Slip-and-fall workplace accidents among the most common and most dangerous injuries facing North Carolina workers

Our Asheville workers compensation attorneys have been following a Greeley, Colo. workers compensation case involving Wal-Mart and a self-employed trucker who slipped and fell in a grease slick in the parking lot caused by an overflow from the retail store’s deli department. Late last week she was awarded $15 million for her injuries, which is believed to be one of the largest awards in U.S. history for this type of claim, the Greeley Tribune reports.

The 41-year-old Cheyenne, Wyo. woman slipped on ice and grease during a 2007 delivery and seriously injured her back, which ultimately required three spine surgeries. She racked up more than $500,000 in medical bills and the truck she lived in was repossessed because she was unable to return to work. Wal-Mart is considering an appeal. Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of the case happened shortly after the workplace accident occurred. When the victim attempted to report the incident to a Wal-Mart employee, the employee refused to take her report.

In 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, of more than 1.2 million workplace injuries or illness reported and requiring time away from work across private, state and local government environments, more than 270,000 workers nationwide were injured in slip-and-fall and slipping-without-falling accidents while on the job. Recuperation time from injuries averaged 8 to 13 days away from work.

In fact, the National Institute of Health reports that in 2002, work-related slip-and-fall accidents were considered a “major threat” that compromised both worker safety and personal health. And, that despite there often being some degree of contributory negligence on the part of the injured worker, “there is often an action the property owner/management could have executed to reduce/prevent the severity of the fall”.

The NIH report also noted that falling on a level plane and falling to a lower level were cited as two of the top five causes for a worker missing five or more days of work. And that such injuries had a direct cost of $4.6 billion in medical bills and compensation to injured workers.

The National Safety Council recommends workers and employers follow four basic steps to address slip-and-fall prevention:

~ Wear appropriate footwear for the workplace terrain. Consider wearing non-skid “safety” soled shoes. Walk – don’t run – and firmly plant your foot at each step.

~ Look for surface area hazards – ice, liquid, grease, clutter. While spilled or leaked substances poses their own unique hazard, more than 30 percent of falls are due to a poorly-maintained walkway.

~ If you see a hazard, avoid it. Walking around a spill will also help prevent it from spreading.

~ If you happen upon an unsafe spot, let people know and get the area cleaned up or cordoned off as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a North Carolina slip-and-fall work-related accident, the Spartanburg workers’ compensation attorneys with Lee & Smith are here to help. Call us at 1-800-887-1965 or contact our law offices online today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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