.

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