Many types of workplace injuries can lead to permanent impairments that will change or limit the things a victim can do when he eventually returns to work. Depending on your disability category, you may or may not be able to return to work, but if you do, you may need some assistance.
Whether there is a physical limitation, such as an inability to stand for long periods of time, or a sensory impairment, such as hearing or vision loss, the employee isentitled to accommodations for his new limitations whether he returns to his original place of employment or gets a new job. Workers are protected under both workers’ compensation law and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Debilitating Workplace Injuries
Even seemingly minor workplace injuries can change the types of tasks an employee can be expected to complete when returning to work. For example, a grocery store cashier suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome may not be able to continue to work at the check-out.
Here are the five most common workplace injuries and how they can affect job performance:
- Overexertion injuries. Injuries related to job duties such as lifting, carrying, holding, pushing, and throwing are the most commonly reported in workers’ compensation filings. When a worker suffers an injury from repeatedly performing one or more of these tasks, he may not be able to continue the same tasks when he returns to work after recovery.
- Slipping/tripping. Slipping on a wet floor or tripping over something placed on the floor leads to a large number of on-the-job injuries each year. When a worker trips and falls, he can suffer muscle strains, broken bones, and head injuries that could require a change in duty upon return to work.
- Falling from heights. These accidents are common in construction and manufacturing jobs and may cause serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, and broken bones. Workers returning to the job after suffering this type of fall might not be able to continue doing platform or scaffolding work due to physical limitations and a traumatic fear of heights.
- Reaction injuries. When a worker trips or slips, but manages to brace himself and prevent a fall, he can suffer from muscle strains and body trauma that could require physical therapy and avoidance of hazardous environments in the future.
- Falling object injuries. Workers in many industries can be injured by objects falling from shelves or platforms above them. These accidents often lead to head injuries, and returning workers need to protect themselves from re-injury by avoiding the environment or wearing protective gear.
When you recover sufficiently from a workplace injury and your workers’ comp doctor declares that you are fit to return to work, don't hesitate to request changes to your duties or work environment in order to accommodate any disabilities you suffer. In fact, you're given the right to do this by the ADA.
How the ADA Helps Injured Workers
While workers’ comp law doesn't require an employer to hold your job open for you while you recover from a workplace injury, the employer may be compelled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Stay in touch with your supervisor while you're recovering and make your desire to return to work clear.
When you return to work following a disabling workplace injury, you employer may not deny you a job based on your disability, and is required to help if you request specific reasonable accommodations, such as the following:
- Restructuring a job
- Modifying work schedules
- Acquiring or modifying equipment
- Providing qualified readers or interpreters
- Appropriately modifying examinations, training, or other programs
- Reassignment to a vacant position for which you're qualified
If an employer isn't willing to accommodate your disability, you may have a case for discrimination.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.