Overexertion Leads to Groomer's Injuries

Loss Amount: $93,000

What Happened: A holiday was fast approaching and a groomer at an animal hospital and boarding facility was under pressure to finish work on more than 20 dogs scheduled to be picked up the following day. She had complained to her manager of a sore back the day before but did not seek treatment because she thought the pain would go away. With just two animals to finish she was lifting a mid-sized dog from the bathing tub to the grooming table and felt a series of muscle spasms. A fellow employee helped complete the work and the groomer left for the day.

The groomer took the rest of the week off to recover on her own but this didn’t seem to help, so the employer advised her to go to a nearby hospital emergency room for treatment and filed a claim. She was released with work restrictions, but because the employer would not make accommodations to meet them she stayed off work. Receiving physical therapy and other treatment on a routine basis, after three months she obtained an attorney to represent her case. Evaluations, treatment and rehabilitation continued for almost two more years before the case was ultimately settled.

Lesson Learned:

  • Listen to your employees. If they complain of any condition that would impair their ability to fully function on the job, take steps to mitigate the risk of complications. In this case the groomer should not have been doing the heavy lifting, especially since the work load was unusually high and assistance from others was available.
  • Engineer improvements to lessen hazards. Regardless of employees’ health or physical condition, repeated lifting, bending and stooping puts unusual strain on the human body to which it is not well suited. If possible, use ramps or steps to access raised tubs, and use tables that are height adjustable. Bath larger animals at floor level.
  • Seek treatment and file claims promptly. Immediate diagnosis and treatment can often prevent an injury from getting much worse. Filing of claims as soon as there is knowledge of work-related injuries or illnesses greatly improves the effectiveness of the claims management process. It allows adjusters to communicate with all the parties involved (employee, employer and treatment providers) while information is recent, and make the best decisions to guide the claim to closure.
  • Accommodate injured workers whenever possible. Making reasonable accommodations for injured workers usually speeds recovery back to full duties and helps maintain a good working relationship between the employee and employer. This lessens the potential for expensive litigation.

For further assistance in preventing all types of losses, call VISC at 888.762.3143.