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United baggage handlers get workers' compensation settlement

When most of us think about getting injured at work, we may imagine a slip or fall, or perhaps a machine-related accident. The fact is, though, that many chronic injury cases are considered for workers' compensation each year. These cases include civil litigation because of unsafe working conditions that cause workers to repeatedly lift heavy objects in an unsafe manner. That was the case for a team of United Airlines baggage handlers at Newark Liberty International Airport, who have been compensated for musculoskeletal injuries suffered on the job.

The victims in this case were reportedly required to perform lifting tasks in awkward and dangerous positions. They were expected to spend extended periods unloading and loading baggage in tight spaces, leading to injuries from twisting or reaching over their heads for the bags. Additional injuries were caused by gate-checked bags that had to be unloaded at passenger disembarking areas.

To remedy the problem, United has contracted with an ergonomics expert, who will create a plan to relieve the repetitive stress motions. Further, the company will be installing conveyor belts to prevent needless musculoskeletal injuries. Experts say that these modifications could have a significant impact on business practices throughout the airline industry, noting that United often sets the standard for safety among the airline community.

These victims may not have realized that they were eligible for workers' compensation benefits because their injuries were not acute. However, chronic musculoskeletal injuries are often just as serious as a crush injury or acute back injury. This means that victims can be eligible to collect workers' compensation or even compensation for permanent disability. An attorney can provide additional information for workers who have suffered a repetitive stress injury.

Source: New Jersey Herald, "United settles suit over baggage handlers' stress injuries," Dec. 27, 2016

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