Injured on the job in an office?
Our Macon, GA work injury lawyers can help ensure you that your rights are protected.
577 Mulberry St, Suite 600
Macon, GA 31201-8242
8:30am – 5:30pm (M-F)
Closed Saturday & Sunday
Attorneys available on weekends by appointment
Most people don’t consider an office to be a dangerous work environment, particularly when you compare it to other workplaces such as construction sites, warehouses and hospitals. However, office workers across Georgia experience different types of dangers that result in injuries and illnesses. Unfortunately, many of these office-related work injuries are unreported for various reasons. Rather than seek the workers’ compensation benefits that they are entitled to, injured office workers often fail to file a claim with their employer and instead choose to pay for their medical bills out of their own pocket.
At the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, our Macon injury attorneys can help secure the maximum workers’ compensation benefits available to you and your family. For the last 50 years, we’ve represented hundreds of injured workers in Macon-Bibb County and throughout the state of Georgia. We can help you take the right steps and negotiate on your behalf. We have the experience, knowledge and commitment to see your claim through to the end. We’ll secure the best possible outcome.
Top work-related office injuries
Here are a few of the most common office-related injuries and what you can do to prevent them:
- Repetitive stress injuries. Not all workplace injuries happen in a traumatic accident; some occur gradually over time and are the result of repetition. Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are progressive conditions, meaning the pain and discomfort worsens over time if not treated. A couple of the most common RSI-related conditions experienced by office workers are carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Be sure to use all equipment and tools your employer provides to reduce the strain and stress on your body, and take frequent breaks.
- Back injuries. Chronic low back pain is an especially common problem reported by office workers. Doing exercises and stretching to open up your hips can help alleviate some discomfort and tightness. Investing in ergonomic equipment and standing desks can also help minimize the strain put on your back caused by prolonged stationary periods. If you need to lift something heavy, remember to keep your back straight, lift with your legs and avoid twisting movements.
- Neck and shoulder injuries. Sitting might seem like a harmless activity, but prolonged periods of sitting can cause strain on your neck and shoulders by decreasing blood flow and aggravating your muscles and tendons. In addition to strengthening exercises, take regular breaks to stretch these muscles, correct your posture and adjust your workspace to be more ergonomic.
- Head and brain injuries. Whether caused when a person slips on a wet floor and bangs their head or when an object falls from a high shelf and strikes a person in the head, traumatic injuries to the head and brain (TBI) can be especially severe and require extensive medical treatment. Be watchful of your surroundings at all times in an office, and visit a doctor immediately if you hit your head (or get hit in the head).
- Eye strain. Staring at a computer screen all day can strain your eyes, leading to headaches, blurred vision and discomfort. While you may not be able to avoid the computer depending on your job, you can help reduce strain on your eyes by taking frequent breaks (try focusing on something in the distance for a few seconds), improving the lighting around your desk and adjusting the monitor to make it easier to read.
Office work injuries: common causes and statistics
According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job every 7 seconds in the U.S. That amounts to 540 work injuries per hour, 12,900 work injuries per day and a staggering 7 million work injuries per year.
And these are just the known work injuries.
A great many injured workers do not report their accidents for various reasons, meaning that they never receive the medical care or financial compensation they need to fully recover. These workplace accidents and injuries happen in all industries and across every profession — even jobs that are traditionally thought of as “safe” such as office work.
The most common causes of office accidents and injuries include:
- Slip and fall. Slip, trip and falls are by far the most common office accidents, and they’re responsible for causing the most disabling injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), office workers are up to 2.5 times more likely to be disabled from a fall than non-office workers. Disabling slip and fall injuries can be caused by wet and slippery floors, insufficient lighting, using a chair instead of a ladder to reach for something, and tripping over an electrical cord, furniture, loose carpeting or clutter on the floor.
- Non-ergonomic desks and workstations. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for 34 percent of all workplace injuries and over $15 billion in workers’ compensation costs each year. Sadly, many of these claims could have been prevented simply by adapting ergonomic desks, workstations, tools and equipment to reduce the stress on an office worker’s body. Sitting in an awkward position, straining your neck or wrist to use a computer and repetitive movements can put pressure on your tendons and ligaments over time, resulting in debilitating and painful occupational conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia and tendonitis.
- Workplace violence. Violence in the workplace is surprisingly common in the U.S., and it’s responsible for many non-fatal and fatal workplace injuries each year. In 2010 alone, 506 people were killed as a result of workplace homicide — over 11 percent of the total number of work-related deaths that year (4,547). When arguments and fights escalate in the office, serious injuries may result.
- Improper lifting. When heavy boxes of files or equipment are moved around an office, a worker may strain a muscle or overexert themselves while trying to lift it, especially if the object is stored in a high, difficult-to-reach location. Even seemingly lightweight objects such as a computer or small stack of paper can cause an injury to your shoulder, back or neck if not done correctly. In addition to supplying training on proper lifting techniques, your employer should provide workers’ compensation for any injury on the job that results from lifting or overexertion.
- Sedentary conditions. Office workers who are required to sit in a chair for hours on end and who aren’t permitted to take breaks may develop debilitating chronic back and neck pain over time, particularly in the low back region. According to a 2010 National Health Interview Survey, more than a quarter (25.7 percent) of all workers suffer from low back pain.
- Improperly stacked boxes or materials. When heavy boxes, printers, cubicles or other office materials fall over, an unsuspecting office worker can be crushed underneath.
- Loud noises. Office workers play an important role in many industries, and some jobs may require office staff to be around loud noises. In addition to causing gradual hearing loss over time, data suggests that workers who are regularly exposed to noise levels of 100 decibels or more (about the noise level standing next to a running lawn mower) have double the risk of being hospitalized for a workplace injury. According to the CDC, approximately 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous levels of occupational noise annually, making it the most common work-related illness in the U.S.
- Highly combustible materials. Most offices are full of highly combustible materials such as paper that can quickly catch fire. When a company or office manager fails to equip the office with working fire extinguishers and a fire breaks out, office workers can be severely burned as a result.
- Toxic fumes and chemicals. In small offices with poor ventilation, the air can become toxic and dangerous to employees’ health over time. These toxins can leach into the workspace from building materials, cleaning agents, mold, radon, ink and toner and other sources. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has reported an increasing number of investigations involving indoor toxins in recent years. Indoor air quality complaints now represent 80 to 90 percent of the agency’s current caseload (compared to only 6 percent in 1980). Hazardous fumes in the workplace can give rise to occupational illnesses and diseases that impact a person’s lungs, respiration, nervous system and internal organs.
Workers’ compensation benefits for office workers in Macon, Georgia
Some office injuries are minor and you can still do your job while you recover. However, serious office accidents may cause you to miss days, or even weeks, of work depending on the severity of your injury and what the doctor recommends.
In these cases, it’s important to consult with an experienced work injury lawyer near you to ensure that you’re receiving the full amount of compensation owed to you under Georgia law — including disability and lost wage benefits.
Under state law, most employers with 3 or more full-time, part-time or seasonal employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance.
What’s more, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that injured workers can receive these benefits regardless of who’s to blame for the injury or illness.
Office workers who are injured or ill due to job-related activities are generally entitled to the following workers’ compensation benefits:
- Medical bills. Workers’ comp should cover all of your necessary medical expenses related to treating your occupational injury or illness, including surgery, exams, hospital/doctor visits, therapy, treatment, medication, etc. Most employers in Georgia have a list of 6 approved doctors (the “panel of physicians”) that the injured worker must receive treatment from.
- Lost wages. Generally, wage loss (indemnity) benefits compensate an injured worker for up to two-thirds of their weekly salary before the injury occurred. When a worker gets hurt on the job, they typically fall into 1 of 4 categories of disability under Georgia law:
- Temporary partial disability (TPD) — when a person can return to light work or a modified version of the job they worked before an accident
- Temporary total disability (TTD) — when a person is unable to work for at least 7 days
- Permanent partial disability (PPD) — when a person is injured with permanent damage but has some capacity to still work
- Permanent total disability (PTD) — when a medical professional declares that your medical treatment is complete and nothing else can be done to correct the damage connected to your workplace injury
- Travel reimbursement. If you need to travel in order to receive medical treatment, workers’ compensation benefits should cover these costs as well.
- Vocational training and rehabilitation. In the event that you’re so seriously injured that you’re unable to return to your previous work, you may be entitled to benefits to help pay for job placement and career retraining services.
- Death benefits. If your loved one was killed in a fatal office accident or due to an occupational illness, then you may also be entitled to fatal workers’ compensation benefits to reimburse you for funeral and burial expenses.
What to do after a work-related office injury
Though you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits following an office accident or injury, they won’t be given to you automatically. You’ll have to take the proper steps and swift action to secure your right to recovery. For starters, it’s important to know that there is a deadline (statute of limitations) for workers’ compensation claims.
However, before you do that, you must look after your health and well-being by seeking immediate medical care if the injury is an emergency. If the injury is not an emergency, be sure to notify your employer within 30 days, according to Georgia statutes (but the earlier the better). Telling a coworker or your spouse doesn’t count; you’ll need to report the incident to a manager, supervisor or a human resources (HR) person. Your employer should provide you with the forms and resources you’ll need to file a claim, including a list of “authorized” doctors (known as the “panel of physicians”).
Next, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a doctor listed on your employer’s Panel of Physicians. Be sure to tell them honestly how and when the injury or illness arose, and be truthful about how it is impacting your life. Follow any treatment recommendations and take any prescriptions they give you.
After you’ve received medical attention, you’ll need to file a workers’ compensation claim. At this point, we recommend consulting with a knowledgeable work injury lawyer to ensure that you’ve taken all the proper steps and secure the maximum possible claim settlement. At the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, we can help you file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer, appeal a denied claim and determine your rights to recovery.
“Great staff. Very professional and knowledgeable. Staff went out of their way to accommodate us in every way possible. Made the whole process less painful. They made sure we understood everything that was going on and would answer any questions a hundred times over if needed.”
The resources needed to win
Unlike some work injury attorneys who settle all of their cases, we are not afraid to appeal a denied claim if needed. Our firm has the resources needed to thoroughly prepare, try and win complicated cases.
We are dedicated to doing everything legally and ethically possible to obtain the best results for our injured clients. Hard work and dedication have allowed us to recover millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients in workers’ compensation and personal injury claims.
Injured in the office? Our attorneys can help.
If you or a loved one were injured while working in an office or anywhere else in Georgia, it’s time you fully understood your rights and responsibilities. Our Macon attorneys can explain what steps to take next and help protect your rights before it’s too late. Let us help you file a work injury claim and secure the maximum workers’ compensation benefits owed to you. If your benefits were unfairly denied, we’ll fight to appeal the decision and help hold any negligent third party accountable for your pain and suffering.
If you have questions, give us a call or contact us online for your free consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer. From offices in Macon, Albany and Warner Robins, we help injured workers throughout Georgia. Don’t settle for less, get more.