Anyone in any occupation has the potential to get injured at work, but three particular work injuries are most common. If you have suffered one of these injuries, or have been involved in any type of workplace accident, you may be entitled to compensation. But, as they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Being familiar with the most common types of injuries, and methods of avoiding them, might be the only prevention you need.

Slips & Falls

Slips and falls are among the most commonly experienced workplace accidents. In fact, injuries from slips and falls account for about 95 million missed work days each year. These accidents frequently occur on wet, dirty or uneven floors, or when a worker trips on something left on the floor. The consequences of slip and fall accidents can be severe: back injuries, head injuries, broken bones, and cuts and bruises…just to name a few. To avoid slips and falls:

  • Make sure your work area has adequate lighting so that you can spot hazards.
  • Wear proper shoes. Shoes with non slippery, thick heels and tightly tied laces are best for preventing slips and falls.
  • Watch for hazardous weather conditions, like rain, snow or wet leaves tracked on the floor. Make sure someone is assigned to check and remedy the condition of floors at regular intervals.
  • Use moisture absorbent mats in times of bad weather and make sure coworkers clean up spills immediately.
  • Look for warning signs.
  • Keep hallways free of clutter and avoid the use of electrical cords across common walk spaces.

Machine Injuries

If you work in construction or at a plant or factory, you are at special risk for a machine injury. These injuries often occur when fingers, limbs, hair, jewelry or clothing becomes entangled in a machine. To avoid machine injuries:

  • Do not work on a machine without proper machine guards.
  • Always wear required safety equipment.
  • Never interfere with a moving machine; always shut it down first.
  • Avoid operating machines for which you have not had proper training.
  • Make sure all loose clothing and accessories are secured.
  • Secure long hair behind your head and off your shoulders.
  • Inspect machines regularly to make sure they are working properly.

A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Lifting Injuries

Most jobs involve some type of lifting. Improper lifting can lead to serious injuries, including damage to vertebrae, pulled, strained or torn muscles, nerve damage, and joint damage. These types of injuries are most common in construction, with almost 100,000 employees suffering lifting-related injuries each year. To avoid becoming one of them:

  • Be cognizant of your strength and fitness, and avoid lifting things that are too heavy. Ask for assistance when needed.
  • Never lift with your back! We often hear this advice, but the reasons aren’t always clear. Back muscles are much less powerful and strong than leg muscles. For this reason, heavy weight should be borne by the leg muscles instead. To do this, keep your back straight and your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and lift at the same time that you extend your knees straight.
  • Never twist or bend the back while holding or moving heavy objects; keep heavy loads close to the body between your knees and shoulders
  • Take frequent breaks when lifting or moving heavy objects.
  • Use mechanical aids such as conveyors, slides, chutes, hoists, adjustable lift tables, and hand trucks to help you with a heavy lift.

A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident. Continue reading

Most workers are entitled to benefits through a program called workers’ compensation if they become injured or ill on the job. But how long does it take to begin receiving benefits, and what exactly can an injured worker expect to receive?

If you’ve been injured on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits, which generally include a percentage of your lost wages, medical expenses, vocational rehab, and benefits for permanent impairment, should this become necessary. A Boston workers’ comp attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

No Pain and Suffering

Each year in the United States, thousands of workers are killed and millions suffer non-fatal injuries. Among those injured, more than three million subsequently develop chronic medical conditions as a result. It’s common knowledge that certain industries—such as construction and logging—rank at the top of the “dangerous jobs” list, but no occupation is immune. In fact, some of the most common injuries—such as carpal tunnel syndrome and back problems—occur in office jobs. The data below, collected by the nation’s leading insurance companies, has revealed the top most commonly-reported work injuries and their causes.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Continuously engaging in the same motions day in and day out over the course of several months or years can lead to injuries. Common repetitive motion injuries include eye problems, strained muscles, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. To prevent these injuries, employees should receive adequate training on proper postures and should be provided with ergonomic equipment to reduce the incidence of injuries.

Entanglement

Factory workers often use heavy machinery to perform their jobs. When fingers, hair, or clothing become entangled in these machines, the worker can be pulled into the machine and become entangled. These injuries often result in the loss of one or more fingers or toes. They can also be deadly. To prevent machine entanglement injuries, protective equipment and training are essential, as are lockout/tagout mechanisms to prevent machines from starting unexpectedly.

Falls from Heights

Anytime someone is working from an elevated area—including roofs, ladders, and scaffolding—there is the potential for a deadly fall. Although falls from heights can occur in any industry, they are most common in construction. In addition to faulty equipment and lack of training and personal protection gear, falls from heights can also be caused due to slippery surfaces. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Reaction Injuries

Typically caused when someone slips and trips but does not fall, reaction injuries can result in trauma to various parts of the body. Preventing these types of incidents can be difficult, but ensuring that walkways are kept dry and clutter-free goes a long way toward reducing the prevalence of reaction injuries. This is another area in which employee training and awareness are of paramount importance.

Slip and Fall Injuries

The number two cause of work-related injuries is slip and fall accidents. In fact, slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of accidental death and injury overall, not just in the workplace. To prevent slip and fall injuries, ensure that spills are promptly cleaned up, and keep walkways well-lit and free of clutter and debris.

Overexertion Injuries

The number one workplace injury is also the most costly. Overexertion injuries include those related to lifting, holding, pushing, pulling, and carrying. A MA work injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

Considering that firefighters are 14 percent more likely to die from cancer than the rest of the population, Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to deem cancer a work related injury for firefighters makes perfect sense. This new legislation will provide coverage for lost wages and all medical expenses for firefighters who develop cancer.

“Cancer is a very real hazard of the job, and we want to make sure we’re doing what we need to do to help those who serve,” said Baker.

According to Edward Kelly, the general secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Firefighters, prior to the new law, firefighters had little choice but to use their sick and personal days to take time off for cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. A MA workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured or become ill on the job.

“As firefighters, we accept the sacrifice of our job as part of our calling,” said Kelly. “But when we get diagnosed with cancer, and we run out of sick leave and we go off the payroll and we lose our health care, that is just wrong.”

Dozens of MA families who have been impacted by firefighting-related cancer diagnoses were interviewed by lawmakers in an effort to get this law passed. Richard MacKinnon, president of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, was particularly moved by the story of Anthony Colarusso, a Plymouth firefighter who died at the age of 39 from esophageal cancer. At the time of Colarusso’s death, he had lost his health insurance and hadn’t received a paycheck in more than three months.

“When this first happened, [Anthony] said he never wanted to see another firefighter go through what he went through,” said Colarusso’s mother. “I know now Tony’s up there and he’s celebrating.”

Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate

Female firefighters are just as at risk of developing work-related cancers as their male counterparts. As such, a provision of the new law includes reproductive and breast cancers.

“We realized that cancer knows no gender and we needed to have the same benefits for our increasing number of female firefighters across the state,” said MacKinnon. A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve been harmed due to a work-related hazard.

Since 2016, more than 300 firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer. Among them, 107 were able to return to work, 99 had to retire due to their illness, and 29 succumbed to the disease.

Work-Related Cancers

In most industries, linking cancer to work environment is difficult. That is not, however, the case with firefighting. Another common work-related cancer, mesothelioma, is also easy to trace to work environment. Long-term exposure to asbestos fibers, which were used in building installation for decades, is proven to cause mesothelioma. In fact, hundreds of people who haven’t worked around asbestos-laden insulation for three or more decades are still being diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. As a result, mesothelioma has long been a covered illness under workers’ comp. Fortunately, firefighters who develop cancer now have a similar ability to recover compensation for their injuries. Continue reading

If you have been injured or become ill due to a work-related accident, you may be temporarily unable to perform the necessary tasks of your job. If you have to miss work because of a work injury, you may file a workers’ compensation claim to obtain reimbursement for medical expenses, and at least a portion of lost wages.

Once you have begun to heal, your physician may clear you to return to work. In many cases, however, this return is accompanied by multiple restrictions, put in place to prevent you from further injury or illness. These restrictions may come in the form of job modification, transitional work, or alternative job duties.

Job Modification

Depending on the type and severity of your injury, rehabilitation may be required for weeks, months, or even years. Until you are fully healed, it may be impossible to perform your previous job duties at the same level. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot perform them at all, however. Your employer can modify certain tasks to lower the physical strain on your body, for example. Although certain functions of your job might change with modification, the position itself remains the same. A Boston workers’ comp attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Transitional Work

If you are still unable to return to your job on a full-time basis, or at full capacity, you may be able to perform light-duty, transitional work until you are completely healed. If your employer has a position available that meets your physician’s restrictions, you may qualify for transitional work in a) your position, but with reduced hours, or b) a lower-stress position. As you heal, your hours can be increased and/or you can be returned to your regular job duties/position.

There are many positives to transitional work. Namely, it allows an injured employee to re-enter the workforce in a safe, healthy manner. However, it’s not uncommon for employers to bring injured employees back—through transitional work or job modification—too soon, in an attempt to reduce their workers’ comp exposure. The same is true of job modification scenarios. If you believe you were pressured to return to work before you were ready, and you have been injured as a result, a MA workers’ comp attorney can help you recover damages.

There are typically three parties involved with job modification and transitional work arrangements—the employee, the physician, and the employer. When all three parties are in agreement that the employee should return to work in a modified or transitional capacity, and all requirements are adhered to, these arrangements typically benefit everyone involved. There are instances, however, in which the employer believes that the employee is “milking” the situation, and that the physician is “going along with it.” In such cases, the employer may pressure the employee to return to work before he/she is ready. Continue reading

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), lifting heavy objects is a top cause of workplace injuries in the United States. In fact, more than one-third of injuries resulting in lost work days involve a back or shoulder injury due to heavy lifting. The most common factors cited in back injuries are overexertion and cumulative trauma.

Fortunately, by following smart lifting practices at all times, you can dramatically reduce your risk of injury, including back sprains and strains, pulled muscles, wrist and elbow injuries, and injuries to the neck, shoulders, and spine. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

How to Reduce/Eliminate Common Hazards

Anytime you must lift an object or load heavier than 50 pounds, you are at an increased risk of back injury. Certain loads, such as bundles of wire or conduit, and heavy machinery, place an unsafe amount of stress on the vertebrae and muscles of the back. To reduce or eliminate these hazards, consider the following solutions:

  • Always use pallet jacks and hand trucks to move heavy objects or loads.
  • Never roll spools. They are nearly impossible to stop once in motion.
  • Use forklifts or other mechanical lifting methods whenever possible to lift heavy objects, such as transformers, conduit, and machinery.
  • Use suction tools to lift heavy objects with flat surfaces.
  • When lifting equipment into trucks, use lift gates or ramps.
  • If you must manually lift an item, always use smart lifting practices. Place the object level with your “power zone” (between mid-thigh and mid-chest) prior to lifting. Keep your spine straight and bend at the knees.
  • If possible, request that suppliers break down loads into smaller quantities (off-site) prior to delivery.
  • Try to limit manual lifting weight to 50 pounds or less. When heavier loads must be lifted manually, request the help of at least one additional worker. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a workplace lifting accident.

Avoid Improper or Awkward Postures

Bending and reaching while lifting also increases the weight of the load on your back. As a result, the stress on the muscles, shoulders, and lower spine can lead to serious injury. This is even true of lighter objects. Other awkward postures, such as carrying a load unevenly on one shoulder or under one arm, can also lead to injury. To avoid injuries from awkward or improper postures, follow the tips below:

  • Hold objects close to your body when lifting.
  • Use your leg muscles to help lift an object from a low level.
  • Store objects that require manual lifting at “power zone” level.
  • Never twist your torso while lifting. Move your feet instead.

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If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, your injuries may prevent you from performing the duties of your job. If you are unable to work for an extended period of time, the lost wages can be financially devastating. Fortunately, workers’ compensation exists to cover a percentage of your normal wages if you cannot work due to an on-the-job injury or illness. But when do those benefits kick in? For some people, even a few weeks without a paycheck can be disastrous.

As with most things in life, all workers’ comp cases are unique. However, the paragraphs below gives an idea of the general timeline you can expect once you file your workers’ comp claim. A MA workers’ comp attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Seek Medical Attention

Your injury is the official kickoff of your workers’ compensation claim. As such, you will want to take certain steps immediately following your injury to ensure that your claim is received and completed in a timely manner, namely, seek medical attention. Not to mention, medical treatment after an accident is in the best interest of your overall health and well-being. In MA, as in most other states, either the employer or its workers’ comp carrier must pay for an injured employee’s medical bills as soon as the claim is filed. In layman’s terms, you don’t have to wait for approval to receive compensation for medical expenses.

Report the Injury to Your Employer

Step two is to report your injury to your employer, and do so in writing. As soon as you report your injury, your employer is obligated to provide you with a claim form. Fill this form out completely and file immediately. And don’t forget to keep a copy for your records.

Employer’s Responsibility

At this point, your employer is required to notify its insurance carrier immediately to arrange for medical treatment and compensation. In some cases, the employer must also submit a wage verification form to the insurance company.

Wait on the Insurance Company’s Decision

Once the claim has been received by the insurance company, the insurer has 30 days within which to either accept or deny the claim. If approved, the insurer will begin paying benefits almost immediately. If denied, you have a small window within which to request a review hearing. In most cases, the hearing will occur within 30 days of your request, and a final decision will usually be made within 15 days.

To summarize, if you take immediate steps to ensure that your claim is processed as quickly as possible, and your claim is approved on the first try, you should start receiving benefits within one month. That being said, initial claims are often denied due to minor application errors or omissions. That is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Boston workers’ comp attorney. With skilled legal representation, you are more likely to receive the full benefits you deserve in a timely manner. Continue reading

The widow of one of two workers who died in a 2016 explosion at a New York asphalt company has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her husband’s employer. At the time of the accident, the workers were using a blow torch, which ignited vapors coming from liquid asphalt in the holding-tank they were heating.

The Glenville, NY based Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions was cited for two safety violations that may have contributed to the tragic incident. As a result, Mohawk had to pay more than $17,000 in fines to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Now Karen Nichols, the wife of Joseph Nichols—the 56-year-old worker who was killed on the job—is suing the asphalt company, alleging negligence.

According to the lawsuit, Nichols was told to use a blow torch to loosen a clog in the line of a holding tank. A work crew had added a mixture of asphalt and kerosene into the holding tank, but it had thickened and become clogged. Nichols was instructed to heat the clogged area in an effort to soften the mixture so that it could flow freely through the line.

The lawsuit alleges that Joseph Nichols was wearing flammable clothing at the time of the explosion, and that a broken fire extinguisher prevented his co-workers from quickly extinguishing the flames. Due to severe burns covering most of his body, and other related medical complications, Nichols died two days after the accident. Failure to provide appropriate protective gear was one of the violations Mohawk was cited for by OSHA. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Wrongful Death or Workers’ Compensation?

Although the wrongful death lawsuit against Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions does not specify an exact dollar amount in damages, a lawyer working with Nichols’ widow says it “could be a substantial amount.” This case brings up an important question—when a worker dies as a result of an on-the-job accident, doesn’t workers’ compensation handle the claims of a surviving spouse? If the accident was the victim’s fault, workers’ compensation may indeed be the more appropriate solution. However, when another’s negligence was involved, the surviving spouse may be entitled to a far larger sum by filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent party or parties.

Was Negligence a Factor?

In order to prove that negligence caused another’s death, and that a surviving family member is entitled to damages, the following factors must have existed:

  • A person died;
  • due to the negligence of another; and
  • surviving family members have suffered damages as a result of the person’s death.

The fact that Mohawk had to settle with OSHA for safety violations will likely factor heavily into Nichols’ case. If you have lost a loved one to the negligence of another, a Boston wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to obtain compensation. Continue reading

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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