Injuries related to heavy lifting are a primary cause of workers' compensation claims and can affect workers in a wide range of industries. If you've been injured in a heavy lifting accident, it's vital that you understand your right to compensation.
Who Is Vulnerable to Heavy Lifting Accidents?
Lifting injuries can occur in almost every type of occupation. Construction workers often sustain lifting injuries while transporting building materials. Nurses and other healthcare professionals may be hurt trying to lift or reposition immobilized patients. A daycare worker might be injured while pushing a stroller or lifting a child up to wash his hands. A cook might be injured grabbing ingredients from a pantry shelf.
Some of the noted risk factors for heavy lifting injuries include:
- Carrying an object in a way that creates uneven pressure on the spine such as in one hand, on one shoulder, or under one arm
- Not taking adequate rest breaks
- Holding items for a long period of time
- Working in extreme heat or cold, which can induce fatigue
How Much Weight Is Considered Too Heavy for a Worker?
Obviously, people have different levels of physical strength. However, for the purpose of discussing employment-related injury, heavy lifting is defined as a single person lifting an object weighing more than 50 pounds.
A single person should be able to lift an object that weighs less than this amount if it meets all of the following criteria:
- No twisting motion is needed to lift.
- It's at waist height and directly in front of the person doing the lifting.
- It's within seven inches from the front of the person's body.
- The load won’t shift after it's lifted.
- There's a handle on the object.
When an object doesn't meet these criteria, it's recommended that the weight be decreased into several trips or mechanical assistance such as a moving dolly be used for transport. Alternatively, two people could work together to lift the object.
The Most Common Types of Heavy Lifting Injuries
Heavy lifting injuries can vary in severity but may include:
- Back sprains and strains
- Herniated disk
- Patellar tendonitis
- Rotator cuff tear
- Shoulder impingement syndrome
Most injuries are diagnosed by listening to a patient's description of symptoms, conducting a physical examination, and looking at the results of diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or an ultrasound.
Physical therapy, braces, and pain-relieving medications may be recommended. Surgery can be required if the pain persists for an extended period of time.
Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim
Most part-time, full-time, seasonal, and temporary workers are covered by workers’ compensation benefits from the first day of their employment. If you've been injured, you should report the incident to a supervisor immediately. Although the law allows you 30 days to report your injury, it's best to file the necessary paperwork as soon as possible. This helps ensure that evidence linking your injury to your place of employment is preserved.
Your notice to your employer should be a written statement outlining the time, date, circumstances, and specific symptoms related to the incident. It should be signed, and you'll want to make a copy for your own records.
Your employer must send a First Report of Injury (LWC-WCIA-1) to its insurance company within 10 days from the time you provide notice of your injury. This form officially begins your claim, which may include medical treatment benefits, temporary total disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, catastrophic injury benefits, and/or vocational assistance.
You are not required to retain an attorney to receive workers' compensation benefits. However, if you are having difficulty accessing your benefits in a timely fashion, an attorney can advocate for your needs and help ensure you receive the compensation necessary to recover from your injuries.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault’s experienced legal team is dedicated to helping Louisiana residents access their workers' compensation benefits. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.