Before the invention of the modern air conditioning unit, ancient civilizations went to extreme measures to keep cool. Ancient Romans built aqueducts that were capable of sending cool water through the walls of homes. Emperors ordered snow to be brought down from mountains so that they could be cooled. The wealthy had servants fan them and of course, individuals bought or made their own fans. But everything changed with the invention of electricity.
In 1902, a man named Willis Carrier invented a system which sent air through water cooled coils – the first air conditioner. Although he didn’t intend to make it for the home, it didn’t take long for the cooling system to become popular. This system has been modified and made more energy efficient over time, but older homes, especially those built in cities, don’t typically have the system installed, leaving homeowners with no choice but to contact an HVAC company to install central air. Even though the HVAC industry is a lucrative one, it is also dangerous for workers and often, accidents happen.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning: HVAC Workers Do It All
Given how much New Yorkers love their heat in the winter and cool air in the summer, it’s likely that HVAC workers will never be out of a job. But there are certain risks associated with this type of work. The biggest hazards that HVAC workers face include:
Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas and if too much exposure occurs, it can be deadly. If not working properly or installed properly, the furnace can be a source of carbon monoxide. Workers who feeling nausea, headaches, chest pain, or fatigue should get fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.
There is quite a bit of wiring involved with installing or repairing an HVAC system. If wire is exposed or installed improperly, the worker may be electrocuted which can cause burns both internally and externally.
When new duct work has to be laid in an older home, it’s quite possible that the worker may come into contact with older materials that were used to build homes – including asbestos. Asbestos exposure can cause permanent damage to the lungs and can also cause mesothelioma.
Anytime that a worker is near a hot surface, they risk being burned. Many types of HVAC systems use flames to heat the furnace system and even if there is no actual flame present, tools need to be used to solder pieces together.
Slip & Falls
Falls from a standing position, from a ladder, or a roof can all cause serious injuries like broken bones, brain trauma, and spinal damage. In fact, slip and falls are one of the leading causes of work injury in almost every industry throughout the country.
The Cost Of Medical Care
When a worker is injured they may require emergency medical care, x-rays, an MRI, CT scan, surgery, medications, and even physical therapy. None of these are inexpensive and in as little as a few hours, the worker may find that they have thousands of dollars in unexpected medical debt.
This is why workers’ compensation insurance was created. In New York, the majority of employers are required by law to have coverage for all employees.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Help Injured Workers?
Workers’ compensation is a form of “no fault” insurance, which means that even if the worker’s actions contributed to the accident which caused the injury, they should still be able to obtain compensation. When a claim is paid, the insurance company should pay for all medical expenses relating to the injuries sustained at work and up to two-thirds of the worker’s weekly wage, if they are unable to return to work.
The problem is that even though this is no fault insurance, insurance companies still find ways to save themselves money by denying claims. Every year, thousands of workers’ comp claims are denied, leaving injured workers wondering how they will be able to afford their medical treatments.
What Can An HVAC Worker Do If Their Claim Is Denied?
Any worker who has had their workers’ compensation claim denied has the right to file an appeal. However, getting through the appeals process can be difficult and time consuming without the help of an attorney.
At Markhoff & Mittman, our experienced legal team is dedicated to making sure that our clients get the compensation they deserve in a timely manner. We help with all of the necessary paperwork, handle the insurance companies, and fight for our client’s rights in front of the Workers’ Compensation Board if necessary.