What is Workers’ Compensation and how does it work in Massachusetts?

Workers' Compensation provides wage replacement coverage to Massachusetts workers who are injured in on-the-job accidents. Filing a workers' compensation claim can an extremely complicated process. Doing so without the help of an experienced Boston workers' compensation lawyer can be stressful and overwhelming, often resulting in delayed benefits, reduced benefits, or no benefits at all.

Most work-related injuries are eligible for workers' comp benefits, but employers and insurance companies rarely make the process an easy one. With the help of a skilled workers' compensation lawyer, your chances of receiving full benefits in a timely manner are significantly improved. If you've been injured on the job, and are not sure what to do next, give us a call and we will explain what benefits you should be receiving.

Although workers' comp effectively removes the employee's right to sue the employer, third-party claims may still be filed against a vendor or contractor if third-party negligence played a role.

Common Accidents Covered by Workers' Compensation:

Most work-related injuries are covered, even if the injury was the employee's fault. Some of the most commonly-cited workers' comp accidents include:

  • Crane accidents
  • Scaffolding accidents
  • Industrial accidents
  • Construction site blasting accidents
  • Trench and excavation accidents
  • Accidental electrocution

When a worker reports an on-the-job accident, an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will usually follow. If the employer is found to be in violation of OSHA standards, fines and penalties may be imposed. Contact our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers at Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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Workers' Compensation is supposed to guarantee certain benefits to workers who get injured on the job, including coverage of medical expenses, wage replacement, and additional compensation for permanent injuries and death. Unfortunately, receiving these benefits is not always an easy task. With the help of an experienced Boston workers' compensation attorney, your chances of receiving full benefits in a timely manner are greatly improved.

Workers' compensation pays benefits for work-related injuries that result in partial disability, disfigurement and/or loss of function, total disability, permanent disability, and death. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our knowledgeable legal team has an impressive track record of protecting clients from difficult insurance companies and employers. Our attorneys are skilled at negotiating for the highest possible settlements to be paid immediately.

In addition to ensuring you get the full benefits you deserve in a timely manner, Altman & Altman, LLP will fight to get additional benefits when appropriate. For example, if you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or a serious burn injury, the "full" workers' comp benefits may not cover all of your costs. Further, if a third party, such as a machine manufacturer or negligent contractor, played a role in your injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation.

At Altman & Altman, LLP, we will thoroughly examine all details of your case to determine the best method of recovery for your unique situation. We will file claims against any and all negligent parties so that you receive the highest settlement or verdict possible. If you've been injured in a work-related accident and need an experienced Boston workers’ compensation attorney, contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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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.

Construction is widely known as one of the most dangerous occupations, but many common construction accidents—and their resulting injuries—are easily preventable. By grouping the most common causes of construction accidents into different categories, we can better understand why they occur and how to prevent them.

The four most common construction accident categories are as follows:

  • Electrical incidents: Electrocution is common in the construction industry, and this type of injury is often fatal. By following certain safety precautions, however, electrocutions are one of the easiest accidents to prevent. Most often, electrocution occurs when a worker comes into contact with a power line, or through improper use of electrical equipment, such as extension cords.
  • Falls: Just as electrocutions are easy to prevent with proper safety practices, so are falls. When working in high places or on elevated platforms, workers should always be equipped with personal fall protection gear. In addition, the improper use of scaffolds and ladders contribute to serious falls in the construction industry every year. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
  • Struck-by accidents: According to a recent report by Lorman, a professional training and regulatory company, when it comes to struck-by accidents, “in the great majority of cases, cranes and trucks are the main cause of accidents and deaths.” In addition to cranes and trucks, falling objects can also strike and seriously injure, or kill, construction workers. By ensuring proper use of cranes, adherence to safe driving practices, and proper storage and installation of objects and equipment, struck-by accidents can be dramatically reduced.
  • Trenching and evacuation accidents: Sadly, trenching and evacuation accidents are commonly fatal. As such, taking strict preventative measures to avoid these accidents is of the utmost importance. In addition to cave-ins, trenching and excavation fatalities are often the result of the inhalation of toxic fumes, a lack of oxygen, or drowning.

Of the four categories above, falls are responsible for the most serious and fatal work accidents in the construction industry. In fact, in 2016, nearly 40 percent of all fatal construction injuries were a result of falls. A total of 5,190 workers were fatally injured on the job in 2016, and more than 20 percent of those occurred in construction. As sobering as these statistics may be, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds us that the vast majority of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented.

Most Common OSHA Violations

In 2017, OSHA conducted tens-of-thousands of safety inspections in businesses across the nation. The agency is responsible for establishing, and enforcing, workplace safety regulations. When violations are discovered, the workplace must resolve the issues immediately, at the very least. In many cases, employers face large fines. According to its website, the top 10 OSHA violations for 2017 were:

  • Fall protection;
  • Hazard communication procedures;
  • Scaffolding safety requirements;
  • Respiratory protection;
  • Hazardous energy control;
  • Ladder safety;
  • Powered industrial truck safety regulations;
  • Requirements for machinery and machine guarding;
  • Training to prevent fall protection; and
  • Electrical wiring methods and equipment safety.

A MA work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been hurt in a work-related accident. Continue reading

If you are hurt on the job, you will likely be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In exchange for accepting these benefits, you agree to not bring a lawsuit against your employer for any injuries suffered. Workers’ comp covers most work-related injuries, but there are certain rules you must follow to obtain benefits, and even a simple mistake can delay or reduce the benefits to which you are entitled.

If I am injured on the job, what’s the first thing I should do?

Following a work-related injury or illness, you should take the steps below:

  • Immediately report your injury or illness to a supervisor;
  • Ask to see a physician;
  • Request and fill out a workers’ comp form.

Remember, your employer is under no legal obligation to provide workers’ comp benefits until you have reported your injury and completed a claim form. Don’t wait until your condition is so bad that you can no longer perform the duties of your job. A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured at work.

What Benefits Does Workers’ Comp Provide?

Although benefits can vary from case to case, the four basic benefits that a recipient of workers’ comp can expect to receive are as follows:

  • Medical care: Any treatment that is reasonably necessary for your injury should be covered by the insurance company that provides workers’ comp insurance to your employer;
  • Benefit payments: You should receive a percentage of your wages while you are unable to work;
  • Settlement for permanent disability: If you are permanently unable to return to work, you may be entitled to compensation based on the severity of your disability;
  • Vocational rehab: If you are unable to return to your old occupation but you can perform the duties of another occupation, you may be entitled to paid training.

Can My Employer Fire Me While I’m Receiving Workers’ Comp Benefits?

If you are receiving workers’ comp due to a temporary disability, your employer may not terminate you. If, however, medical evidence shows that you will be unable to return to your job, there may be an exception to this rule. If your disability will keep you from your occupation for an extended period, and this absence places an undue burden on your employer, a temporary worker may be used to replace you until your return. A MA work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured on the job.

Commonly Overlooked Work Injuries

If you have one of the injuries below, you may be suffering from a work injury without even knowing it.

  • Heart problems: Even if a heart attack or other heart problem occurs away from the workplace, it could be work-related.
  • Lung problems: Breathing problems and other conditions involving the lungs can be caused by long-term exposure to industrial chemicals and materials.
  • Hearing loss: If your workplace exposes you to loud noises on a regular basis, this can cause hearing loss, even if you wear hearing protection.
  • Back problems and hernias: If you regularly lift or move even moderately heavy objects, this can lead to serious back pain and hernias.
  • Eye injuries: Eye strain from staring at a computer screen all day, and airborne irritants in industrial occupations can both cause serious injuries to the eyes.
  • Hand injuries: If your job involves repetitive motions of the hands and wrists, you may wind up with severe wrist pain and injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Desk jobs are notorious for these injuries.

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Repetitive stress injuries—including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis—are extremely common, can be debilitating, and are often sustained on the job. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 100 types of repetitive stress injuries may occur in the workplace. In order to obtain workers’ compensation for such an injury, however, you must be able to show that your job caused your injury.

Common Causes of Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace

If any of the situations below apply to you, there is a good chance that your repetitive stress injury was sustained in the workplace. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

  • You spend most of your day working on a computer. Sitting at a computer for hours a day may sound like an unlikely way to get injured, but it’s actually one of the most common. Performing the same movements over and over again throughout the day is the most direct route to a repetitive stress injury. Small movements that may seem benign—such as clicking your mouse, or typing and holding a desk phone between your ear and shoulder—can lead to painful, chronic conditions, many of which can make even simple tasks impossible.
  • You work in construction. Any time you perform repetitive movements for weeks or months in a row, you can develop a repetitive stress injury. Tasks like swinging a hammer, digging or running a jackhammer can result in damage to tendons, joints and muscles. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
  • You stand all day or sit all day. The human body is not intended to be in the same position all day. Studies have proven that excessive sitting can cause back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as other health problems…it can even shave years off your life! Excessive standing can also wreak havoc on your body. Hips, knees and back are especially vulnerable to these problems.
  • You work in retail. Cashiers and others who work in retail often stand for long periods. As stated above, this alone can lead to health problems. However, retail cashiers are particularly prone to repetitive stress injuries because of the limited but continuous motions they must make all day. Watch the cashier the next time you’re standing in line. Throughout a single shift, a cashier may have to turn, grab, lift, swipe, type and pull thousands of times.

Examples of Repetitive Stress Injuries

These injuries are among the most commonly reported causes of lost work time. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that repetitive stress injuries accounted for about 33 percent of all work injuries in 2013. The most common include:

  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Trigger finger
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Low back injuries
  • Muscle strains

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Data provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveals that, of the 4,693 worker deaths in 2016, more than 20 percent (991 workers) occurred in the construction industry. The top four causes of construction worker deaths – dubbed the fatal four – were falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions and getting “caught in” or crushed by equipment. The fatal four accounted for 63.7 percent of the fatal accidents. The exact breakdown is as follows:

  • Falls – 384 fatalities
  • Struck by an object – 93 fatalities
  • Electrocutions – 82 fatalities
  • Caught in or between objects – 72 fatalities

The above data is proof that construction sites are one of the most dangerous workplaces in the United States today. Due to heavy equipment, electrical work, temporary structures and extreme heights, serious injuries and deaths are shockingly common in this industry.

It is the employer’s duty to take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards in the workplace that could cause serious injury and death. When employers fail to do so, and a worker is injured or killed, the employer may be liable. Although workers’ compensation often provides benefits for work-related injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation if the employer was negligent?

Was My Employer Negligent?

The help of an experienced MA work injury lawyer is essential when determining whether employer negligence was a factor. Some common indicators of negligence at construction sites include:

  • Falls due to unstable, slippery or cluttered walkways or platforms;
  • Lack of protection around platform edges;
  • Unprotected holes in the floor and walls;
  • Improperly positioned ladders;
  • Inadequate fall protection equipment and training;
  • Trench collapse due to lack of, or improper, safety guards;
  • Lack of proper supervision;
  • Poor equipment maintenance; and
  • Overall lack of training.

Filing a Lawsuit

If you are injured in a work-related construction accident, an experienced Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed. If you lost a loved one in a work-related construction accident, you may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In order to bring a successful wrongful death suit, you should be able to show that:

  • Your loved one died as a result of the employer’s negligence;
  • You have suffered losses due to your loved one’s death; and
  • If your loved one had lived, he or she could have recovered damages for pain and suffering from the defendant.

Losses may include, but are not limited to:

  • financial support;
  • love;
  • emotional support;
  • consortium between spouses; and
  • quality of life.

If you are concerned that your workplace is unsafe, speak to a supervisor immediately. If your supervisor is unable, or unwilling, to address your concerns, you can always report the problem to OSHA, the agency tasked with establishing – and enforcing – workplace safety guidelines. Employers that violate OSHA guidelines will be required to remedy the situation within a specified time period and may face fines for the violation. Continue reading

In hazard-prone work environments, such as manufacturing plants, it’s not uncommon for minor safety protocols to get overlooked in favor of more serious concerns. For example, while wearing a hard hat to protect against head injuries may be a non-negotiable, employees often  forego wearing cut-resistant gloves; it’s not like hand lacerations are life threatening. But even minor injuries, such as hand lacerations, can lead to bigger problems.

For starters, a worker is likely to become immediately distracted when a hand injury occurs. If she is working with complex machinery at the time, the distraction could be deadly. In some cases, the distraction can snowball into an incident involving multiple workers. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

The Real Cost of Minor Injuries

The hand laceration itself, although not life threatening, can still be devastating to a worker’s ability to perform necessary job duties. More than one million U.S. workers seek emergency medical treatment for lacerations annually. Just about every job requires the use of the worker’s hands. As such, hand lacerations can lead to time off work and lost wages for the worker, as well as insurance claims, increased premiums and employee-replacement costs for the employer. The average cost to a company for an employee who suffers a single laceration is $41,000.

Follow the steps below to dramatically reduce your risk of injury or death in the workplace.

  • Don’t overlook the “less serious” safety precautions; non-slip soles and cut-resistant gloves are just as important as personal fall protection equipment, for example.
  • Don’t engage in a hazardous work task when you are fatigued, distracted or stressed.
  • Take breaks at regular intervals throughout the day to prevent fatigue. In addition to resting during these breaks, drink some water and consider doing jumping jacks or some other energizing activity.
  • Your employer should perform regular inspections and maintenance of all equipment. If you are concerned that this isn’t being done properly, speak to a supervisor. If your concerns are not adequately addressed, you can always contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency tasked with establishing – and enforcing – workplace safety guidelines.
  • Your employer should also provide regular employee training, and established safety policies should be clearly stated, up to date and easy to locate. Posters, safety drills and the distribution of regular emails are effective ways of reminding employees of safety policies and the importance of following them.

Employees who don’t follow established safety policies should face tough consequences. When a worker’s noncompliance is allowed to continue, other workers will soon follow suit. Companies with zero-tolerance policies for safety violations have lower rates of worker injury and death. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

The BLS recently released a workplace deaths report revealing shocking results; fatal workplace injuries and illnesses increased by seven percent from 2015 to 2016. In fact, the 5,190 workers who were killed in work-related accidents last year accounted for the highest rate of workplace deaths since 2008. With the efforts of OSHA, and countless workplace safety campaigns popping up nationwide each year, this substantial increase is sobering.

According to the BLS, traffic incidents were the number one cause of workplace deaths, accounting for about 40 percent of all fatal work accidents. The other top causes were violence (including suicides and homicides) at 17 percent, falls at 16 percent, contact with objects and equipment at 15 percent, and exposure to harmful substances at 10 percent. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Deadliest Industries

Not surprisingly, construction and industrial workplaces ranked highest for on-the-job fatalities. The breakdown of the most deaths by industry for 2016 is as follows:

  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Agriculture (forestry, fishing, and hunting)
  • Government
  • Waste management
  • Manufacturing
  • Accommodation and food services
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas extraction

Jobs with Most Fatalities

According to the BLS report, logging may be the nation’s deadliest occupation. For every 100,000 workers, there are more than 135 fatalities. The other deadly jobs include:

  • Fishers
  • Pilots
  • Roofers
  • Garbage collectors
  • Steel workers
  • Truck drivers
  • Farmers

Any job can be hazardous, but the jobs above pose an increased risk of serious injury or death. A MA work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

How to Stay Safe at Work

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the most common work hazards include:

  • Working at high levels
  • Chemical exposure
  • Electrical hazards
  • Forklifts
  • Lockout / tagout
  • Confined spaces

Although the above hazards cannot be altogether eliminated from certain jobs, the risk to workers can be dramatically reduced when employees are provided with proper safety equipment and training. Continue reading

February 4 through 10 was National Burn Awareness Week, during which the American Burn Association encouraged the public to think about burn dangers in the home and workplace. Although more than 96 percent of burn injuries are non-fatal, many victims suffer debilitating medical complications and severe scarring that can affect them physically and emotionally for a lifetime.

In the Workplace

Thousands of workers suffer burn injuries annually in the United States. The three most common types of workplace burn injuries are thermal (heat), electrical, and chemical. Reduce the risk of these injuries by following the tips below:

  • If you are working with flammable or combustible materials, keep them away from open flames and sparks.
  • Employees working with flammable or combustible materials, or near open flames, should wear flame-resistant clothing.
  • Do not touch equipment until you are certain it is not hot.
  • If a worker suffers a thermal burn injury, move him or her to a safe place. If clothing is on fire, help the person to stop, drop and roll until the flames are completely extinguished.
  • If the burn is mild (first-degree), apply cool water to the injury, elevate the body part, and give the person water to drink.
  • If the person has sustained a second-degree burn, do not apply cool water. Simply elevate the body part and give the person water to drink.
  • If the burn is more serious (third-degree), do not apply cool water, do apply a sterile, nonstick dressing to the wound, treat the person for shock, and seek medical attention immediately.
  • To prevent chemical burns, ensure that chemicals are stored and labeled correctly.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear when working with dangerous chemicals.
  • Before beginning a job working with chemicals, make sure that you know the location of a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and nearest eye wash station.
  • Immediately remove contaminated clothing if you come into contact with dangerous chemicals.
  • To avoid electrical burns and electrocutions, utilize proper Lockout / Tagout procedures at all times.
  • Overhead power lines should be marked.
  • If a worker suffers an electrical burn or injury, turn off the power.
  • Do not touch the injured worker until you are sure the power has been turned off.
  • Check the worker’s airway and breathing, treat for shock, and seek medical attention immediately.

A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

When workers are injured or become ill on the job, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are paid out of an insurance policy held by the employer which protects both employer and employee. The employee is generally entitled to receive compensation for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages in exchange for agreeing not to sue the employer. Lost wages can be financially devastating for a family; the benefits provided by workers’ comp can be a life saver.

Fortunately, workers’ comp covers most work-related illnesses and injuries. Unfortunately, workers’ comp claims can be lengthy and complicated, and even a minor error can result in delayed or reduced benefits. Two of the most confusing aspects of workers’ comp are the waiting period and retroactive period. The information below will help you understand these two requirements, and how they may impact your claim. A MA workers’ comp lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

Waiting Period

The waiting period refers to the number of days the injured worker must miss work before he or she may begin to receive indemnity payments. Although the waiting period may seem unfair to a newly-injured worker, there are two important reasons for its existence. For one, waiting periods are intended to prevent workers with minor injuries from filing frivolous claims. Knowing that she is going to lose wages for at least the duration of the waiting period, an employee with a minor injury will be less likely to file a claim, knowing that the loss would almost certainly outweigh the gain.

In MA, the waiting period is five days. If you are injured and miss five or less days of work, you will receive no benefits. If you are injured and miss more than five days of work, you will receive benefits for the days that exceed the waiting period. In some cases, employers will allow injured workers to use sick or vacation days to cover the days missed during the waiting period.

Retroactive Period

If the injured worker fulfills the requirements of the retroactive period, he or she will receive benefits for work days they missed during the waiting period. In MA, the retroactive period is 21 days.

Consider Laurie’s case. Laurie injures her back in a work-related accident and is temporarily unable to work. In all, Laurie misses 38 days of work. For the first five days, Laurie receives no pay due to the waiting period requirement. On the sixth day, Laurie begins receiving indemnity payments. On the 21st day, Laurie satisfies the retroactive period requirement, and thus, receives payment for the first five days of missed work.

If, on the other hand, Laurie had returned to work after only 20 days (before the 21-day retroactive period), she would not have received compensation for the first five days of work she missed. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

Work-related injuries can occur in any occupation, from secretaries and librarians to construction workers and miners. You don’t have to be working in a “dangerous industry” to get injured. In fact, repetitive motion injuries are most common among office workers. Repetitive motion injuries often affect the hand and arm, causing a wide range of complications, including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.

But hand and arm injuries can also be more catastrophic; thousands of crush injuries, lacerations and amputations occur annually in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 50,000 workers suffer an arm injury every year. Arm injuries cause workers to miss an average of 11 days of work. And work-related hand injuries are even more common. The BLS estimates that more than 137,000 workers suffer a hand injury annually. These injuries typically result in less missed work, however, with the average being five days.

Combined, hand and arm injuries affect nearly 200,000 U.S. workers every year. With such staggering numbers, employers should consider reviewing their hand and arm safety policies. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured or become ill at work.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Obtaining workers’ compensation for amputations and crush injuries is often easier than for repetitive motion injuries, which are more common but harder to prove. Further, repetitive motion injuries are not felt all at once after a single, traumatic event. Rather, the pain and complications associated with repetitive motion injuries reveal themselves over time as they continue to damage the nerves, muscles, and / or tendons. But when these injuries become apparent, they can be just as debilitating as a more “serious” injury. The pain from bursitis or epicondylitis (tennis elbow), for example, can be excruciating. If a worker is no longer able to perform his or her job due to this type of injury, the loss of income can be just as devastating as it is with sudden injuries, such as amputations or chemical burns to the eyes.

Traumatic Injuries

With the more event-based, traumatic injuries such as amputations and crush injuries, the cause is often related to poor employee training, lack of safety gear, and failure to implement proper lockout/tagout procedures, which protect against unexpected start ups while workers are performing maintenance on a machine. If employer negligence played a role in a hand or arm injury, the worker may be entitled to additional compensation – beyond workers’ comp benefits – for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. For example, an employer may neglect to properly guard machinery and provide employees with appropriate safety gear. If the failure to do so results in a serious injury, the employer may be liable.

According to the BLS, thousands of U.S. workers lose a body part to workplace amputations annually, and about 21 workers die from these amputations. The most common pieces of equipment responsible for work-related amputations and crushing injuries are drill and mechanical power presses, meat grinders, food slicers, conveyors, portable and table saws, milling shears and machines, slitters and grinders, and power press brakes.

Lacerations

Serious lacerations account for up to 30 percent of all on-the-job injuries. Deep puncture wounds and lacerations that involve tendon or nerve damage are often due to poor training and safety protocol, failure to wear appropriate safety gear, and lack of guarding equipment. These injuries can occur because the worker simply wasn’t paying attention, but all too often employer negligence is a factor. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured at work. Continue reading

More than two million construction workers work on scaffolds every year. Unfortunately, in an already dangerous industry, scaffolds pose an even greater risk. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), scaffold accidents cause about 4,500 injuries and more than 60 deaths annually. As such, employers must ensure that they are doing everything possible to protect workers from scaffold-related accidents.

A recent BLS study revealed that 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents reported the cause of the accident to be one of three factors: the plank or support gave way, the worker slipped, or the worker was struck by a falling object. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

Scaffolding Safety Concerns

One of the leading causes of injuries and deaths in the construction industry, scaffolding accidents can be dramatically reduced by implementing proper safety measures.

 

  • Always inspect scaffolding prior to use. Before each work shift, workers should visually inspect the scaffolds, looking for defective or damaged parts that should be replaced. Also inspect personal fall protection equipment to ensure that it is in good working order.

 

  • Follow scaffold instructions and guidelines for set up and use. Every scaffold has its own load capacity, set up specifications, and other guidelines.

 

  • Workers should be regularly trained on scaffold use, as well as on the specifications for a particular scaffold prior to a job assignment. Training should include how to perform visual inspections, how to set up and break down scaffolds, how to properly ascend and descend the scaffolding, and how to safely and accurately utilize fall protection equipment.

 

  • Workers should always use proper safety equipment and gear. Scaffolds should be equipped with guardrails, and should be braced and attached to a solid structure. Personal safety gear is equally important. This includes non-slip footwear, fall protection equipment, and head protection.

 

  • Ensure that scaffolds are erected on solid, stable ground. In addition to being placed on a stable surface, it is imperative that scaffolds are properly braced using poles and uprights. Never use objects such as bricks or concrete blocks to “prop” or stabilize scaffolding.

 

  • Never exceed a scaffold’s load capacity. Each scaffold is designed to hold up to a certain weight, and nothing more. Exceeding the maximum load capacity can result in a scaffold collapse.

 

  • Stay at least 10 feet from power lines. Unless the lines near scaffolds can be disconnected, never place scaffolding in close proximity; electrocutions are often fatal.

 

  • Spills, clutter and other debris on scaffolds can be deadly. As mentioned above, many scaffold accidents are due to a worker slipping and falling. Avoid a potentially-deadly fall by wearing fall protection equipment and keeping scaffolds free and clear of spills and debris.

 

If your employer is not following one or more of the safety guidelines above, speak up. If you don’t feel that your employer is willing or able to resolve the issues, you can report your concerns to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

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