Work-related crush injuries are painful, traumatic, and can be life-changing.
Each year around 125,000 workers sustain crush injuries. A crush injury occurs when the body is stuck by an object, is caught between two objects, or is entangled in machinery. These hazards are also known as pinch points. The force exerted on the body caught between two objects can vary and cause injuries that range from mild bruising and scrapes to mangling, amputation, and even death.
Crush injuries are among the most serious types of injuries that a St. Louis worker can experience.
There are a wide range of injuries that can occur when a body part becomes caught in these pinch points. Bruises and cuts are the least severe of these injuries, but they can be as serious as mangled or amputated body parts, bone trauma, damage to internal organs and blood vessels, or even death. In addition to the physical injuries that can be sustained, victims can suffer psychological trauma as well that must be addressed and treated.
Crush injuries are painful, traumatic, and can be life-changing. Severe crush injuries can impact the rest of your life, impede your ability to perform daily activities, and might leave you unable to return to your job. Workers who use heavy machinery as part of their daily work can be more susceptible to crush injuries. Forklifts, trucks, powered doors, conveyor belts, and rotating shafts are frequently the cause of these injuries.
Working with heavy equipment like this can be dangerous, but there are safety measures that should always be in place, and guards should be used. Workers should always receive proper training and be wearing the right clothing – it is the job of employers to make sure that this happens. And employers are responsible for ensuring that the environment in which workers perform their duties is reasonably safe and that the equipment is also safe and well-maintained.
If you experience a crush injury at work, you may be limited to workers’ compensation benefits, but in some cases, there are other options as well. Contact a St. Louis workers’ compensation lawyer who can help to assess the circumstances of your case and determine what the best course of action will be. Even if workers’ compensation benefits are your only option, working with an experienced attorney will maximize your chances of getting the full compensation to which you are entitled.
Workers’ compensation should cover medical expenses and lost wages. Sometimes vocational training can be covered as well if you are unable to return to your job. Obtaining the maximum compensation and other assistance that you can get is a necessary component of receiving treatment and moving forward with your life.
In some cases, the involvement of a third party in causing the accident means that you can hold that party responsible in civil court. You can ask for damages relating to pain and suffering, which are not covered under workers’ compensation, and damages relating to reduced earning capacity.
Common Causes of a Crush Injury
Crush injuries can occur in several workplace scenarios including:
- Being struck or pinned between two objects, such as two motor vehicles or a piece of metal
- Being hit by a falling object, such as a large piece of equipment falling off scaffolding
- Collapsing structures, such as buildings on construction sites
- Being run over by machinery or equipment
- Defects in machinery
- Limbs caught in machinery
- Machinery or equipment tipping over and catching the employee
These types of work-related injuries can occur in any industry. However, they are most commonly reported in production, construction, and manufacturing.
Types of Injuries From a Crush Injury
Crush injuries can be catastrophic. When a worker’s body is crushed between two objects, muscle cells may begin to die almost immediately. Three possible mechanisms can cause the cells to die, which include lysis, vascular compromise, or ischemia.
The most common injuries sustained by a worker who gets caught in between two objects at the workplace include:
- Muscle damage
- Nerve damage
- Damage to skin tissue
- Severing of limbs
- Compartment syndrome
- Broken bones
- Need for limb amputation
- Organ damage
The severity of the injury depends on the amount of force of the crush, the length of time the worker is crushed or stuck between the objects, and the body part involved. A crush accident often involves hands, feet, arms, legs, and extremities. However, any part of the body can get injured.
Workers’ Compensation for a Crush Injury
Like other workplace injuries, crush injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. A crush injury frequently leads to disability, which is often severe, and there is a high chance of complications, including infection, blood clots, swelling, heart problems, and the need for amputation. Injured workers may also have to face emotional consequences that range from depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Crush injuries can leave the worker devastated and disabled for a lifetime. Depending on the severity of the injury, the worker may never be able to return to work and may require a lifetime of care.
What to Do if a Co-Worker Experiences a Crush Injury
Call for Help
The first thing you need to do is call for help. If you have a co-worker trained in first aid, or if there is a nearby office with a nurse or doctor, send them to get help. Otherwise, call 911 and describe the situation to the operator.
Assess the Situation
Once help is on the way, take a quick assessment of the situation. Is the victim bleeding? Are they trapped beneath a heavy object? Are they conscious and breathing? This information will be important for rescuers when they arrive.
Don’t Move the Victim
Unless the victim is in immediate danger, you generally should not try to move them. Moving a crush injury victim can cause further damage, and it’s best to leave them under trained professionals’ care.
Comfort the Victim
Once you’ve called for help and assessed the situation, do what you can to comfort the victim. If they are conscious, talk to them and let them know help is on the way. If they are unconscious, keep them still and monitor their breathing.
Safety in the Workplace
Since workplace injuries can happen anytime and anywhere, all employees need basic first aid training. Knowing what to do in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death. Some of the basic first-aid steps that everyone should know are:
- How to call for help in an emergency
- How to assess a situation and victim
- What to avoid in an emergency
- How to comfort a victim
Other than these steps, there are some basic safety precautions that all employees should take to prevent injuries in the workplace. Some of these include:
- Being aware of your surroundings and knowing where the exits are
- Keeping your work area clean and free of clutter
- Wearing proper clothing and shoes for the job
- Using proper safety equipment when necessary
Following these basic safety tips can help create a safe workplace for everyone. And in the event of an emergency, you’ll be prepared to handle it.
St. Louis Workers Compensation Attorney
At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann, we have a strong history of helping injured workers get the medical attention and financial compensation they need. We are based in St. Louis, but we handle workers’ compensation cases throughout the State of Missouri. Please call (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online contact form.
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photo credit: ericmerrill