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September 28, 2014,

MA Electrical Company Cited By U.S. Department of Labor After Deaths of 2 Workers

Massachusetts Bay Electrical Corporation was cited by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) last week, following the deaths of two of workers in April.

According to reports by OSHA officials, the two electrical workers had been working in Bourne, MA, from a raised personnel platform attached to an Elliot 40142 truck-mounted crane. Then men, who were performing maintenance work on power lines along the mainland side of the Cape Cod Canal, fell more than 150 feet when the crane suddenly overturned. Both men tragically sustained fatal injuries.

Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts said that the accident could have been prevented had the employer supplied the men with adequate training that would have ultimately allowed the men to conduct their work safely.

Following a months-long investigation, OSHA officials found that the employees were not properly trained or evaluated on how to use the Elliott 40142 truck-mounted crane. The report also found that supervisors at the job site did not follow procedures for setting up and operating the crane in accordance with the crane's safety manual, even though the manual was in the crane and at the job site. “They also did not conduct proper pre-lift planning and other required tests to ensure that the lift could be done safely.”

Continue reading "MA Electrical Company Cited By U.S. Department of Labor After Deaths of 2 Workers" »

September 26, 2014,

Cape Cod MA Crane Accident Deaths Were Preventable

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that the Bourne, Massachusetts crane accident deaths of two works last April could have been prevented if only the proper working conditions and procedures were followed. Joseph L. Boyd III from Fall River and John Loughran from Quincy died on April 12. The two of them worked for the Massachusetts Bay Electrical Corp. They were over 150 feet in the air working on electrical lines when the boom fell to the ground. They died immediately.

According to OSHA, the company’s employees did not get the proper training and were not assessed regarding their ability to work the crane. The government agency found that supervisors at the site failed to follow procedures for setting up and running the crane even though there was an operating manual available. They also failed to perform the correct prelift planning and other necessary tests to make sure the lift could be conducted safely.

Now, Massachusetts Bay has been ordered to pay a $168,000 fine for workplace violations, including the failure to use load charts to assess the minimum angle of the boom angle, failure to use an aerial lift, and allowing the crane to run at over 50% the rated capacity for its configuration.

If you or someone you love was injured or killed in a Boston crane accident you should speak with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation law firm right away. In most cases you will not be able to sue the lawyer for personal injury. You or your loved one should, however, be entitled to work injury benefits. You also may be able to file a Boston construction accident case against third parties that are not your employer over the work accident.

Every year, workers are injured or killed in crane accidents. Many of these incidents could have been prevented if only the proper safety guidelines were followed and workers were adequately trained. Some common causes of crane accidents include:

• Improper crane operation
• Using the wrong crane
• Crane malfunction
• Unsafe working conditions
• Improper crane set up
• Crane fall

This week, OSHA put out a final rule extending the deadline for when compliance of the crane operator certification requirements will be mandatory. The rule also gives an extension to employers for making sure that crane operators are competent enough to safely run a crane. Deadline for both is November 10, 2017.

Meantime, the following requirements need to be followed: The employer has to train employees tasked with operating machinery and make sure that they are evaluated on training materials. An employer must make sure that crane operators are competent enough to safely run equipment.

Massachusetts Bay Electrical Corp. cited for safety violations in connection
with 2 worker fatalities on Cape Cod, Massachusetts
, OSHA, September 24, 2014

Mass. Company Fined in Wake of Cape Cod Crane Deaths, Insurance Journal, September 26, 2014

OSHA Extends Operator Certification Requirement for Cranes in Construction, The National Law Review, September 26, 2014

Two Injured in North End Crane Collapse, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2014

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

September 4, 2014,

I’ve Just Been Injured At Work, What Should I Do?

You’re at work. It’s like any other workday on the jobsite, when suddenly, the unthinkable happens. You’re rushed to the emergency room with serious injuries—possibly a broken back and a head injury.

“How am I going to afford this medical treatment? What if I can’t go back to work? What about my family?” A dozen questions flood your head immediately. But there’s no need to panic, we’re here to help you.

Under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 152, Section 25A, employers are responsible for providing workers’ compensation insurance coverage to all of their employees. That means that workers, in any line of work, are supposed to be guaranteed benefits should they become ill or injured while on the job—even if they are the ones who caused the accident and subsequently, their own injury. The benefits may include compensation for lost wages after the first five calendar days of full or partial disability, medical treatment related to the employee’s illness or injury, and job retraining for qualifying employees.

How do you know if you qualify?

Employees can begin qualifying for benefits temporary total incapacitation benefits if their injury or illness has prevented them from returning to work for 5 or more full or partial workdays, which do not have to be consecutive. Employees who require medical attention for their injury or illness are entitled compensation for their care including reimbursement for travel and prescriptions.

By law, your employer must file the Employer’s Report of Injury or Fatality with seven business days from his/her employee’s fifth day of lost time. If an employer does not file this form, an employee may submit an injury report in writing directly to the insurance company. Your employer is required to have a poster displayed in the workplace with the name and address of its workers’ compensation insurer and policy information.

Continue reading "I’ve Just Been Injured At Work, What Should I Do?" »

August 27, 2014,

Court Approves Workers’ Compensation to Man Injured While Playing Kickball

A state Supreme Court said that a worker at a marketing and P.R. firm who was injured while playing kickball as part of a team building event is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The reason for this, said that court, is that participating in the game was part of his job.

The worker, Stephen Wigham, suggested the kickball game while at a meeting with managers. His boss approved the event.

While playing, Wigham shattered his fibula and tibia. He will have to undergo knee replacement surgery.

A lower court denied his claim for benefits. However, the justices at the South Carolina Supreme Court cited testimony from Wigham’s boss, who said that Wigham was expected to take part in the game because he planned the event. (Two of the justices wrote a dissenting opinion noting that they would have upheld the lower court’s ruling to not give Wigham benefits. They said it wasn’t clear to them whether he really was obligated to take part in the game even if he had to be there.) A hearing has been ordered to decide how much in workers’ compensation benefits Wigham is owed for his injury.

In Massachusetts, you should speak with one of our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers to explore your legal options. Although ideally any worker injured on the job should get all benefits owed in a timely manner, this is not always what happens. Disputes can arise.

An injured worker’s claim may even be denied, which can make it challenging to recover and pay for medical expenses, especially if the injuries are so severe that going to work and earning a paycheck becomes impossible. These are just some of the reasons why you want to work with an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation law firm that knows how to protect your rights and make sure you get all of your work injury benefits.

Typically, workers cannot sue their employer for Massachusetts personal injury, which makes it even more critical that the compensation benefits are issued. All private employers in the state must carry workers’ compensation insurance and pay workers’ injury claims through self-insurance group membership, self-insurance, or a commercial insurance policy.

At Altman & Altman LLP, we handle all kinds of Boston workers' comp. cases, including, but not limited to, claims involving work injuries that occurred at the office, construction sites, on the road, or elsewhere. We also handled work-related death benefit claims for families who have lost someone they love in a work accident or because of a work-related disease or some other health issue. Contact us today to request your free case assessment. We can help you explore your legal options.

State court: Workers' comp OK for kickball injury, AP, August 27, 2014

Massachusetts State Auditor Reviews Workers’ Comp System, Insurance Journal, August 25, 2014

More Blog Posts:
Why returning to work after an injury may be a hassle, according to GENEX study, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, August 13, 2014

Judge Rejects GM’s Bid to Stop Faulty Ignition Switch Lawsuit That Spurred Recalls, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, August 26, 2014

C.R. Bard, Boston Scientific Pelvic Mesh Cases Get Court Rulings, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, August 26, 2014

August 13, 2014,

Why returning to work after an injury may be a hassle, according to GENEX study

Last year more than three million American employees experience a work-related injury. For employers this represented around $1 billion per week, in addition to the employees’ social costs. Aside from the financial loses, employees may also be face other disadvantages because of their injuries: if employees are off work for more than six months, they have less than a 50% chance of returning to the workforce. It is an imperative then to establish effective measures to aid employees return to work.

Instituting official return-to-work programs has proven a successful strategy in many private organizations. Firms with RTW programs are 1.4 times faster than those without one in returning the employee to work. That translates into about 3-4 weeks of a time difference. However, in spite of the advantages, not all firms –especially small ones –possess an established RTW program.

Even with an official RTW program in place, employers often face barriers to provide effective, immediate care. According to GEXEX Services, LLC, one of the nation’s largest providers of managed care services, these are the top five barriers return-to-work programs face:

Continue reading "Why returning to work after an injury may be a hassle, according to GENEX study" »

July 28, 2014,

Hyde Park Contractor Subjects Employees to Electrocution Hazards: Faces $70,000 in Fines

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration says that it has cited P. Gioioso & Sons Inc., a Hyde Park contracting company, for knowingly exposing workers to electrocution hazards from power lines at Cambridge, Massachusetts work site.

According to a press release published by OSHA, the company exposed its employees to possible electrocution from working close to energized power lines at a work site where required safeguards were not used. On May 9, an inspection by an OSHA official found that employees used a trench rod and a fiberglass pole with a metal end to lift overhead power lines, so that workers could move excavating equipment under the lines and onto the work site.

According to OSHA’s area director, Jeffrey Erskine (who handles cases in Middlesex and Essex counties), "This employer knew the overhead power lines were dangerous, but did not take steps to protect workers or shield them from contact and electrocution. Electricity is swift and deadly. While it is fortunate no one was injured or killed in this case, the hazard of death or disabling burns was real and present."

Because of this incident, the contracting company faces $70,290 in proposed fines. In 2011, P. Gioioso & Sons Inc., was cited for the same hazard at a Framingham work site. Based on the employer's knowledge of the hazard, OSHA has cited Gioioso for a willful violation with $69,300 in proposed fines. According to OSHA standards, a willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. Another violation, with a $990 fine, was cited for improper labeling of a trench box.

Continue reading "Hyde Park Contractor Subjects Employees to Electrocution Hazards: Faces $70,000 in Fines" »

July 25, 2014,

Massachusetts Worker's Death Leads to Fines for New Bedford Fish Processing Plant

Six months after the death of a worker in a New Bedford processing plant, his employer has been ordered to pay a hefty fine. Sea Watch International Ltd. was cited for seven serious safety violations following the deadly Massachusetts work accident. The company must now pay a more than $35,000 fine.

The worker, Victor Gerena, was cleaning a shellfish-shucking machine when he got “entangled” in a rotary turbine engine at around 1:30am on the night shift in January. The fire department spent close to an hour freeing him.

Gerena was pronounced dead at the accident scene. He worked with Sea Watch for almost two decades. Following his death, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health called on all industries using big machines to make sure that they have the proper protections in place to protect workers from injuries and deaths on the job. Brenda Gordon of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said that if the company had executed necessary safety practices, Gerena’s death could have been prevented.

Gerena’s New Bedford worker death happened nearly three years after the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the plant. Back then it found serious safety violations, including poor emergency training and inadequate respiratory protections. After remedying the violations, a follow-up inspection in 2012 determined that Sea Watch was in total compliance with OSHA standards.

Following Gerena’s fatal accident, however, Sea Watch was cited for not implementing the basic safety procedures to protect machine servicing workers, incomplete tagout/lockout procedures, failure to conduct periodic inspections of procedures, and failure to train employees in tagout/lockout procedures. OSHA said that plant workers were exposed to fall hazards and improperly trained in the latest chemical hazard communication methods.

The government agency also cited Workforce Unlimited Inc., a temporary employment company that provides temporary workers to Sea Watch’s New Bedford plant, for three workplace violations. It considers the company a joint employer because it had an on-sight supervisor at the facility.

Massachusetts Workers' Compensation
Typically, workers who are injured on the job or families whose loved one died in a work accident cannot sue their employer for personal injury. They are, however, entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, this is not always a straightforward procedure. The employer or the company’s insurer may dispute the claim or seek to delay payment.

At Altman & Altman, LLP, our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help injured workers and their family receive the benefits they are owed, including: payment of all related medical costs, lost wages, (temporary or permanent) disability benefits, cash benefits for permanent scarring and body function loss, and vocational rehabilitation. The family of a deceased worker is also entitled to certain benefits.

Contact our Massachusetts worker injury law firm today.

Man dies in shucking machine accident at New Bedford seafood plant, Boston.com, January 17, 2014

Worker's death was preventable, OSHA says, SouthCoast Today, June 11, 2014

Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health

More Blog Posts:
General Motors Recalls Another 800,000 Cars, Cites More Deaths Related to Faulty Ignition Switches, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 24, 2014

Fatal Hazmat Incident Reported at MA Elementary School, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, July 7, 2014

I’ve Just Been in Uber Accident, What do I do?, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, July 16, 2014

July 10, 2014,

Dollar Tree Stores Fined Nearly $178,000 for Safety Hazards at MA Store

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration has fined Dollar Tree Stores Inc., $177,800 after OSHA inspectors from the Braintree area inspection office found dangerous hazards at a store in Roslindale, MA. According to OSHA reports, the Boston neighborhood store repeatedly exposed workers to dangerous conditions including blocked exits and hazards in the store's stockroom.

"This case reflects this company's deliberate and ongoing refusal to effectively address hazards that have been cited multiple times at their stores across the country," Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, said in a press release. "On his initial visit to the store, the OSHA inspector informed management of the hazards and the need to correct them. Yet, on subsequent visits, the inspector found these hazardous conditions again and again, showing an unacceptable disregard for employee health and safety."

According to OSHA documents, the inspection was performed in December 2013. The official reportedly found that merchandise in the store's stockroom was consistently stacked in an unstable and unsecured manner that exposed workers to crushing injuries should the stacks collapse. Additionally, emergency exit routes were blocked by store inventory, shopping carriages, a conveyor and garbage. The report also stated that the store failed to maintain a means of access to an electrical control panel so that employees could turn off the store's electrical power in the event of an emergency.

Consequently OSHA cited Dollar Tree Stores for three willful violations, totaling $174,500 in fines. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, according to OSHA standards. The company was also cited for one serious violation, with a $3,300 fine, for allowing trash and garbage to accumulate throughout the stockroom, creating tripping and exit hazards for the workers. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known, according to OSHA.

In OSHA’s press release, it was stated that Dollar Tree Stores has been inspected 153 times nationally over 19 years and was cited for 453 violations of OSHA standards. Within the last five years, Dollar Tree Stores was cited 51 times for the same violations being cited willfully at the Roslindale store.

OSHA’s acting regional administrator for New England Robert Hooper stated "Placing employees repeatedly at risk of serious injuries or death is serial behavior for this company, and it must change. A large employer such as Dollar Tree Stores has a responsibility to its employees to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers at all of its more than 5,000 locations."

Continue reading "Dollar Tree Stores Fined Nearly $178,000 for Safety Hazards at MA Store" »

July 7, 2014,

Fatal Hazmat Incident Reported at MA Elementary School

Officials in Plymouth are scrambling to figure out what caused a scary hazardous materials incident that claimed the life of a senior custodian at Manomet Elementary School this morning. Police responded to a report of a body inside the building, but it was not immediately known if it was related the ongoing hazmat incident or if it was an unrelated occurrence. Upon investigating the death of the school employee, two police officers and another unidentified person became ill and needed to be transported to the hospital. Boston.com reports that a total of ten people, including nine school employees were taken the hospital with minor symptoms. Most had been treated and released.

It is unclear what caused the illness, and officials are investigating whether the incident is related work being done on the building, or if it was caused by another unknown source. The state fire marshal is conducting an investigation and said more information would be available later in the afternoon, but did say that chemical levels in the building appeared to be “very low.”

Continue reading "Fatal Hazmat Incident Reported at MA Elementary School" »

June 30, 2014,

Boston Bridge & Steel Inc. Cited by OSHA After Worker’s Death

Steel fabrication plant Boston Bridge & Steel Inc., was cited by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety Health Organization following a worker’s death late last year.

The 46-year-old man who worked at the steel fabrication plant died when a 6-ton steel bridge arch beam that he was spray painting fell and crushed him. An investigation by OSHA found that Boston Bridge & Steel Inc. exposed its workers to hazardous situations including failing to ensure that the fallen beam and three other similar beams were adequately braced or supported to prevent them from falling while being painted.

"This death should not have happened-and would not have happened-if these beams had been properly secured," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. "An incident such as this, and the incalculable loss of life that results, can be prevented only if employers provide and maintain effective safeguards for their workers."

The employees, who were cleaning and spray-painting the beams, were also not equipped with adequate respiratory protection against vapors generated during the spray painting, according to a press release by OSHA. In addition, workers who wore half-face respirators had not been evaluated to determine their medical fitness to use respirators and had not been supplied with the correct respirator filters. Investigators also determined that employees had not been informed or trained about the hazards associated with chemicals used during spray painting.

Additional hazards found by OSHA officials included flying debris from an unguarded grinder and the use of a cleaning hose with excess air pressure; flash burns due to missing screens where welding was performed; electric shock and fire hazards from misused electrical cords and missing electrical knockouts; falls from a damaged access ladder; and slips and trips from accumulated ice and snow on an emergency exit route, according to OSHA.

Continue reading "Boston Bridge & Steel Inc. Cited by OSHA After Worker’s Death" »

June 25, 2014,

New Study Shows Long-Lasting Effects of Workplace Chemicals

It has been a well-known fact for years that some chemicals found in certain work environments can be dangerous to an employee’s health. We know that Asbestos, for example, provided excellent fire protection for homes built in the mid-20th century, but was found to be definitively linked to Mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer. We know that the chemicals found in many industrial strength solvents cannot possible be healthy to breathe in, but a recent study shows these effects may be much more significant than originally thought.

The scientific definition for a solvent is a substance, such as water, that is used to dissolve another compound—say, salt. When salt is dissolved in water, the salt is the solute in this situation, the water is the solvent, and the salt water is the end result—the solution. Chemical solvents use potent materials to break down stronger compounds. In the study authored by Erika Sabbath, a research fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, researchers focused on three different types of chemical solvents:
• Benzene, which is found in detergents and many types of plastics
• Chlorinated solvents, which are common ingredients in industrial products such as paint strippers and dry cleaning solutions
• Petroleum solvents, commonly found in varnish.

Continue reading "New Study Shows Long-Lasting Effects of Workplace Chemicals" »

June 23, 2014,

Massachusetts House Approves Domestic Workers Bill That Establishes Protections

The Massachusetts House has just approved legislation that establishes a “bill of rights” for domestic workers. Under the bill, domestic workers are defined as individuals who provide services in the home, such as laundering, housekeeping, caregiving, home companion services, cooking, and childcare. (Babysitting is not included). The bill was approved by the state’s senate last month. Now, Governor Deval Patrick must sign the bill into law.

There are about 67,000 domestic workers in Massachusetts. Many of them are women, which can make them easy targets of sexual harassment and other abuses. Many domestic employees have complained that they lack the legal protections provided to other workers in the state.

Under the new legislation, domestic workers employed in a household for over 16 hours a week would have to receive written contracts. They would be entitled to a description of their duties, their pay rate (including overtime and compensation for specialized skills and other responsibilities), information about yearly raises, health insurance, and reimbursement for additional expenses.

The bill mandates that private households provide domestic workers with days off, designated breaks for meals and rest periods, unpaid maternity leave, sick time, vacation days, personal days, and severance. Also, domestic workers would have to be given two weeks notice or severance pay before they are let go. If they are evicted from a living quarters they must be given at least 30 days written notice and employers would have to abide by the uniform summary process rules.

Massachusetts Workers' Compensation
Currently domestic workers who are employed over 16 hours a week are entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits. This means that regardless of who or what caused their injury that occurred on the job, they are entitled to work injury benefits. Slip and fall accidents, burn injuries from cooking, poison from toxic conditions in the home, illness contracted from caring for a sick person, and back injuries from lifting or moving heavy objects are a few of the injuries and ailments that can result in a domestic work situation.

Unfortunately, not all employers or their insurers are willing to pay an injured employee the workers' compensation benefits that he/she is owed. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we know that this can be very stressful, especially if you are now unable to work, have medical bills to pay, and must still support your family.

Our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers are here to make sure our clients get all of their benefits and that there are no delays in payments. We also pursue death injury benefits for the families of workers that were killed on the job. Contact our Boston work injury law firm today to request your free case consultation.

Bill S.882, An Act establishing the domestic workers bill of rights, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Domestic Worker Bill Approved by Massachusetts Legislature, The Insurance Journal, June 20, 2014

More Blog Posts:
New Bedford Shellfish Processing Plant Fined after Worker’s Death, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, June 12, 2014

Amtrak Train-SUV Crash in Mansfield, Massachusetts Kills Three, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, June 23, 2014

MBTA Operators’ Union Objects to New Cell Phone Policy After Newton Bus Crash, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, June 19, 2014