Painting may seem like light work to others, but as a painter, you likely know there are many hazardous conditions you face consistently. If you get injured while painting for your employer, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Construction industry workers face a variety of hazards and potential injuries that may warrant a claim. Learn about your rights as a worker, common injuries for painters and what steps to take if you are injured on the job.
Slips and falls
Because they often work on tall buildings and structures, painters can easily fall off ladders, scaffolding and elevated heights. Slipping on the floor is common, too. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 20 fatalities for painters occurred due to slips and falls in 2011. Risk factors for ladders and climbing include:
- Dripping paint that creates a slippery surface
- Placing ladders on uneven surfaces
- Using wrong ladders
- Carrying heavy equipment while climbing and losing balance
When consequences are not fatal, they are often serious enough to take time away from work.
Exposure to contaminants and fumes
Paint, glue and lacquer all contain potentially harmful chemicals if not handled correctly. Fumes may become dangerous if the workplace is not properly ventilated. Continued exposure to these chemicals may result in upper respiratory or lung diseases. Breathing in gases, mists, vapors and dust can cause bronchitis or asthma.
Repetitive stress injuries
While the act of painting may not seem to be straining, the repetitive motions and heavy lifting often cause injuries. Examples of these injuries include:
- Myofascial damage
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Continuous lifting can even cause muscle strains and tearing of the rotator cuff.
The same hazardous chemicals that result in respiratory issues can cause injury to your eyes as well. Mixing paint, cleaning painting equipment and painting in general can result in chemicals splashing into your eye. Wearing the proper goggles, a face shield or full-face respirator helps prevent these injuries.
Sustaining an injury while painting for your company means you should understand how workers’ compensation laws work and how they may affect any potential legal claim. Your entitlement to workers’ compensation depends on the extent your employer is liable for the injury. Other parties, such as property owners, third-party contractors or equipment manufacturers may be at fault instead. It is best to learn about your workers’ compensation claim with the help of an attorney, even if a separate claim does not end up being necessary.