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.
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 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" »

May 31, 2014

Salisbury, MA Manufacturer Fined $93,200 for Repeat Safety Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Andover Healthcare Inc., a maker of coated fabrics and adhesives for the healthcare industry, for willfully exposing workers to safety hazards at its Salisbury, MA manufacturing plant.

According to OSHA documents, the company put workers’ lives at risk by exposing them to unsafe machinery. Workers were ultimately at risk for being caught in plant machinery or being crushed in said machinery. The company also faces violations for not properly training employees the lockout/tagout procedure when using dangerous machinery. The company is currently facing more than $93,000 worth of fines for two repeat violations and seven serious violations. In 2010 an OSHA investigation found that the company had intentionally put workers’ at risk—the same violations were made this month and carried fines of more than $65,000.

"It's vital that employers develop and implement adequate lockout/tagout procedures to protect workers from moving machine parts during servicing and maintenance," said Jeffery Erskine, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "Failure to do so places employees at risk of being caught in or crushed by machinery if it turns on during service or maintenance." 



OSHA found workers had been exposed to struck-by and crushing hazards from damaged or insecurely anchored steel storage racks and an unmarked crane lift. Additional hazards included unguarded machinery, a defective power cord and obstructed exit access. These conditions resulted in citations for seven serious violations, with $26,200 in fines. Finally, the company was cited for two other-than-serious violations, with $2,000 in fines, for failure to record the injuries properly, which resulted in medical treatment or lost workdays.

Continue reading "Salisbury, MA Manufacturer Fined $93,200 for Repeat Safety Violations" »

May 31, 2014

OSHA Cites MA Printing Firm For
Exposing Workers To Combustible Metal Powder and Electrical Hazards

Woburn-based 3-D printing company, Powderpart Inc., was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for one willful and nine serious violations of workplace safety standards. According to OSHA documents, the inspection followed an explosion and fire on Nov. 5, 2013, which inflicted third-degree burns on a company employee.

The Andover Area Office discovered that the company had failed to prevent and protect its employees from the fire and explosion hazards of reactive, combustible* metal powders, such as titanium and aluminum alloys, which are used in the company's three-dimensional printing process.

"The fire and explosion hazards when working with titanium and aluminum are established, particularly when the materials are in powder form," Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties said in a statement. "Just as it's easier to start a campfire with kindling than with logs, it's easier for a metal fire to start when you're working with metal powder that is as fine as confectioner's sugar."

According to OSHA’s report, Powderpart had failed to dispose of known sources of potential ignition and follow pertinent instructions from equipment manufacturers, and did not alert the Woburn Fire Department to the workplace presence of hazardous materials. In addition Powderpart had an employee workstation and flammable powders next to an area with explosion potential.

Continue reading "OSHA Cites MA Printing Firm For
Exposing Workers To Combustible Metal Powder and Electrical Hazards" »

March 30, 2014

Nail Gun Accident Leaves Contractor With One Eye

A contractor recently lost his eye after the nail gun he was using accidentally discharged. He was working outside a home when the work accident happened. A local fire official said that it is not known at this time how the gun went off, but that it did cause a nail to strike the worker’s eye.

Unfortunately, nail gun accidents are not that uncommon, especially because they are frequently used on construction jobs. While they are faster and more efficient than the manual insertion of nails, nail guns are linked to tens of thousands of work injuries yearly. Please contact our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers today if you have been injured by a nail gun or some other tool while on the job.

According to OSHA, one study found that over four years, 2 out of 5 residential carpenter apprentices will suffer a nail gun injury. Seeing as many construction workers needed their hands to do their job, sustaining even a puncture wound can make it hard for him/her to go back to work right away. There may be needed recovery time and even physical therapy. An injury may be so severe that the Boston construction worker may not be able to work in the industry again or perhaps only in a lesser capacity. This can severely impact a person’s ability to make a living and sustain a career.

Generally employees cannot sue their employers for their work injuries. However, they are usually entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, there may be disagreement over what happened and how much you are owed, which is why you want to contact a Boston workers’ compensation lawyer that will protect your rights and make sure you get your benefits as soon as possible. Sometimes the disagreement can be with the employer's insurer.

Common nail gun injuries:

• Soft tissue injuries
• Fractures
• Structural damages
• Hand injuries, including those to the fingers, nerves, and tendons
• Lower body extremity injuries, including the thigh, knee, or foot areas
• Head injuries
• Neck injuries
• Chest injuries
• Abdominal injuries
• Spinal cord injuries
• Broken bones
• Traumatic brain injury
• Paralysis
• Puncture wounds

There also may be third parties that are not your employer who should be sued for the Massachusetts construction accident, which is where our Boston personal injury lawyers can help. For example, if your nail gun accident happened because of a defective product, you could have reason to pursue a Massachusetts products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. Other possible defendants, depending on the specific of your case, could include the property owner, other contractors, and other negligent parties.

At Altman & Altman, LLP, we know how tough it can be to worry not just about your recovery but how to pay your bills. The sooner you speak with a Boston workers' compensation lawyer the sooner your claim can be prepared and processed.

Nail Gun Safety, OSHA (PDF)

Contractor loses eye in nail gun accident in Maplewood, New Jersey.com, March 2, 2014

Workers' Compensation, Mass.gov

Occupational Safety & Health Administration, United States Department of Labor


More Blog Posts:
Boston Man Dies After Back Bay Elevator Shaft Fall, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, March 28, 2014

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

Man Involved In Quincy, Massachusetts Construction Accident Suffers Electrical Burns, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, June 12, 2013

March 28, 2014

Boston Man Dies After Back Bay Elevator Shaft Fall

Tragedy struck in a landmark Back Bay building last Friday. First responders were called to 31 Saint James Avenue after reports of a man falling to his death in an elevator shaft. According to Boston Fire spokesman Steve MacDonald, the man was an elevator operator in the building and was found unresponsive at the bottom of the shaft.

Though the police report indicates they do not believe that foul play was involved, OSHA and Boston Police investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the deadly accident. Some are speculating a safety mechanism that could have failed as the elevator was stuck between the first floor and the basement, and the man is believed to have attempted to jump to the first floor. Several local voices piped up on social media to express their concern over the freight elevator. Those who worked in the building often avoided it out of fear that something like this could happen.

Though the risk of dying in an elevator is small, the possibility of getting injured or killed on the job is not. According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 3 million work-related injuries or illnesses in 2012. Victims who are injured on the job and their families face emotional and physical pain, and well as a steep financial burden from mounting medical bills, ongoing treatment, and lost future wages.

Continue reading "Boston Man Dies After Back Bay Elevator Shaft Fall" »

March 20, 2014

Two Injured in Chinatown Construction Accident

Emergency crews were called to the scene of a partial building collapse at 45 Stuart Street this morning. Boston Fire Department reports that two victims were treated at the scene of an accident at a high rise construction site. One of the victims had minor injuries while the other was taken to Tufts Medical Center with serious head injuries, according to the Boston Globe.

The accident occurred when the twelfth floor of a partially constructed building collapsed down to the fifth floor when 120 workers were on the site. “A dead load on the 12th floor collapsed, pancaked down to the fifth floor,” Deputy Fire Chief Robert Calobrisi told CBS Boston. The cause of the collapse was not immediately known, but construction workers are not permitted to resume work until the structural integrity of the building is evaluated by an engineer.

Continue reading "Two Injured in Chinatown Construction Accident" »

February 28, 2014

Massachusetts Office Accidents Can Cause Serious Boston Work Injuries

An office setting can be rife with potential safety hazards. Yes, sitting behind a desk is definitely safer than hauling lumber at a construction site, but don’t think Boston injury accidents still don’t happen. If you were injured at the office, please contact our Massachusetts workers’ compensation law firm today. You may want to explore your options.


Common Office Accidents:
• Fall accidents are the most common kind of office accident (includes slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, step and fall accidents, and other falls.) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, office workers are at least two times likely to sustain a disabling injury in this type of incident. Common causes include wet floors, poor lighting, bending or reaching for an object while in an unsteady chair, electrical cords on the ground, an open drawer, uneven flooring, objects left on the floor, or standing on a chair instead of a ladder, and dark hallways and stairwells.

• Injuries from lifting heavy items can also happen, even if an office worker is just carrying a box full of papers if his/her posture isn’t properly aligned. Neck, shoulder, and back injuries may result.

• If you are not seated correctly and your work station isn’t ergonomically set up, you could end up with musculoskeletal problems, repetitive trauma, carpal tunnel syndrome, back injury, and posture problems. Eye strain and fatigue can also happen from the hours spent staring at the computer.

• Sexual assault and other violent crimes: Office buildings, like any other property, must have adequate security measures in place to prevent violent crimes from happening. Security cameras, secured entrances and exits, and security personnel may be required depending on the office setting.

• Other office accidents can happen: electrocution, electrical injuries, burn injuries from fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other incidents.

Debilitating injuries can make it hard for an office employee to do his/her job. This could mean time off from work, visits to the doctor, and the inability to tend to the other activities and commitments of life.

Although you cannot sue your employer for Boston personal injury or Massachusetts wrongful death, workers are typically entitled to work injury benefits. However, before you agree on the terms of your benefits with the company that you work for, you should speak with Altman & Altman, LLP right away.

Unfortunately, your employer and/or its insurer may disagree with about exactly what happened and if an office accident was the cause of your injury.This could prevent you from getting all of the benefits that you are owed. This is why you should talk to an experienced Boston workers’ compensation lawyer who can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf.

Also, you may be able to sue third parties that were involved, such as the maintenance company whose employee did not properly wipe up a wet floor or a security company that failed to do its job, for Boston personal injury or wrongful death.

Workers' Compensation: What Benefits Will I Get?, MassResources.org

Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Guide for Injured Lawyers, Mass.gov (PDF)

What are the Top Injuries in a Typical Office and How Can You Avoid Them?, Einstein.yu.edu


More Blog Posts:

Injured Logan Airport Construction Worker Awarded $3 M in Personal Injury Settlement, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2014

OSHA Focuses on Protecting Cell Tower Employees after Increase in Worksite Fatalities, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 20, 2014

Dozens Injured After Being Exposed to Carbon Monoxide, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 28, 2014

November 20, 2013

Brain Cancer and Hazardous Workplace Environments

The long-disputed potential link between Pratt & Whitney’s North Haven plant and worker illness has finally come to a head. WHDH Channel Seven News reported on the findings of a research study involving the possible link between brain cancer and long term employment at Pratt & Whitney’s North Haven site. The findings of an 11-year study researching the risk of worker illness at Pratt & Whitney’s North Haven jet engine plant haven’t given survivors and their relatives any closure. The study reports that there is no link between any workplace risks and the employees that suffered from glioblastoma brain tumors.

Continue reading "Brain Cancer and Hazardous Workplace Environments" »

October 17, 2013

Worker Fatally Injured at 49ers Stadium Construction Site

A delivery truck driver died on Monday after he was crushed by a steel rebar being unloaded at the new 49ners stadium construction site.

872475_construction_workers.jpgThe victim, Edward Lake II, 60, died as he was unloading a bundle of rebar set to be used in the construction of the new $1.2 billion stadium. Both state and local authorities investigated the incident, and the lead construction manager halted work on the project for the remainder of Monday. The death is the second to take place at the site in four months. According to the contractor, employees would resume work on Tuesday and take part in safety meetings and be offered counseling.

It is unclear whether OSHA will cite the contracting company for the incident. The prior fatal incident, according to OSHA investigators, did not warrant a formal citation as the incident was deemed “unexplained.”

More than 4,000 workers suffer fatal work injuries each year in the United States according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). National statistics continue to show the construction industry as the most hazardous work environment for individuals, with construction site injuries occurring nearly three times the rate of any other industry in the United States.

Construction’s “Fatal Four”

Nearly 20% of all occupational injuries occur in the construction industry. Falls accounted 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.

Continue reading "Worker Fatally Injured at 49ers Stadium Construction Site " »

September 18, 2013

Charlestown Workers Injured During Scaffolding Incident

Two men working at an under-construction home in Charlestown were injured after the scaffolding they were standing on collapsed.

The incident occurred around 8 a.m. yesterday morning, and Boston fire rescue was immediately dispatched to the scene. Both men were transported to a local Boston hospital with injuries to their backs, legs, and necks. It is unclear of the cause of the accident or whether OSHA had been called in to investigate the incident.
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file000714418981.jpgThe construction business remains the most hazardous work industry in the United States, accounting for nearly 20% of all workplace fatalities annually. While both victims in this case are expected to survive, the incident serves as yet another reminder to construction workers of how dangerous their job can be. Carpenters and roofers incur risky situations on a day-to-day basis, and among these types of workers, falls are the leading cause of injury or death. In a report published by The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational and Safety Health, out of the 32 reported work-related deaths in Massachusetts last year, six were cause by falls.

Scaffolding is used as a temporary platform that is used to help build, install, repair, or reach any surface that cannot be reached by ladder. Scaffolding incidents can occur for a number of reasons including incorrect assembly and improper manufacturing. Accidents can also happen when supports fail or collapse, when scaffolding is broken, scaffolding is wet and a worker slips and falls, or when workers are inadequately trained on how to operate equipment.

Approximately 2.3 million men and women or 65% of those in the construction industry work on scaffolds in the United States. Protecting workers on construction sites where scaffolding is commonly used may prevent an estimated 4,500 injuries and 60 deaths each year, according to OSHA.

No matter what the actual cause of the incident—whether it was a misstep by the victims, a manufacturing defect with the scaffolding or any other circumstance that caused the men fall, ultimately the construction company may be liable. By OSHA standards, employers are responsible for providing safe work environments for all of his or her employees to prevent hazardous situations that pose the threat of serious bodily injury or death. Though the details of this situation are still vague, what can be discerned is that had proper safety precautions been taken; such as the use of a safety harness, the men’s injuries may have been prevented.

Continue reading "Charlestown Workers Injured During Scaffolding Incident" »

August 29, 2013

OSHA Proposes New Rule to Protect Workers from Toxic Silica Exposure

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration filed a petition last week intended to reduce the instance of chronic respiratory illness and cancer among U.S. workers. The plan seeks to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica, a toxic particle that kills hundreds of workers and sickens thousands each year. OSHA’s proposed rule includes two separate standards—one for general industry and maritime employees and one for employees in the construction industry.

construction3-614634-m.jpgCurrently, OSHA enforces a rule dated 40 years to regulate permissible exposure limits (PEL) for silica exposure, which is inconsistent between different work industries. The proposed rule would bring these PELs up to workplace standards and into the 21st century; greatly lowering the amount of silica exposure to workers. OSHA predicts that this new mandated policy would save nearly 700 lives per year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually.

What is Crystalline Silica and Where Is It Found?

Crystalline silica is a micro component of soil, sand, granite, and other types of materials. Quartz, cristobalite, and tridymite are three types of crystalline silica. When materials containing crystalline silica are grinded, cut, or drilled the particles become respirable-sized. Crystalline silica is considered a human carcinogen, and can cause a variety of respiratory issues including lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease. When inhaled, crystalline silica causes scar tissue formation on the lungs, and debilitates the lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen. Silicosis, aside from being incurable, can lead to other infectious diseases and debilitating conditions including tuberculosis.

Silica exposure is a threat to nearly 2 million workers in the United States and is most common in construction jobs including abrasive blasting, foundry work, stone cutting, rock drilling, quarry work, tunneling, as well as maritime work. The most common exposures to workers in construction occur during abrasive blasting with sand to remove rust and paint from bridges, and other surfaces, as well as concrete mixing, concrete drilling, brick cutting, and rock drilling.

General industry employees are often exposed to crystalline silica particles from asphalt paving jobs, painting industries, cement and ceramic manufacturing, as well as soap and glass manufacturing.

Continue reading "OSHA Proposes New Rule to Protect Workers from Toxic Silica Exposure" »

July 30, 2013

How to Make the Most of Witness Interviews after a Workplace Injury

file3641270689477.jpgWhen an employee is injured at work, a certain protocol is taken to investigate how and why the accident occurred. Witness interviews are a crucial part of this protocol, and are heavily relied upon by investigators, as these testimonies provide important information that can help piece together the situation. While the purpose of investigations is not to specifically find fault for an accident, investigations are used to identify the root cause of the incident and help both employers and employees prevent similar accidents in the future. Investigations are also conducted to fulfill legal requirements, determine the costs associated with the accident, determine compliance (on behalf of the employee and the employer) with safety regulations and to determine and correct safety hazards, and to correctly process workers’ compensation claims.

Conducting Witness Interviews

As a general rule, witness interviews should be conducted by experienced safety personnel as soon as possible after the accident occurs. Witnesses are typically the best source of information to determine the sequence of events leading up to the accident. Though it is standard procedure for a unit administrator or law enforcement personnel to take witness statements prior to the investigation team’s arrival, those statements should not be heavily relied upon as the sole witness statements.

Witnesses’ mental states should be taken into account when an investigator is conducting the interviews. Sometimes witnesses are traumatized or may be on medication, and thus are unable to give accurate accounts of the events. On the other hand, witnesses may be anxious to speak about the accident, and providing them with that opportunity may help them. In some cases, family members of the injured person(s) can help the investigation by offering insight into character traits or behavior patterns of the victim. To ensure that witness accounts are accurate and witnesses are being truthful, individuals should be interviewed alone. Interviewing witnesses together may cause confusion and may cause witnesses to give inaccurate versions of what happened.

The first step to conducting an interview is to explain to the witness the purpose of the investigation. Interviewers should listen carefully and take notes that do not distract the witness. A tape recorder may be used to record the witness statements, but only at the consent of the individual. Investigators should also use sketches or diagrams to help the witness better describe the accident.

Continue reading "How to Make the Most of Witness Interviews after a Workplace Injury" »

June 25, 2013

Roofer’s Fatal Fall Reminds Workers of Risks of Working on Construction Sites

A New Hampshire man died on Monday from injuries he sustained after he fell off of a ladder at a residential construction site.

The roofer, 58, was working at a home in Rye, New Hampshire, when he slipped off the ladder and fell 30 feet. Rye Fire Lieutenant Ron Hordon said the man, who has not yet been identified, suffered “significant” injuries to his chest, pelvic, and abdominal areas after landing on a deck. The man was working for a roofing company at the time of the fall, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently investigating the incident.

Unfortunately this incident is just another example of how dangerous construction sites can be. file0002014498486%20%281%29.jpg Whether it was a misstep by the victim, a manufacturing defect with the ladder or any other circumstance that caused the fall, ultimately the roofing company may be liable. By OSHA standards, employers are responsible for providing safe work environments for all of his or her employees to prevent hazardous situations that pose the threat of serious bodily injury or death. Though the details of this situation are still vague, what can be discerned is that had proper safety precautions been taken; such as the use of a safety harness, the man’s death may have been prevented.

Carpenters and roofers incur dangerous situations on a day-to-day basis, and among these types of workers, falls are the leading cause of injury or death. In a report published by The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational and Safety Health, out of the 32 reported work-related deaths in Massachusetts last year, 6 of them were cause by falls. Unsurprisingly construction site causalities accounted for the greatest number of work-related deaths (19%) and remained the most dangerous industry for employees to work in.

Continue reading "Roofer’s Fatal Fall Reminds Workers of Risks of Working on Construction Sites" »

June 14, 2013

NY Fire Department Rescues Two Men from 46 Story Building Following Scaffolding Accident

Two workers who became trapped at the top of the Hearst Building in New York City were rescued without injury Wednesday afternoon.

Rescue crews from the New York City fire department arrived around 2:40 p.m. Wednesday to help two window washers who became suspended on the 44th floor after the metal scaffolding they were standing on buckled and gave way.
file000631812783.jpg
According to officials, firefighters worked from both the roof and from a window on the 44th floor (which was level with the scaffold platform) to reach the two men. Firefighters eventually cut a 4-foot-by-4-foot panel of glass from the window and pulled the workers to safety. The men, ages 26 and 49, were both wearing safety harnesses, and neither was injured. Firefighters were also able to pull the scaffolding up to the roof, where they determined that it was the scaffolding’s motor that had failed and thus caused the incident.

Luckily both men’s safety harnesses were functioning properly and they were uninjured. However, this is not always the circumstance. Earlier last month for example, two men working at Hingham High School were injured after they both fell off of the roof’s scaffolding. While both of the men were equipped with safety harnesses, one of the men was seriously injured after his safety harness failed.

Scaffolding is used as a temporary platform that is used to help build, install, repair, or reach any surface that cannot be reached by ladder. Scaffolding incidents can occur for a number of reasons including incorrect assembly and improper manufacturing. Accidents can also happen when supports fail or collapse, when scaffolding is broken, scaffolding is wet and a worker slips and falls, or when workers are inadequately trained on how to operate equipment.

Due to the height of scaffolding, injuries sustained during scaffolding incidents are often serious and sometimes fatal. Injuries might include fractures, head injuries, broken bones, or spinal trauma that could lead to paralysis or death.

Continue reading "NY Fire Department Rescues Two Men from 46 Story Building Following Scaffolding Accident" »

June 7, 2013

GAO Report Finds State-Run OSHA Programs Failing to Meet Workplace Safety Goals

A report done by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that some of the state-run occupational safety and health organization’s programs (OSHA) have failed to meet many of the minimum requirements for workplace safety.

The major issue that OSHA faces is the amount, or lack thereof, of essential staffing within their agencies. OSHA has specifically cited that they do not have an adequate number of personnel on hand to monitor and inspect workplaces, and therefore have fallen short of meeting their goals for workplace safety. file000213946750.jpg

Much of the reason for this lack of staffing comes from constrained budgets and budget cuts by the state government. In most states, including Massachusetts, OSHA is a state-funded agency that requires federal funding to operate successfully. Not only does short staffing affect safety goals, but many staff members, as OSHA stated, lack essential training and competence. OSHA’s biggest challenge is not having any control over staffing because they don’t have the resources or the power to change the state and federal funding they receive.

The GAO recommended that Congress members pass a law to compensate for inadequate staffing and to give state-run OSHA officials more authority when it comes to ensuring safe work practices. Essentially, the GAO advised that OSHA should have more of a role in assessing the needs of states’ occupational health and safety programs. That is, OSHA officials should be able to directly address issues and solve them most efficiently, rather than go through tedious chain of command to assess and solve problems.

OSHA was founded to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for employees across the nation by adopting and enforcing federal occupational safety and health standards. It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure safe working environments for all employees, and to safeguard workplaces from conditions that threaten to well-being and safety of themselves and employees. Employers have the responsibility to make sure employees are properly trained and are able to perform their job efficiently and in a way that does not pose a threat to their safety. Employers are also responsible for maintaining equipment and certifying that all tools or machinery are operating properly. If an incident does occur on their premises where an employee becomes sick or is injured or killed, the employer must accurately record the incident and notify OSHA personnel immediately.

Continue reading "GAO Report Finds State-Run OSHA Programs Failing to Meet Workplace Safety Goals" »

May 23, 2013

National Study Looks at Preventing Amputation Injuries in the Workplace

Massachusetts workers take note; there has been a recent study conducted that sheds new light on the frequency and prevention of amputation injuries in the workplace.

Amputations are one of the most severe and debilitating types of workplace injuries. A moment’s inattention or single misstep, as well as defective or unguarded mechanical equipment can lead to irreparable damage of a limb and result in permanent disability or even the end of a career.114545_mill_drill_machine.jpg
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there were 5,280 non-fatal amputations in the United States (a rate of 6 per every 100,000 workers); the lowest ever recorded. The greatest number of incidences occurred in 2005, with 8,450 non-fatal amputations. The majority of these types of workplace injuries occur in manufacturing plants and more than 50% occur in construction, agriculture, wholesale and retail trade, and service industries, collectively. Not surprisingly, about 96% of amputations involve loss of a finger.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recognized four types of hazardous exposures that can cause amputation including: machinery and workplace equipment, parts or materials that may collapse on and crush a worker, motor vehicles including forklifts and tractors, and hand tools. While this Minnesota study was national, the findings and information relate to all Massachusetts workplace employees.

Types of Hazardous Machines

Some of the most common machines that pose amputation hazards include:

• Mechanical power presses
• Powered and non-powered conveyor belts
• Printing presses
• Roll-forming/bending machines
• Sheering machines
• Food slicers
• Meat-cutting saws
• Drill presses
• Milling machines
• Grinding machines
• Slitters

Continue reading "National Study Looks at Preventing Amputation Injuries in the Workplace" »

May 10, 2013

Construction Worker Injured after Fall at Hingham Middle School

A worker was injured Tuesday after falling from the Hingham Middle School construction site.

The 45-year-old man from New Bedford, MA, apparently fell from the third story scaffolding of the building around 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. According to Hingham Police Sergeant Steven Dearth, the worker was conscious when paramedics arrived, and was taken to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA. 1170121_construction_place.jpg

Construction at the school has since stopped while officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigate the incident. The identity and injuries of the worker are still unknown.

While it is still unknown the reason to why the worker fell in the first place, there are factors that may have played a role into his fall. Scaffolding is a temporary platform that is often used on construction sites to reach areas that are not accessible by ladder. These types of accidents occur for a variety of reasons including incorrect assembly, manufacturing defects, collapse or failure, broken platform, slippery surfaces, and inadequate training or experience with the equipment. And because of the height of these structures, injuries are severe or fatal and may include fractures, broken bones, spinal cord and traumatic head injuries, and even death.

Scaffolding and general requirements on construction sites are the number one safety violation cited by OSHA officials. Construction falls are also the number one cause of death and injury in workplace settings in the United States, accounting for 251 deaths (35% of total workplace deaths) in 2011.

Safety Tips for Workers

All laborers who regularly work on scaffolding must be properly trained with suspension scaffolding and fall protection equipment. In most scaffolding fall cases, the accident was completely preventable.

When working on scaffolding, workers should take the following precautions:

-Learn the proper OSHA standards and regulations for working on scaffolds; such as weight capacity, construction, fall protection, proper scaffolding use.
-Ensure that the scaffolding being used is designed correctly and conforms to OSHA regulations.
-Shield all scaffold suspension ropes and body belt harness system droplines from abrasive or sharp edges to prevent them from being severed.
-Carefully inspect all scaffolds and their components, as well as personal fall protection equipment.
-Ensure that all workers are well equipped with proper fall protection equipment prior to stepping onto a scaffold.
-Properly anchor tiebacks of the scaffolding at different points.

Continue reading "Construction Worker Injured after Fall at Hingham Middle School" »

November 28, 2012

Office Injuries May Warrant Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation

While working at an office may sound like one of the safest places to have a job—free from the dangerous hazards faced by someone working in construction or another type of employment that exposes him/her to unsafe conditions on a daily basis—serious work injuries can still result. Unfortunately, many injured office employees don’t realize that they may be entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits. Rather than avail of these benefits, they end up unnecessarily spending from their own pockets for medical care and rehab.

Examples of Common Office Accidents:
Fall accidents: These may range from Boston slip and fall accidents on wet floors to trip and fall accidents over a power cord, an open desk drawer, or loose carpeting. Step and fall and stump and fall accidents can also happen.

Back, neck, or shoulder injuries from lifting accidents: You don’t have to be lifting heavy boxes to suffer a lifting injury. Carrying a file box filed with papers or even picking up an office chair and moving it to another location can cause harm to one's body if either are done incorrectly.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive trauma: In this technology era, it is important that your workstation be ergonomically set up so that you don’t suffer from nerve, musculoskeletal, back, neck, or shoulder injuries because you spend hours in front of a computer. Carpal tunnel syndrome and other similar injuries may require surgery and even cause permanent damage, making it hard for the injured worker to continue doing his or her job. Eyestrain is also becoming an all too common worker health issue.

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation

Even if you caused your own injuries on the job, the state’s workers’ compensation law is supposed to guarantee you work injury benefits, including your medical bills, disability pay, 60% of your average income (unless you now have a disability then, in that case, more), loss of function compensation, permanent scars/disfigurement compensation, vocational training (when the worker cannot return to his/her job because of the injury), and death benefits for the family in the event of a work-related fatality. Unfortunately, not all employers and their insurance companies will easily honor this guarantee and they may try to deny you what is yours by claiming that your injury isn’t because of your job. By working with an experienced Boston workers’ compensation law firm, you have a team protecting your rights and making sure you receive what you are owed.

Workers' Compensation, Massachusetts

US Department of Labor

More Blog Posts:
At Least 18 Injured in Springfield, Massachusetts Natural Gas Blast at Strip Club, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, November 23, 2012

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation: Boston Slip and Fall Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries on the Job, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, May 5, 2012

Worker's Compensation Benefits for Families of Deceased Workers, Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyer Blog, October 8, 2012

September 12, 2012

Recent article sheds light on eye injury and eye safety

A new writing published on the Safety Daily Advisor’s webpage provided some excellent, and always timely, insight into the discussion of eye safety at the workplace. The crux of the piece noted that not all workplaces are required to have eyewash stations. But what’s most important is that for the places that are required, the employees should absolutely know where the eyewash stations are and how to use them effectively.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s requirements for emergency eyewashes clearly indicate that "where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use."

And a 2009 letter of interpretation from OSHA states that “if none of the materials used in this work area is an injurious corrosive [chemical] (as indicated by the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each product), then an emergency eyewash or shower would not be required pursuant to 1910.151(c)."

Continue reading "Recent article sheds light on eye injury and eye safety" »

September 7, 2012

Papa John’s employees injured in scuffle with irate customer

On Wednesday evening, September 5, 2012, two employees of a Taunton Papa John’s sat outside the front of their workplace, waiting for the police and nursing injuries. The attack on the coworkers, a man, Derek Lauber, and a woman, left the owner of the restaurant, Jonah Siegel, wondering if conducting business in the city of Taunton, with its rising crime rate, was worth the risk anymore.

Siegel owns four other Papa John’s restaurants. But after three years as proprietor of the one in Taunton, he’s beginning to question the true value of the site. Just a few weeks earlier, on August 11, a robber threatened a Papa John’s employee, a little after midnight, with a knife and made off with $1,900 of the restaurant’s money, according to Siegel. In previous months, and on the same street, a bank and a Rite Aid pharmacy were also robbed. But it was merely a small pizza and a soda that sparked the latest incident.

Police responded to the reported assault at around 7:30pm, finding the two injured employees out front and a gaping hole in the store’s front window. Lauber was bleeding from both arms and hands. He was taken to Morton Hospital where he was treated and released.

Sarah Mosher, the restaurant’s general manager, said she arrived just under a half an hour after the police were called. But by the time she showed up, Lauber, who is twenty and works at the restaurant full time, had already been taken to the hospital. He later called Mosher and assured her that, despite all of the blood present, he only needed a few stitches. He was given the rest of the week off to heal.

Continue reading "Papa John’s employees injured in scuffle with irate customer" »

September 7, 2012

The new nightmare on Elm Street? Wall falls on Construction worker

On Tuesday, September 4, 2012, at around 8am, a construction worker was removing part of a building’s façade from 84 Elm Street in Westfield, Massachusetts. While in the midst of performing his duties, the deteriorating brick wall collapsed on him. He and the scissor lift he was standing on both fell backwards. The man’s crash was broken by a car parked in the street.

The owner of the vehicle, James Porier, affirmed that despite the damage to his car, he was happy that it was able to help save a life. Jeffrey Daley, Westfield’s Advancement Officer, echoed Porier’s sentiment, believing that the car probably did prevent further injury to the employee. The trajectory of the lift’s fall was angled in such a way that could have caused much more serious harm. Fortunately, the worker was able to stand and walk around afterwards. According to Police Lieutenant Lawrence Valliere, the man was taken to Noble Hospital with minor injuries.

Daley says the entire block presents hazards to the populace. The city of Westfield owns the building standing next to 84 Elm Street which had become dangerous when bricks began to fall from it during the previous week.

Continue reading "The new nightmare on Elm Street? Wall falls on Construction worker" »

September 7, 2012

Employee injury may cost him his eyesight after nightclub scuffle

Early this past Sunday, on September 2, 2012, two men were taken into custody by Springfield police, facing a bevy of charges following the serious injury of a doorman working at a strip club called Mardi Gras. Elvis Bastaldo, 33, was charged with assault and battery with serious bodily injury (done to an eye socket), assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, disorderly conduct, and mayhem. His brother, Juan Bastaldo, 24, was charged with assault and battery, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

Springfield Police Sergeant John Delaney reported that prior to the arrest of the pair, the two men tried to escort a woman into the strip club on Taylor Street who was only eighteen years of age. The club was near to closing and the thirty-four year old Mardi Gras employee at the door refused to let the trio enter. Elvin and Juan Bastaldo also refused to pay the cover charge. After some discord, Juan, Elvin and the woman with them were ordered to leave by the three police officers who were working an extra-duty detail.

After Mardi Gras had closed, the doorman was preparing to escort one of the establishment’s female employees to her car. As soon as he opened the door to exit, the fist of Juan Bastaldo slammed into his face. Officer Thomas Liebel then struggled with Juan in the parking lot of the club while attempting to make arrest. The doorman intervened to assist the officer. During the fracas between the three, Elvin Bastaldo attacked from behind and punched the unsuspecting doorman in the eye several times with brass knuckles. More officers were then called to assist and Elvin Bastaldo was arrested after a brief chase.

Continue reading "Employee injury may cost him his eyesight after nightclub scuffle " »

July 12, 2012

Fireworks Company Leaves Behind Unexploded Shells in Three Towns

State fire authorities have suspended the license of a fireworks company that left behind unexploded shells near the launching sites for several of their shows. On July 6, city workers mowing lawns in three separate Massachusetts towns ran over the undetonated fireworks, causing them to detonate under the workers’ lawnmowers. Fortunately, the individuals were uninjured, a fact State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan attributes to the size of the commercial mowers they were using.

According to Coan, the company responsible for leaving behind the shells is Pennsylvania-based Pyrotecnico. He also said that state fire code requires companies to search for unexploded shells the morning after a show. Officials are currently conducting an investigation to determine whether Pyrotecnico violated this regulation.

Continue reading "Fireworks Company Leaves Behind Unexploded Shells in Three Towns" »

April 18, 2012

Massachusetts Senate to Consider Greater Penalty for Failure to Purchase Workers’ Compensation

Under current Massachusetts law, the failure of a business owner to purchase workers’ compensation for their employees is considered a misdemeanor—which carries a fine of up to $1500 or a year in prison. However, some believe the penalty is too light and hope to raise the penalty. According to reports, this week, the Massachusetts Senate will consider a bill that would raise the violation to a felony—which is already the fine for workers’ compensation fraud and carries a fine of up to $10,000, 5 years in prison or 2.5 years in jail. Currently, if a business owner does not purchase workers’ compensation, the state must pay for the compensation from a state trust fund—which comes from employers who do pay for workers’ comp and which reports indicate cost $26 million from the fund in the last 5 years.

As with all changes, however, there is opposition from those who believe the penalty is already high enough. We will update you with the progression (or lack thereof) of the bill. If you have any questions about the bill, its progress, or how it may affect you, feel free to contact an attorney.


Workers' compensation failure a felony under bill before Senate, BostonHerald.com, April 15, 2012

March 22, 2012

MA Supreme Court makes Positive Decision for Workers' Comp Disability Benefits

In a recent decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Court found that workers’ compensation disability benefits could, in some cases, be calculated based on the worker’s current weekly earnings at his most recent job—even if that job is not in Massachusetts.

The controlling precedent for the lower court’s decision in this case was Letteney’s Case, where the court held that wages earned outside of Massachusetts could NOT be used to determine current workers’ compensation benefits. In the case at bar, the court reined in that holding—limiting it to cases involving “out-of-State wages earned after suffering latent injuries (such as from exposure to asbestos) that do not result in eligibility for incapacity benefits for at least 5 years.”

Scott Wadsworth, the plaintiff in the case, was certainly pleased. Wadsworth was injured in a metal rolling machine accident (his right hand was crushed) in 1980 while on the job at a Massachusetts corporation. He received benefits for incapacity from 1980-1988. He then started a job in Connecticut. He underwent a procedure to help the pain in his previously injured hand, which only caused further pain, then applied for permanent disability in 2003, arguing that his benefits should be calculated based on his wage rate in 2003 at his Connecticut job. Wadsworth’s rationale was that “he was permanently disabled from a subsequent injury that was a recurrence of his 1980 injury after having returned to work for a period of at least two months.”

Marking a success for disabled Massachusetts employees, the Supreme Court essentially agreed.

For full text of the opinion, see Justia.

If you have any questions about your own workers’ compensation claim, seek the aid of a skilled MA workers’ compensation attorney.

Mass. disability benefits based on current rate of pay regardless of location: Court, Business Insurance, March 20, 2012

March 5, 2012

MA Workers’ Compensation Rates May Increase

According to reports, workers’ compensation rates in Massachusetts may significantly increase in September, if the state approves a proposed increase. The Workers’ Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau of Massachusetts (WCRIBMA)—a non-profit organization licensed by the MA Division of Insurance that represents companies that write workers’ comp policies— asked the state to approve a 19.3% increase. This increase would raise the cost of employee compensation insurance for MA employers, which they are required to provide under M.G.L. Chapter 152, Section 25A.

We will keep you updated on this and other workers’ compensation developments in Massachusetts. If you have been injured on the job and believe you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, contact a seasoned MA workers’ compensation lawyer.

Workers’ comp rates could go up, Boston.com, March 2, 2012

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.

Source:

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

Related Blog Posts:

Repairman Loses Consciousness 14 Feet Underground in Septic Pump Chamber

MBTA Worker Falls Down 30-Foot Concrete Shaft at Charles/ Massachusetts General Hospital Station in Boston

Department of Transportation Worker Falls Into Shaft in Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston

Street Cleaning Machine Accident Leaves Operator Dead; OSHA and State Police Reconstruction Team Investigating

OSHA Cites Somerville Commercial Laundry Service After Employee Injury

Mansfield Factory Worker Injured by Forklift


Continue reading "U.S. Labor Department and Construction Company Settle Litigation Over Workplace Safety" »

December 12, 2011

OSHA Cites East Boston Painting Contractor After Worker Suffers from Paint Fumes in Confined Space

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently investigated a workplace accident in which an East Boston, Massachusetts, painting contractor´s employee suffered from paint fumes in a confined space while working at a job at the Senesco Marine LLC shipyard in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The employee was spray-painting the interior of a tugboat and subsequently became unconscious in the confined space. The worker was rescued by the North Kingstown Fire Department.

The company, AMEX Inc., now faces $72,900 in proposed fines and was cited for 13 alleged violations of workplace and confined space safety violations. Working in a confined or enclosed space can result in a greater risk of fatalities, severe injuries, illnesses, and fume inhalation, such as the case here. During their investigation, OSHA found that AMEX did not abide by the required safety precautions for working in a confined space. The company did not properly check for hazardous conditions inside the confined space, did not test the atmosphere for toxic or flammable vapors before the worker entered, and did not provide confined space training for employees working in the space. The contractor also failed to supply the workers with sufficient respiratory protection or safe ventilation equipment.

Twelve of the violations were listed as serious and one was an other-than-serious violation due to an incomplete worker injury log. OSHA issues a serious violation 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. An other-than-serious violation is issued when the violation has an impact on workplace safety and health, but would most likely not result in death or serious physical harm, such as a serious violation.

OSHA´s area director, Patrick Griffin, said "This could very easily have been a fatality…Confined spaces are characterized by toxic, oxygen-deficient or flammable atmospheres that can be deadly for employees working in those spaces. No worker should ever enter a confined space until the atmosphere has been tested, proper respiratory protection is supplied and used, and adequate rescue procedures are in place."

AMEX Inc. has 15 business days from the day that they received these citations and proposed monetary fines to agree with, or contest, these workplace safety violations with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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.

Source:

US Labor Department's OSHA proposes $72,900 in fines for East Boston, Mass., painting contractor for violations at North Kingstown, RI, shipyard, OSHA Regional News Release, December 1, 2011

Related Blog Posts:

Repairman Loses Consciousness 14 Feet Underground in Septic Pump Chamber

Street Cleaning Machine Accident Leaves Operator Dead; OSHA and State Police Reconstruction Team Investigating

OSHA Cites Somerville Commercial Laundry Service After Employee Injury

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

Mansfield Factory Worker Injured by Forklift


Continue reading "OSHA Cites East Boston Painting Contractor After Worker Suffers from Paint Fumes in Confined Space" »

November 11, 2011

Two Roofers Shocked at Construction Site in Bridgewater

Two roofers at a residential construction site in Bridgewater were recently electrocuted when the ladder they were moving touched an electrical wire overhead. After a fellow construction worker called 911, emergency crews arrived to find that one of the workers, Angel Caguana, 23, of Brockton, was unconscious. Bridgewater Fire Lieutenant, Robert Mancinelli, said that Caguana was in cardiac arrest upon their arrival and the other victim, Antonio Gomes, 22, had been shocked but did not have life-threatening injuries. Mancinelli said firefighters administered CPR and applied a defibrillator to Caguana. His heart rate soon increased from zero to 120 and he started to breathe on his own. He was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital by MedFlight and his injuries were listed as serious. As a safety measure, Gomes was taken by ambulance to the Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton with non-life-threatening injuries. Police reported that both men work for a Brockton construction company and were installing a roof on the residence at the time of the accident.

Electrocution accidents can result from a wide variety of circumstances. Many electrocution accidents occur in the workplace and most frequently occur at construction sites, as was the case here. Because the majority of construction work involves the use or installation of electricity, construction workers are in close proximity to live wires, circuit breakers, control panels, or power lines, such as above.

Electrocution accidents can also occur from faulty wiring, or involve a faulty product, such as a hair dryer or microwave. As a safety precaution for the general public, the Western Massachusetts Electric Company recommends never to touch any downed or sagging power lines. Because it is very difficult to tell the difference between a telephone line, cable television line or electrical line, it is recommended to consider any line to be energized and thus potentially dangerous.

If you have suffered an electrocution accident on the job or have been injured at work, it is advised to contact an experienced Massachusetts workers´ compensation lawyer.

Sources:

Worker shocked by overhead wire is revived in Bridgewater, www.boston.com, November 9, 2011

Safety, Security and Lighting, Community Safety, Western Massachusetts Electric Co.

Related Blog Posts:

Repairman Loses Consciousness 14 Feet Underground in Septic Pump Chamber

Street Cleaning Machine Accident Leaves Operator Dead; OSHA and State Police Reconstruction Team Investigating

OSHA Cites Somerville Commercial Laundry Service After Employee Injury

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

Western Massachusetts Electric Company Employee Electrocuted in Pittsfield

Continue reading "Two Roofers Shocked at Construction Site in Bridgewater" »

November 7, 2011

Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Cited for 22 Safety Violations at Somerville Train Yard

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently cited Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. LLC for 22 alleged serious workplace safety violationsin Somerville´s Inner Belt neighborhood. OSHA additionally proposed $130,800 in fines to the company for these violations.

Inspections carried out between April and October uncovered that employees in the facility’s diesel, carpentry, truck, pipe and coach workshops were exposed to potential electric shocks, fires, falls, chemical burns, lacerations, amputations and bloodborne pathogens, in addition to possible injuries from crushing, slipping and tripping hazards.

OSHA discovered that unqualified employees were working on energized electrical equipment without proper personal protective equipment. Additionally, the facility had numerous exposed electrical circuits, inadequately misused power cords, the lack of locking out electrical power sources during maintenance, incorrect and inadequately secured oxygen and acetylene cylinders in storage, and a blocked emergency exit by a storage unit of flammable materials. Employees were also allowed to work with corrosive chemicals without face masks, hand protection or protective clothing. The facility had unguarded saw blades and unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals. The company also failed to offer hepatitis B vaccinations to employees who were potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens while cleaning passenger cars.

OSHA issues a serious violation when there is substantial likelihood that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which "the employer knew or should have known."

Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s area director for Middlesex and Essex counties said, "The sizable fines proposed here reflect the number and breadth of hazardous conditions found at this facility…While some violations were corrected during the course of the inspection, the railroad must correct all hazards and take effective steps to prevent their recurrence."

In a statement following the proposed fines and citations, the company stated: "MBCR treats safety with the utmost seriousness…MBCR has abated or is in the process of addressing all of the issues identified by OSHA. The company will continue to work closely with OSHA and the Federal Railroad Association to ensure the highest possible level of safety for employees and customers." The statement also said that MBCR has the second lowest rate of injuries in the industry and also that the company had reduced workplace injuries by 58 percent over the past year.

The railroad company has 15 business days to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or object to the inspection´s findings to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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.

Sources:

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad for workplace safety hazards at Somerville maintenance facility, OSHA Regional News, November 1, 2011

OSHA: Train yard in Somerville cited for 22 serious safety violations, www.wickedlocal.com, November 2, 2011

Related Blog Posts:

OSHA Cites Somerville Commercial Laundry Service After Employee Injury

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

Mansfield Factory Worker Injured by Forklift

Continue reading "Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Cited for 22 Safety Violations at Somerville Train Yard" »

October 25, 2011

Quincy City Employee Killed When Fixing Traffic Light

A city employee was killed when he was working on a traffic light in Quincy last week. An 18-wheeler truck reportedly hit the bucket truck that Robert DeCristofaro, 58, of Braintree, was working in. Authorities confirmed that it was the impact of the accident that caused him to fall out. He was quickly taken to the Boston Medical Center where he was shortly pronounced deceased.

The Quincy Police Department and the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office both confirmed that the victim was a city employee, but was working in a rented truck. The accident occured at the intersection of Washington and Chubbuck Streets at approximately 10 A.M. on Tuesday morning. The driver of the tractor trailer stopped his vehicle at the scene of the impact and remained in place. Details of the accident are yet to be uncovered and there is confusion over sequence of events. Quincy Police Lt. Jack Sullivan said “Who hit whom where is being determined,” and commented that it was unclear whether the worker was accompanied by another city employee or with a local police detail. He confirmed that a thorough investigation was under way.

District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said “The chief of our motor vehicle homicide unit is on the scene, and we are working closely with the Quincy Police Department and investigators from the Massachusetts State Police…It is an active and ongoing investigation.” He also commented, “This is a terrible day for the city of Quincy and for his family.”

The accident is being thoroughly investigated by local police and state police. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also been called to investigate the scene of the accident to determine whether or not workplace safety standards were violated. OSHA inspections must be completed within 180 days, involve an onsite inspection, interviews of persons involved, review of records, and any necessary testing. No charges have been filed.

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.

Sources:

Repairman Loses Consciousness 14 Feet Underground in Septic Pump Chamber

Street Cleaning Machine Accident Leaves Operator Dead; OSHA and State Police Reconstruction Team Investigating

OSHA Cites Somerville Commercial Laundry Service After Employee Injury

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

Mansfield Factory Worker Injured by Forklift

Continue reading "Quincy City Employee Killed When Fixing Traffic Light" »

September 30, 2011

OSHA Cites and Fines Bostik Inc. After Investigation Into March Explosion

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently cited Bostik Inc. for 50 alleged violations of workplace safety standards following a March 13 explosion at the company's Middleton plant. The explosion injured four of their workers. As reported in Bostik Inc. Provides Cause for Plant Explosion and Worker Injuries in Middleton, Officials Continue Investigation, the company claimed that the explosion was due to open valves that let flammable gas permeate throughout the building. The company, an adhesives manufacturer, faces a total of $917,000 in proposed fines and 50 citations.

OSHA's inspection identified numerous serious problems in the company's process safety management (PSM) program, safety requirements and procedures which employers must follow when dealing with chemical hazards. On the day of the explosion, a valve on a transfer line was accidentally left open, which led to the release of flammable acetone vapors. The vapors then exploded after they were ignited by an undetermined source.

Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's area director for northeastern Massachusetts, said "In this case, Bostik knew from prior third party and internal compliance audits conducted at the plant that aspects of its PSM program were incomplete or inadequate, and misclassified electrical equipment was in use. The company did not take adequate steps to address those conditions…Luckily, the explosion happened when there were few workers in the plant. Otherwise, this incident could have resulted in a catastrophic loss of life."

Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, said "The requirements of OSHA's PSM standard are stringent and comprehensive because the stakes are so high…Failure to evaluate, anticipate, address and prevent hazardous conditions associated with a process can result in a catastrophic incident such as an explosion."

OSHA issued Bostik with nine willful citations and with $630,000 in proposed fines because OSHA found that the company willfully knew that their process safety management program was incomplete. OSHA issues a willful violation when it is committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with disregard to worker safety and health.

OSHA also issued Bostik Inc. with 41 serious citations and $287,000 in fines, for numerous other safety violations ranging from an insufficient emergency response plan, inadequate training for employees required to respond to fires, obstructed exit access, and electrical hazards. OSHA issues a serious violation 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.

Bostik´s workers´ compensation carrier is the Illinois National Insurance Company.

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

Sources:

US Labor Department's OSHA cites 50 safety violations, proposes $917,000 in fines against Bostik Inc. following Middleton, Mass., explosion, OSHA Regional News, September 13, 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

Related Blog Post:

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

Continue reading "OSHA Cites and Fines Bostik Inc. After Investigation Into March Explosion" »

September 26, 2011

Beverly Dentist Accused of Firing Whistleblower Over Workplace Safety Hazards

A Beverly dentist, N. Terry Fayad, is being sued by the U.S. Department of Labor for reportedly terminating an employee for raising concerns about needle contamination hazards in the workplace and for filing a complaint with the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The whistleblower, who remains anonymous, filed the complaint in a U.S. district court in Boston by the department's Office of the Regional Solicitor. Fayad supposedly fired the employee, who was working as a dental assistant, in November 2010. The employee questioned the hazards of an office procedure that required workers to remove protective caps from contaminated needles before putting the needles in a sharps disposal container. Such a procedure puts the employees at risk for injury or could expose them to possible infection by blood-borne pathogens such as hepatitis and HIV. The lawsuit attempts to restore the employee's standing; payment of lost wages, benefits, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages; and also seeks to stop Fayad from violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act in the future.

Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator, said "No employer should ever treat employees this way…Workers have the right to perform their jobs without being exposed to life-threatening hazards as well as the right to raise concerns when faced with such hazards. The Labor Department will take all appropriate legal steps to ensure these rights are enforced."

On November 23, 2010, OSHA conducted a separate health inspection of the dental practice and found that the practice was violating numerous safety standards. OSHA fined Fayad´s practice with $26,400 and eight alleged serious violations of the agency´s blood-borne pathogen and hazard communication standards. One of the citations stemmed from the office protocol which required employees to remove the safety cap from contaminated needles. Fayad contested all of the citations and the fine to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA protects whistleblowers following the OSH Act along with 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations in the workplace. Employers are prohibited by law from retaliating against or firing employees who raise concerns about workplace safety or who report such safety concerns.

Massachusetts Law mandates the use of a sharps container for the safe disposal of all needles and maintains strict regulations for health care providers when handling needles in order to prevent sharps injuries.

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

Sources:

US Labor Department sues Beverly, Mass., dentist for allegedly firing employee who raised concerns about contaminated needle disposal, OSHA Regional News Release, September 21, 2011

Related Blog Posts:

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OSHA Cites Somerville Commercial Laundry Service After Employee Injury

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

Continue reading "Beverly Dentist Accused of Firing Whistleblower Over Workplace Safety Hazards" »

August 2, 2011

Monro Muffler Brake in Hyannis Cited with $184,000 for Safety Violations After Worker Injured in Fire

A fire in which an employee was badly burned at Monro Muffler Brake Inc. in Hyannis on February 2nd prompted an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA has since charged Monro Muffler Brake Inc., a company from Rochester, N.Y., for 10 alleged violations of workplace safety and $184,000 in proposed fines.

The fire began after a spark from an acetylene torch caught fire to an open container of gasoline. OSHA's inspection revealed that the fire hazards which workers were exposed to included the open container of gasoline, combustibles within the area where the acetylene torch was being used, an unsafe light fixture in a hazardous location and an overall employee lack of training for fire extinguishers. In addition to these fire hazards, employees were found to be smoking inside the perimeter of the automobile service area where fuels were being drained and where auto parts with fuel were being replaced. OSHA also found that there was not enough lighting in the work area, there were exposed electrical wires, they did not have an eye flushing station or protective eye gear, and their employees lacked safety information about the types of chemicals in use at the workplace.

Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, said, "This is exactly the type of incident and injury that results when an employer fails to comply with common-sense and legally required safeguards for workers…To prevent such occurrences and protect the safety and health of its workers, the employer must ensure that safety and health requirements are met and maintained at all times at all of its locations."

The Massachusetts work injuries of Altman and Altman have decades of experience in dealing with injuries caused in the workplace as a result of OSHA violations. These cases can sometimes become quite complex, we have access to the finest experts in the commonwealth, and often times have to use them on cases like this.

Monro Muffler Brake was fined a $70,000 fee and charged with one willful violation for the fire hazard of smoking. OSHA issues a willful violation if the employer has “voluntary disregard” for the law's requirements or for their workers´ safety and health. They were also issued three repeat violations and $80,000 in fines for the lack of fire extinguisher training, the lack of chemical and eye guards. OSHA issues a repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or similar violation within the past five years. In 2009 and 2010 the company was cited for similar safety hazards at their locations in Victor, N.Y., and Norwich, Conn., locations. For the remainder of the safety hazards found during their investigation, OSHA fined the company $34,000 and issued six serious violations. A serious violation is issued if it is likely that an employee could die or experience serious harm from a safety hazard which the employer knew about or should have known about.

If you have been injured in a Massachusetts workplace, it is generally the best advice that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer. Our attorneys have decades in handling workers compensation cases along with any third party component of the case. If you are not sure what to do about your case, give us a call for a free consultation.

Source:

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Monro Muffler Brake after worker injured in fire at Hyannis, Mass., location; proposed fines total $184,000, OSHA Regional News Release, August 1, 2011

Related Blog Posts:

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

Gas Explosion in Norfolk Result of 'Odorant Fade'

Continue reading "Monro Muffler Brake in Hyannis Cited with $184,000 for Safety Violations After Worker Injured in Fire " »

June 30, 2011

OSHA Cites Somerville Commercial Laundry Service After Employee Injury

Royal Institutional Services Inc., a commercial laundry service in Somerville, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a mechanic had his hand compressed by an ironing machine on January 26. The company faces four alleged violations of workplace safety standards and a proposed fine of $49,935.

After learning of the incident in which the employer was lubricating a chain on the iron that was not turned off, OSHA opened its inspection into the company´s workplace safety. They found that not only had the machine been powered at the time of the accident, but that it´s power source was not locked out before the mechanic began his maintenance. OSHA standards require "Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)" procedures which protect employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment when a machine is being serviced or maintenanced by completely powering off the energy to the machine.

OSHA also found that employees who were authorized to work on the machine were not properly trained or monitored to make sure that they knew how to operate the machines and manage their energy.

OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties in Massachusetts, Jeffrey A. Erskine said, "It's not enough for an employer to have a hazardous energy control program in place. It must be effective, and authorized employees must be effectively trained so they will understand and safely utilize proper procedures…Failure to do so can result in serious injury, such as occurred here."

Because OSHA had previously cited the company for a lack of energy control procedures in March of 2006, Royal Institutional Services was given a repeat violation with a fine of $35,000 for this similar violation. They were also given two serious violations with $14,000 in fines for the lack of proper training and one violation for the lack of written lockout procedures for a machine with a fine of $935.

OSHA issues a repeat violation when an employer has previously been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA issues a serious violation when death or serious physical harm could likely result from a hazard about which the employer should have known about or knew about and failed to fix.

The inspection was conducted by OSHA´s Andover Area Office and the company has 15 business days to respond to OSHA or contest the charges to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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

Source:

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Somerville, Mass., commercial laundry for safety hazards following worker injury, OSHA Regional News Release, June 28, 2011

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

Mansfield Factory Worker Injured by Forklift

Continue reading "OSHA Cites Somerville Commercial Laundry Service After Employee Injury" »

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

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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 " »

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

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

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" »

April 18, 2011

Western Massachusetts Electric Company Employee Electrocuted in Pittsfield

Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO) is investigating an accident in which one of their employees was electrocuted and burned while working on electrical lines in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A WMECO spokesperson reported that the Berkshire County man, who remains unidentified, is recovering at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston but would not provide further information on his condition.

The employee, who is in his mid-40s, was working late Friday morning on a pole behind an empty Patriot Suites Hotel on Dan Fox Drive in Pittsfield late on Friday morning when he was electrocuted by a live circuit. According to the Pittsfield Fire Department, the worker was knocked unconscious upon being shocked and was hanging from his safety belt before WMECO coworkers and the fire department were able to lower him to the ground with a bucket truck. An ambulance then took him to the Berkshire Medical Center before he was subsequently transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital.

As safety advice for the general public, the WMECO recommends never to touch any downed or sagging power lines. Because it is very difficult to tell the difference between a telephone line, cable television line, or electrical line, consider any line to be energized and dangerous.

If you have suffered an electrocution accident on the job or have been injured at work, contact one of our experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers for a free consultation.

Sources:

'Fairly serious' burns for utility worker, The Berkshire Eagle, April 17, 2011

Safety, Security and Lighting, Western Massachusetts Electric Co.

Continue reading "Western Massachusetts Electric Company Employee Electrocuted in Pittsfield" »

April 1, 2011

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

Attorney General Martha Coakley has recently announced that the Boston real estate development and property management company, JM Realty Management, Inc., and President John McGrail, were found guilty of improper removal and disposal of asbestos. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) witnessed asbestos material at one of their construction sites and employees also complained that the company was working at three different properties containing asbestos in Lynn, Boston, and Worcester, and that the debris was later taken to dumpsters not permitted for the disposal of asbestos waste.

After these complaints to the District Attorney’s Office, an investigation was started by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF), a collaboration overseen by the Attorney General, the MassDEP, and the Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary. A serious violation of the Clean Air Act, asbestos removal and disposal is regulated by the government because breathing in the miniscule fibers can cause potentially fatal health problems and work-related illnesses, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Regina Quinlan ordered McGrail, age 44, of Boston and JM Realty to collectively pay $200,000 in fines. She also sentenced the defendants to three years probation under the condition that they do not violate federal, state or local environmental laws. The defendants were also ordered to provide all employees with asbestos training and must have an independent auditor to evaluate their environmental actions.

In addition to these environmental charges, the company also faces charges for a lack of proper tax, payroll, and unemployment insurance.

If you or you loved one has suffered from a work illness due to asbestos exposure, you may have grounds for legal action. Contact one of our experienced Boston workers' compensation lawyers for a free consultation.

Source:

Boston-Based Real Estate Company, President to Pay $200,000 for Illegal Asbestos Removal and Disposal, Office of Attorney General Press Release, March 24, 2011


Continue reading "Boston Real Estate Development and Property Development Company Guilty of Improper Asbestos Disposal" »

March 29, 2011

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

After citing a Danvers, Massachusetts, roofing contractor for inadequate guards to protect workers from falling, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has warned all construction employers in Essex and Middlesex counties to take safety precautions against falling hazards. OSHA cited A.C. Castle Construction Co. Inc. of Danvers for potential fall hazards at their residential job site located at 5 Collins Street, in Danvers.

Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's area director for Essex and Middlesex counties, said, "These citations address basic construction safety hazards that should not have existed in the first place. They should be of vital concern to all employers whose workers labor at heights and near power lines…Employers should take the time to perform a spring tuneup, including reviewing their safety programs, equipment, employee training and applicable OSHA regulations to ensure that their workers are effectively protected against falls and other hazards."

The company faces almost $61,000 in fines for 21 citations. They were charged with three repeat citations amounting to $15,200 in fines for falling hazards as high as 19 feet, along with the lack of head protection. Eighteen serious citations were issued with $45,600 in fines for numerous additional safety hazards including exposure to electric shock, frayed electrical lines, lack of head, eye, or foot protection, and for the lack of a competent person overseeing the site who should have been able to identify such hazards.

For all construction and roofing contractors, OSHA provides detailed online information on these mandatory and recommended fall hazard safety topics:

•Employers’ mandatory job to provide fall protection
•Criteria and practices of fall protection systems
•Training requirements for employers and employees
•Determining roof widths
•Guardrail systems
•Fall arrest systems and positioning device systems, such as lifelines that should be connected to the body-belt or harness and attached to anchorage

If you have been injured on a construction site due to your employers lack of safety measures, contact one of our experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers for advise on your case and a free consultation.

Source:

US Labor Department's OSHA urges employers to guard against fall hazards after citing employer at Danvers, Mass., jobsite, OSHA Regional News, March 24, 2011

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

March 25, 2011

C.I.L. Inc. Fined for Safety Hazards Amounting to $49,289

A company in Lawrence, Massachusetts, C.I.L. Inc., has been cited and charged with $49,289 in proposed fines carry out metal finishing and processes that increase metal corrosion resistance, such as anodizing and hard coat services. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the company had not fixed their prior hazards cited and that workers were exposed to high chances of electrocution or shock.

OSHA first inspected the company’s plant in 2005 and then in 2007 before their most recent inspection in December of 2010. Because the company has a “higher-than-average” injury or illness rate, OSHA inspected this company under their Site-Specific Targeting Program. This program is in place to target and monitor the most dangerous companies based on injury and illness rates, employee days away from work, and transfer rates. OSHA’s most recent inspection of C.I.L. Inc. revealed that the company had not fixed their previous electrocution hazards, such as the use of extension cords in place of what should have been permanent wires. They also cited them for a repeat violation of inadequate air-flow to a paint booth. These repeat violations amounted to $26,950 in fines.

The company’s five new serious violations, amounting to $22,330 in fines, were cited for the following reasons:

• Lack of ventilation in an area where flammable materials were stored
• Waste cans and other materials stored too close to paint spray booths
• Cleaning hose with dangerous amount of air pressure
• Electrical circuits that were not labelled
• Unapproved electrical equipment in an area with flammable paints and solvents

OSHA’s Jeffrey Erskine, the Area Director for Essex and Middlesex counties, warned that, "Left uncorrected, these conditions expose employees to the hazards of fire, electrocution and electric shock…It's imperative that the employer address these issues thoroughly to ensure their correction and prevent them from happening again."

A repeat violation is given when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard within the last five years. A serious citation is given when there is a high chance that injury or death can result from the safety hazard.

If you have been electrocuted or injured in the workplace, our experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers can help. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Source:

US Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $49,000 in fines against
Lawrence, Mass., metal finishing plant for repeat and serious safety hazards
, OSHA Regional News Release, March 24, 2011

Continue reading " C.I.L. Inc. Fined for Safety Hazards Amounting to $49,289 " »

March 17, 2011

PEP Direct LLC Receives Citations for Electrical and Mechanical Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited PEP Direct LLC, a mailing and printing company based out of Wilton, New Hampshire, with 17 willful and serious citations for violating workplace safety protocol, accompanied by fines of $170,000.

OSHA has cited and fined this company for the following serious safety breaches of workplace safety:

· Three of their four printing presses lacked guarding to protect operators and other workers against being caught or falling into the presses and despite the employer’s knowledge
· Workers were fixing electrical equipment without training, lack of protection equipment, and were fixing live electrical equipment without first turning off the power, all resulting in possible electrocution
· Untrained industrial truck operators

Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire Area Director, said that "These conditions, left uncorrected, expose workers to potential death or serious injury from being caught in operating machinery, struck by powered industrial trucks and electrocuted. The employer must comprehensively address all these hazards to eliminate them and keep workers safe…The sizable fines proposed here reflect the breadth and gravity of the hazards found at this plant as well as the employer's knowledge of and failure to correct some of these conditions."

Here in Massachusetts, the US Postal Service was charged earlier this year with similar citations and $238,000 in fines for electrical hazards at their Shrewsbury mail processing facility, as previously reported in the Altman & Altman's Workers' Compensation Blog.

If you have been injured in the workplace, our experienced lawyers can help. Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice on a workers’ compensation case and a free consultation.

Source:

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Wilton, NH, direct mail printer and distributor for 17 willful and serious safety violations, OSHA Regional News, March 16, 2011

Continue reading "PEP Direct LLC Receives Citations for Electrical and Mechanical Hazards " »

March 15, 2011

OSHA Updates Procedures to Help Workers Report Employer Violations of Nuclear and Environmental Safety

The Occupational Safety Health Administration has recently updated procedures to help whistleblowers who believe that their employers are not following safety laws in relation to nuclear and environmental safety or security, clean air, safe drinking water, solid waste, and toxic substances. Now consistent with OSHA’s other whistleblower procedures, the new rule also helps workers to bring the violations of their employers to the attention of authorities and helps those who might have difficulty filing a written complaint or filing a complaint in English. The new rule will ultimately help to prevent workplace safety hazards by providing workers easier access to filing complaints.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels said "Silenced workers are not safe workers…Changes in the whistleblower provisions make good on the promise to stand by those workers who have the courage to come forward when they believe their employer is violating an environmental or nuclear safety law."

The rule provides final regulations of the employee protection agreement, known as the "whistleblower agreement”, of the original Energy Reorganization Act of 1974. OSHA maintains whistleblower regulations for nuclear and environmental workers and also protects workers who report violations of airlines, commercial carriers, consumer products, financial reform, health care reform, pipelines, public transit, railroads, maritime and securities laws. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers must provide healthy and safe workplaces for their employees.

For a complete guide to environmental workplace safety standards here in Massachusetts, please visit the Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs website.

If you are a whistleblower and work in an environmentally unsafe workplace or have been injured in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced lawyers for assistance and a free consultation.

Source:

OSHA publishes final rule establishing procedures for handling nuclear and environmental retaliation complaints, OSHA Trade News Release, March 10, 2011

Continue reading "OSHA Updates Procedures to Help Workers Report Employer Violations of Nuclear and Environmental Safety" »

March 7, 2011

Pep Boys Charged With $75,000 for Workplace Safety Violations

The Philadelphia retail and car service company, Pep Boys, has been charged by the US Labor Department’s OSHA with repeat and serious citations. After an inspection at the company’s Hamden, Connecticut, facility, OSHA found that workers were exposed to numerous work safety hazards, including potential electric shock due to damaged power cords and laceration hazards due to the lack of a safety guard on a grinder. The company was previously charged with similar citations at their Orange facility in Connecticut, and were thus charged with $70,000 for these serious repeat violations. They were also charged with $5,000 for the lack of cover plates on electrical outlets and a snap switch box.

OSHA’s Area Director in Bridgeport, Robert Kowalski, said "The size of these fines reflects the fact that Pep Boys previously was cited for a number of similar hazards at its Orange, Conn., location…It would be to the benefit of its workers' safety companywide for this employer to determine if similar hazards exist at other stores and to eliminate them if they do." Here in Massachusetts, Pep Boys has facilities in Everett, Dedham, Salem, Springfield, and West Springfield.

OSHA issues a serious citation when there is a significant probability that death or physical harm could happen from a workplace safety hazard that the employer knew about and/or should have already fixed. OSHA issues a repeat citation when the employer was previously cited for the same or similar violations of workplace safety within the last five years.

If you have been injured at work, feel free to contact one of our experienced lawyers for a free consultation.

Source:

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Pep Boys for machine guarding and electrical hazards at Hamden, Conn., location, OSHA Regional News Release, March 3, 2011


Continue reading "Pep Boys Charged With $75,000 for Workplace Safety Violations" »

March 3, 2011

OSHA Cites Two Massachusetts Contractors for Trench Violations

Two Massachusetts contractors have been cited for similar trench violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration within the past week.

On February 25, 2011, the first contractor cited was A.A. Will Corp., of Stoughton, for willful and repeat violations of workplace trench safety at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Wonderland Station in Revere, where they were installing electrical vaults in the parking lot of the station. Prompted by complaints of an unsafe jobsite, OSHA found workers in a ditch deeper than 5 feet without collapse protection or a ladder, which is a repeat violation for this contractor for a similar situation in February 2010 at a Boston jobsite. The company faces $69,300 in proposed fines.

The second contractor cited, Trainor Construction Co., of Canton, Massachusetts, was cited on February 28, 2011, for willful and serious violations of workplace safety at a jobsite at 270 Centre Street in Boston. Upon the inspection of the jobsite, where Trainor was replacing a water main, OSHA found that a 7-7 1/2 foot trench had inadequate protection against collapse and lacked the needed bracing for an unsupported concrete structure next to the excavation. Furthermore, employees were not wearing reflective vests or bright clothes to protect them from oncoming vehicle traffic. The company faces a total of $29,000 in proposed fines.

OSHA recognizes trenching and excavating as one of the most dangerous aspects of construction because of the risk of cave-ins. Thus, OSHA requires that all trenches deeper than 5 feet need to be guarded and braced for potential collapse. Soil analysis is also important before digging starts. Additional hazards, such as underground power lines or natural gas, also need to be noted. Prior to workers entering the trench, it needs to be inspected by someone who is trained in trench safety. OSHA provides a complete overview of their trench safety requirements on their Trenching and Excavation page.

OSHA's Area Director for Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts, Brenda Gordon, said, "An unprotected trench can become a prison or a grave in seconds if its walls cave in on workers…Employers should never allow employees into a trench until it has been effectively protected against collapse. Workers' lives depend on it."

Our lawyers have over 25 years of experience representing clients who have been injured on the job. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like a free consultation.

Sources:

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Stoughton, Mass., contractor for failing to provide cave-in protection at Revere, Mass., jobsite, OSHA Regional News Release, February 25, 2011

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Canton, Mass., contractor for failing to provide cave-in protection at Boston jobsite, OSHA Regional News Release, February 28, 2011

Continue reading "OSHA Cites Two Massachusetts Contractors for Trench Violations" »

February 23, 2011

Massachusetts Contractor Fined for Safety Hazards at Hultman Aqueduct Project

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently cited a Masssachusetts contractor currently working on the Hultman Aqueduct project in Weston for repeat and serious violations of workplace safety. The Barletta Heavy Division Inc., from Canton, has been charged with a $52,500 fine for these violations.

Barletta’s previous citations were from inspections in 2008 for potential fall hazards at their jobsites at Commonwealth Pier and Ashmont Station in Boston. When OSHA inspected the aqueduct tunnel, they found similar hazards, such as an unprotected 14-foot fall and an inadequate ladder that did not reach over the edge the required three feet, making the ladder unstable. The company is charged with $37,500 for these repeated safety violations.

Furthermore, OSHA cited Barletta with three serious violations for extremely high noise in the tunnel and their employees did not have hearing protection, a lack of fire extinguishers in the tunnel, and for a live electrical panel that was exposed. OSHA issues serious citations only when there is a serious possibility that death or injury could result from a workplace hazard that the employer could have fixed. These three serious citations resulted in $15,000.

Our experienced lawyers have represented clients throughout Massachusetts who have suffered injuries due to workplace hazards for over 25 years. If you have a question in regards to a workers' compensation case and would like a free consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Source:
US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Canton, Mass., contractor on Hultman Aqueduct project in Weston, Mass., for repeat and serious violations, OSHA Regional News Release, February 22, 2011

Continue reading "Massachusetts Contractor Fined for Safety Hazards at Hultman Aqueduct Project " »

February 21, 2011

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

W.R. Grace, the chemical company that is accused of asbestos contamination throughout the United States, will pay over $800,000 and will continue cleaning their nine contaminated sites in Massachusetts. Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office, who made the claims on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), has recently approved the settlement with W.R. Grace. The company will have to pay MassDEP $700,298, including 4.19% interest, and $105,582.97 with 4.19% interest for past clean-up costs.

After hundreds of thousands of lawsuits involving past employees and people living near their plants who were exposed to asbestos, W.R. Grace filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Attorney General Coakley said: “W.R. Grace has the means to pay its environmental liability to the Commonwealth and perform cleanup actions at its contaminated properties…We are gratified that the bankruptcy court agreed it would be wrong to allow Grace to walk away from its responsibilities.”

The nine contaminated sites throughout the state are: the former Zonolite Plant in Easthampton, the Daramic Plant in Acton, the Cambridge Plant in Cambridge, the Knox Trail site in Acton and Concord, a pipeline alongside the Massachusetts Military Reservation in Sandwich, the Acton Superfund site in Acton and Concord, the Wells G&H Superfund site in Woburn, the Blackburn & Union Privileges Superfund site in Walpole, and the Sutton Brook Superfund site in Tewksbury.

Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber that has been commonly used in manufactured products such as building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. Asbestos is resistance to heat and decay but can eventually break up into microscopic dust fibers that, when inhaled, can remain in the body for years causing numerous lung diseases, cancers, and possibly death.

Workplace exposure of asbestos can be common among people who work in mining industries, and industries that make or use asbestos products on a regular basis. Asbestos exposure at work is most often found in the construction industry (especially when building demolition or renovation jobs are involved), the manufacturing of materials containing asbestos (such as insulation or tiles), and the car repair industry, especially if repairing brakes or clutches.

Our experienced lawyers represent clients throughout Massachusetts who have suffered injuries or illnesses because of unsafe work conditions. If you have a question in regards to a workers' compensation case and would like a free consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sources:

AG Coakley’s Office Will Recover Over $800,000 From W.R. Grace in Bankruptcy Proceedings, W.R. Grace Also Commits to Perform Ongoing Cleanup of Contaminated Sites
, Office of Attorney General Coakley Press Release, February 15, 2011

Asbestos Information & Resource Guide, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection


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

February 16, 2011

OSHA Charges Beverly Northeast Hospital Corporation $63,000 for Electrical Hazards

The Beverly facility of the Northeast Hospital Corporation faces up to $63,000 in fines for serious and repeat violations of electrical hazards. After a hospital employee brought the workplace hazards to the attention of authorities, the Andover Area Office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an inspection in which they found that there was a high potential for employee electric shock, resulting in four serious citations and $28,000 in fines.

Reasons for OSHA's citations included:
• Employees lacked protective guards while working on energized electrical equipment
• Electrical protective equipment was not tested regularly
• Electrical safety practices were not used
• Procedures not implemented to control hazardous energy while replacing breakers

Additionally, OSHA issued a repeat citation and a fine of $35,000 for dormant openings in electrical panels and cabinet motor control centers that should have been closed, as previously cited in May of 2010, but were not yet fixed. Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA's Area Director for Essex and Middlesex Counties said, "Electricity can kill or severely injure workers, literally in a flash. There is no margin for error here…it is vitally important for the safety and well-being of employees working with electricity that they be properly trained and equipped with effective protective equipment."

OSHA issues such citations when it is likely that death or a serious physical injury could result from a hazard that the employer knew about or should have known about. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for ensuring safe and healthy workplaces for their employees.

Our experienced lawyers represent clients throughout Massachusetts who have suffered injuries because of inadequate workplace safety. If you have a question in regards to an electric shock or workers' compensation case and would like a free consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Source:

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Northeast Hospital Corp. for failing to protect workers against electrical hazards at Beverly, Mass., facility, OSHA Regional News Release, February 14, 2011

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February 11, 2011

Judge Confirms OSHA's Citations Against Boston Contractor

Administrative Law Judge Covette Rooney has recently ruled to uphold the U.S. Department of Labor’s eight citations for excavation violations, numerous construction hazards, and $91,200 in fines issued to a Boston contractor for insufficient work safety at a jobsite in Newton, Massachusetts. Shawn Telsi, doing business as Life Time Homes, Green Pines and/or Telsi Builders contested the citations and fines brought against him by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Telsi subsequently had the case heard by Rooney, a commission administrative law judge, who found all four willful and four serious citations against the company to be valid. The citations were issued due to the lack of head protection, the deficiency of cave-in protection in a pit that was at least 14-feet deep, for not having a safe exit from the excavation, soil that was in multiple piles at the edges of the trench, and because of the risk of impalement due to protruding and unguarded steel rebar. Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator, said "Serious, life-threatening hazards remained uncorrected even after they were brought to this employer's attention…had the unprotected 14-foot-high excavation wall collapsed, it would have engulfed workers who were pouring concrete formwork and crushed them beneath tons of concrete, soil and debris."

Michael Felsen, the Labor Department's regional solicitor for New England, said "Employers must understand that they cannot disregard standards meant to protect the life and safety of their employees without facing consequences." Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces for their employees.

For over 40 years, our attorneys have been representing personal injury and workers’ compensation victims. If you have a question or would like a free consultation, feel free to contact us and speak to one of our experienced attorneys.

Source:

US Labor Department secures decision affirming willful and serious trenching violations, $91,200 in fines against Boston contractor, OSHA Regional News Release, February 7, 2011

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January 21, 2011

Amesbury Manufacturer faces over $40,000 in Fines

On January 20, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Durasol, Corp., which manufactures hard gum erasers, for 13 serious violations of workplace health and safety standards at its plant in Amesbury. The manufacturer faces $43,800 in proposed fines.

The citations were issued for a lack of an emergency action plan, inadequate employee training in responding to emergencies, inadequate respirator training, lack of respirator fit-testing and medical evaluation, failure to evaluate respiratory hazards, unmarked exit routes, unlabeled containers of chemicals, severely corroded electrical equipment, an extension cord used in place of permanent wiring, inadequately guarded floor holes, missing stair rails, and an uninspected and improperly located emergency eyewash/shower.

OSHA issues a serious citation 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. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.

Source:
US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Amesbury, Mass., manufacturer for emergency response, respirator, chemical, electrical and other hazards,OSHA Regional News Release, January 20, 2011

January 1, 2011

Shrewsbury Mail Facility Cited for Serious Safety Violations

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has laid $238,000 worth of fines against the U.S. Postal Service for "willful and serious violations of safety standards" at the Central Massachusetts Processing and Distribution Center in Shrewsbury, Mass.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels explains, "For years, the Postal Service knew that allowing untrained employees to work on electrical equipment exposed workers to serious injury or worse. Despite this knowledge, the Postal Service did not take the necessary steps to change its practices and eliminate the hazards."

The serious fine comes after an inspection that began on June 29, 2010, in response to a worker complaint about hazardous conditions involving the use of electrical equipment. The inspection found that unqualified employees at the Shrewsbury location were allowed to work on and test energized electrical circuits and equipment.

OSHA issues serious citations 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. In the case of the Shrewsbury post office, OSHA issued 3 willful citations and 4 serious citations, resulting in the $238,000 fine.

The U.S. Department of Labor has also filed an enterprise-wide complaint against the USPS for electrical work safety violations, asking that Postal Service correct electrical violations at all its facilities nationwide. This complaint marks the first time OSHA has sought enterprise-wide relief as a remedy.


Source: US Labor Department's OSHA proposes $238,000 in fines against US Postal Service for electrical hazards at Shrewsbury, Mass., mail processing facility
, Newswire.com, December 29, 2010

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December 1, 2010

Chelmsford Roofing Contractor Cited for Serious Safety Violations

An OSHA news release from Friday says that Centimark Corp., a Chelmsford roofing contractor, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for serious alleged safety violations. The contractor is looking at the possibility of $40,000 in fines after an employee was injured when he fell from a 10-foot roof at a New Hampshire work site.

OSHA inspected the site and found that workers were not adequately protected from falls and that no competent person had conducted an inspection to identify or fix the fall hazards. A warning line system was being used, but the pitch of the roof was so steep that it required something more effective like a personal fall arrest system, according to the news release. An OSHA area director said that a competent inspection would have uncovered the need for a better system and prevented the hazard.

OSHA issued a repeat citation for $35,000 for inadequate fall protection and a $5,000 serious citation for the failure to conduct an adequate inspection. The repeat citation arises from similar violations from 2009 and 2010 in Illinois, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Centimark has 15 business days from the receiving the citation to contest it.

Source: OSHA Regional News Release, Chelmsford, Mass., roofing contractor faces $40,000 in fines from US Labor Department's OSHA following worker fall at Milford, NH, jobsite

When employers fail to protect workers from fall hazards and a worker is injured on the job, workers’ compensation can cover medical and rehabilitation costs, a percentage of your average income, and other compensation. If you have been hurt on the job, our attorneys have the experience and skill to handle your case and get the best results for you.

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November 3, 2010

Somerville Cop Shot on the Job While Serving a Warrant

Last night, a Massachusetts police officer sustained injuries to the cheek and hand after being shot in the line of duty. The officer was connected with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He and two ATF agents were serving a warrant in Somerville when a 21-year-old allegedly opened fire. The suspect was shot and pronounced dead at Somerville Hospital.

According to Somerville’s Police Chief, this was the first Somerville cop he knows of to be shot in the line of duty. The officer was in stable condition at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Although police officers are exposed to hazards are the job, such as gunfire, car crashes, and explosions, they are not covered by Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system. Firefighters, railroad workers, and independent contractors are also excluded from the system.

Source: Officials ID officer shot in line of duty, Boston Herald, November 3, 2010

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August 31, 2010

HAZMAT Crews are Unaware of the Specific Contents of Railroad Cars, Including Deadly Chemicals

According to the Star Gazette, railroad companies often ship deadly chemicals across the country on a daily basis, yet the companies refuse to publicly disclose exactly what those substances are or how frequently they are transported through certain areas.

A spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reported that only railroad companies know what cargo is held within the cars. As a result, HAZMAT crews that are tasked with responding to the scene of an accident have no knowledge of the contents of the railway cars.

The spokesperson defended the railroad company’s lack of disclosure, stating that the information must remain undisclosed since it is a “matter of national security.”

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August 27, 2010

Most Dangerous Jobs In America According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on fatalities in the workplace. While the final figures will not be released until April of 2010, the preliminary report states that there were 4,340 fatal work injuries in 2009. The number of fatal work injuries has decreased 17 percent since the 2008 report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Interestingly, the report states that 90 percent of all fatal work injuries in 2009 involved workers in the private industry.

The construction industry incurred the most fatal injuries of any industry in the private sector, with 816 deaths in 2009. Private construction fatalities have dropped by more than a third since reaching its highest numbers in 2006. The report suggests that the current economic condition of the country may explain this decline.

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August 6, 2010

Chelsea Construction Explosion Under Investigation by OSHA

This past week, two construction workers were working below street level in Bellingham Square in Chelsea when their equipment contacted an electrical line, causing an explosion. The explosion, which is currently under investigation by the Federal Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), injured two workers.

One of the injured workers, a 50-year-old resident of Everett, was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment of the injuries he sustained from the construction accident. The other construction worker injured by the blast received medical treatment at the scene.

The workers' compensation and personal injury attorneys at Altman & Altman have successfully represented injured workers and their families throughout Massachusetts for over 50 years. If you have been injured on the job, please contact our office for an initial consultation free of charge.

Source: OSHA is investigating Bellingham Square Accident, The Chelsea Record, August 4, 2010

August 3, 2010

Seven Injured, One Dead Following a Propane Explosion in Norfolk Home Under Construction

William Nichols, a 58 year old electrician, passed away Friday night as a result of injuries he sustained from a Norfolk home explosion. William Nichols was working in his capacity as an electrician when the Norfolk home suddenly exploded, injuring Nichols and seven others.

Nichols was airlifted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he was subsequently pronounced dead. The explosion also injured four other construction workers, two firefighters and a resident who lives in an adjoining unit.

The blast occurred around 12:30 pm as a construction crew was working on the heating and air conditioning system in the unfinished section of a Duplex at the Village at River’s Edge in Norfolk. The explosion caused the ceiling of the home to collapse which trapped Nichols in the basement for over 90 minutes before rescue workers were able to remove him from the rubble.

Continue reading "Seven Injured, One Dead Following a Propane Explosion in Norfolk Home Under Construction" »

July 30, 2010

Hingham Worker Alleges Workplace Violations

Earlier this month, a hearing for a 44-year-old Hingham Sewer Department staffer brought up issues of workplace safety. The worker is accused of insubordination and stood before a three-person elected board as they considered whether to fire him. He argued that that town is trying to get rid of him after he filed a complaint about unsafe working conditions with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety.

Hingham has 13 stations that pump raw sewage, but the man’s complaints were focused on the Bayberry Station. He alleges that a colleague was hit with electrical shocks while working at that station. He also says that the town failed to fix the cause of that workplace accident and that there could still be unaddressed workplace violations at the station. It was also the site of a fire in 2008, according to the man.

The Sewer Commissioner has said the town is working to address safety concerns.

Source: Workplace violations alleged at hearing of Hingham sewer worker, Boston Globe, July 14, 2010

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July 27, 2010

Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Discuss Workplace Hazards

Heightened stress from the recession and the tight job market have led to several workplace shootings in recent years. While most people don’t think of shootings as a common cause of work-related deaths, statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that assaults and violence is actually the third most-common cause of at-work deaths.

The most recently recorded statistics are from 2008 and show that assaults and violent acts accounted for 816 deaths, a decrease of 5% from 2007. The top cause of death was transportation accidents and contact with objects or equipment, causing 2,130 and 937 deaths respectively. Other common causes include falls, exposure to harmful substances, and fires or explosions.

According to Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., assaults and violent acts are the 10th most-common cause of disabling injuries in the workplace. In 2007, these injuries cost employers $600 million. However the top cause of serious injury is heavy lifting or other forms of overextension.

Source: Violence Is Workplace Hazard, Portfolio.com, July 13, 2010

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July 5, 2010

Company Involved in Salem Construction Accident Had 20 OSHA Violations

Our Massachusetts construction accident attorneys have learned that the contractor involved in an accident last month that seriously injured a worker has been cited for more than two dozen safety violations over the past few years.

OSHA records show that the company has been fined or paid settlements of more than $20,000 in the past six years. In 2009 alone, OSHA cited Massachusetts masonry and stone contractors in 42 separate incidents. Safety violations by this particular contractor include lack of safety training and failure to provide the proper fall protection for workers.

The Salem construction accident that occurred on June 15 is still being investigated. So far no blame has been assigned.

Source: Court contractor had 20 OSHA violations, The Salem News, July 1

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June 14, 2010

OSHA Fines Seafood Processor for Safety Violations

Our Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys have learned that a New England seafood processor has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 17 alleged safety violations. Inspectors from OSHA found that the company did not adequately inspect and test the ammonia piping system. Previously identified issues had also not been fixed.

These issues led to the issuing of two willful citations with $140,000 in proposed fines. According to an OSHA area director, the company’s failure to inspect and test the ammonia piping system exposes workers to potential ammonia leaks or similarly hazardous incidents.

In addition to the willful citations, OSHA also discovered that the plant failed to label and identify piping systems, provide workers with hand protection, and perform other safety-related tasks. As a result, the company received nine serious citations with a total of $44,500 in fines.

The company also received one repeat citation for not properly calibrating equipment that inspects and tests compressors and cryolators. That citation carried a proposed fine of $25,000. OSHA discovered an identical hazard at the company’s Danvers, Massachusetts plant last year. An incomplete or inadequate illness and injury log led to five other-than-serious citations with $5,000 in fines for a total of $214,500 in proposed fines.

Source: Seafood processor fined USD 214,500 for violations, FIS.com, June 3, 2010

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May 21, 2010

Massachusetts Workplace Injury Lawyers Discuss the Hazards of Blame-the-Worker Programs

Our Boston personal injury attorneys recently read an article about so-called “blame the worker” safety programs. Examples include “safety incentives” where management awards prizes to workers for not reporting injuries. In some cases, management may also revoke perks during months when the company had reported injuries or force a worker who reported an injury to wear a fluorescent orange vest for a week.

Pressuring workers to hide injuries can have catastrophic results, because when workers fail to report injuries or illnesses, the hazards go unadressed. In fact, one Massachusetts employer received an award for having zero recordable injuries and the following year, a worker was crushed to death in a machinery accident. It later came to light that the company had had minor injuries on the machine, but they went unreported.

Reporting injuries not only ensures that the worker gets the workers' compensation or other care they need, but also helps ensure that the company makes vital safety adjustments to prevent future incidents.

Source: Confronting Blame-the-Worker Safety Programs, LaborNotes.org, May 19, 2010

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May 13, 2010

OSHA Fines Massachusetts Contractor for Alleged Trench Hazards

A Brighton-based contractor has been cited by OSHA for alleged excavation hazards. A combination of willful, serious, and other-than-serious violations of safety standards led to a total of $S61,650 in proposed fines.

During an inspection conducted by OSHA’s area office in Braintree, Massachusetts, investigators found employees working in a trench more than eight feet deep without cave-in protection and a safe means of exit. The company had also piled excavated spoils at the edge of the edge, exposing workers to potential crushing or struck-by hazards.

The inspection resulted in one willful citation with a proposed fine of $49,500 for storing materials of the edge of the trench. In addition, the company received two serious citations for failing to provide collapse protection and an exit ladder. Those citations carry $8,500 in fines. Lastly, OSHA gave the company four other-than-serious citations for incomplete injury and illness records, a violation which adds $3,600 in fines.

Source: Contractor Cited for Cave-in Hazards, Other Trenching Violations, OHSonline.com, May 12, 2010

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May 7, 2010

Families and Victims of Drilling Accident File Lawsuit

Following the April 20 explosion off the coast of Louisiana that killed several oil rig workers, families of the deceased and some of the workers who survived the accident have filed wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits against companies involved in the offshore drilling operation. An electronics technician who was seriously injured is seeking $6 million in damages. He filed a lawsuit in Louisiana federal court.

On Tuesday, three workers who escaped the explosion on lifeboats have filed a suit claiming they were kept floating at sea for hours as they watched the rig burn, knowing their friends were inside. That lawsuit was filed in county court in Galveston, Texas, and seeks unspecified damages on behalf of the three workers and the family of a worker who is missing and presumed dead.

Working on an oil rig is among the most dangerous jobs in the world, so this incident may lead to new legislation regarding safety standards for offshore drilling operations.

Source: Suit: Workers kept at sea hours after explosion, Associated Press, May 4, 2010

Lawsuit filed in Gulf oil rig blast, The Galveston County Daily News, May 5, 2010

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May 5, 2010

Editorial Highlights the Importance of Workplace Safety

Our Massachusetts workplace injury lawyers recently read an editorial written by The Enterprise about the need for greater workplace safety precautions. The article calls for stiffer penalties against employers who violate safety guidelines, because in some cases it's cheaper for employers to simply pay the fines than actually fix the problem.

While the average OSHA fine in Massachusetts is $13,300, more than half the employers who were fined last year settled their cases for less than $10,000. A third paid only $5,000.

Many of the companies with workplace deaths last year had already received citations for safety violations. For instance, a 51-year-old Stoughton man died in a forklift accident at a Taunton warehouse last August, and OSHA records show that the company was cited for three forklift violations the previous year. These incidents underscore the sad economics involved with many fatal workplace accidents.

Source: OPINION: Accidents shine light on workplace safety, The Enterprise, May 5, 2010

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April 15, 2010

Construction Halts at Boston University School of Medicine After Asbestos Exposure

Authorities are investigating complaints that about 10 people were exposed to asbestos at the Boston University School of Medicine. A renovation project in the locker room of the Robinson Building revealed asbestos, according to a spokesman from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

None of the people exposed to the asbestos have shown any adverse effects, but construction on the building has been shut down indefinitely.

Though it was once used for insulation and fire resistance, asbestos is considered a hazard by the Environmental Protection Agency because it has been shown to lead to cancers and lung problems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating for safety violations.

Source: Ten people exposed to asbestos at BU Medical Campus, Boston University Daily Free Press, April 13, 2010

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April 12, 2010

OSHA Says Trench Lacked Proper Safety Measures

Last week, a trench collapse killed a 56-year-old worker in Hudson, Ohio. The workplace accident also injured a 58-year-old worker who remained in serious condition at a local hospital.

Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the 15-foot-deep trench was unsafe and lacked safety protections in the area where the two workers were digging a sewer line at the time of the collapse. According to OSHA, trenches of that depth should be protected by sloping the walls or strengthening the sides with a shield or shoring materials to prevent a collapse.

OSHA is continuing to investigate the cause of the fatal construction accident.

Source: OSHA: Hudson trench lacked basic safety protections, Vindy.com, April 9, 2010

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March 15, 2010

Newton Contractor Cited for Cave-In Hazards

Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration discovered impalement and cave-in hazards at a construction site in Newton, Massachusetts. The Newton-based general contractor and its concrete subcontractor were working on a synagogue under construction and OSHA found workers in excavations up to 14 feet deep that lacked protection against a cave-in. These cave-in hazards were made even worse by the fact that there was no safe means of exiting the excavation. Warmer weather could also cause the soil to thaw.

As a result of these unsafe working conditions, OSHA has issues both companies four willful citations with $84,000 in proposed fines for each company. In addition, the general contractor faced four serious citations with $7,200 in proposed fines for a total of $91,200 in proposed fines. The subcontractor was issued two serious citations on top of the four willful citations for a total of $87,600 in fines.

Both companies have fifteen business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings.

Source: Builders Cited for Impalement, Cave-In Hazards at Synagogue Site, OHSonline.com, March 13, 2010

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February 8, 2010

Massachusetts Contractor Fined $54K for Alleged Safety Violations

An East Boston-based contractor has been cited by OSHA for over two dozen alleged violations of workplace safety regulations. OSHA inspectors twice discovered workers exposed to fall hazards while working on a building at the intersection of Saratoga and Meridian Streets in East Boston.

The first inspection took place on August 21, 2009, when OSHA observed workers exposed to 26-foot falls from a makeshift work platform. Inspectors visited the work site again on September 9, 2009 and watched as workers were subjected to similar hazards. According to OSHA's area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, the workers could have needlessly died or been seriously injured as a result of these safety violations.

The proposed fines total $54,250.

Source: Makeshift Scaffold, Other Dangers Add up to $54K Fine for Contractor, OHSOnline.com, January 26, 2010

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January 7, 2010

Mansfield Factory Worker Injured by Forklift

Last month, a forklift accident landed an employee at a medical manufacturing factory in a Boston hospital. The unidentified worker was injured while operating the forklift, which tipped over and spilled hazardous materials, including hydraulic fluid and sulfuric battery acid.

The worker reportedly came in contact with the hazardous chemicals, but most of the injuries were from the forklift tipping. The Mansfield Fire Chief said the worker sustained serious injuries to the ribs, hips, and legs.

Emergency responders apparently halted the company's operations while they cleaned up the spill. Fire crews from Foxboro assisted Mansfield fire crews.

Source: Mansfield worker injured in accident, The Sun Chronicle, December 17, 2009

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December 22, 2009

Study Examines Work-Related Injuries in the Hotel Industry

A new study of work-related injuries presented at a recent American Public Health Association meeting found that overall, female hotel workers are 1.5 times more likely to suffer injuries than their male counterparts. However, Hispanic women working in hotels were almost twice as prone to injury compared to white women. The study also found that Hispanic and Asian male employees were 1.5 times more likely to be injured than whites.

The study examined data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on close to 3,000 worker injuries at 50 unionized hotels. The injuries occurred between 2003 and 2005. The most common areas of injury were to the upper extremity, followed by back and lower extremities.

Among the first to look at injury incidence, rate, and risk ratios by gender, employer, ethnicity, and race in the United States hotel industry, the study does not pinpoint possible causes for the disparities in injury rates. Future studies might examine injury prevention strategies for this group of workers.

Source: Women Hotel Workers Suffer High Injury Rates, NewAmericaMedia.org, December 6, 2009

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December 18, 2009

Top Safety Violations for 2009 Include Safety, Fall Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently revealed their list of top 10 safety violations for 2009. The agency says the number of top 10 violations increased almost 30 percent compared to the same period last year.

Topping the list were scaffolding and fall protection violations. Scaffolding accidents generally result when planning or support gives way, according to OSHA. So far in 2009, OSHA reports more than nine thousand scaffolding violations and more than six thousand fall protection violations. OSHA guidelines require that workers at a height of four feet in general industry must have fall protection.

Further down on the list were violations such as hazard communication, respiratory protection, and lockout/tagout. The list underscores the important role that employers play in preventing construction accidents or other work injuries.

Source: Scaffolding, fall protection top safety violations for 2009, RiskandInsurance.com, December 17, 2009

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November 23, 2009

OSHA Fines Hyde Par Contractor for Excavation Safety Issues

A Massachusetts contractor has received several citations from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration for alleged repeat and serious violations of excavation safety standards. An OSHA inspector watched as three employees worked in an unprotected trench in Boston.

The trench was nearly 6 feet deep and was not sloped at a shallow angle or otherwise protected against a potential collapse of its sidewalls. According to OSHA standards, all trenches and excavations five feet or deeper must be protected against collapse.

As a result, OSHA has proposed $33,700 in total fines. $28,000 of that is a repeat citation due to a similar hazard in the past. Another $5,700 in fines is two serious citations for not having a ladder or other safe means to exit the trench and not having the trench inspected by a competent person. The contractor has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, contest the findings, or participate in an informal conference.

Source: Cave-In Hazard Leads to $33,700 in OSHA Fines for Hyde Park, Mass., Contractor, EHSToday.com, November 18, 2009

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November 12, 2009

Alleged Safety Violations At Massachusetts Worksites Lead to OSHA Fines

A New England contractor with worksites in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, was recently cited by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and faces a total of $308,500 in new proposed fines.

Two recent inspections of the company's worksites in Methuen and Plymouth uncovered numerous hazards, including untrained fork truck operators, lack of fall protection for workers at heights greater than six feet, improperly constructed and uninspected scaffolds, and a lack of fire extinguishers.

Since 2003, OSHA has cited this company eight times. This time, OSHA issued the company one willful, six repeat, and 13 serious citations. According to OSHA, a willful violation occurs when the violation is committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. A serious citation results when death or a serious accident is likely to result from safety hazards which the employer knew or should have known about.

Safety: Fall Hazards at Massachusetts Sites Net $308,500 in OSHA Fines, OHSonline.com, November 7, 2009

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November 9, 2009

OSHA Cites New Bedford Company After Fatal Machinery Accident

Earlier this year, a worker died after he became caught in the moving parts of an industrial ice-making machine. The machine activated as the worker performed maintenance work inside it. When officials from Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the New Bedford company, a seafood processor, they discovered 23 alleged safety violations.

Following the fatal machinery accident, the company received 19 serious citations and four other-than-serious hazards. OSHA found that the company's seafood processing plant did not have specific steps and procedures to power down and lock out the ice machine's power source before workers entered it.

Investigators also found that employees were not trained to deal with the hazard of the machine's operating without warning. The plant was also missing a program to train employees to work in confined spaces such as the ice machine. OSHA regulations aimed at preventing serious injuries require that machinery be powered down and power sources locked out before employees enter the machine to perform maintenance.

The combined proposed penalties total $66,800.

Source: Seafood Processor Cited for Worker's Death in Ice Machine, OHSonline.com, November 9, 2009

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October 29, 2009

OSHA Cites Massachusetts Company for Failing to Protect Workers from Silica

A Hingham, Massachusetts company has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following a night inspection in July, 2009. Inspectors from OSHA's Boston North Area Office discovered workers exposed to excess silica levels as they were jackhammering concrete on a bridge on I-93 in Melrose.

In addition to not protecting employees from overexposure to silica, OSHA also cited the company for alleged safety violations including not having controls to lower exposure levels, not fit-testing respirators, failing to evaluate employees' exposure levels, and not providing a respiratory protection program and training. OSHA also alleges that the company has repeat violations found during an April, 2009 inspection. The proposed fines total $38,100.

The nighttime inspection was part of OSHA's efforts to target highway construction job sites where silica is generated.

Silica Citations Follow Night Inspection, Safety.BLR.com, October 26, 2009

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August 13, 2009

Massachusetts Factory Facing $442K in Proposed OSHA Penalties

Our workplace accident attorneys have recently learned that a Massachusetts composites factory is facing a total of $442,150 in proposed fines. The United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the Rockland, Massachusetts manufacturing and assembly facility for alleged violations of health and safety standards.

According to OSHA's area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, a safety inspective revealed inadequate or absent safeguards against workers' exposure to lead. The two companies involved reportedly failed to conduct required air and biological monitoring to determine and track workers' lead exposure levels. They also failed to implement adequate controls to reduce lead exposure and did not keep work surfaces and floors as clean of lead accumulation as possible.

Globe Composite Solutions faces $209,500 in proposed penalties for two willful, 41 serious, and 6 other-than-serious violations. ADP TotalSource II faces $233,650 in fines for two willful, 29 serious, and one other-than-serious violations. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. The companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations to take action.

Composites factory facing $442,150 in OSHA penalties, Reliable Plant Magazine, August 6, 2009

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August 7, 2009

Massachusetts Manufacturer Cited for 29 Alleged Safety Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Massachusetts manufacturer for more than two dozen willful, serious, and other-than-serious violations of safety and health standards at its Watertown, Massachusetts production plant.

Fluid Management Systems Inc. faces proposed fines totaling $125,000, mainly for electrical, chemical, and respirator hazards. According to OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties, OSHA inspectors found employees working without personal protective gear in close proximity to energized electrical circuits. OSHA safety regulations mandate that employees wear protective equipment if de-energizing is not feasible. Inspectors also found unqualified employees working on energized equipment and unguarded or uncovered live electrical parts. OSHA issues serious citations when injury is likely to occur from hazards that the company knew or should have known about.

The company also received one other-than-serious citation for not recording work injuries and illnesses in the OSHA 300 log or equivalent. OSHA gives companies 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA proposes $125K fine for Massachusetts manufacturer, ReliablePlant.com, August 3, 2009

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June 23, 2009

Massachusetts Waste Incinerator Cited for Seven "Serious" Safety Violations

In Rochester, Mass., Covanta has been cited for seven alleged "serious" violations of federal safety rules at its SEMASS waste incinerator by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The citations include an accumulation of fly ash on energy 208-volt electrical equipment and exposing workers to electrical hazards such as arc flash and blast. The total proposed penalties add up to $13,500 against the company.

The citations were issued following an inspection requested by Utility Workers Union Local 369, which represents employees at the plant. A spokesperson for the company said it will not appeal OSHA's decision or fines on the June 1 citations and will drop its appeal of previous OSHA citations, because it is in the process of renewing its OSHA Voluntary Protection Program participation and needs the support of Local 369.

Four earlier citations were issued on April 2, 2009 and included alleged violations such as "maintaining" electrical equipment with duct tape and cardboard and storing combustible acetylene cylinders next to oxygen cylinders.

Covanta cited again for safety violations, WickedLocal.com, June 18, 2009

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June 18, 2009

North Attleboro Metal Plant Receives $46,500 in Proposed OSHA Fines

A North Attleboro, Massachusetts metals refining company has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 10 alleged serious violations of safety standards. A November 7, 2008 gas lack at the plant prompted an inspection by OSHA's Boston South Area Office in Braintree. That inspection uncovered several alleged deficiencies in the plant's Process Safety Management (PSM) program.

According to the citations, the company had not compiled information on the chemicals, equipment, and technology used in the purifying process, and it had not developed and implemented written procedures outlining the process or posted a sign to indicate a confined space, among other safety issues.

OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about the employer knew or should have known. The North Attleboro company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA Area Director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA proposes more than $46,000 in fines against North Attleboro, Mass., metals plant following chlorine gas leak, HR.CCH.com, June 10, 2009

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May 27, 2009

North Reading Company Faces $79,000 in Proposed Fines For Fall Hazards

Safety and health violations at a residential construction site in Woburn, Massachusetts have resulted in OSHA issuing $79,000 in proposed fines to a North Reading roofing contractor. After an OSHA inspection discovered employees working on a two-story roof without fall protection and with ladders that did not extend at least a yard above the upper landing surface, the company was issued two willful citations, carrying $56,000 in proposed fines. A willful citation is defined as when a safety violation is committed with indifference to or intentional disregard for employee's health and safety.

In addition to two willful citations, OSHA also issued the roofing contractor 14 serious citations for several scaffold hazards including lack of fall protection, unsecured ladders, lack of head, eye, and face protection for employees exposed to overhead hazards. Those fines amounted to $23,000. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards which the employer knew or should have known about.

As OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties pointed out, "It takes only one slip or misstep to turn a construction site into an accident scene."

The company has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA proposes $79,000 in Fines For Fall Hazards, EHSToday.com, May 19, 2009

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May 26, 2009

Massachusetts Company Gets $46,000 in Proposed OSHA Fines

Following an inspection in response to chlorine gas leak at a North Attleboro, Massachusetts metal refining plant, OSHA has cited a Massachusetts company for 10 alleged serious violations of safety standards. The citations carry $46,500 in proposed fines.

OSHA inspectors found the plant's Process Safety Management (PSM) to be lacking. The PSM is a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to assess and address potential safety hazards associated with large quantities of hazardous chemicals. The company had not compiled information on the chemicals, technology, and equipment used in the metal purifying process, nor had it performed an initial process hazard analysis. The company also failed to post signs indicating a confined space.

These safety violations resulted in 10 alleged serious citations, which OSHA issues when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards which the employer knew or should have known about. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to respond.

OSHA Proposes More than $46,000 in Fines for Chlorine Gas Leak, OHSonline, May 7, 2009

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May 21, 2009

Massachusetts Manufacturer Cited by OSHA for 34 Safety Violations

A New Bedford-based manufacturer of rubber products has been cited by OSHA for 34 alleged safety and health violations at its plant. An inspection last November found mechanical, electrical, fall, burn and other safety hazards at the plant. The company now faces $44,250 in proposed fines for violating health and safety standards.

Among those hazards identified during OSHA's inspection were locked exits, excess carbon monoxide levels from forklifts, lack of personal protective equipment for welders, untrained forklift operators, and numerous electrical safety issues. Those findings amounted to 31 serious citations and $43.750 in proposed penalties. The company also received three other-than-serious citations for not having an injury and illness log, dust masks, and forklift data plates.

According to OSHA's area director for Boston and southeaster Massachusetts, these issues "need to be addressed effectively and continuously to prevent injuries and illnesses, and ensure the health and safety of the workers at this plant."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request a conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties.

Lack of Dust Masks, 33 Other Violations Found at Rubber Products Plant, OHSonline.com, April 28, 2009

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May 7, 2009

Fall River Worker Injured in Truck Accident

A Fall River man who works for the Department of Public Works was critically injured after falling off the back of a truck. According to accident reports, the garbage truck was on its usual pick-up route when the worker fell and hit his head. The workplace accident occurred on Nichols Street in Fall River. The worker is at Charleton Hospital, where police say he is fighting for his life.

The truck accident is under investigation by the Massachusetts State Police truck team and the Fall River Police Department.

Head injuries can be especially serious and can result in permanent, life-altering damage in some cases. Many injured workers are not able to return to work after an accident because of permanently debilitating injuries. The cost of long-term care and the loss of financial support take their toll on the injured worker as well as his or her family.

Worker critical after falling off truck, WPRI.com, May 6, 2009

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March 24, 2009

OSHA Cites Massachusetts Company for 29 Safety Violations

A Massachusetts manufacturing plant has received citations for 29 alleged serious safety violations. OSHA conducted two safety inspections between fall last and last month.

The first inspection was conducted under its Site-Specific Targeting program and identified damaged support frames for large metal dies, slipping and tripping hazards, and missing access stairs, among other workplace hazards.

The section inspection was conducted in response to a manufacturing plant accident on December 23. Two workers sustained injuries when a 700-pound forging shot up in the air and hit them while they tried to free it from a malfunctioning die on a power press.

OSHA cited the company because it did not develop procedures to prevent the build-up and release of hazardous energy generated by the press. The company faces over $100,000 in proposed fines.

OSHA Proposes Fines for Serious Violations, Safety.BLR.com, March 20, 2009

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March 19, 2009

Company Receives Record Fine for Workplace Accident

A recycling company in New Zealand has received a record fine for failing to prevent a workplace accident last year that cost an employee both his legs. Ben Hekenui, 37, was trapped in an automatic baler press in April of last year.

Last week a judge fined the company $100,000 on two charges of breaching health and safety regulations. The maximum fine for reach charge is $250,000. In addition, the company is required to $76,900 to reparation to the
injured employee.

According to the Department of Labour counsel, the company’s health and safety policies were “ad hoc.” He claimed the company had inherited a health and safety manual from the company’s previous owner and lacked a process for identifying hazards. The company is about to be voluntarily liquidated but vowed it will make reparation payments to the workplace accident victim.

“I'm not sure how long it will take but it will certainly be made," said a company director.

Record fine after workplace accident, Taranaki Daily News, March 12, 2009

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February 27, 2009

Oil and Gas Industries Leading Fatality Rates

According to preliminary data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gas and oil industries account for almost two-thirds of the 2007 deaths in the private mining sector. In those industries, the death rate was 24.8 per 100,000 workers.

The construction industry also has a high rate of fatalities, because it exposes workers to hazards such as potential explosions, fires, crane accidents, and falls. The death rate across all industries nationwide is much lower: 3.7. So far, there is no data available for 2008.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s website, "Fatality rates are higher when there is an increased number of active drilling and workover rigs. This is hypothesized to be a result of an increase in the proportion of inexperienced workers, longer working hours (more overtime) and the utilization of all available rigs (older equipment with fewer safeguards)."

For this reason, it is crucial that oil, gas, and construction companies make safety a high priority, both in worker training and day-to-day operations to prevent accidental injury or death.

Oil, gas industry has high fatality rate, February 22, 2009, Shreveport Times

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February 23, 2009

Firefighter and Utility Worker Injured in Somerset Explosion

Last Thursday marked the third house explosion in Massachusetts in the past three months. The gas explosion occurred in Somerset, where a utility crew responded to reports of a gas leak and told firefighters the leak was under control. Firefighters were knocking on doors that evening checking for elevated gas levels, but crews from New England Gas Co. told the firefighters they could leave.

Minutes later, a single-family house exploded, sending debris through the neighborhood and forcing 200 neighbors to evacuate. A firefighter and utility worker were both injured. The gas crews planned to dig into the street to check the leak, but they did not shut off the gas supply to the neighborhood.

According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, 323 people died and 1,341 were injured because of gas leaks or explosions between 1998 and 2008. In Massachusetts, six people died and 12 were injured from similar explosions during that same time frame. In December, a Scituate man died in a house explosion, and last month another man was severely injured in Gloucester. The recent spike in gas explosions raises concerns about the safety of Massachusetts workers and residents.

"I would say these explosions are early warning flags, if nothing else," Stephen Connors, director of analysis at the MIT Energy Initiative, told the Boston Globe.

Before explosion, gas crew waved off help, Boston Globe, February 21, 2009

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February 17, 2009

OSHA Investigating Massachusetts Choking Accident

In Easthampton, Massachusetts, a 19-year-old car wash worker nearly died when her scarf got caught in a rotating scrubber, cutting off her airway.

A customer, John A. O’Leary, of Southampton, Massachusetts, saw the worker in danger, jumped out of his car as it moved along the wash rail, and cut her free using a pocket knife. O’Leary also revived the injured worker using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The worker, Stephani M. Carpluk, of Chicopee, spent three days in treatment for face and neck injuries at Baystate Medical Center before getting released from the hospital.

The Easthampton police have provided the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with pictures and reports of the car wash accident. OSHA said it plans to investigate.

OSHA to Investigate Carwash Choking Accident, ModernCarCare.com, February 12, 2009

Federal agency to investigate accident at Easthampton car wash that nearly strangled Chicopee worker, The Republican, February 11, 2009

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November 19, 2008

Provincetown Firefighter Charged with Speeding in Ladder Crash

A volunteer firefighter in Provincetown, Massachusetts has been charged with speeding and operating a fire truck dangerously. The charges are the result of an investigation into a November 9 accident that totaled Provincetown’s only ladder truck.

The firefighter, Elias Martinez, 21, was driving the fire truck during a routine test. Investigators say the truck’s front wheel hit a curb and flipped over an estimated four times. Both Martinez and his passenger were treated for minor injuries at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.

An accident reconstruction report prompted police to cite Martinez for speeding, as well as failure to use caution at an intersection and operating a vehicle negligently, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of two years.

The date for Martinez’s arraignment at Orleans District Court has not been set.

Massachusetts Firefighter Cited in Ladder Truck Crash, CMS.Firehouse.com, November 18, 2008

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November 13, 2008

Marshfield Contractor Cited by OSHA After Fall

A steel erection contractor in Marshfield, Massachusetts has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a total of 14 alleged safety violations. Barco Metal Fabrication faces $55,600 in proposed fines as the result of an OSHA investigation prompted by an incident involving an employee who fell 20 feet at a Pembroke, Massachusetts worksite in June.

During the investigation, representatives from OSHA found construction workers performing steel erection work at heights of 20 feet without proper fall protection. Because OSHA’s standard requires use of an effective form of fall protection, like lanyard and safety belts, the contractor received a willful citation with a proposed fine of $28,000.

Other potential worker hazards included a lack of ladder safety training, damaged welding leads, lack of training on how to operate and recognize hazards related to aerial lifts, and other serious safety violations totaling $27,600 in fines. The contractor has 15 business days to meet with OSHA or contest the citations.

OSHA proposes $55,600 in fines against Marshfield, Mass., contractor following employee fall at Pembroke, Mass., jobsite, HR.CCH.com, November 5, 2008

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October 10, 2008

Massachusetts Police Officers Protest Civilian Flaggers

In Woburn, Massachusetts, Police Chief Philip Mahoney and on-duty officers had to restore order on Tuesday when about 50 off-duty officers from Woburn and nearby towns protested the use of civilian flaggers at roadside construction projects.

A new rule went into effect earlier this week which reclassified Massachusetts Highway Department projects into a three-tiered system and allowed for the use of civilian flaggers in lieu of police officers in some areas. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who issued the new rules, said that police officers are not needed at all roadside construction sites and that the old system added unnecessary expense. Police officers earn $30-45 per hour, which flaggers are paid about $15-26 per hour.

The protestors parked on a state highway and entered a posted work zone, which are both illegal. They interrupted the work of a road maintenance crew and heckled the flaggers. One officer went so far as to drive down the street against the flow of traffic, claiming a flagger had misdirected him. The off-duty officers were instructed to stay out of the way of the crews clearing catch basins.

Mass. police officers protest civilian flaggers, Associated Press, October 8, 2008

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September 23, 2008

Texting on the Job Possible Cause of Train Crash

Earlier this month, a train collision in Chatsworth, California killed 25 people and left 135 injured. More recently, it was discovered that one of the engineers involved in the deadly train crash was sending and receiving text messages while on the job.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still working to determine the exact timing of the text messages sent and received by engineer Robert Sanchez to see if it corresponds with the time of the crash.

According to an analyst at J. Gold Associates in Northboro, Massachusetts, “texting is worse than talking on a cell phone because your eyes are down.”

The Southern California Regional Rail Authority already prohibits rail workers from using cell phones while on the job, and more legislation is expected as a result of this tragic accident.

NTSB: Train engineer in deadly crash was texting while on job, ComputerWorld.com, September 18, 2008

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