Garbage workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States—35% of garbage workers are affected by an injury each year. Garbage workers never know what type of refuse they might come in contact with and the act of disposing trash can lead to repetitive stress injuries. If you were injured while working in waste and sanitation, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
Types of Injuries That Garbage Workers Face
Repeatedly lifting heavy objects can lead to spinal damage and hernias. You may be able to reduce the number of injuries with proper lifting techniques, but performing the same tasks day after day will potentially lead to injuries.
Because residents can choose to dump anything in the garbage, you will always be at risk of being exposed to hazardous chemicals. You may lift garbage bags only to find that unknown chemicals seep through the bag and cause burns. Some garbage might contain organisms that can be pathogenic and infect a worker.
To some extent, contamination is unavoidable. However, you can wear work gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and boots to reduce your risk of contamination. While these articles of clothing may protect you from hazardous materials, they will do little to protect you from dangerous objects you might find inside such as a sharp piece of metal. Garbage workers are also often hit by other vehicles. When you are injured at work, you have every right to file a workers compensation claim.
The Workers Compensation Claim Process
Once you are injured, always tell your employer as soon as possible. If you do not inform them about the injury, you might be accused of not being as injured as you claim. The employer will file a claim to their workers' compensation insurance provider. While you are allowed to see a treating physician of your choice, you must also see a physician chosen by your insurance provider.
Unfortunately, many workers compensation claims are denied because:
- Your employer might suspect that you're not injured
- The claims adjuster may suspect that you're not injured
- The insurance provider has not received enough medical documents
Because of these challenges, make sure to contact a workers' compensation lawyer and take all the steps necessary to make sure that your workers' compensation claim will be approved as soon as possible.
You may also find that one of several parties involved in your case believes it's time to go back to work. Make sure to work with a workers' compensation lawyer to help prove that you are still injured and need benefits.