Janitorial employees are charged with cleaning and maintaining the premises of all types and sizes in governmental and commercial establishments including hospitals, schools, retail stores, and office complexes. Cleaning involves rigorous physical activity and may include the use of harsh chemical agents that are hazardous if used incorrectly. A cleaner’s working environment may also be hazardous, and involves moving up steps or around furniture with cleaning machinery and equipment. If you are injured while cleaning on the job, read on to understand the injuries you can file a claim for, how to file a claim, and the type of compensation you stand to gain.
Types of Injuries Cleaners Can File a Claim For
The following are some of the common examples of injuries that you can claim compensation for if sustained at work.
Cleaning tasks involve various repetitive moves like reaching, bending, pushing, pulling, and lifting. The cumulative effect or a sudden motion in the course of a daily cleaning routine can cause sprains, strains, back injuries, and other musculoskeletal injuries.
Surfaces that are slick from spills or mopping can cause a janitor to slip and fall. Janitors may also sustain injuries from ladders or hazardous work surfaces.
Janitors work with electric gadgets such as floor buffers, power tools, and vacuum cleaners. When the equipment is operated around spills or other moisture conditions, one stands the risk of being electrocuted.
Toxic Chemical Exposure
Chemicals in floor strippers and cleaning solutions can cause rashes, irritate one’s skin, or burn one’s eyes if splashed. Gases or vapors from cleaning detergents like ammonia may also irritate the lungs, throat, or nose. Some chemicals can trigger or cause asthma attacks.
When a cleaner is exposed to blood-borne pathogens, they are likely to catch serious diseases. Among these pathogens are the HIV virus that causes AIDS, and the Hepatitis B virus that causes liver disease.
Filing a Claim
The first thing you should do when you are injured while cleaning on the job is to notify your superior or employer. When you seek medical attention, make sure you keep the medical and expense records safe for future use. Your employer will notify the insurance carrier or workers compensation board about your claim. However, if you fail to make a claim within two years, you lose the right to seek compensation for your injuries.
In a typical personal injury case, your insurance carrier will pay for the medical expenses and any lost wages arising from failing to report to work due to your injuries. In ordinary circumstances, you stand to receive benefits within 14 days from the time of your illness or injury.
In some personal injury cases, a third party, like a supplier or equipment manufacturer, may be held responsible for a workplace injury. In third party claims for damages, you are required to show fault through evidence collected at the scene of the accident.
After your claim has been established, it remains valid for 12 years from the time of the injury or the last payment made to you. Therefore, you should save your entire medical and expense records for those 12 years in case your condition changes for the worst during that period.
How Much Compensation Can You Get?
A cleaner who is injured at work may either receive general damages, special damages, or both. General damages include pain and suffering, and loss of amenities. The amount of general damages awarded depends on the extent of one’s injuries, the estimated time of recovery, and the rehabilitation required- whether future medical attention will be necessary.
Special damages cover out of pocket expenses and medical fees. Expenses also include physiotherapy, damage of personal items, commuting expenses to the hospital, loss of future earnings and pension.
Situations When Your Claim May Be Denied
Some of the grounds for denying compensation to workers injured in the course of their duties include:
- If a worker’s injury is unwitnessed
- If a worker fails to report an injury immediately
- If a worker’s medical records and accident report have conflicting details
- If a worker’s medical records show that their system had illegal drugs
- If a worker files a claim after being laid off or suspended from work
- If a worker refuses to record a statement with the insurance company or to sign medical authorizations