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Las Vegas Window Washers Face Significant Injury Risk

Highrise window washers quite literally step into thin air to do their work. Hanging from the side of buildings, often hundreds of feet in the air, they help to keep Las Vegas sparkling for its visitors. The approach to safety varies from company to company and building to building, depending on the sort of infrastructure incorporated into the building and the approach taken by the window washer. Everything from a scaffold to harness points built into the side of buildings may be used to keep washers safe. Working at such heights involves significant risk of serious injury or death. People who work in the window washing business need to have a clear understanding of their legal rights so that if they are injured they can take the right course of action to protect themselves. Here are some principles to consider:
  • Make sure your employer has workers’ compensation coverage. Every employer in Nevada is required to cover its employees with workers’ compensation coverage. People who are hired as “independent contractors” generally also have access to their employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. A Nevada employer’s coverage can be verified online. A key question is whether the employer’s coverage is adequate for the sort of risks that employees must face. It’s best to understand these questions before heading up to the top of a skyscraper.
  • Be mindful of safety. All employers are required to maintain their workplaces in safe condition for employees under state and federal occupational safety and health rules (the familiar OSHA standards). These laws are enforced by regulatory agencies at the state and federal level. An employee who has safety concerns that aren’t being addressed by the employer should consider reporting them to authorities. This is especially true of professions like window washing, where inadequate safety measures can turn an otherwise low-risk job into something highly perilous.
  • Understand who is responsible. Window washers often rely on the safety equipment already present at project sites. Things like hydraulic systems, winches, ropes, harnesses, and scaffolds may all be provided by the owner of the building that is being cleaned. When an equipment failure leads to injury it’s important to know if the building owner or operator may have some share of the blame.
  • Be prepared to refuse the job. Working in high winds or with defective equipment dramatically increases the risks window washers face .A scrupulous employer should take such risks very seriously and keep workers off the job until conditions improve. If a manager is insisting that workers should ignore the risks and work anyway, the correct course may be to refuse to work. Under OSHA rules an employer cannot force an employee to continue to work under conditions that are known to be unreasonably dangerous.
Window washers who feel that they are faced with abnormally dangerous working conditions or who have suffered injuries and need help navigating their workers’ compensation claims should consider talking to an attorney about their legal options. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Workers’ Compensation in Nevada

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Workers' Compensation in Nevada
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, has received a lot of media attention for its prevalence among soldiers returning from overseas. But PTSD can also be a problem for people who experience extremely stressful workplace situations here at home. This is especially true for first responders who deal with violent or traumatic situations, but can also apply to someone who witnesses a bad work accident. Because the symptoms of PTSD can make working difficult or impossible, it can qualify someone for disability benefits. If the event that triggered PTSD happened at work, the sufferer may also qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Nevada’s stress injury statute

NRS 616C.180 governs workers’ compensation for injury or disease caused by stress, including PTSD. There are two important features of this statute. First, it explicitly exempts from coverage any condition “caused by any gradual mental stimulus.” This precludes workers’ comp claims for certain types of anxiety-related conditions. Second, the statute defines when a stress-related claim is compensable. To qualify for benefits, the condition must meet these factors:
  1. The employee has a mental injury caused by extreme stress in time of danger.
  2. The primary cause of the injury was an event that arose out of and during the course of employment.
  3. The stress was not caused by a layoff, termination, or any disciplinary action.
NRS 616C.180(3). The most important feature of this statute is the requirement that the stress must arise from a distinct event. A gradual accumulation of stress will not be compensable. In McGrath v. State Dep’t of Pub. Safety, 123 Nev. 120 (2007), the Nevada Supreme Court interpreted the statute to require claimants “to identify a discrete, identifiable, traumatic occurrence that gave rise to stress.” Like other disease-related workers’ comp claims, proving that the injury “arose out of and during the course of employment” may also be a challenge for PTSD sufferers. For example, if the traumatic event was not itself work-related, an insurer may try to deny the claim. A police officer involved in an on-duty shooting might have little trouble with this element, but it might be less clear for an off-duty officer who witnesses a traumatic traffic accident and offers her assistance.

Late onset further complicates claims

One challenge of PTSD is that it can develop long after the precipitating event. For a worker who begins to experience symptoms long after the event, it can be difficult to meet the statutory requirements for a good compensation claim. In Nevada a work-related illness must be reported to the employer within seven days of being discovered. In the case of PTSD, which can come on gradually, the point when the condition was known may become a major point of dispute. Insurers will deny claims on the basis that they were not reported on time, shifting the burden to the employee to show that he or she provided timely notice only after becoming aware of the connection between the traumatic work-event and PTSD. Late onset involves other practical problems as well. It may be difficult to trace the PTSD to a specific event. Witnesses to the event also may be difficult to procure.

GGRM is here to support people dealing with PTSD

The attorneys at the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have handled complicated workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. We are especially proud of our work with first responders in the Las Vegas area. If you are suffering from work-related PTSD and have questions about how to pursue a workers’ compensation claim, reach out to us for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.