Impact of Distribution Warehouse/Third Party Logistic Employers on Workers’ Compensation Claims in the Lehigh Valley:
At the beginning of 2015 job growth in the Lehigh Valley was expected to reach 17% for the first three quarters of the year. Anyone driving I-78 or Route 22 knows that truck traffic seems to increase daily, and while it’s a nuisance for anyone on the road this traffic is a sign of the growing warehousing and manufacturing presence in the valley. The traffic congestion is going to be acute during the shutdown of Route 22 in the next 5-6 years.
According to The Morning Call truck traffic in the Lehigh Valley is expected to nearly double by 2040. Along with healthcare, and hospitality, warehousing and manufacturing are leading the valley’s job growth.
This distribution warehouse/third party logistics/supply chain management type of employment is extremely beneficial for our local economy. The mechanization, while it reduces certain types of jobs, also increases other forms of employment within that general employment area. These new types of jobs will lend themselves to repetitive activity and activities that could result in traumatic injuries. Also in these forms of employment there seems to be a greater use of temporary employers or temps. Temps are companies that basically rent workers to large companies and then there is always a question of who the employer is. The legal issue will be decided as to who has “control” over the employee.
Back to the nature of the injuries, our experience with these new warehouse and logistical arrangements are that they are a lot of conveyor type of systems, however, there is still the initial dock work that must deliver it from the truck to the conveyor and then the conveyor systems lend to a lot of overhead lifting/stretching and activities that involve neck and shoulder injuries as well as repetitive type of manipulations and/or upper extremity problems. There is also issues regarding confined areas. While these warehouses are huge, they do rely upon mechanized devices such as pallet lifts, forklifts, etc. when moving large products. We have experienced a number of injuries where the mechanized forklift, pallet jacks, etc. have come into contact with workers unexpectedly. These lead to crush injuries, compartment syndrome type of injuries, broken hips, broken ankles, etc.
If you are suffering from any of these injuries or any ailments that you incurred during the course and scope of your work that you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania. Whether or not you have lost work and even if you are just incurring medical expenses, you should consider contacting an attorney to discuss y our rights under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. There have been some very recent changes regarding a provision of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act which puts limitations on the time that you can receive your benefits. It is imperative that you contact an attorney and we are here to serve your needs and have been here since 1981.
Thomas D. Aristide, Esquire