Dal-Tile Distribution Inc. is based in Dallas, Texas, and it employs many workers across the area. Like workers in other industries, Dal-Tile employees are sometimes hurt in common kinds of work accidents or in the course of their job duties. However, many Dal-Tile employees have never thought about how a heart attack may be related to pressures at work or how their jobs might make them vulnerable to heart-related illnesses. If you work at Dal-Tile or in a similar line of work, our attorneys would like to share some information with you about what happens when a heart attack is a work injury.
Heart attacks may be caused by exertion and stress at work
You’ve probably seen movies where characters suffer a heart attack after their boss yells at them or a business meeting goes badly. Although workplace stress is often used for comic effect in movies and television, heart attacks affect workers of all kinds in the real world—sometimes with fatal consequences.
The human body is designed to handle stress in a number of ways, but not all of them have a positive effect on a person’s long-term health. While the stress responses of heightened reflexes and increased strength may be temporarily beneficial, the body is not designed to work this hard for an extended period of time. The longer you are exposed to the stress, the less your body will be able to cope with the pressure, increasing your chances of suffering a heart attack or work accident.
Work-related heart attacks may be caused by a number of different work-related factors, including:
- Unusual exertion. The most common cause of on-the-job heart attacks is over-exertion. If an employee performs physical work that he or she is not trained for (or is outside his or her usual job description), the heart may not be able to deal with the sudden strain.
- Physical exhaustion. Constant moving, lifting, and hauling leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure problems, increasing the chances of heart attack and other bodily injuries.
- Emotional exhaustion. Stress takes a toll on the brain as well as the body. Work pressure stimulates the production of hormones in the body, draining a person of the ability to get proper rest. As a result, the body is never fully able to relax, permanently constricting the muscles—including the heart.
- Illness. Stress compromises the immune system and robs a body of rest, so people under a considerable amount of stress are more likely to succumb to colds or illnesses. If employees attempt to “push through” a sickness, they may find they are stretching their heart beyond its abilities.
- Accidents. People sometimes find they are at an increased risk of work-related accidents due to frequent chest pain or the potential for a sudden heart attack. For employees who drive, work with heavy equipment, or work at heights, sudden chest pain or a heart attack can be dangerous on the clock and put others at risk.
- Workforce cuts. In rough economic times, employers may attempt to make workers perform double-duty rather than hire more workers. For example, when a truck driver’s role is suddenly expanded to include loading and unloading, he or she may not be able to cope with the added physical demands.
- Fear of unemployment. Employees who are pushed beyond their physical limits may overexert themselves because they believe they will be fired if they refuse. For example, many companies are willing to hire new, younger workers since these laborers usually cost less and are willing to do more. As a result, tenured employees may be pressured to perform more work or move faster to compete with younger employees.
Is a heart attack really a work injury?
Our attorneys know that many people who experience a heart attack never consider that their condition could be a “work injury,” even if they didn’t have a prior history of heart disease or high blood pressure. However, they will still almost certainly face a long recovery, hospital treatment, and a considerable loss of income.
Not every heart attack is necessarily related to work, and the factors that contributed to it can be complex. For example, a Dal-Tile worker may suffer a heart attack when lifting a heavy slab of granite, but that same employee may ultimately have been more affected by the emotional stress than the physical stress of the job.
In fact, job stress is a major cause of heart attacks in the United States. According to a 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine found some disturbing facts about job-related stress injuries:
- Workers who experience chronic job pressures after a first heart attack are at double the risk of suffering from a second one.
- Sudden stress on the job, such as a coworker being fired or a poor work review, made employees six times more likely to suffer a heart attack within the next 24 hours.
- Leading risk factors for heart attacks on the job included personal conflicts with other employees or managers and increased work responsibilities.
- Short-term work pressure had a larger impact on heart function than a year’s worth of job-related stress.
Many workers will suffer shortness of breath and chest pain for months or even years as they struggle to keep up with the demands of their jobs—until they suffer the heart attack that has been slowly building up inside them. Many will not survive, and those that do may be unable to continue working as they struggle with increased medical costs and a loss of earning capacity.
Many people put their boss’s demands above the demands of their health, but employers could be held responsible for putting unhealthy pressure on employees. If your workplace was to blame for your heart attack, our experienced attorneys can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
However, it isn’t easy to get the facts you need about filing a work injury claim or proving that your employer was to blame for your injuries. If you are a Dal-Tile Distribution employee who has suffered a heart attack or other on-the-job injury, we can help you learn about your rights to compensation—and how to protect them—in a free case review. To get started, call VB Attorneys today at 1-877-724-7800 or fill out our convenient online contact form.