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Heat-related injury and death could warrant workers’ compensation

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

In New Jersey, when workers suffer injuries, conditions and death on the job, it is often believed to be due to an accident, being hit by an object or from repetitive use. However, weather conditions could also be a primary factor in the worker being ill or hurt. This should be assessed as part of a workers’ compensation claim. Employers are obligated to cover for wage loss, medical coverage and death benefits based on workers’ compensation law. Knowing the current situation in the Garden State and how to get and maximize the benefits may require professional help.

Investigations are centering on how the heat might harm New Jersey workers

There has been significant attention being paid to the record-breaking heat across the nation. In New Jersey, it is believed that workers became ill and died because of it. This is specifically related to Amazon warehouses, but other workers in various types of employment have been overcome by heat-related illness.

This has caused health problems and concerns for warehouse workers, postal employees, trash collectors and contractors. These are all physical jobs where the workers can be confronted with various injuries. The heat is putting them at greater risk. Advocates for workers are lamenting the potential for injury and death. This goes beyond pulling a muscle, injuring a back, falling and being hit by an object. Heat stroke and dehydration can lead to serious medical issues and death.

Employers are expected to ensure that their workers are in a safe environment. Amazon has been under scrutiny from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for how it treats its workers in general. The heat and its response to worker complaints is placing the company under a bigger microscope.

A New Jersey Amazon warehouse employee died during its heavily promoted “Prime Day” in July. The company asserts that the worker’s death was not connected to the hot weather. OSHA wants to implement policies that employers must adhere to in protecting workers from the heat. Still, it is a challenge to get anything of substance done.

Based on OSHA statistics in New Jersey from 2015 to 2020, there were a total of 32 heat-related injuries. Four people died between 2020 and 2021. Workers are being encouraged to understand their rights and take breaks as needed. Still, in labor-intensive jobs where time is a factor, employers could exert subtle pressure and try to flout the OSHA mandates and suggestions. Those who suffered injuries, illness or lost a loved one because of the heat should be fully cognizant of what they are entitled to under workers’ compensation laws.

Having help with the workers’ compensation process can be essential

For injured workers who need workers’ compensation benefits and family members left behind who are seeking death benefits, it is imperative to know their rights. Consulting with aggressive—yet compassionate—legal professionals who are well versed in all areas of workers’ compensation and know how to pursue a claim is key.

People are frequently unsure of how the workers’ compensation laws work. This is especially true when there was a fatality. They often do not even know there is an option for workers’ compensation death benefits.

Since insurers will try to save as much money on the claim as possible, it could lead to a denial of benefits, a disagreement as to the scope of the injuries and long-term disputes as to what is owed. With a fatality, this is exacerbated. Having guidance through the workers’ compensation process can be useful to get the benefits and maximize them. Calling for assistance as soon as possible can move forward with pursuing a claim and in trying to get an approval.