Worker seeks benefits for Cumulative injury at Heinz Company

Custodial worker mopping floor

This was a case filed in July 2016 which involved an employee at the H. J. Heinz Company.  The case was heard by the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner.  The employee worked at Heinz from 1999 until 2013.  She initially worked as a pre-weigher where she weighed food for soup recipes.  Then she worked in quality control.  She began a custodial position in 2010.  This position included wheeling 20 gallon barrels of a chlorine water mixture to various areas in the plant.  Sometimes the barrels were difficult to roll around if the wheels were worn or broken.  She also cleaned cooking areas which included cleaning and wheeling trash barrels and moving buckets that weighed from 4-50 pounds.  The employee knew in 2011 that her work duties were contributing to her back problems and that she was altering the way she worked because of it.  However, she did not provide notice of her injury to Heinz until 2013 and did not file a petition for benefits until 2015, more than two years after the injury.  So unfortunately, she did not give notice of the injury within 90 days of occurrence or her knowledge that her cumulative injury was work-related.  The Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner found that she did not comply with Iowa Workers' Comp law and no benefits would be paid to her.  

This is a good example of why you must report a work injury to your employer within 90 days.  It is required by law and it is best to report an injury as soon as possible.  If it is a cumulative injury you should report as soon as you have an indication that your work activities may be causing your injury.  It is best to do this in writing.  If you miss the deadline, your benefits may be denied. 

This employee also missed the second deadline--filing the Workers' Compensation claim within two years.  She waited more than two years to file her claim after she made the connection to her back problems and her work duties.  Don't make the same mistakes that this case exemplifies.  

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