Business Insurance reported recently that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is considering imposing new requirements and setting new standards for first responders. First responders include firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians. Their job is dangerous by definition, but steps still must be taken to ensure they are as safe as possible on their worksites. The question, however, is whether these OSHA standards- if passed- will actually do enough to provide the maximum protection from the significant risks faced by first responders.
First responders, like any other worker who is hurt on the job, need to report their injury and should pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits any time an illness or injury occurs due to their job tasks.
Because firefighters, EMTs and paramedics often do very physical work, an injury could end a career or put it on hold for a long time. Getting full benefits is essential to get necessary medical care and to have disability income coming in when work is impossible or work duties are limited. An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in helping EMTs and other first responders to make claims after they are hurt on-the-job.
Will OSHA’s New Standards Prevent First Responder Atlanta Work Injuries?
There are several primary regulations OSHA is considering adding as part of its new standards, both of which are controversial. One proposal is to require both a baseline exam as well as comprehensive annual exams for firefighters. There were 64 firefighter deaths in 2014 from sudden cardiac events and the hope is that a comprehensive annual exam, with lab testing, would identify heart conditions or other problems which could cause a sudden inability to do a job in a life-threatening situation. The problem is, it is unclear who would pay for these exams or how they would be afforded by local fire departments with limited budgets.
Another proposal is to prohibit the installation of new fire polls and instead to require the use of slides or stairs in fire houses. This proposal is also controversial because of the long history attached to the use of the fire polls. However, a fire fighter fractured his leg last year when he landed wrong coming down the fire poll, and incidents like this could potentially be avoided if fire polls were no longer used.
These proposals are just a start when it comes to actually improving safety and it may be essential to do more to protect emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Safety BLR reported EMTs had a 14 percent greater risk of being victimized by violence on-the-job than firefighters did. EMTs reportedly indicate they are given insufficient information by dispatchers about dangerous situations and further that they are given limited or no training on how to actually react to protect themselves when going into a high risk environment. OSHA may wish to address some of these issues to stop injuries and deaths due to violence against emergency medical technicians.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.