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.
Posted On: October 25, 2010

Construction Accident Highlights Risk of Fall Hazards

Earlier this month, a construction accident injured a painter who was working on a platform below an interstate bridge. Crews shut down traffic in two lanes as they worked transport the man to safety and reopened traffic about an hour later.

The painter is expected to be OK, but the accident highlights the serious risk of fall accidents. Earlier this year, a Massachusetts worker fell from a forklift and died at a Yankee Candle Co. warehouse in Deerfield.

However, the majority of fatal falls in Massachusetts are from scaffolding accidents. That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to follow safety standards regarding fall protection and proper safety training to prevent workplace injuries.

Source: Construction Accident On I-94 Bridge Snarls Traffic, WCCO.com, October 20, 2010

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Posted On: October 21, 2010

Construction Workers Injured After Scaffolding Collapses

On Tuesday afternoon, a construction accident injured two workers after the scaffolding collapsed on them. The two men were reportedly working on scaffolding inside the Cleveland County Jail construction site when cinder blocks underneath them gave away, resulting in a fall of between 12 and 18 feet. By the time firefighters and emergency crews arrived at the scene of the scaffolding accident, workers were already attempting to pull their coworkers from the debris.

One worker reportedly suffered a back injury, while the other had multiple leg fractures and contusions. Their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. The construction company said it is investigating what caused part of the scaffolding to collapse.

Here in Massachusetts, we’ve seen a number of fatal scaffolding accidents in recent years. According to the Massachusetts Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Project (FACE), the majority of workers who fall to their death in the state do so from scaffolds. In fact, a 29-year-old carpenter died after slipping off a scaffolding platform on an unguarded carpenter’s bracket scaffold. Another Massachusetts man, a 69-year-old mason, fell 20 feet to his death when a plank underneath him slipped.

Source: Scaffolding collapses on construction workers, Norman Transcript, October 20, 2010

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Posted On: October 18, 2010

Statistics Show Workplace Hazards by Industry

Although this blog frequently reports on Massachusetts construction accidents and similar hazards, construction workers are not the only ones to face serious hazards in the workplace. In fact, the service industries account for 70% of all on-the-job illnesses or injuries (that’s 1 in 1.43 incidents). That’s compared to just 1 in 62.44 non-fatal workplace accidents in the information industry and 1 in 32.69 in the financial industry.

The highest proportion of workplace deaths, 1 in 2.46, is caused by transportation accidents such as bus, subway, or trolley accidents. Surprisingly, only 1 in 36.34 workplace deaths are caused by fires and explosions.

But regardless of the industry, workplace accidents can result in serious injuries or death. That’s why it’s important for all employers to take responsibility for workplace safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration monitors potential hazards and issues fines and citations to companies that fail to comply with safety standards.

Source: Workplace Safety, Book of Odds, October 17, 2010

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Posted On: October 15, 2010

Massachusetts Police Officer Injured on His Way to Work

On Thursday evening, a state trooper suffered minor injuries after an alleged drink driver hit his cruiser. According to state police, this traffic accident marks the sixth time this year a trooper has been hit by an alleged drunk driver while in a cruiser.

The trooper was headed to work in a marked cruiser when he noticed cruisers with emergency lights heading towards him. He positioned his vehicle in the path of a driver who was fleeing from Milford police, and the driver collided with the cruiser. The driver reportedly jumped out of his pickup truck and was arrested after a brief chase. He refused chemical breath tests and was charged with drunk driving on the basis of his glassy eyes, unsteady feet, and the smell of alcohol.

According to a Milford police report, the driver was charged with operating under the influence (second offense), marked lanes violation, possession of alcohol in a car, failure to stop, and reckless operation of a motor vehicle. If the driver is found guilty of a second offense of OUI in Massachusetts, the penalty is jail time of 30 days to 2½ years, a fine of $600-$1,000, license suspension for up to two years, and a requirement to install your car with an interlock device. It could also result in probation and/or inpatient admission to an alcohol treatment program.

Source: State trooper is sixth hit this year by alleged drunk driver, Boston Globe, October 15, 2010

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Posted On: October 12, 2010

OSHA Fines Paper Mill Following Fatal Workplace Accident

Our Massachusetts workplace injury lawyers have been following various accidents around the country. Last week, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced proposed fines of $75,000 after the death of a worker earlier this year. An investigation of the paper mill uncovered “repeat and serious violations” of workplace safety standards.

A 40-year-old worker died after being crushed between a metal wall and a 5,000-pound roll of paper on a conveyer belt. Inspectors found that the area lacked guards to prevent employees from getting caught between the two objects. In addition, investigators found a lack of eye and face protection for workers performing voltage testing on live electrical circuits, although this was unrelated to the fatal workplace accident.

OSHA requires employers to report deaths on the job within eight hours. Investigators from OSHA will then examine the circumstances surrounding the death to determine if any safety regulations were violated. The maximum penalty is $7,000 for each serious violation or $70,000 for a repeated or willful violation. These penalties do not factor in the cost of an injury or illness or the value of the worker’s life.

Here in Massachusetts, an Athol man was injured at a paper mill in Erving when a 900-pound roll of paper crushed his leg.

Source: Worker’s death to bring fine by OSHA, Buffalo News, October 8, 2010

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Posted On: October 8, 2010

Boston Workplace Accident Attorney Discusses Latest Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released statistics from workplace fatalities in 2009. According to the report, fatal occupational injuries fell from 5,314 to 4,340 in 2009. This is the lowest number of workplace fatalities since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries program began in 1992.

The decline was even more dramatic in the construction industry, where deaths fell by 16% in 2009. However, other industries reported a rise in fatal injuries, including a 3% increase in the wholesale trade industry and a 6% increase in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance.

Authorities said the overall decrease may be due to economy, which caused total work hours to fall by 6% and slowed down the construction industry, which has usually accounted for many of the fatal accidents or illnesses included in the statistics.

Here in Massachusetts, cases of wrongful death may entitle the immediate family members to compensation for the loss of the reasonably expected net income, companionship, and other losses.

Source: Experts cautiously optimistic about latest workplace fatalities report, Risk & Insurance, October 7, 2010

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Posted On: October 6, 2010

Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Examines Subcontractor’s Responsibility in Accident

Recently, the 3rd Appellate Court of Appeals in Wisconsin made the decision that a subcontractor does not bear the responsibility for a construction site accident involving construction barricades placed by the subcontractor if those barricades are put up in accordance with instructions.

The case involved a woman who tripped over a leg of a barricade that had been placed around part of a concrete sidewalk while it was curing. The woman suffered two fractured wrist bones and chipped a third, resulting in surgery. She and her brother tried to sue the city of River Falls, where the tripping accident occurred, as well as the subcontractor hired by the city.

The decision stated that as long as the subcontractor follows the city’s instructions, they are covered by government immunity. The court recommended the decision for publication, indicating that should set a precedent in future cases.

According to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), subcontractors are responsible for their employees, including maintaining injury and illness logs, regardless of how many workers are employed by the subcontractor.

Source: Court rules construction site fall is not subcontractor’s responsibility, WisLawJournal.com, October 6, 2010

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Posted On: October 4, 2010

Massachusetts Communities to Receive Damages from CVS for Workers’ Compensation Overcharges

Several towns in Massachusetts, including Brockton, Pittsfield, and New Bedford, will receive thousands of dollars in damages from CVS, which was found to have overcharged state residents for prescription drugs under the workers’ compensation insurance system. The Division of Health Care Finance and Policy uses the same methods to price prescription drugs for workers’ compensation claims as for Medicaid.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the payments last Thursday after investigating allegations that the pharmacies were overcharging residents. The Attorney General filed last month in Suffolk Superior Court.

CVS will pay $1.35 million of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on top of $1.3 million to the towns and cities impacted. Boston will receive $60,000 in damages, while Brockton will get $52,000. The communities should get their checks later next month.

Source: Brockton to receive more than $50,000 in CVS overcharges, Enterprise News, October 1, 2010

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