The devastation to property following a hurricane is not the only unfortunate post-hurricane consequence. A great number of workplace injuries occur after a hurricane as a result of clean up and repair efforts. Workers involved in the recovery process following a hurricane are vulnerable to several types of injuries.
Here are the ten most common post-hurricane injury causes:
10. Repetitive Motion – Workers may be asked to work longer hours and do more labor intensive tasks than usual during the post-hurricane recovery process. Injuries from repetitive motions may be less obvious, but are often more harmful in the long run than a sudden, acute condition. Repetitive motions can lead to lasting and extremely painful damage, which may include back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and neck pain.
9. Machine Entanglement – Hurricane recovery often involves operating heavy machinery which presents an imminent threat of machine entanglement. Clothes, hair, shoes, and other things are often caught in machines, resulting in potentially serious and possibly permanent injuries.
8. Overexertion –The most common type of workplace injury resulting from pushing, pulling, lifting, holding, carrying, and other actions which cause someone to pull a muscle or sprain a joint. This is consistently the most common workplace injury, and following the daunting task of post-hurricane repairs and clean-up, the occurrence of this type of injury increases exponentially.
7. Slipping/Tripping –The sheer amount of debris following a hurricane can cause an unusual amount of tripping hazards. The prevalence of pooled water can present an increase in slipping hazards. Even the clean up and repair process can increase the occurrence of slipping and tripping hazards, for example, tripping over power cords used to operate tools and equipment. Accidents from slipping or tripping and falling can include broken bones, concussions, lacerations, and many more injuries.
6. Electrical Injuries – Downed power lines, damaged electrical systems and water infiltration into electrical systems are commonplace following a hurricane. Workers suffering electrical injuries are not necessarily those specifically working to repair electrical systems. Often damaged electrical systems are near areas where unsuspecting workers must perform clean up and other repairs. These injuries may cause neurological damage and are sometimes fatal.
5. Cuts and Lacerations – Workers removing damaged metal siding, metal roofing and those involved in repairs of these types of building materials may suffer deep cuts and lacerations while handling these materials. Use of hand tools such as axes and saws used to cut and remove vegetation often result in serious cuts and lacerations which in the more serious injuries, require surgical repair.
4. Falling Tree Limbs, Debris and Construction Repair Materials – Especially those involved in post-hurricane clean up and repair may be injured by falling tree branches/ limbs, roofing materials and tools. Repairs to roofs require storing materials and tools off the ground. Whenever anything is stored off the ground, there is a risk of it falling off its storage spot and landing on someone. These types of accidents cause head and neck injuries fairly often.
3. Chainsaw and Other Power Tool Injuries – Fallen trees resulting from a hurricane require use of chainsaws in order to reduce the fallen trees to manageable pieces for removal. Injuries from chainsaws are most often to the hands and arms. These injuries often involve deep lacerations and extreme injuries may even result in amputations, most often of the fingers.
2. Falls from Heights – As a result of post-hurricane damage to trees and roofs, a great deal of repairs after a hurricane must be performed at heights. Injuries from falls from roofs, ladders, scaffolds and other equipment used to perform work at heights is prevalent following a hurricane.
1. Motor Vehicle Accidents Due to Power Outages – Many traffic lights are rendered non-operational following a hurricane. While authorities advise that non-functional traffic lights should be treated as a four-way stop, not everyone heeds this advice and those unaware of the rule often cause motor vehicle accidents at these intersections.
If you have sustained any of these types of injury on the job, talk to a Miami workers’ compensation attorney about filing a claim! Even if you are a worker from out of town and you have already returned home, if you suffered a workplace injury, call Touby, Chait & Sicking, PL today at (305) 363-6400 for a free, no-obligation consultation!