Despite the important work utility workers do to ensure households have gas and power, they're often overlooked by the general public. Unfortunately, it's this inattention that often puts these workers at risk.
We take a look at the dangers utility workers face in their daily duties to raise awareness for both the workers and others who could help eliminate some of the unnecessary hazards. When utility workers suffer on-the-job injuries, they're entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical costs, but both workers and their employers would rather avoid the injury from the start.
Hazards Faced by Utility Workers May Surprise You
Most of us are aware that electrical workers have dangerous jobs. They risk electrical shock and electrocution on a regular basis as they install and repair power lines. They're also at risk for falls from heights as they work from basket cranes and climb poles.
Gas company workers face toxic exposure and the danger of explosions due to the volatile nature of various gases.
However, as dangerous as these hazards are, they're not the most common utility worker accidents. Here are some of the frequent incidents:
- Slips, trips, and falls. Utility workers are at various locations throughout the day. They may be called upon to visit a customer’s backyard, a power station, or to work along the roadside. All of these areas present trip and fall dangers. Walking through unfamiliar, uneven terrain, utility workers can easily step into a hole, trip on a hose or rake, or slip on wet grass or icy pavement. While these may not seem like serious accidents, workers can suffer broken limbs, head injuries, sprains, and strains that keep them from being able to meet the physical demands of the job.
- Traffic accidents. As utility workers drive from site to site, they risk being involved in a collision with another vehicle. Despite often driving highly-visible vehicles, the amount of time workers spend on the road during their shifts puts them at an increased risk of an accident. Crew members working on the roadside are also in danger of being hit by a passing car. These accidents can be fatal.
- Falls from ladders. It's essential that utility workers who regularly use ladders are trained in their safe use. Too often, employees are rushed to complete a job and don’t take adequate care when using a ladder. Most importantly, utility workers must be provided with the right ladder for the job they are doing. When setting up a ladder, they must find an even, stable surface to place the ladder on and make sure the rungs are dry and free of debris. A fall from even a 6-foot ladder can result in a devastating injury.
- Soft-tissue injuries. Due to the physical nature of their work, utility employees risk injury to cartilage, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. When their work exposes them to awkward postures, repetition, vibration, poorly-designed tools, and extreme temperatures, or involves bending, kneeling, twisting, reaching, and working overhead, utility personnel can suffer chronic soft-tissue injuries that can prevent them from working—sometimes permanently.
If you're a utility worker who was injured on the job in Kansas or Missouri, you're entitled to workers’ comp benefits to cover your immediate medical costs, future treatments or therapies, lost wages, and other damages.
Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim
After seeking medical care, the most important step following a workplace injury is to report it to your supervisor. Your employer should have injury report forms available to you. Don't skip this important step or you may jeopardize your claim for benefits.
If you are getting any pushback from your employer, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. We're here to help utility workers get the care they need to get back on the job. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.348.2616 to schedule your free consultation.