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Workers' compensation: Claims after amputation can be challenging

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations to a lumber mill in another state with facilities in South Carolina after an investigation into a workplace accident. The victim is likely entitled to seek assistance with the medical expenses by filing benefits claims with the workers' compensation program of his state. According to OSHA, this is not the first amputation injury suffered at this company that employs 300 workers at facilities in four states.

The incident occurred on June 29 last year, following two similar injuries in Jan. and April 2015. Investigators said, despite knowledge of the dangers posed by unguarded equipment, the company continued to expose employees to working machine parts. Along with failing to teach workers how to isolate energy to equipment during maintenance and cleaning operations, many machines were found lacking lockout/tagout devices.

OSHA issued 14 citations for safety violations -- seven of which were serious. Included were violations of the rules prescribing guards to be placed over working machine parts to prevent contact. Other violations included electrical hazards and ladder-related fall hazards.

Amputation injuries could be debilitating, and even if it is only the tip of a finger that is lost, it may permanently prevent a worker from performing normal duties. The workers' compensation insurance program will consider any level of disability when benefits claims are filed. Along with medical expenses and lost income, the injured victim may seek additional disability compensation. However, this is where the claims process becomes complicated, and the help of an experienced South Carolina workers' compensation attorney may be necessary to obtain full benefits.

Source: wausaudailyherald.com, "Marathon lumber mill faces $260,000 OSHA fine", Arielle Hines, Dec. 29, 2016

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