Hearing Damage 

Working in an environment with a high noise level or operating power tools, power washers, and other loud equipment can damage a janitor’s hearing permanently. 

Contagions and Pathogens 

Custodial workers who clean hospitals and other medical facilities might be exposed to contagious diseases or blood-borne pathogens that can damage the liver and lead to hepatitis or other illnesses.

Sleep Disorders

Many janitors and custodians work overnight and have trouble sleeping during the day or on nights when they’re off work. Irregular sleep patterns can leave the employee tired on the job and more likely to have an accident.

Psychological and Emotional Injuries

Many janitorial employees carry out their work alone, day after day and year after year, engaging in little or no human interaction. Some are also looked down upon, belittled, disrespected, or bullied due to the nature of their work and their positions at the bottom of the “company ladder.” Psychological and emotional issues can result.

Take Precautions to Prevent Injuries

Janitors and custodians can decrease the risk of the injuries listed above by taking certain precautions:

  • Wearing safety shoes or footwear with non-slip soles
  • Using the proper tools to reduce stress on arms and hands
  • Employing ladders and extension devices instead of stretching and reaching awkwardly
  • Using personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, ventilators, goggles, helmets, and gloves when necessary
  • Using correct lifting techniques and devices to reduce back strain
  • Getting sufficient rest so as not to be fatigued on the job

Employers should always provide their janitorial staff with proper training in the handling of hazardous waste and other potentially dangerous job duties.

Workers’ Compensation for Janitorial and Custodial Employees

If you’re a janitorial or custodial employee who is injured or develops an illness in the course of performing job duties in South Carolina, you’re probably eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ comp is no-fault insurance that covers the medical bills and lost wages of employees with work-related injuries or occupational illnesses.

Nearly every South Carolina employer with four or more workers on the payroll is required by law to carry workers’ comp insurance. In order to file a claim for benefits, you do not have to prove that your employer did anything wrong to cause your injury or illness. Even if you’re responsible for your own accident, you may file a claim, and your boss may not fire you or penalize you in any way for doing so.

What to Do If You’re Injured on the Job

If you suffer any accidental work-related injury or develop an occupational disease, you should take the following steps:

Report the Accident and File a Claim

Although the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) gives you 90 days to report your injury or illness to your supervisor, you should do so in writing as soon as possible after your accident or diagnosis. Provide details explaining when, where, and how you were hurt. If possible, include photos of your injury and names of any witnesses to your accident.

If your employer has not filed your workers’ comp claim within a week or ten days, you should do so yourself by submitting Form 50 (for injury or illness) or Form 52 (for work-related death) from the SCWCC’s website. You have two years to file your claim, but any delay in doing so could work against you.

See a Doctor Right Away

As soon as possible after your accident, seek medical care from a physician certified by your employer’s insurance company, which actually pays workers’ comp benefits. (Do not simply go to your own doctor; doing so could hurt your claim.) Follow the doctor’s treatment plan conscientiously, keep all appointments, take all medications as prescribed, and retain receipts for all your treatments.

If your claim is accepted, all your medical bills can be submitted to the insurer, and you should receive two-thirds of your normal salary until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) and the doctor releases you to return to your job or to a light-duty position that accommodates your restrictions.

When to Consult a Workers’ Comp Lawyer

A claim for a minor injury resulting in low medical expenses and less than a week off work might not require the help of an attorney. Expensive claims for more serious injuries, however, are likely to be delayed, disputed, or denied by the insurance company. You should contact an attorney for help with your claim in any of the following circumstances:

  • Your claim is delayed, disputed, or denied.
  • The insurer’s adjuster requests a recorded statement regarding your injury. (Do not provide one without an attorney present.)
  • Your employer fires you or retaliates against you for filing your claim.
  • You have a pre-existing injury or health condition.
  • The insurer is slow to approve necessary treatment.
  • After reaching MMI, you’re left with a total or partial permanent disability.
  • A third party not employed by your employer bears full or partial responsibility for your injury.

Your attorney can help you to request an informal conference, arrange a hearing before the SCWCC, or file an appeal in civil court.

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.