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Posted On: January 17, 2012

Easthampton Police Officer Faces Forced Retirement After Work Injury

According to Easthampton city officials, a city police officer might be retiring from the Easthampton Police Department against his will. An injury that he sustained while on duty has prevented him from returning to work for over two years. Officer Anthony Covalli, 30, who has been with the Easthampton Police Department since 2004, broke his leg in November of 2009, when he jumped over a chain link fence while he was pursuing a suspect.

Although his expected date to return to work was in May 2010, Personnel Director Raisa Riggott confirmed that he remains out on paid leave. She said "It's tough because he really wants to get back to work, but he's had so many complications with his injury." According to Riggott, Police Chief Bruce McMahon is attempting to involuntarily retire Covalli because his paid leave is "costing the city money."

Massachusetts State Law mandates that police officers or firefighters who are injured while on duty must receive their full, untaxed wages while they are "incapacitated." Riggott confirmed that Covalli has been receiving his regular salary since his accident in 2009 and that the law does not currently state any limit on the length of time the officer is allowed to be on paid leave. The base annual salary for Covalli's position is $49,587; however, he may be receiving additional pay depending on his level of education or training.

A panel of doctors is scheduled to examine Covalli to determine whether or not he should retire due to the injury. Tina Schneider, administrator for the Easthampton Retirement Department, said that if the Retirement Board decides to retire Covalli, he will receive the same retirement package as any other officer who has had to retire because of an accidental disability.

The city´s Retirement Board accepted this request from Police Chief Bruce McMahon to begin involuntary retirement proceedings for Covalli and the department has commenced the paperwork that will be submitted to the state's Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission to start the involuntary retirement process. According to the retirement administration commission's guidelines, Covalli has the option to appeal the Retirement Board's decision in district court within 30 days.

Covalli grew up in and is still a resident of Easthampton. He became a full-time police officer when he was 23 years old after serving in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves for six months in 2006.

If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace or are facing complications over your workers´ compensation, it is advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.


Easthampton moves to force retirement of injured police officer
, www.gazettenet.com, January 14, 2012

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Posted On: January 10, 2012

U.S. Labor Department and Construction Company Settle Litigation Over Workplace Safety

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently settled litigation with NER Construction Management Inc., a Wilmington masonry contractor. The construction company has agreed to pay $134,000 in penalties and make significant safety protocol changes to protect company employees against workplace accidents. According to the terms of the settlement agreement that resolves litigation with the U.S. Department of Labor. At a jobsite located at Rowes Wharf in Boston, the original safety inspections were conducted by OSHA's Braintree Area Office in January 2011. OSHA cited NER for willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards. NER employees also faced falling hazards of up to 17 feet.

According to the terms of the settlement agreement that resolves litigation with the U.S. Department of Labor, NER has agreed to pay the fines and has verified that it has fixed all of the cited hazards and is now taking steps to increase workplace safety on all job sites. This new protocol includes performing a detailed hazard analysis on each job to determine fall protection safeguards for every employee on the job, providing competent personal training for all employees authorized to identify and correct fall hazards, and revising the company's disciplinary policy to include management employees. NER also agrees to provide OSHA with a monthly report of all job sites on which it will be working for the next year in addition to copies of any external safety audits conducted over the next two years.

Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator, said "Whenever OSHA cites employers, we're looking for them to not only correct specific cited hazards but also to take effective steps to prevent them from recurring…With this settlement, NER Construction Management pledges to take such steps for the safety of its workers." Michael Felsen, the Labor Department's New England regional solicitor, said "Our ultimate goal in litigating OSHA cases is to ensure that employers safeguard their workers against needless and potentially devastating hazards…This positive settlement both upholds OSHA's findings and lays a foundation for future compliance by this employer, which will result in safer workplaces for its employees." Attorney James Polianites of the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston litigated the case.

If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.


US Labor Department reaches settlement with Wilmington, Mass., masonry contractor to enhance fall protection for workers, OSHA Regional News Release, December 21, 2011

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