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Council Bluffs Workers' Compensation Law Blog

What are the most common types of Iowa workplace fatalities?

As an Iowa worker, you naturally are concerned about workplace safety. The bad news, however, is that Iowa is experiencing an increase in workplace fatalities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 76 Iowa workers died in 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available. This was an increase from 60 work-related fatalities in 2015.

The top three categories of on-the-job fatalities were the following:

  1. Transportation accidents: 36 deaths, up from 19 the previous year
  2. Falls, trips and slips: 15 deaths, unchanged from the previous year
  3. Equipment and object accidents: 11 deaths, up from six the previous year

Construction season ramping up again

It was a long, cold winter for residents in Iowa and across much of the United States. Now that spring is here, construction season will soon begin. As you know, construction’s busy season can also mean an increase in the risk of accidents on the job. At the Law Offices of Gallner & Pattermann, P.C., we are prepared to answer your questions about workers’ compensation after a construction injury.

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported there were 991 deaths among construction workers across the country in 2016. This accounted for 21.1 percent of all workplace fatalities, or one out of every five deaths in all industries. You do not need further proof that you work in a dangerous industry. When construction starts up again this season, you may want to be aware of the following dangers:

  • Falling from heights, including unstable scaffolding or unmarked trenches
  • Being struck by masonry, tools or other objects that were dropped from above
  • Getting pinned by moving machinery or heavy objects that have toppled over
  • Being trapped in a cave-in within an improperly braced trench
  • Electrocution from faulty power tools or electrical cables that were not de-energized
  • Getting hit by a construction vehicle

Back injuries at work can often be prevented

A back injury can bring your life to a grinding halt. It is important for workers to try to prevent them. There are steps that employees can take and there are some that fall on the employer. Working together can keep everyone in good shape.

Here are some points about back health and safety for you to remember if you are in a taxing job that puts strain on your back.

How can I manage my PTSD at work?

If you are an Iowa worker who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, you may worry that your PTSD symptoms could affect your job if they appear too often while you are at work. If you are a construction worker, your chances of this happening are greater than they are for people who work in less noisy occupations. Construction zones are notoriously noisy places that can make your life quite challenging when you have PTSD. Loud machinery mandates loud voices, and if one of your PTSD symptoms is general anxiety, this constant noise can cause you to overreact when an especially loud sudden noise occurs. such as a bursting water pipe, a shrieking table saw, a pounding nail gun or a sparking wire.

In addition, the very fact that you must constantly interact with numerous other people can increase your anxiety and result in inappropriate outbursts. For instance, if one of your co-workers drops a tool, instead of merely jumping like most people would, you may lash out at him. In other situations, what for most people would be a difference of opinion could for you become a heated argument.

Are you working in a hostile work environment?

If you are an Iowa worker who hates your job, it may be because you believe you are working in a hostile work environment. However, does your less than ideal workplace situation really rise to the level of a legally defined hostile work environment, particularly if you feel you are the victim of workplace sexual harassment?

FindLaw explains that workplace harassment based on race, religion, national origin or gender is forbidden by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Nevertheless, not all words, actions and/or events that take place in your workplace qualify as creating a hostile work environment.

Sexual harassment may contribute to long-term emotional harm

From workplace bullying to threats of physical harm, there are some behaviors at work that you should never have to endure. Sexual harassment is one of the most prevalent forms of unlawful behavior that is unfortunately common and can result in a toxic work environment. Our team at the Law Offices of Gallner & Pattermann, P.C., have spoken to numerous employees in Iowa who have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment at work, and we understand the repercussions that come from it.

Sexual harassment can take many forms and come from anyone you encounter at work – a manager, coworker, associate or customer. Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted behavior of a sexual nature, and may include comments, jokes, teasing, suggestions or touching that make you feel uncomfortable or threatened at work. It often involves subtle comments or actions that gradually increase over time. According to NBC News, ongoing sexual harassment at work can cause such psychological injuries as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Crushing injuries can ruin a construction career

There are many serious injuries that can happen at a construction site. One of these catastrophic mishaps is a crushing injury, which can happen in several situations. It is imperative that construction workers and their employers take the time to establish and follow appropriate safety guidelines to prevent crushing injuries.

Crushing injuries are serious for a few different reasons. They might lead to a condition known as compartment syndrome. Here are a few things to know about crush injuries:

Toxic exposure at work: what you should know

One or more workers in an Iowa factory begin to complain of dizziness, abdominal pain and difficulty breathing. The onset seems sudden and unexplainable. A supervisor starts to wonder whether the virus his kids had last week has come to his workplace. He sends the workers to the on-call nurse's office just before noticing a faint hint of chemicals in the air.

Chemical exposure, according to specialists at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, can cause all of the above symptoms and more. Vomiting, headaches, hives and seizures can also come from toxic exposure.

Accepting the possibility of psychological injury

Like many members of the Iowa workforce, you are probably more likely to keep your head down and focus on the task at hand than you are to speak up about emotional distress. At the Law Offices of Gallner & Pattermann, P.C., we believe in focus and determination: These attributes have the potential to support people through many hardships. However, we also believe that staying silent is not always the best option. Sometimes, it is better to speak up about how you feel.

We often find that our clients— especially those with life-altering injuries— have corresponding or derivative psychological damage. If you are like many Midwesterners, it might be difficult to even imagine admitting to feelings symptomatic of anxiety, depression or other severe emotional trauma. We find that our clients' resistance to admission is often compounded by the potential for argument by the opposing party in an injury lawsuit. You might imagine the stress of having your feelings debated in open court. However, we have seen many people reclaim their lives after receiving the compensation they need to obtain psychological therapy.

Does your profession place you at risk for work-related cancer?

If you work in an Iowa environment that exposes you to radiation or certain types of chemicals, dusts or industrial processes, you may have valid concerns about whether your job places you at risk for work-related cancer. Science and many studies suggest a clear link between workplace factors such as these and several different forms of cancer, and while many companies have adopted safety measures and precautions over time to alleviate risks, some remain, and others are likely not yet identified.

According to, about 4 percent of all cases of cancer in the United States have ties to work environments and conditions. Furthermore, certain industries and professions place Americans at higher risk of developing particular kinds of cancers. For example, many manufacturing jobs have ties to certain types of cancer. Rubber manufacturing is among them, and it is associated with leukemia, and plastic manufacturing is another, as there is a known tie between the field and liver cancer.

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