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Workers' compensation claims may follow holiday rush

Safety authorities urged employers in all retail-related businesses nationwide, including New Hampshire, to take extra precautions to keep workers safe and prevent workplace injuries. This warning came in the time leading up to Black Friday and other marketing promotions that are common at this time of the year. Workloads increase, restocking shelves becomes urgent and rushed work is always more hazardous -- as proved by workers' compensation claims usually filed after the rush of the holiday season.

Affected workers include those who pack boxes, stock shelves, sell merchandise and deliver products. Managing sales events that involve large crowds can pose deadly hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminded employers that all workers are entitled to safe work environments and suggested increased numbers of trained security officers, and crowd control using rope lines, barricades and other emergency measures to prevent trampling.

The safety agency also underscored the need to provide adequate training to the many part-time, inexperienced workers who are typically hired at this time of the year. This is not the time for learning the job as they go -- proper preparation and knowledge of all the rules and regulations is crucial before crowds of consumers overwhelm these workers. Employees in warehouses must be reminded of safety guidelines to help them avoid musculoskeletal injuries and overexertion, and forklift operators must be warned about more co-workers who are standing or walking nearby.

New Hampshire workers who find themselves having to deal with the financial consequences of workplace injuries in the holiday season might receive workers' compensation benefits sooner if they report their injuries promptly and get the claims process underway. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can assist with the claims process. The insurance system typically pays medical bills immediately and lost wages after a few days of absence from work.

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