I’m Brian Ricci, an attorney representing paper mill workers across all of North Carolina. There’s no arguing the fact that North Carolina paper mills are inherently dangerous places to work at the best of times. Moving around everything from wood pulp to finished rolls of paper comes with risks that are usually minimized through the use of safety gear and proper training. But when the mill fails to do either of these things, or doesn’t engage in proper maintenance of the machinery, an accident can happen to an employee. A work-related injury received by an employee on the clock can trigger a workers’ compensation claim, but that may not be enough to cover all the bills.
The Types of Injuries a Paper Mill Worker is at Risk of Sustaining
Processing wood pulp into its finished paper form requires heavy machinery, chemicals and heat. The potential for an injury is strong from start to finish. Wood chips are brought in by front end loaders and poured into processing equipment for pulping. The act of turning wood chips into pulp requires machinery, high heat, boiling water and chemicals to get the paper into a workable form. High heat by itself is a hazard, but add steam into that and the potential for injury increases greatly. Once the wood has turned into a workable form, it goes into a cleaning and screen process and then turned into paper form that is collected on large, heavy rolls. Some of the potential injuries an employee can sustain at any stage are:
- Crush injuries from handling machinery, logs, and large rolls of paper
- Exposure to chemicals that include chlorine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and sulphates
- Inhaling dust that contains chemicals, talc, wood, titanium dioxide, dyes, and pigments
- Exposure to wood dust that can contain spores, microbes, fungus, and finely ground wood particles
- Repetitive stress injuries that are the result of performing the same action over and over for hours at a time
Any injury that’s sustained by an accident as a result of working in paper mills can qualify an injured employee for workers’ compensation, even if safety protocols are followed by the employer.
What to Do When Injured While Working in a Paper Mill
The first thing to do is to seek medical attention immediately. Taking care of the injuries is of the utmost importance in order to preserve physical mobility and prevent a fatality. Only after medical treatment has been given should an employee file for workers’ compensation. The state of North Carolina requires the employee to report the accident to the employer within 30 days of the event. This provides an employee with adequate time to recover enough to file a report. If the injuries are severe, a lawyer can help with the filing process. It’s advisable to seek legal help after a work related injury in the event the injured is unable to file the claim on their own, or has trouble getting assistance from the employer with filing.
North Carolina’s laws for workers’ compensation are clearly written to help claimants, but employers and insurers sometimes try to get a claim denied. Legal counsel can provide assistance to get a claim honored and the bills paid while the injured is unable to work.
Greenville, NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
I’m Brian Ricci, a workers’ compensation lawyer in Greenville, NC. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury at work, please call me at please call me at (252) 777-2222 or (888) 484-6881 for free, friendly advice.
I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
Founder of the leading personal injury website: http://www.riccilawnc.com/personal-injury/