Firefighting is one of the most hazardous and physically demanding occupations. As a consequence, firefighters are at high risk for work related injuries. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association’s 2014 injury report, 63,350 firefighters were injured on the job, which averages out to one firefighter injury every eight minutes.
Due to the high level of risk involved in this occupation and the high incidence of workplace injuries, many firefighters will require the stability of the workers’ compensation system at some point in their career. While the hope is that injuries are only temporary and the firefighter can return to work after making a recovery, in some cases workers’ compensation benefits may be award to compensate for permanent injuries.
If you have suffered a serious injury during your firefighting duties in Delaware County, the workers’ compensation lawyers of Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias may be able to represent you and fight for your claims. Likewise, if you have developed a disease such as cancer due to exposure to chemicals as part of firefighting duties, we also may be able to help.
Common Workplace Injuries Suffered by Firefighters
Firefighting and the training that prepares one to properly and safely fight fires is demanding work. There are many heavy tools and machines firefighters use and carry during rescue operations. Many of these demanding activities are carried out in extreme conditions while wearing heavy-protective gear. For example, an air tank alone weigh roughly 35 pounds. Therefore, it is not surprising that 54 percent of all firefighter injuries result from falls, slips, jumps, overexertion, and strains. Many of the injuries firefighters sustain are musculoskeletal, particularly of the lower back. Among firefighters, lower back injury is the leading cause of permanent disability and early retirement.
A preliminary study of firefighter injuries found that firefighters with a history of back pain had lower levels of core muscle endurance. Other studies have shown that weaker or deconditioned back and core muscles have been associated with back pain. With this in mind, the University of South Florida and Tampa Fire Rescue designed a study to determine if a work site exercise training program for the back and core muscles is an effective countermeasure to reduce the risk of lower back injuries and disability among firefighters.
With career preservation as its goal, the preventative study is supported by 1.3 million dollars of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant money. Researchers hope that their findings will help to promote the implementation of similar exercise programs in departments around the country and, thereby, decrease the incidences of lower back injury, lost days of work, permanent disability, and early retirement among firefighters.
Aside from lower back injuries, there are many other types of injuries commonly experienced by firefighters. These injuries include:
- Brain Injuries
- Heart Attack
- Carpal Tunnel
- Hearing Problems
- Occupational Disease
- Scars and Scarring
- Back, Neck and Soft Tissue Injuries – Sprains & Strains
- Spinal Injuries and Paralysis
- Eye Injuries
- Loss of Limbs
- Knee Injuries
These types of injuries can occur in an array of scenarios and circumstances. Injuries such as the above can occur due to a fall, from falling debris from a collapsing building or structure, and due to the extreme cumulative toll firefighting can take on the body.
What Is the First Step in a Firefighter’s Workers’ Compensation Claim?
For firefighters who have suffered a workplace injury or developed a disease due to occupational exposure to chemicals, the first step in any workers’ compensation claim is to notify your employer regarding the injury. However, beyond this simple first step, the process can quickly become extremely complex. For one, there are a number of presumptions regarding occupational diseases that can apply to firefighters. Understanding whether a presumption applies and the legal requirements required to shift the burden to the employer are often essential steps in minimizing the legal uncertainty that may exist and expedite a benefits award. Working with an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help.
Delaware County Workers’ Comp Lawyers Handle Firefighting Injury Benefits Claims
Delaware County firefighters are some of our local heroes. Our workers’ compensation lawyers help to protect injured firefighters by working to help them receive the maximum worker’s comp benefits available. Call our law offices at 484-679-5239 or go online to schedule your free consultation. Offices are conveniently located in Media and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.