According to Enterprise Minnesota, more than 8,300 manufacturers are located in the Gopher State. Enterprise Minnesota CEO Bob Kill also remarked that “Manufacturers form the bedrock of many Minnesota communities. They offer high-wage, high-skill jobs that create economic opportunity and stability for the present and future.”
Minnesota factories do provide economic stability; however, they are also known for workplace accidents. What are some of the most common accidents, and when should you consider filing a worker’s compensation claim? Here is some information that will help you decide.
Manufacturing is one of Minnesota’s largest industries, coming in just under agriculture. In fact, agriculture also plays a role in Minnesota’s factories, as food products make up the second-largest category of manufacturing. Other very common categories include:
- Computers and electronics
- Weapons and ammunition
- Paper products
- Transportation equipment
- Aircraft parts
- Wood products
Types of Injuries
Minnesota’s manufacturing industry leaves workers vulnerable to a number of injuries, which can include:
- Being crushed by heavy objects or machinery
- Exposure to chemicals, which can result in everything from second-degree burns to respiratory and other illnesses
- Slips and falls
- Back injuries from heavy lifting
- Repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Forklift or other material handling equipment accidents
- Hearing loss due to an overexposure to loud noises
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) reports that there were five manufacturing fatalities in 2018. While this is a decrease from the previous year, it nonetheless shows the potential danger our factory workers must contend with on a daily basis.
Factors that Contribute
Several things can contribute to on-the-job injuries in Minnesota factories, including:
- Fatigue from working overtime or graveyard shifts
- Loud noises, which can make it difficult to remain alert
- A lack of training on the proper use of machinery
- Weakened extremities due to repetitive motion or constant heavy lifting
- A lack of personal protective equipment, hazard warnings, or safety training
Timeframe for Reporting an Injury
If you are injured while working in a factory, you should report the accident to your supervisor as soon as possible. DLI generally considers an injury to be reported on time if an employer is notified within 14 days.
Although it is possible to report an injury within up to 180 days, filing a claim later rather than sooner could require you to jump through some hoops. For example, when filing between 31 and 180 days after an accident, you may need to prove the delay was because of fraud or deceit on the part of your employer.
Here at Harvey & Carpenter, we talk with Minnesota workers every day who are too intimidated to report their injuries. If you have missed the 14-day window but still feel as though you are entitled to compensation, please contact us. We can assess your situation to determine what if any actions you should take.
Actions after Reporting
Once you have reported an injury, your employer is required to fill out a First Report of Injury (FROI) form. According to DLI, this should be done within ten days after an employer first becomes aware of an injury.
When injuries result in a disability lasting three days or more, the insurer must then file the FROI report with DLI. At that time, you should be provided a copy of the form that was filed, as well as an Employee Information Sheet that spells out the basic Minnesota Worker’s Compensation laws.
Claim Acceptance or Denial
If you have suffered lost time, the insurer will either accept or deny the claim. Insurers make their intentions known by filing a Notice of Insurer’s Primary Liability Determination (NOPLD) with the state.
This form will contain important information such as your average weekly wage, compensation rate, and the date on which benefits will begin. When claims are denied, it must also include a narrative stating why, along with facts that support this decision.
Even if your claim is approved, you should nonetheless review this form for accuracy. Errors in wages can reduce your benefits, and should therefore be corrected as quickly as possible.
What Happens if my Claim is Denied?
A good number of Minnesota worker’s compensation cases are initially denied. That doesn’t mean you cannot draw benefits, as there are a number of ways you can rectify this issue. The first step is to contact a workers compensation attorney who can provide you with a free consultation. Resolving the matter could involve a phone call, litigation, medical exams, or ultimately a hearing. Oftentimes, the matter can be resolved mutually by the parties.
Fighting for Minnesota Manufacturing Workers
When filing a worker’s compensation claim, an experienced attorney can be your first line of defense. The right lawyer can help you avoid some of the common mistakes that might cause your claim to be denied in the first place. An attorney might also provide you with greater odds of success in the event you do find it necessary to file an appeal.
Section 176.181 of the Minnesota Statutes requires employers to purchase worker’s compensation insurance coverage. That doesn’t mean that insurance companies are always eager to pay. If you have been unjustly denied benefits, do not wait any longer to contact us.