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Work injuries are an important issue that effect employees in the restaurant industry. There are many ways that healthy employees can be injured on the job. Most work injuries are preventable, so it is important for restaurant owners and their managers to educate employees on how to prevent injuries. Here are some of the common hazards faced by employees:
Employees can slip on wet surfaces resulting in serious falls. Many times ice will melt on a tile surface, liquids will leak from a refrigerator, or a heavy rain will cause muddy water to be tracked in by customers. Employees who fall may break bones, develop back problems, or suffer serious head injuries. People who suffer head injuries could lose consciousness, develop bleeding in the brain, or have residual concussion symptoms.
Lacerations are very common in the restaurant industry due to the use of knives and other cutting utensils. Even the most experienced chef will have a finger laceration that occurs from cutting meat or vegetables. Blood is a serious contamination risk and places all employees and patrons at risk. When a laceration occurs, appropriate first-aid is needed immediately. Employees need to have the Tetanus vaccinations updated to prevent infections. They should be assessed by a medical professional to determine if stitches are needed.
Back pain is the number 1 cause of missed workdays due to occupational injuries in America. Cans of cooking items, meat, and vegetables are often ordered in bulk. Simply moving them from one area to another in the kitchen can result in serious back pain. Employees should always have help when lifting heavy objects and know the proper lifting techniques to avoid back injuries. Some back injuries may not be obvious on the first day, but will worsen over the second or third day. Employees may have back spasms, neck pain, or simply be unable to get out of bed. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be required to manage the pain. Sometimes x-rays or physical therapy are also needed.
Chemical exposures are also a daily occupational hazard. Bleach can splash into the eyes, fumes can develop from chemical sprays causing wheezing, or rashes can develop on hands that are not protected by gloves. Every employee should be familiar with chemicals used in the preparation and cleanup of the kitchen area. There should be a material safety data sheet binder which lists all of the chemicals used in that restaurant and a phone number to the 24 hour national Poison Control Center which is 1-800-222-1222.
Steps to Take During a Work Injury
If an employee is injured at work, the right thing to do is file an incident report and discuss the problem with a supervisor. From there, a clinic visit with a doctor is usually recommended to rule out any serious problems and discuss treatment options. If the injury happened at work, workers compensation insurance will cover the cost of the doctor’s visit, prescription medications, any diagnostic testing, and follow-up visits.
Worker’s compensation insurance is always recommended for businesses in the restaurant industry. Although it may seem like an expense, it truly is an investment. It will save thousands of dollars for the restaurant owner to have an appropriate policy that includes injuries at work.
Dr. Muhammad Emran, Medical Director of West Oaks Urgent Care
By: Carolyn Medrano
Life can be full of surprises that may need the immediate attention of your local urgent care center. You may, at once time, find yourself met with an unfortunate kitchen accident involving a sharp steak knife, for example.
Deep lacerations are the medical term to describe a deep cut or otherwise “bad owie.” As opposed to a puncture wound, the term laceration specifically describes a wound where skin and tissue are torn apart. The most common ways to be deeply lacerated is with knives, tools, auto accidents, and glass. Most minor lacerations will not require treatment at an urgent care center. Most patients can treat their cuts with basic first aid:
- Clean the cut gently with soap and water.
- Apply antibiotic ointment or cream (only if what caused the cut may be contaminated with raw meat, for example).
- Cover the cut with a band aid until the skin closes to prevent infection.
Some wounds, however, require attention and treatment from board certified physicians in Houston at your PCP’s office or local urgent care center. If the wound is very deep, bleeding profusely, in a joint area, or in highly vulnerable areas (such as in the eye), apply the same basic first aid techniques on your way to see the doctor, with a few changes.
- Control the bleeding first by applying pressure to the wound for 15 minutes.
- If able, remove any visible residue around the wound (broken glass, dirt, etc.)
- Wrap and cover the wound to prevent infection.
Depending on the depth of the wound, treatments may include stitches (this writer had 8 stitches in her hand), staples, bandages, steri-strips, or glue. If the wound is older than 24 hours prior to seeing a board certified medical facility, the wound is considered contaminated and other treatments may have to be used to close the wound.
Is Urgent Care in Houston Covered Under Worker’s Comp?
You may already be familiar with the services provided by West Oaks Urgent Care in southwest Houston like laceration care, minor burns, bone fracture care, and pre-employment screenings, but did you also know that these same services can be filed under Workers Comp?
In the state of Texas, Workers Comp is compensation provided to employees who have received work related illnesses or injuries. The Texas Division of Worker’s Compensation says that this service is, “a state-regulated insurance program that pays medical bills and replaces some lost wages for employees who are injured at work or who have work-related diseases or illnesses” (Texas Department of Insurance, 2011). If you, as an employee of a company that participates in worker’s comp insurance, get hurt on the job, you are eligible to have your urgent care in Houston bill reimbursed by worker’s comp.
What You Should Know About Worker’s Compensation in Houston
The Texas Department of Insurance says that, “Texas remains the only state that still allows private employers to choose whether or not to maintain workers’ compensation insurance” (2011). Most companies in Texas have Worker’s Comp insurance or are certified to self-insure by the TDI, but it is always important to check with your company’s HR Benefits to see what your plan covers. Despite this fact, you can safely assume that your company will reimburse you for injuries that occurred as a result of an unavoidable work activity such as an on the job fall that results in a broken bone or a minor burn. With minor injuries like these, you are encouraged to seek non-emergency care such as a visit with your PCP or with the nearest urgent care center in Houston.
Additionally, worker’s comp in Houston covers employees with long term illnesses as well. Famous cases of these include employees who inhaled asbestos while working in construction who have now contracted lung problems like mesothelioma. Also, as in the case with employees who lose limbs as a result of a job-related injury, worker’s comp insurance can reimburse that employees urgent care expenses, as well as long-term or lump-sum benefits.
You should also know that your company can deny your worker’s comp benefits in Houston for the following reasons:
- The injury occurred while the employee was NOT on the job.
- The employee was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident. The employer has the right to request a negative drug test result prior to granting benefits.
- If the employee sues the company, that employee might forgo their right to accept worker’s comp.
It is safe to assume that if your work related injury was completely accidental, that your medical expenses to care for it will be covered by your company. In that case, you would need an urgent care center in Houston with the experience to not only care for your injury, but file all of your worker’s comp paper work correctly.
Urgent care services in Houston are available seven days a week to take care of work related accidents. Let the experts at West Oaks Urgent Care in southwest Houston take care of all of your worker’s comp needs. Learn more about our worker’s comp services here.