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Articles Posted in Occupational Injuries/Diseases

Many people are familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) as a condition caused by repetitive stress injuries such as working with vibrating tools, heavy manual labor, and even less impactful but repeated movements such as typing. Within these categories, carpal tunnel syndrome is often a workplace injury. What is less well known, however, is traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome that can be triggered by a single injury to the hand or wrist from an event such as a motor vehicle collision, a sports injury, or a slip-and-fall injury.

traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome in general results from compressing the median nerve where it passes through the wrist in the passage known as the “carpal tunnel.” This compression of the nerve can result in pain, tingling (paresthesias), and numbness in the fingers — thumb, index finger, middle finger, and part of the ring finger — and parts of the hand that are served by the median nerve, and in chronic or severe cases even much more serious symptoms such as muscle wasting. (There are also some non-trauma causes of CTS including arthritis, diabetes, certain drug reactions, or growths within the wrist — these can cause the same pressure on the median nerve that is associated with single traumatic and repetitive injury causes.)

Traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome — as well as the non-traumatic versions — is generally diagnosed based upon the reported symptoms and certain classic “signs” for the disease. Phalen’s Maneuver, for example, involves flexing the wrist and holding it in position — when pain or numbness appears within one minute in the fingers innervated by the median nerve, it is considered a positive sign, and the fast the symptoms appear the “more positive” the result is considered to be. Another test involves Tinel’s Sign in which the skin is gently tapped over the ligament band that forms part of the carpal tunnel. If this produces pain or tingling in the fingers of the median nerve distrution, the test is positive. Electrodiagnostic testing that examines the conductivity of the median nerve may often be used to confirm a suspected case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a relatively recent name for related conditions that have been known by other names in the past, such as “reflex sympathetic dystrophy” (RSD) and “causalgia.” What was often referred to as RSD in the past is now more commonly known as “CRPS-I,” and what was called causalgia is now more typically referred to as “CRPS-II.” Other names have included reflex neurovascular dystrophy, algoneurodystrohpy, sympathetically maintained pain, and Sudek’s syndrome. As might be guessed from the many names for these associated conditions, they are complicated and often not well-understood. They generally involve trauma to the peripheral nerves and have symptoms involving the sympathetic nervous system.

complex regional pain syndrome
Both versions of complex regional pain syndrome can result from trauma such as from motor vehicle collisions, sports injuries, and workplace injuries.

CRPS-I or RSD, can result from even very minor injuries, with no apparent nerve damage — in many cases people may not even recall a specific traumatic event when the complex regional pain syndrome symptoms show up weeks or months later. Fractured limbs, contusions, and even minor surgical procedures can result in the onset of CRPS-I symptoms, which often include a severe burning pain in the limb that is made worse with movement or by touching the limb. Other symptoms can include increased sweating and skin temperature in the affected area, and sometimes swelling. Long term symptoms can include skin constriction and reduced temperature in the limb. The skin, soft tissues and bone can atrophy, and the bone may develop osteoporosis.

craneSomething about crane accidents capture the imagination and horror of many.  When a tragic crane accident occurs, it is often front page news, perhaps because it results in dramatic images of property damage, sometimes way up in a city’s skyline.  But the severe injuries and deaths that can occur in such a situation make an accident involving a crane something not to be ogled, but avoided at all costs.  Construction workers account for a disproportionate percentage of work-related fatalities yearly and are substantially more likely to receive serious injuries when compared to employees in other industries.

After a series of crane accidents making the news, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a program aimed at reducing significant injuries and deaths related to the operation of cranes in general industry, construction and maritime operations in the Pacific Northwest.  And to improve compliance with its program, OSHA conducted compliance inspections, training, consultations on-site, and outreach programs.  They also formed partnerships and alliances to help improve crane safety.

The guidelines that OSHA established in order to help prevent crane accident are as follows:

forklift
Forklift accidents are a major cause of workforce injuries, especially in industrial warehouses.  We will examine some of the major causes of forklift-related accidents and injuries and discuss how to prevent them.

Preventing Tip-Overs

A forklift, especially when loaded, can be top-heavy.  An inexperienced or inattentive driver can make a move that results in the heavy vehicle to begin to tip.  When that occurs, many drivers respond with an instinctual reaction to jump from the truck.  This scenario is one of the leading causes of significant forklift-related injuries.  The forklift, which can weigh several tons, or some part of the forklift can land on the driver who has jumped from the truck.  This often results in severe injuries or death.

A pedestrian is injured every 8 minutes in the United States.  As a Sacramento Pedestrian Accident attorney for many years, I have handled hundreds of pedestrian injury cases.

In every case, a quick investigation of the scene is necessary. The accident scene may have tire tracks that show the vehicle’s direction of travel, skid marks as well as debris that can show the point of impact. There may be parts of the car still present such as broken headlights or mirrors and these should be collected. Road markings should be measured and photographed.

The direction the pedestrian traveled should also be photographed  and measured. Any blood on the pavement should be photographed and measured.

Proving Liability

An important factor in any personal injury claim is proving “liability” — showing who caused an injury and how that happened. In some types of claims, proving liability is fairly straightforward. For example, if a motorist is stopped at a red light and is injured when hit from behind by another driver, it’s relatively obvious who caused the injury and how they did it. In other situations, however, this can be much more challenging. Slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall injury claims are often much more difficult situations in which to prove liability and show how a “defective condition” of some sort caused the incident. One difficulty is in understanding how and why the injured person ended up in a situation where the defect caused him or her to slip or trip. This is where the element of human factors in personal injury claims becomes very important.Short_Leg_Walking_Cast

The “Human” Factors in Personal Injury Claims

Truck Backing Accidents are preventable.

Statistics show that 25% of all trucking accidents involve backing up. Backing is an almost daily activity for most truck drivers and almost all of these accidents are preventable.

The standard of care is that a trucker should get out of the vehicle and scrutinize the area before backing. He should make sure he has room to maneuver and check for obstacles on all sides.

Classification of Burn Injuries

Burn injuries to the skin and flesh can be caused by several things, including chemicals, heat, friction, electricity, and radiation. There are different classification systems that describe the severity of a burn, with the most familiar one describing the “degree” of the burn. This includes:

  • A “first-degree” burn that only injuries the superficial layers of the skin;

Sleepiness is just as risky to a driver as is drinking and driving. Bring sleepy is dangerous to the driver and to the other people driving, biking or walking on the road. Just like alcohol, being sleepy slows the driver’s reaction time, decreases one’ awareness of one’s surroundings, increases the risk of having an accident, and impairs one’s judgment.header3

Investigators find it impossible to prove with certainty that an accident was caused by sleepy driving, especially in a fatality; however, there are several clues to look for at the scene of the crash that can tell the investigators that sleep was a factor. For example, if only one vehicle was involved, if the injuries are fatal or if there is suspicious lack of evasive maneuvers or skid marks.

In alcohol-related collisions, at least there can be blood or breath testing to show causality; in sleep-related crashes, no such objective test exists and police officers must make an educated guess as t0 what caused the crash. There are several definitions of the term sleepy. Common terms are drowsy, tired or exhausted; even “sleep-deprived’ can be a proper term.

Although the dangers of exposure to asbestos fibers has now been well-known for many years, the several different diseases that may result may not be. In addition to malignant mesothelioma — a cancer that appears in the mesothelial tissues lining the lungs, peritoneum, pericardium, and chest cavity — other cancers of the lungs, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract have also been connected to asbestos. Asbestos fiber inhalation is also the direct cause of asbestosis, a condition in which the lung tissues become increasingly scarred, seriously reducing lung function.

Malignant mesothelioma is a very devastating diagnosis — most people diagnosed with this cancer die within 12 months of receiving their diagnosis. This is not to say victims of this disease should be without hope. For example, famous scientist Stephen Jay Gould lived for more than 20 years after his mesothelioma diagnosis, eventually succumbing to an unrelated condition. While certainly grim, malignant mesothelioma diagnoses are still relatively rare.

Non-mesothelioma cancers resulting from asbestos exposure are much more variable in survival rates. However, these cancers share a common trait with mesotheliomas — a long period of “latency” between exposure and disease diagnosis. These types of cancers have a somewhat shorter latency period than mesothelioma, in the range of 15 to 30 years.

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