Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog
Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.
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In the last few weeks, over 100 inches of snow have fallen on parts of Massachusetts. This has led to massive efforts to clear snow and ice off roofs and roads. The snow clearings have placed numerous workers and homeowners in high-risk situations.

There have been at least two workers that were involved in Canton, MA work accidents. One man fell some 40 feet through a skylight while evaluating snow removal operations. The skylight had been covered in snow when he stepped on it. The worker was later pronounced dead at a Brockton hospital.

Also injured in a Canton, MA roof fall was another worker, who was also clearing snow. In an Avon, MA roof collapse, another worker was hurt in roof fall from a skylight.

Earlier this week, our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer blog reported on a teen worker who was hurt while shoveling snow off the roof of a department store. The 17-year-old also fell through a skylight and plunged almost 25 feet. The Westwood, MA worker accident took place at a clothing store.

Town employees are especially at risk of fall accidents when clearing snow from roofs. Public employees will often lack the experience needed to do such work.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that it has responded to seven fatal incidents where snow removal was involved. Meantime, the Massachusetts’ Department of Labor Standards has put out a bulletin to notify public employers about the safety requirements that must be met before snow clearing off roofs is allowed, including:

• If possible, use snow removal methods that don’t involve workers getting on the roof
• Provide fall protection equipment
• Guard skylights to protect workers from falls
• Make sure skylights, vents, and roof drains have been identified and marked so that workers don’t trip or fall because of them
• Keep away from electrical power lines to avoid electrocution injuries
• Make sure that the additional weight of having workers on the roof doesn’t overwhelm the structure
• Properly train workers so that they can work safely when clearing snow and ice from the roof.

As we’ve noted, it’s not just workers who are getting hurt while clearing snow off roofs. A Canton woman was taken to the hospital when she fell off the roof of her home. Another man in Wellesley sustained shoulder injuries after he was hit by ice and snow that fell on him while he was clearing accumulations from a trellis outside his residence.

There also have been reports of roof collapses involving snow and ice where no one was injured but there was property damage. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said that over just two weeks there were more than 130 reports of roof collapses.

The problem is that with temperatures seldom going over the freezing point lately, snow that lands on rooftops has kept accumulating without any of it melting. This has placed a strain on the roofs of many buildings, especially nonresidential ones, such as warehouses and commercial buildings that are flat-roofed.

In Massachusetts, please contact our Boston workers’ compensation law firm if you were injured on the job.

Removing Snow from Rooftops on Municipal and State Property, Department of Labor Standards (PDF)

Avon Roof Collapse Victim Remains Unidentified, The Enterprise, February 25, 2015

2 Canton deaths reinforce risks of snow removal from roofs, The Boston Globe, February 23, 2015

More Blog Posts:
Teen Worker Falls 25 Feet While Shoveling Roof in Westwood, MA, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2015

University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Sues Police for Assault, False Arrest, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 27, 2015

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Technology May Be Coming Soon According to MIT Review, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, February 27, 2015

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A 17-year-old student, part of a work crew shoveling snow off of a department store roof, was injured after falling through a skylight.

Officials say the teen was helping to remove snow at Frugal Fannie’s clothing store in Westwood yesterday morning when he fell. Witnesses say he fell nearly 25 feet; his fall was broken by one of the store’s clothing racks. However the extent of the young man’s injuries remains unclear. The teen was flown to an area hospital by helicopter.

This unfortunate story is one of many that we’ve heard in Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast as our region continues to be blasted with heavy snowfall. Last week, two people in Canton were fatally injured due to roof falls and two horses died when the barn they were kept in collapsed.

According to The Patch, MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency), there have been more than 130 reports of roof collapses in just two weeks in the state. Many of the injuries sustained were directly from roofs collapsing under weight of snow, or people falling while attempting to remove snow from their roofs.
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According to a court ruling, an undocumented Mexican worker who gave his employer false identification is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries he sustained on the job. Mario Arellano, who gave a fake Social Security card, along with a driver’s license, to L & L Enterprises, hurt his back while riding in the back of a work truck.

Arellano’s injuries included a lumbar sprain and acute back pain. Arellano filed a workers’ compensation claim but the state of Wyoming denied it, contending that he did not give medical documentation to back his claim and failed to prove he was allowed to work in the United States.

An examiner from the state’s administrative hearing office said that although Arellano proved his back injury was because of his job, he did not succeed in demonstrating that he was covered under workers’ compensation law. The examiner denied Arellano the benefits and he appealed. A district court reversed the examiner’s ruling.

Arellano’s employer then appealed. However, a Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court. It found that state law only mandates that an employer “reasonably” determine the work status of an employee using the documentation presented during hiring and available up through to the injury incident. The court pointed out that this way of interpreting the law protects employers who then don’t have to worry about being sued.

Undocumented workers who are injured on the job are entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits. Contact our Boston work injury law firm today.

Injured undocumented worker entitled to comp, Business Insurance, February 19, 2015

Worker’s Compensation,

More Blog Posts:
Massachusetts Nursing Assistants Sustain Back Injuries, Repetitive Trauma, Other Work Injuries, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 12, 2015

Johnson & Johnson Settles Four Transvaginal Mesh Cases
, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, February 6, 2015

Tow Truck Driver Fatally Struck on Massachusetts Turnpike While Helping A Disabled Vehicle, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, February 13, 2015

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NPR reports that according to statistics from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor, nursing employees sustain over 35,000 back and other injuries each year. These injuries are serious enough that they warrant taking time off from work.

Nursing employees are also three times more likely than construction laborers to suffer musculoskeletal injuries. Registered nurses aren’t far behind after warehouse workers, truck drivers, and store clerks.

The main causes of these injuries are the duties of lifting and moving patients, which nursing employees do every day. During a typical day, a worker might lift a patient weighing much more than the employee at least a dozen times a day. This may lead to back pain, sprains, strains, and shoulder injuries.

One reason for the injury risk is that there is no way to safely lift a patient manually. While some hospitals have sought to remedy this hazard with special machinery lifts and intensive staff training, most medical facilities have not taken such measures.

As an injured nursing employee, you are likely entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. It doesn’t matter who or what caused your injuries on the job.

Back injuries aren’t the only common type of nursing injury. Repetitive stress, getting bloodborne infectious disease from needle punctures, physical injuries from violent assaults by mentally ill or violent patients, slip and fall injuries, sprains and strains to the lower back and shoulders, slipped discs, and infections or viruses.

Hospitals fail to protect nursing staff from becoming patients, NPR, February 4, 2015
What makes hospitals such hazardous workplaces?, OSHA

More Blog Posts:
Best Western Sued Over Couple’s Carbon Monoxide Deaths, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 3, 2015

Johnson & Johnson Settles Four Transvaginal Mesh Cases, Massachusetts Drug Injury Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2015

OSHA Orders Ashley Furniture to Pay $1.7M After More Than 1,000 Workers Injured, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 7, 2015

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Ashley Furniture Industry Inc. has been fined $1.76M because its workers have gotten hurt in over 1,000 work-related injuries in the last three-and-a-half years. Following an incident last summer when one worker lost three fingers while operating a woodworking machine, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a probe of the facility and found numerous willful, repeated, and serious safety violations.

The furniture company has also been put on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program for not addressing certain safety hazards. OSHA contends that Ashley Furniture purposely ignored the agency’s standards, as well as the company’s own safety manuals, to increase worker productivity levels. The company is accused of blaming workers for their injuries, which were actually caused by the unsafe working conditions created at Ashley Furniture.

OSHA said that the furniture maker did not act to protect workers from getting hurt by moving machine parts or prevent machines from unintentionally activating when machineries were being serviced. These kinds of violations can lead to permanent disability and death.

OSHA said Ashley Furniture did not properly train workers about safety procedures and the hazards that exist when servicing machinery. There were also inadequate drenching facilities for workers exposed to materials that were corrosive. Certain machines lacked readily-accessibly emergency-stop buttons, and electrical safety violations were committed.

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation
It doesn’t matter who was at fault in causing your Boston work injury. Even if no one was at fault or you caused your own work accident, you are likely entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. This means that although you cannot sue your employer, you should get medical benefits, and, depending on the extent of your injuries: temporary total incapacity benefits, partial incapacity benefits, permanent loss of function and disfigurement benefits, or permanent and total capacity benefits. If your loved one was a worker who died in a work accident, you should be entitled to survivors’ benefits or dependents’ benefits.

OSHA fines Ashley Furniture $1.77 million, StarTribune, February 2, 2015
Ashley Furniture faces $1.76M in fines after OSHA finds more than 1,000 worker injuries at Wisconsin site in past 36 months, Department of Labor, February 2, 2015
Labor and Workforce Development,

Severe Violator Enforcement Program, OSHA

More Blog Posts:

NYC’s DEP Liable for $3 Million in Damages After Worker Injured, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, January 31, 2015
Johnson & Johnson Settles Four Transvaginal Mesh Cases, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, February 6, 2015

New Rules Allow Frail Elders to Continue Residing in Massachusetts Assisted Living Facilities, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2015

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A $3 million pain and suffering award has been reinstated against the New York City Department of Environmental Protection after it was found to be in violation of state labor laws.

Rafael Lopez filed suit against the city and the department collectively due to injuries he sustained while working on the construction site at Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant is currently owned by the City of New York and managed by the New York Department of Environmental Protection.

According to reports, Lopez fell backward and was impaled by an uncapped piece of vertical rebar (steel reinforcement), which ultimately caused him to sustain serious life-long injuries. He required multiple hospitalizations, spinal fusion surgery and physical therapy. Considering the nature and extent of Lopez’s injuries, the jury awarded him compensation for past and future pain and suffering totaling $5 million. City officials denied any liability o accident and raised issues of comparative negligence, a common defense to a labor lawsuit.

Unfortunately for Mr. Lopez, he was unsuccessful after the Kings County Supreme court granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability.
On appeal, the city moved for a new trial on the future pain and suffering damages. “The court agreed with the original jury award stating the $2 million past pain and suffering did not materially deviate from reasonable compensation and for the same reason the award for $3 million future pain and suffering would be reinstated. ”
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It’s only January, and already there have been a number of construction accidents resulting in injuries in the United States. Just this week two workers were hurt after a wall used to create concrete walls inside a building fell. Also, in another accident, a 65-year-old construction worker died after a bundle of aluminum fell off a truck, striking him. Neil Hynick was transported to the hospital where he later died.

On Wednesday, another construction worker died and a second one was injured in an industrial accident. The men were demolishing a brick wall while standing on a scissor lift when the wall collapsed. This caused lift to drop. One of the workers, Fabian Garduno-Martinez, fell out of the lift, striking his head on the ground. He died from his injuries.

Massachusetts Worker Accidents

Please contact our Boston construction accident lawyers if you or someone you love was seriously injured in a work accident. We also have Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys that can help you with your work injury claim.

Unfortunately, working in the construction industry continues to be a dangerous business. In 2013, there were 796 construction worker deaths-at least 100 more than in the warehousing and transportation industries, which also have a high worker fatality rate.

Many construction accidents could and should have been prevented, if only the proper procedures were implemented and executed, safe conditions were enforced, unnecessary hazards were removed from the construction site, workers were properly trained, and adequate supervision was put in place.

General construction laborers are at highest risk for injury or death in a construction accident than other site workers. Fall accidents, getting hit by an object, getting caught in between objects and structures, and electrocution are among the most common causes of Massachusetts construction accidents. Serious work injuries may include severe burns, spinal cord injuries, quadriplegia, paraplegia, disfigurement, internal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, limb loss, and death.

If you are someone who was hurt in an accident at a construction site you should get medical help right away. Have someone take photographs of the accident scene in case you need evidence to prove your claim. Gather information from witnesses. Notify your employer about the accident and your injuries. Contact a Boston workers’ compensation attorney immediately.

Although you cannot sue your employer, there may be third parties involved with the construction site and project that can and should be held liable. An injured worker may be able to file a Massachusetts construction accident lawsuit. Loved ones who have lost a family member in a construction accident may be able to pursue a Boston wrongful death case and pursue damages for loss of companionship, loss of love, and loss of emotional support. Family members may also be entitled to death benefits from the employer.

Construction Worker Killed in Industrial Accident, Another Injured, NewsWest, January 28, 2015

Wisconsin man killed in construction accident, WFSB, January 29, 2015

Workers Injured in Downtown Miami Construction Accident, NBC Miami, January 28, 2015

More Blog Posts:
Worker Who Suffered Electrical Explosion Injuries Awarded $3.8 Million, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, March 18, 2014

MA Contractors Exposed Workers to Fatal Falls During Renovation Project, Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyer Blog, January 23, 2015

Plymouth, MA Woman Injured In Big Rig Truck Accident Involving Detached Trailer, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, January 23, 2015

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Four contractors were exposed to potentially fatal falls of up to 40 feet at an Easthampton jobsite, due to a lack of protective measures/equipment, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found.

According to reports, OSHA inspectors had visited the Easthampton renovation worksite in July 2014 after receiving complaints about fall hazards there. OSHA determined that four contractors working on that jobsite had violated safety measures and found several fall hazards including no fall protection for employees working on the roof; unguarded floor holes; insufficient anchorage for fall protection; and employees untrained to recognize fall hazards. All four contractors were cited and fined $110, 670 by OSHA; the projects general contractor, James J. Welch & Co, Inc., of Salem, MA, was fined $93,170 for one willful, one repeat and three serious violations of workplace safety standards.

“Falls are the number one killer in construction work. When fall protection is absent or deficient, as it was here, employees may be only moments away from a deadly or disabling plunge that could kill them or end their careers,” Mary Hoye, OSHA’s area director in Springfield, said in a statement.

She continued saying, “the sizable penalties reflect not only the danger of the fall hazards involved, but also the employer’s knowledge of the hazards and its deliberate failure to safeguard its employees.”
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The widow of a man who was exposed to asbestos while working as a school bus driver for nearly four decades has been awarded a $7.7 million mesothelioma verdict. The driver, Lewis Nash, became exposed to the fibrous materials during the time he spent in the bus garage where vehicle maintenance was performed. The asbestos came from the clutches, brakes, and gaskets of the buses. Nash died from mesothelioma at the age of 81 in 2012.

The jury found Navistar, now called International Harvester, liable for Nash developing this serious form of cancer. The company manufactured the school buses.

Because it can take years for symptoms of mesothelioma to surface, there can be a very long latency period for the person affected. This is why Nash wasn’t diagnosed until almost twenty years after he retired.

The $7.7 million verdict includes $6 million for Nash’s physical and emotional pain and suffering and $7.5 million to his wife for his wrongful death, plus another $200,000 for loss of companionship.

If you or someone you loved developed mesothelioma from working on the job, you or your family member is likely entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits from the employer. There also may be grounds for a Massachusetts mesothelioma lawsuit against other liable parties.

Mesothelioma is a serious type of cancer that can be caused by exposure to asbestos. Symptoms may not appear for decades after exposure to these naturally forming, heat resistant fibers.

Asbestos fibers are used in many industries. They are used to strengthen cement, for insulation, and in fireproofing. According to, asbestos is commonly found in the automotive and shipbuilding industries and in other kinds of workplaces, including those involving construction, paper mills, auto repair, cooling and heating equipment repair, roofing, and janitorial jobs. Asbestos has also been linked to lung cancer, asbestosis, permanent lung damage, breathing problems, gastrointestinal cancer, colorectal cancer, and abnormalities in the chest cavity.

Secondhand exposure to asbestos may also lead to mesothelioma and other health issues. For example, the family members of workers can develop this type of cancer if they were exposed to asbestos fibers that were left on their loved ones’ clothing.

Family of deceased F-M bus driver wins $7.7 million in largest local asbestos verdict ever,, December 23, 2014

Mesothelioma, Mayo Clinic

More Blog Posts:
Westford, MA Ski Accident Leads to Fatality, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, January 22, 2014
Lipitor Injury Lawsuits Against Pfizer Blame the Drug for Diabetes, Massachusetts Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, January 9, 2015

Liberty Research Institute Names Overexertion, Fall Accidents As Leading Causes of Work Injuries in 2012, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, January 15, 2015

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According to Liberty Research Institute for Safety’s 2014 Workplace Safety Index, the five leading causes of work injuries in 2012 were behind approximately 65% of all workers’ compensation expenses. The research examined claims data for injuries that lasted at least six days. The rankings given for the injuries were determined by total compensation costs.

Here are the top five causes of injuries on the job that year:

Overexertion: This may have involved the acts of pushing, lifting, pulling, carrying, holding, or throwing.
Falls on the same level: Slip and fall accidents, especially on snow and ice, were a common one.
Getting hit by equipment or an object
Falls from an elevated height
Other forms of exertions or physical reactions

Other leading causes of work injuries included roadway accidents, slip or trip accidents with no fall involved, getting stuck in or compressed by an object or vehicle, repetitive motion injuries, or getting struck against equipment or an object.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatalities at road construction sites and in work zones were a common cause of concern in 2013. Pedestrian workers killed by motor vehicles was one segment of workers killed in roadway accidents.

On a positive note, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that the number of U.S. worker deaths have gone down, with just 12 fatalities occurring daily in 2012 compared to around 38 deaths a day in 1970. OSHA says that occupational illness and injury rates have also declined, even as the number of people with jobs in this country has almost doubled.

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation
If you were injured in a work accident you should contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation law firm right away. You want to make sure that you get all of the work injury benefits that you are owed in a timely manner. Often, a worker may try to get their injuries taken care of through their own insurance without knowing that they have other options and certain rights. An experienced Boston workers’ compensation attorney can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf especially when there is a dispute over benefits owed.

Go to this page to download the Liberty Research Institute for Safety’s 2014 Workplace Safety Index

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

More Blog Posts:
U.S. Department of Justice Joins Whistleblowers in Medicare Fraud Cases Against Prominent Cardiologist, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, January 13, 2015

Lipitor Injury Lawsuit Against Pfizer Blame Drug for Diabetes
, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, January 9, 2015
Tougher OSHA Reporting Rules for On-the-Job Injuries Are Now in Place
, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, January 9, 2015

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