Massachusetts 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.

A construction worker passed away this Friday in the second fatal worksite accident in Taunton, Massachusetts in the past three weeks. According to preliminary reports, law enforcement officials were called to a worksite at Myles Standish Industrial Park at approximately 8:50 AM when an individual notified them of a worker with “life-threatening injuries”. The victim has not yet been identified pending family notification.

The Taunton Police Department, who responded to the scene, posted a statement online stating that, “Upon arrival it was determined that an adult male had succumbed to his injuries and was deceased.” The extent and nature of the individual’s injuries have not been disclosed at this time. Law enforcement officials have not indicated the nature of the accident that caused the fatal injuries to the worker.

In addition to the Taunton Police Department, the Taunton Fire Department as well as personnel from the AMR Medical responded to the scene in an effort to save the individual’s life. The worksite, which is located at Charles F. Colton Road, will now face an investigation in an effort to determine what events led to the worker’s death. According to reports, law enforcement officials have remained on scene to continue their investigation. The accident occurred outside of an 800,000 square foot wine and liquor warehouse facility belonging to the Martingnetti Company. The facility spans approximately 115 acres along the Charles F. Colton Road. Representatives from the company have not issued regarding the incident a statement at this time. Continue reading

A building collapse injured six people in Smithfield, Rhode Island early this morning. The building, which had been under construction at the time of the collapse, is property of Bryant University. The steel framework for the structure had already been installed, and the breakdown occurred when these steel beams collapsed forward. The exact cause and nature of the accident is currently under investigation at this time.

Smithfield Fire Chief Robert W. Seltzer stated in initial reports that the department had received a call from the Bryant University construction site at approximately 8:15 AM. The supervisor of the construction site had alerted authorities after the structure collapsed and trapped six workers under the steel beams. The Smithfield Fire and Police Departments both quickly responded to the call, but upon their arrival they decided to call for additional backup. Authorities responding to the scene issued a Level 1 response, which automatically dispatches 5 additional units to aid efforts at the scene of the accident.

The Smithfield Fire and Police Department were able to successfully free the six workers that had become trapped under the steel structure following the collapse. All six individuals were transported to Rhode Island Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Bryant University spokeswoman Elizabeth O’Neil issued a statement following the accident indicating that there were no students or faculty present in the area of the collapse and that the university was cooperating in the investigation. O’Neil went on to say that the accident that took place today would not have an effect on the opening day of classes which are slated to start on September 8th. Continue reading

Six construction workers were injured early Tuesday morning when part of a building at Bryant University suddenly collapsed.

The indoor practice facility, part of the university’s Smithfield, Rhode Island campus, was under construction. At around 8:15 WCVB reports, the building gave way, trapping several workers under beams. Fortunately, all six workers sustained only minor injuries. The 78,000 square foot building has been under construction since May 2015 and was slated to open in 2016. AZ Corp. Construction Management is currently overseeing the building’s construction.

Continue reading

Two workers were injured last week, one fatally, after falling at a construction site at the Minnesota Vikings stadium. The two workers, who were employees of St. Paul-based Berwald Roofing Co., were working alongside more than 1,200 others at the job site. While performing a “fairly conventional” installation, they fell more than 50 feet. It was unclear at press time whether the two workers were wearing safety harnesses, a requirement for anyone working in certain elevated areas.

Continue reading

As minimum wage debates ripple across the country, American workers have begun to reevaluate their employment rights. Employers are responsible for adhering to federal and state labor laws that govern minimum wage, overtime pay, holiday pay, family medical leave, discrimination, and harassment. Employees often forego a deeper understanding of these legal guidelines because they trust their employers to follow industry standards and regulations. However, awareness of these laws and what constitutes a violation can empower workers to ensure that their rights are protected. The following is an overview of labor laws specific to Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage Law

This law regulates minimum wage, minimum hours worked on a daily basis, and standards for overtime work. Massachusetts’ minimum wage became $8.00 per hour on January 1, 2008. Certain positions, such as tipped employees, present special circumstances that require a different minimum wage. Additionally, if an employer fails to pay an employee at least one and one-half times the regular pay rate for overtime (which is over 40 hours per week), that employer is in violation of the Minimum Fair Wage Law.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), a federal law, is very similar to the Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage Law. FLSA also regulates federal minimum wage requirements and time and a half overtime pay. In work situations where both state and federal laws apply, employers must follow the law with the higher standards. Certain employees in administrative, executive, or professional positions are exempt from overtime pay. To qualify, both a salaries test and duties test must be met. Continue reading

A man who was killed in a construction accident in Taunton on Monday has officially been identified by the district attorney’s office. 48 year old Kevin Miranda was killed when the construction lift he had been working on flipped over at the St. Mary’s School where the labor was taking place.

Miranda was from Somerset and Portsmouth, Rhode Island and had been working for the Taunton based company Skyline Contracting and Roofing at the time of the accident. The company was in the middle of an inspection for the Fall River Diocese for a smokestack located behind a Catholic elementary school in that area. At the time the accident occurred, Kevin Miranda had been operating a construction lift that had been provided to the worksite via NES Rentals. The lift had been positioned on a slope located on the land boundary between the elementary school and the neighboring Morton Hospital. The lift that Kevin Miranda was working on tipped over, causing his death. The extent and nature of his injuries was not made immediately available. Initial reports also did not provide any details on how exactly the lift had tipped over.

Following reports of the accident, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (OSHA) arrived on scene to begin an investigation into the accident. A spokesman for the company, Ted Fitzgerald, indicated that OSHA would be looking into possible evidence that would help them determine the cause of the accident. They are looking to determine if there were any workplace safety violations being committed that could have possibly led to the lift tipping over with Kevin Miranda inside of it. The company employing Miranda, Skyline Contracting and Roofing, has not provided comments on the matter at this time. Continue reading

A worker was killed yesterday after a falling from a construction lift at at a Taunton job-site.

According to OSHA officials and police at the scene, the construction lift was operating on a slope just behind St. Mary’s school, near the property boundary with Morton Hospital. The fatal accident occurred when the lift tipped over, but it is unclear how or why the accident happened. OSHA officials are currently trying to piece together whether safety standards were violated. Ted Fitzgerald, a regional representative for OSHA said that, according to the information he received, the worker was employed by Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp.

CONSTRUCTION SITE INCIDENTS

According to OSHA, falls remain at the top of the list of most common cause of injury and death to workers in the construction industry. Nearly 20% of all occupational injuries occur in this type of workplace, with. falls accounting for 35% of deaths, followed by struck by an object (10%), electrocutions (9%), and caught in-between injuries (2%). Considering the statistics, these “fatal four” accounted for more than 55% of all construction worker deaths in 2011.

In addition these ten standards were the 10 most frequently violated and cited by OSHA:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolding
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Control of hazardous energy
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Electrical, wiring methods, and equipment component malfunction
  8. Ladders
  9. Machines
  10. Electrical systems design

Falls are especially prevalent in the construction industry; last year, OSHA launched a program to raise awareness of fall hazards and safeguards, called a National Safety Stand-Down. The goal of the program to prevent falls in construction was conducted May 4 – 15, as a voluntary event in which employers talk directly to their employees about fall hazards and reinforce the importance of fall prevention. Participating employers stopped their work and provided a focused toolbox talk on a safety topic, such as ladder safety, fall protection equipment or scaffold safety. Detailed information on the Stand-Down is available here.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

By OSHA standards, employers are responsible for ensuring their employees work in a safe and hazard-free environment, and have the proper training and tools to do their job safely as well as identify any dangerous threats to themselves and their co-workers.

When an individual is injured or killed on the job, by law, the employer must report the incident to OSHA for a complete investigation. Additionally in Massachusetts, when a worker suffers a workplace injury, he or she is supposed to be covered by Workers’ Compensation Benefits. These benefits were established to guarantee a worker and his or her family compensation for medical bills, disability payments and lost wages, as well as compensation for permanent injuries, disfigurement, scars, as well as death benefits. Acquiring these benefits can sometimes be challenging, and it is most advised that you speak to a licensed Workers’ Compensation Attorney to discuss your options after you have been involved in a workplace incident.

At the law offices of Altman & Altman, our team of experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys have nearly five decades of experience handling workers’ compensation and work injury cases. We will thoroughly investigate your work injury case and examine all avenues of recovery for you, including helping you access the finest healthcare available in the Commonwealth. Additionally, we will determine whether other parties are liable for your injury, such as the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment or a negligent contractor, and we can file claims or lawsuits against all responsible parties so that you receive the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one was injured or killed at work, do not hesitate to call one of the seasoned attorneys at Altman & Altman. Our attorneys are available around the clock to assist you and all initial consultations are free and confidential.

 

To read the full original article, click here.

When a chronic medical condition is a result of your work environment, it may be considered an occupational disease.  Any worker in Massachusetts needs to know that any exposures to toxins, poor air quality, and lack of proper ergonomics can all contribute to a vast array of debilitating medical conditions and diseases. Tracing the signs and symptoms back to the work environment can be challenging, as many occupational diseases can also be experienced by the general public. However, approximately 860,000 illnesses and 60,300 fatalities are thought to be a result of workplace environments annually in the United States. Recent studies show that 17% of hospital and primary care patients believe their illness is related to harmful exposure in their place of employment. Of these patients, an estimated 10% are officially diagnosed with a work-related medical condition. Because early diagnosis of many illnesses can reduce chances of disability or death, understanding potential hazards you may be exposed to is important.

Respiratory Diseases

Inhalation of toxins can cause a variety of lung conditions and is a concern in many different industries. Asthma, rhino-sinusitis, and bronchitis are frequently cited as work-related medical issues. Pneumoconiosis is a general, umbrella term referring to various types of reactions to the inhalation of dust. The number of fatalities from pneumoconiosis was 260,000 in 2013.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a type of pneumoconiosis caused by extended or intensive exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral made of long thin fibrous crystals that irritate the tissues in the lungs. Occupational exposure can occur in manufacturing and mining work, as well asbestos removal. Severe shortness of breath and dry coughing are common symptoms. Risks of long-term inhalation can lead to malignant cancers and mesothelioma. In 2013, asbestosis resulted in 24,000 fatalities in the United States. Continue reading

Massachusetts provides benefits for five types of workers’ compensation disability claims. These are 1) temporary total disability, 2) temporary partial disability, 3) permanent partial disability, 4) permanent and total disability, and 5) death. Total disability is paid for up to three years when an injury prohibits any ability to work. Benefits for permanent and total disability typically pay a percentage of an injured worker’s wages, on a permanent basis. Workers’ Compensation death benefits are designed to help families of workers who have died from a work-related injury or illness. However, the majority of workers’ compensation claims in the United States are permanent partial disability (PPD).

What is Permanent Partial Disability?

If an employee’s work-related injury has lessened his or her ability to work to some degree, but not entirely, PPD benefits may be available. This reduced earning capacity may be triggered by a necessity to change jobs, work less hours, or work for decreased wages. The injured worker’s physician uses American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines to determine the level of disability. In addition to injuries from falls, burns, or fallen objects, these AMA guidelines also cover occupational diseases, such as respiratory conditions from allergen exposure, neurological disorders from metals or pesticides, and even carpal tunnel syndrome. PPD standard coverage can last no more than 5 years (260 weeks). However, coverage may be extended to 520 weeks if there is a 75% permanent loss of body function or a diagnosis of a perpetual life-threatening condition such as:

  • Spinal cord damage
  • Loss of organ functioning, such as lungs, kidney, urinary, or bowel function
  • Damaged equilibrium
  • Loss of mental functioning, such as short term memory loss or language comprehension
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune disease

Continue reading

From heavy machinery hazards to poor ergonomics, workplace injuries affect an estimated three million Americans annually. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 to regulate workplace standards and advocate for safe and healthy environments for workers of all fields. Part of their mission is to provide “training, outreach, education and assistance” to both employers and employees alike. With an average of 4,500 workplace fatalities occurring every year, it is vital for all employees to be aware of steps they can take to reduce workplace injury risk. This may involve the design of a more ergonomically efficient desk area, or bringing worn or broken equipment to an employer’s attention. Ultimately, employers are responsible for creating a safe, hazard-free work culture. However, education and awareness on everyone’s part can dramatically reduce risk.

Overexertion Injuries

As the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, overexertion injuries result in approximately $3 million in annual benefit payments. Consistently lifting, pulling, or carrying heavy objects, and typing or working in an awkward position, can trigger muscle strain or soft tissue damage. These injuries are often acute, but usually heal with treatment. They may, however, become chronic if not treated properly or in a timely manner. Prevention measures include the following:

  • Lift lighter loads.
  • When lifting heavy objects to or from a shelf above you, use a step ladder or other secure object to decrease the distance.
  • Be aware of your posture.
  • Take frequent breaks and stretch continually.
  • Engage in strength training.
  • Know your limits.

Continue reading

Contact Information