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: May 27, 2011

Bostik Inc. Provides Cause for Plant Explosion and Worker Injuries in Middleton, Officials Continue Investigation

Bostik Inc. reported yesterday that they had determined the cause of their plant´s explosion and 4-alarm fire at their adhesive manufacturing plant in Middleton on March 14. They asserted that the explosion which injured four of their workers was due to open valves that let flammable gas permeate throughout the building. In a press release, they reported that "Findings point to a single instance in which two internal valves in an open position appear to have allowed flammable vapors to escape into the building and ignite when exposed to an internal ignition source."

However, after meeting with Bostik representatives yesterday, state officials and investigators are hesitant to accept this explanation as a definitive cause. State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said Bostik's explanation is not an official ruling and that the incident is still being investigated: "Our investigators met with the company and other agencies and were able to obtain additional information…But we are not commenting on nor are we confirming the cause as released by the company…"

The continuing investigation into the cause of the explosion and fire is led by State Fire Marshal Coan´s office and local fire officials. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are investigating the plant´s workplace safety. OSHA requires such manufacturing companies to have specific procedures to control the accumulation of flammable and combustible material. OSHA also requires the regular maintenance and monitoring of any heat-producing equipment in order to prevent the accidental ignition of flammable material.

Residents nearby the plant complained of an earthquake-like boom due to the explosion and a strong chemical odor in the aftermath. State Fire Marshal Coan confirmed that shortly after the explosion, the haz-mat team had determined that there was no airborne environmental hazard. Local environmental officials were, however, concerned about the possible chemical contamination to the Ipswich River. The location of the plant is situated close to the Middleton, Peabody, and Lynn town lines.

Workplace explosions affect not only the workers but also the residents that surround the workplace facility. Injuries from explosions are not always limited to on the job site workers. When someone is injured on the job they are entitled to workers compensation benefits. These benefits vary depending on the severity of the injury. In addition, if someone happens to be injured on the job and the injury is caused by a third party, that worker may be able to make an additional claim for damages. If you are not sure if you have a third party negligence claim it may be in your best interest to contact a work injury attorney to fully understand your rights.

In addition as in the case above, when there is an explosion on the worksite often times OSHA is called in to see if there were any safety violations in the workplace. While we do not know what OSHA’s findings will be yet on, their findings can impact an injured worker’s injury claim.

If you have been injured in the workplace, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.

Sources:

State and company officials discuss Middleton blast, The Boston Globe, May 24, 2011

Bostik Provides Update on the March 13 Incident to Local Agencies, Bostik, Inc., Press Release

Fire Prevention Plans, Standard 1910.39, Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA investigating Middleton plant blast, The Boston Globe, March 16, 2011

4 hurt in blast, fire at factory, The Boston Globe, March 14, 2011


Continue reading " Bostik Inc. Provides Cause for Plant Explosion and Worker Injuries in Middleton, Officials Continue Investigation " »

Posted On: May 24, 2011

Massachusetts Court Decision Could Influence Contractor and Subcontractor Liability

An important decision has recently been made by a Massachusetts Chief Justice who has ruled that the wife of a deceased Massachusetts construction worker can sue the contractor who oversaw a construction site where her husband was killed and son was injured, despite the fact that the contractor has already paid workers’ compensation benefits.

In a 2005 Plum Island construction accident, Timothy Wentworth and his son were working for a subcontractor on a residential jobsite when the waterproofing material they were spraying exploded after a pilot light inside the house ignited. Timothy Wentworth died from his injuries sustained and his son, Ezekiel, sustained serious and disfiguring injuries.

The subcontractor they were working for was Great Green Barrier Co., a company from Maine that did not carry workers´ compensation insurance despite state requirements. The contractor who oversaw the job and subcontractor was Henry C. Becker Custom Building. Becker did carry workers´ compensation insurance and was thus obligated to pay benefits under Massachusetts law. Timothy Wentworth´s widow, Cheryl Wentworth, and Ezekiel, agreed to the settlements and were paid worker’s compensation by Becker in 2007.

Cheryl Wentworth also filed a civil lawsuit against Becker, accusing them of her husband´s death and son´s injuries due to the contractor´s negligence. Wentworth´s claim was initially refused as the court ruled that the accepted payment of worker´s compensation served as a release of all claims arising from the incident and that the contractor was immune from the family suing for a civil claim.

However, just this week, a Massachusetts Chief Justice has reversed the lower court´s decision and has enabled the Wentworths´ claim against the contractor to proceed in civil court. Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland wrote in the court´s decision: “We conclude… that suits are not barred against general contractors that were obligated… to pay workers’ compensation benefits of the uninsured subcontractor’s employees… In sum, the immunity does not apply to the defendant (Becker).”

If you or your loved one suffers from injuries or death due to a work accident, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.

Source:

Massachusetts Court Allows Workers’ Suit Against Contractor, Claims Journal, May 23, 2011

Related Blog Posts:

OSHA announces new directive to protect residential roofing workers

Salisbury Construction Contractor Cited by OSHA Following Explosion

Federal Officials Still Investigating Fatal Construction Accident


Continue reading " Massachusetts Court Decision Could Influence Contractor and Subcontractor Liability " »

Posted On: May 19, 2011

OSHA Works On Withdrawn Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Recording Regulation

On May 17, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration reopened the public record on the proposed rule to revise the Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements regulation on workers’ musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). As reported in OSHA Withdraws Two Important Workplace Safety Proposals, OSHA recently in January withdrew the proposed regulation that would reinstate a column on work-related employer injury logs that would have required employers to record their workers’ MSDs.

The proposed regulation would require an employer to check-mark the MSD box on the column in the OSHA 300 log if an employee´s case meets the definition of an MSD and will not change how employers must record work-related injuries and illnesses. For the purpose of the injury logs, the proposed rule would define an MSD as a disorder of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage or spinal discs that was not caused by a slip, trip, fall, motor vehicle accident or a similar accident.

OSHA met with the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy over teleconference on April 11 and 12 due to their concerns over how this proposed rule would impact small businesses. OSHA has since decided to reopen the record to allow interested individuals to give feedback on the rule.

Dr. David Michaels , Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health said "OSHA is eager to hear from the public on this, and every, proposed rule…The more feedback the agency receives from small businesses on this topic, the better informed we will be in crafting a proposed regulation that protects workers without overburdening employers." OSHA invites the public to submit comments by June 16, 2011.

OSHA expects an estimated 1.505 million MSDs to be recorded annually among 1.542 million affected businesses. They estimate that the combined costs of the proposed rule will be $1.7 million per year.

If you suffer from injuries obtained at work, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.

Source:

US Labor Department's OSHA reopens public record on proposed record-keeping rule to add work-related musculoskeletal disorders column, OSHA National News Release, May 16, 2011

Related Blog Post:

OSHA Withdraws Two Important Workplace Safety Proposals


Continue reading " OSHA Works On Withdrawn Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Recording Regulation " »

Posted On: May 17, 2011

OSHA Cites South Easton Contractor for Unprotected 40-foot Fall Hazard

Folan Waterproofing and Construction Co. Inc., of South Easton, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for nine serious violations of workplace safety standards at a Lowell jobsite. In December of last year, an OSHA inspector found a Folan worker climbing onto the roof of Immaculate Conception Church, at 144 E. Merrimack Street, directly from his aerial lift without any form of employee fall protection. After this observation, OSHA quickly began an investigation into Folan´s jobsite safety.

OSHA found that the company´s workers lacked fall protection while in or exiting the aerial lift, a faulty wire rope that they used to haul up construction materials had not been noticed or removed from use, workers were not wearing helmets, they were exposed to electric shock risks from underground electrical equipment, and the crane they were using had not been inspected at least once a year. Employees had also not received training to recognize aerial lift hazards. The contractor now faces $48,510 in fines for these safety breeches.

OSHA´s Andover area director, Jeffrey A. Erskin, said "Left uncorrected, these conditions exposed workers to falls of up to 40 feet, electrocution and being struck by a falling load…While it is fortunate that none of these employees was injured or killed, workplace safety should never be a matter of fortune, good or bad. Ensuring the safety of workers means ensuring that proper and effective equipment and work practices are in place and in use every day at every job site."

OSHA issues a serious violation when there is a probable chance that death or serious injuries could result from a work hazard that the employer should have known about or fixed.

If you have been injured in a construction accident or work accident while on the job, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.

Source:

US Labor Department's OSHA cites South Easton, Mass., contractor for fall, other hazards at Lowell, Mass., job site, OSHA Regional News Release, May 16, 2011

Related Blog Posts:

OSHA Warns Construction Industry in Essex and Middlesex Counties after Citing Danvers Roofing Company for Fall Hazards

Man Falls Through Skylight While Clearing Snow in Waltham

Construction Worker Dies from Head Injuries Sustained During Fall

Continue reading " OSHA Cites South Easton Contractor for Unprotected 40-foot Fall Hazard " »

Posted On: May 13, 2011

Lynnfield Company Charged With Improper Asbestos Removal

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced that a Lynnfield asbestos removal company has been charged with the improper removal and disposal of asbestos in Marblehead, Lynn, and Beverly. Authorities report that David Harder, Jr., age 47, and Julie Rosati, age 51, of Lynnfield, their company named AEI, and Luiz Dias, age 43, an employee of AEI, illegally removed asbestos at many different construction sites, in addition to public buildings and schools throughout Massachusetts.

Harder, Jr. and Rosati were both charged with 12 counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act, 2 counts of violating the Massachusetts Solid Waste Act, and 4 counts of Evasion of Unemployment Insurance. Harder and Dias were also charged with Filing False Statements for the Protection of the Environment, and Conspiracy to File False Environmental reports. Rosati was also charged with Filing False Statements for the Protection of the Environment.

The removal of asbestos must be performed by a licensed contractor according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) rules; however, at the time of this removal, the defendants were not licensed to remove asbestos. In addition to this, they did not notify the MassDEP of the removal dates which contractors or asbestos removal companies are also required to do.

Asbestos is a natural but dangerous mineral fiber that has been commonly used for insulation and fire-retardant manufacturing because it is resistant to heat and decay. However, it can eventually break up into microscopic dust fibers that, when inhaled, can remain in the body causing numerous lung diseases, cancers, and possibly death.

Workplace exposure to asbestos can often be found in the construction industry, the manufacturing of materials containing asbestos, and the car repair industry.

If you have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace or have become ill because of workplace exposure to asbestos, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.
.

Sources:

Owners and Employee of Lynnfield Company Arraigned on Illegal Asbestos Removal and Disposal Charges, News Release, Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley, May 3, 2011

Asbestos Resources, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Related Blog Posts:

Boston Real Estate Development and Property Development Company Guilty of Improper Asbestos Disposal

Chemical Company Agrees to Clean Up and Pay $800,000 for Asbestos in Massachusetts

Construction Halts at Boston University School of Medicine After Asbestos Exposure

Continue reading " Lynnfield Company Charged With Improper Asbestos Removal " »

Posted On: May 9, 2011

Teenage Work Injuries Remain Too Common in Massachusetts

According to a report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, teen work injuries remain a major issue for Massachusetts despite a slight decline over the past few decades. The report is a part of the department´s "teens at work" project that tracks teenager hospital room visits and teenager workers´ compensation claims related to work accidents.

John Auerbach, the state’s public health commissioner, said “We’re trying to determine what type of injuries occur so we can prevent them in the future…Sometimes, what’s required is more training; sometimes, educating employers; and sometimes, changing laws.’’

According to the report, three Massachusetts teenagers under the age of 18 were killed in the workplace and over 4,000 Massachusetts teenagers went to the hospital with an emergency due to work-related injuries from 2004 to 2008. Although the number of teenager injuries has decreased due to higher unemployment rates, the rate of injuries has only slightly declined since 2000. The injury rate, three out of every 100 teenagers, is twice as high as the injury rate for older employees.

Tish Davis, who manages the Massachusetts health surveillance program, said “What we see in our interviews with injured teens is that they’re often doing exactly what their employers are asking them to do…They want to prove themselves; they don’t want to look foolish by speaking up.’’

The findings reveal that employers are not following Federal and state rules and thus not providing a safe working environment for teenagers. Under Federal law, minors must not be put in dangerous work situations. Teenagers under 18 are not allowed to work with or use power-driven meat slicers, wood-working machines, bakery equipment and are completely prohibited from working in coal mines, meat packing plants, and saw mills. Massachusetts law prohibits most jobs, other than babysitting and yard work, for children under the age of 14. However, approximately one-fifth of Massachusetts middle school students admitted to having prohibited jobs in 2009.

If you or your teenager has been injured in the workplace, it is advised that you contact a Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.

Sources:

Teen work injuries in Mass. show only slight decline, The Boston Globe, April 22, 2011

Protecting Working Teens - A Public Health Resource Guide, Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services

Related Blog Posts:

Lakeville Teen Drowns While Working at Local Golf Course

Massachusetts Governor Declares May “Safe Jobs for Youth” Month

Continue reading " Teenage Work Injuries Remain Too Common in Massachusetts " »

Posted On: May 2, 2011

OSHA Warns of Workers Overheating in Summer Months

As summer approaches, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently announced a national initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat and ways in which employers can prevent heat-related illnesses for their employees.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said, "If you're working outdoors, you're at risk for heat-related illnesses that can cause serious medical problems and even death…But heat illness can be prevented. This Labor Department campaign will reach across the country with a very simple message – water, rest and shade."

Thousands of workers suffer from heat illness or heat exhaustion every year, which can quickly lead to heat stroke if not treated. Heat stroke killed over 30 workers nationwide last year. Jobs in agriculture, construction, landscaping, road-work, and airport baggage handling are some industries particularly at risk.

OSHA has taken many recent steps to ensure a cool and safe work environment for the upcoming summer. They have partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to produce weather warnings that will issue heat alerts for workers across the U.S. OSHA has also created educational and training materials on heat illness in English and Spanish, along with their new heat illness web-page with information for employers and workers.

OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said "As we move into the summer months, it is very important for workers and employers to take the steps necessary to stay safe in extreme heat…Drinking water often, taking breaks and limiting time in the heat are simple, effective ways to prevent heat illness."

As reported just last December, in Salisbury Construction Contractor Cited by OSHA Following Explosion, a Massachusetts contractor was penalized for a lack of heat guards that could lead to extensive heat exposure to their workers.

If you have been injured at work or have a question regarding a workers' compensation case, contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.

Source:

US Labor Department launches national outreach
campaign to protect workers from heat-related illnesses
, OSHA National News Release, April 26, 2011

Related Blog Posts:

Salisbury Construction Contractor Cited by OSHA Following Explosion

Continue reading " OSHA Warns of Workers Overheating in Summer Months " »