American employees across all industries face all types of hazards in their workplaces, but some working environments are inherently more dangerous than others. For example, construction sites, refineries, and factories are some of the most dangerous work environments in the United States. Workers who operate in these industries face some of the most severe workplace risks of all American employees. Thus, when it comes to what kinds of hazards workers face in factories, it’s vital to consider several aspects of factory work, including the environment, the equipment necessary for most factory operations, and the various substances factory workers encounter daily.
Factory Environment Risks
Factories generally handle basic manufacturing processes. For example, some refine raw materials to be used in production, others perform fabrication processes and generate basic components, others perform assembly line operations to create finished products. In all of these factories, the workers performing their job duties must contend with various environmental risks. For example, many factories have multiple floors of workspace. This inherently creates a falling risk for some workers. In addition, the factory itself may experience extreme temperatures in some places, exposing workers to extreme heat and cold.
Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure a reasonably safe workplace for employees and to provide their employees with the tools and safety equipment they need to perform their job duties as safely as possible. Employers also have a legal responsibility to uphold applicable regulations and address known safety issues promptly when they arise.
Factory work often requires handling, moving, manipulating, and using various chemicals and substances, which may be harmful to workers’ health. In any hazardous material handling position, the worker must have access to the safety equipment they need to do their job safely. This equipment may include specialized tools and personal protective equipment such as heavy-duty jumpsuits, gloves, boots, eye protection, and respirators.
Workers in factories who are exposed to dangerous chemicals may experience a wide range of adverse health effects. Some may suffer debilitating medical conditions like cancer, while others suffer injuries to their eyes, ears, lungs, and various internal organs. Dangerous substances can cause acute injuries very suddenly, such as chemical burns, but they may also cause medical damage gradually over time, such as substances that cause cancer with repeated exposure.
Factories require substantial amounts of electricity, and even minor electrical hazards are capable of causing severe or even deadly electrocutions. Therefore, factory operators need to pay close attention to their electrical power usage and promptly address any safety issues with their electrical systems. In addition, electrocution is extremely painful and capable of causing burns, nerve damage, cardiovascular interruptions, and death. Therefore, it’s crucial for employers to properly mark all areas where electrical hazards are present, provide workers with the safety equipment they need to use around electrical hazards, and address known electrical hazards immediately.
Many factories are huge and allow for specialized vehicles to operate indoors. For example, forklifts, loaders, and even conveyance vehicles like golf carts are used in many factories throughout the United States. Specialized factory vehicles can cause many of the same injuries that occur when a standard motor vehicle hits a pedestrian, such as crushing injuries, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal injuries. However, due to the specialized nature of most vehicles found inside of factories, the injuries suffered by workers involved in factory vehicle accidents are often quite severe or even life-threatening.
Machine and Heavy Equipment Injuries
Factory work often requires the use of various specialized machines. Hydraulic presses, assembly machines, drills, and various machining tools are standard in many American factories. When these devices are poorly maintained or improperly used, severe injuries are likely to result. Some machine injuries can result in amputations or other catastrophic injuries that lead to permanent disabilities for the victim. If you recently sustained a severe injury from a machine or piece of heavy equipment in a factory, you may have several legal options for recovering your damages.
While most people know that hardhats are required on construction sites, they are also required in many factories. Depending on the operations occurring within a factory, there could be many head injury risks for workers. Falling tools, debris, and other objects can easily cause traumatic brain injuries, some of which may be fatal. Employees should adhere to all safety standards regarding head protection inside their factories, and their employers must ensure that everyone has the safety equipment they need to limit the risk of traumatic brain injuries occurring.
What Happens After a Factory Injury?
If you or a loved one suffered an injury while working in a factory, you likely have grounds to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation exists to provide economic relief to Americans injured while performing their job duties. Even if they mistakenly cause their own injuries, they are still entitled to claim workers’ compensation. After experiencing any injury while working in a factory, the injured employee should immediately report the incident to their supervisor and seek medical treatment. The supervisor must provide the employee with the materials necessary for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
North Carolina law requires all employers with at least three employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you were injured in a factory, your employer likely meets this requirement and must provide you with the claim form so you can file for benefits. You will need to undergo a medical examination from a doctor approved by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. This doctor will assign you a disability rating based on the severity of your injury. This rating will determine how much you can expect to receive in workers’ compensation benefits and the length of time your benefit payments will continue.
It’s natural to have legal questions after experiencing a factory injury, and your employer may not be as forthcoming as they should with the assistance and materials you need to file for workers’ compensation. If you or a loved one recently suffered an injury while working in a North Carolina factory, M. Reid Acree, Jr., can provide the legal counsel you need to confidently approach the recovery process. Contact our team today to learn more about how we can assist you after a factory injury.