The Chicago Occupational Accident Attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent Injured Lowes Workers
The typical Lowes Home Improvement Worker spends their day stocking shelves, unloading truckloads of cargo pallets, cutting lumber, making keys, watering plants in the Garden section, gathering carts from the parking lot, cashiering, and answering questions as a customer service rep. Some workers perform their duties in specialty departments including the kitchen cabinet section, appliances, gardening, paint department, and contractors' desk.
Many employees are hired because of their interpersonal skills where they worked a previous job or second job for contracting firm as a plumber, electrician, carpenter, pain or, or other occupation. The information they provide consumers is invaluable in helping customers purchase all of the materials they will need to complete a home-improvement task.
Statistics revealed by the US Bureau of Labor reveal that home improvement sales associates earned slightly more per hour compared to employees and other retail sectors. The average entry-level worker knowledgeable in building materials or garden equipment will be paid slightly more than $12 per hour and as high as $20 an hour or more in a senior position.
Nearly every position in the Lowes home-improvement store requires the employee to perform manual labor. Job duties include lifting heavy items, climbing ladders, unloading and loading tractor-trailers filled with merchandise and stocking shelves during the day, evening and night shift.
Lowes Worker Hazards
Over the last two decades, millions of homeowners and small business contractors have shopped in the crowded aisles of their local home-improvement center, like Lowes, Ace Hardware, and Home Depot. The low prices and instant accessibility of many hard to find products makes shopping at Lowes enticing for those who want to complete a weekend project or contractors in need of an extensive list of building materials.
The popularity of Lowes and other home-improvement centers requires the stores to overstock their shelves and stack additional merchandise on racks above the items for sale. This task requires the use of forklifts and mechanize lifting jacks to move merchandise through the retail warehouse store during business hours when many customers are busy shopping. The dangerous scenario of mixing warehouse equipment with consumers in crowed aisles is a deadly combination that has resulted in serious injuries and fatalities over the years.
The supervisor, managers and corporate office of Lowes have a legal obligation to ensure that everyone remained safe in the retail portion of the store, out on the loading dock, and in the storage areas in the back. Many of the accidents happening at Lowes, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Menards and other improvements centers are the result of poor work practices and inattention to safety details that are necessary to prevent injuries, chemical exposure, and other serious work-related harm.
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), there are significant risk factors to working and shopping in home-improvement centers, including Lowes. The federal agency in charge of maintaining the health and safety of workers offers recommendations to ensure safety in the job environment. Some of these recommendations for Lowes include:
- Personal Ergonomics – Heavy lifting and repetitive motion can cause significant health problems to every Lowes worker. Because of that, supervisors and managers should provide every worker PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) including gloves and hardhats along with back and waist support belts. OSHA has cited many home-improvement centers including Menards, Home Depot, Lowes with the failure to provide proper respiratory protection to safeguard the health of their workers. The employee should wear steel toed shoes and comfortable clothing that makes it easier to reach, bend and stretch.
- Warehouse Ergonomics – Nearly every workday, the Lowes employee must lift heavy building materials to move the cargo off the truck, store in the back room, or stack the shelves. The management should be providing a variety of warehouse ergonomics equipment and tools including motorized lifting jacks, forklifts, heavy-duty platform ladders and other devices.
- Floor Maintenance – Management is responsible for ensuring that the sales floor and storage area in the back of the warehouse remained clean and dry to avoid slip, trip, and fall accidents. Nearly one out of every eight accidents occurring in a home-improvement Center involve slipping and tripping.
- Optimized Shall Stacking Practices – Approximately one out of every five reported fatalities your severe injury that occurs at Lowes, Menard's and Home Depot were caused by heavy falling objects that slipped or fell from significant heights above the items for sale on storage racks.
- High Level of Security – At least a few times a week, a local law enforcement officer arrives at Lowes to handle shoplifters caught in the active committing a crime. In addition to hiring loss prevention employees, the home improvement center also utilizes surveillance equipment including cameras, sensors, and alarms to help identify criminal activity. Maximizing security can help prevent serious crimes including robberies that had the potential placing every Lowes worker and customer in great danger.
- Maximizing Lighting – Poor lighting anywhere in the store's retail area, the backroom storage area, or outside by the loading dock can increase the potential for injuries and fatalities. Occurrences in low light in areas include falling objects, slipping and falling unseen debris, and the potential for criminal activity, especially outdoors in the employee parking area.
- Ongoing Safety Training – Ensuring that every worker receives adequate training on how to minimize on-the-job injuries when handling emergencies can minimize the potential for severe injuries, chemical exposure, and avoidable fatalities. The worker should be trained on how to best handle emergencies by applying first-aid until EMT responders arrive at the scene.
- Ongoing Monitoring – Every employee should be trained on how to identify safety hazards and dangerous scenarios in the home improvement Center. Hazards might include aisleway debris, uneven flooring, spilled chemicals, and other hazards at work that could cause injury. In addition to monitoring, the employee should be trained to properly store merchandise, the clutter aisleways, and follow the best stacking procedures to eliminate the potential of objects falling from the storage racks above items for sale.
Employees need to remain vigilant and alert of potential hazards that could cause significant harm, injury or death to themselves or others. While it is the responsibility of management to guarantee safety, many home-improvement retail outlet workers have lost their lives and suffered injuries that could have been prevented had safety procedures and protocols been taught and followed.
Lowes Workers' Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016, data concerning the employment statistics of the previous year, 4660 Lowes Workers were working in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. On average, Lowes Workers in northeastern Illinois earn $34,030 every year (mean wage), which is $16.36 per hour. The wage is significantly higher than the national averages. See Chart
Lowes Severe Injuries and Fatalities
Each year, customers and workers at Lowes home-improvement center or killed or suffer serious injuries from preventable accidents and violent attacks. The cases represent a small portion of the serious issues that happen at Lowes and other home improvement stores.
- Case 1: Charlotte, North Carolina – A Carolinian Lowes' employee died after being crushed by a garage door at the home improvement center. The incident occurred in a warehouse area next to the store, away from shoppers. Local EMT responders transported the 35-year-old employee to the Carolinas Medical Center where he was pronounced dead less than an hour after the accident occurred.
- Case 2: Lexington Kentucky – A 61-year-old Lowes worker fell to his death after climbing a 15-foot ladder. The employee fell more than 12 feet before suffering a fatal head injury. EMT responders transported the injured Lowes employee to the local Georgetown Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
- Case 3: Union Township, Pennsylvania – A worker loading appliances in a semi truck storage trailer from a delivery truck at the Union Township Lowes got caught between both vehicles before suffering crushing injuries to the abdomen. EMT responders transported the injured victim to the local Jameson Hospital emergency room where he later died. After loading the truck, the truck driver moved the vehicle forward so the doors to the truck could be closed. However, the trucker's foot slipped off the pedal causing the truck to drift backward, crushing the employee.
- Case 4: Las Vegas, Nevada – A Nevada jury awarded a customer approximately $13 million to settle a lawsuit filed against Lowes after she slipped and fell at a Las Vegas store in July 2013. The plaintiff's victory is a small reward after she fractured her skull during the incident and permanently lost her ability to smell and her sense of taste due to her brain injury. The 38-year-old woman was shopping in the facility's Garden Center just before slipping on a "slimy, wet substance" that had drained from various planters. The skull fracture resulted in a frontal lobe hemorrhage followed by chronic headaches, neck pain, and increased depression and anxiety.
- Case 5: Lubbock Texas – A 23-year-old employee Rudy Trevino was killed while at work at Lowes in January 2015 when approximately 800 pieces of lumbar crushed him after a cantilever rack he was fixing fell. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) investigated the incident and cited the company for the employee's failure to follow procedures. Rudy had received email instructions from the store's loss prevention manager directing the worker to replace the racks' base plates. However, this dangerous job it always been performed by outside contractors who have training in how to do the job safely.
- Case 6: Winnebago County, Illinois – Local law enforcement stated that the 52-year-old Lowes delivery truck driver lied to police about how his coworker died. Investigators concluded that the decedent had been crushed by the truck while in reverse, pinning him between two vehicles. The Lowes truck driver has been charged with obstruction of justice.
Management, supervisors, administrators, company owners and crew chiefs must ensure the safety of every worker at Lowes. Any failure to do so could make the company legally liable for any incident that harmed, injured, or killed an employee, customer or visitor. In some incidences, workers injured on the job have taken the initiative to hire personal injury attorneys to represent them in filing worker's compensation claims and seeking additional monetary compensation from third parties that might also be responsible for their damages. Hiring an attorney is often necessary because these cases are extremely complex.
Want to Make Sure You Are Fully Compensated for Your Injuries?
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