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.

Men suffer more workplace injuries than women, but millions of women are joining the workforce in traditionally male-dominated jobs every year. And according to data from the Department of Labor, 57.2 percent of the 128 million working age women in the US have at least a part time job. In the 1950s, the same could be said for only 34 percent of working age women. Although women employed in high-risk industries, such as construction, see the greatest number of workplace injuries, all jobs have the potential to cause injury.

Common Fatal Workplace Injuries Suffered by Women

In 2014, workplace deaths among women increased by 13 percent from the previous year. Some work-related accidents are disproportionately common among women. In 2014, the most common causes of fatal workplace accidents included:

  • Homicides: Accounting for 19 percent of work-related deaths among women, workplace homicides are a leading cause of work-related death among US women. In 2010, there were 506 homicides reported in US workplaces, which is the lowest recorded total of all time. However, despite the decline in overall workplace homicides, they increased by 13% for women.
  • Motor vehicle accidents: Also one of the leading causes of fatal work injuries for male workers, about 19 percent of work-related deaths among women are due to roadway accidents. To reduce serious injury and death, it is crucial that all workers who drive on the job receive consistent and adequate safety training. A MA injury lawyer can help if you’ve lost a loved one in a work-related accident.
  • Slip and fall accidents: Falls, slips, and trips often occur indoors, where most women tend to work. To dramatically reduce fatal injuries from this type of accident, it is essential to keep work spaces clean and clutter free, immediately wipe up spills, make sure walkways are well lit, and improve workers’ safety behaviors through regular training.
  • Struck by object: When women work in industries such as manufacturing and construction, their risk of fatal accidents can be reduced through proper training, the use of safety equipment, and adherence to safety rules and regulations.

Women are also fatally injured in other jobs, including plant work, where workers may be exposed to toxic chemicals and gasses. These industries also have a higher potential for fires and explosions. A Boston workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a workplace accident.

Nonfatal injuries that disproportionately affect female workers include:

  • Musculoskeletal injuries, such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Infectious diseases
  • Respiratory problems
  • Reproductive problems (sometimes caused by exposure to harmful chemicals)
  • Anxiety and other stress disorders
  • Incidents specific to healthcare jobs, such as needlesticks

Hostile Work Environments and Stress

As women tend to experience more family conflict than men, emotional and stress disorders can  be compounded by home demands. When you consider that approximately 75 percent of single mothers work at least part time, it isn’t difficult to understand how stress can take a toll, both mentally and physically. In addition, women frequently have to deal with hostile work environments. They may be unfairly treated, or even sexually harassed by supervisors and other coworkers. This type of environment can make it difficult for women to feel comfortable reporting safety concerns, which can further add to the stress and anxiety that many female workers experience. Not to mention the distractions that come from hostile work environments. In some occupations, such as construction or plant work, a split-second distraction can be deadly. Continue reading

Dozens of construction workers are injured in crane accidents annually in the United States. Injuries and fatalities occur among the men and women operating the cranes as well as to workers and others on the ground. Crane accidents and collapses are one of the deadliest types of construction accidents, accounting for about 40 deaths every year. Read on for more information about common causes of crane accidents and how to prevent them.

Common Crane Accident Causes

Crane accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, including user error and equipment defects. But the most common causes include:

  • Cranes coming into contact with power lines: Nearly 39 percent of all crane accidents are caused when the crane comes into contact with overhead power lines. If any part of the crane, including the boom or cables, makes contact with a live power line, the crane operator and any nearby workers can be electrocuted.
  • Assembly and disassembly accidents: If assembly and / or disassembly is not performed according to the manufacturer’s specifications, it can result in catastrophic crane accidents. A MA work injury attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you have been injured in a crane accident.
  • Crane boom collapses: When the crane boom is extended too far, the crane’s ability to carry loads can be negatively impacted. This uneven distribution of weight can cause structural problems, which can result in the boom buckling or collapsing. This type of accident accounts for approximately eight percent of all crane accidents, and usually leads to serious injuries or death.
  • Tipping over: When the crane is overloaded beyond its capacity, it can tip over or collapse. Tip overs may also occur if the ground beneath the crane is uneven or unstable.

How to Prevent Crane Accidents

Crane accidents result in serious injuries and fatalities every year. If you are concerned that your employer is not following proper safety guidelines for crane operation and maintenance, you may contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and request a safety inspection. If you have been injured in a crane accident, it is in your best interest to consult with a skilled MA work injury lawyer immediately.

OSHA’s guidelines for preventing crane accidents include:

  • An inspector should check the crane for mechanical problems before each use.
  • Cranes should be inspected regularly to identify cracks, wiring problems, and worn or damaged parts.
  • A qualified person must perform any necessary repairs or modifications.
  • The crane should be placed on stable and flat ground and must be at least 10-feet from electrical cables.
  • The crane must not carry a load that exceeds its capacity.
  • Fences should be installed around the site to keep non-workers from getting too close to the crane.
  • A qualified “signal” person should assist the operator when maneuvering loads.
  • Workers should be equipped with fall protecting equipment.
  • The crane’s foundation and all structural supports should be designed by a professional engineer or the crane’s manufacturer.
  • Always use caution with wind. According to OSHA studies, wind is one of the top causes of crane accidents.

Continue reading

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has partnered with Barr & Barr Inc, a construction management company, to use the construction of Amherst College’s New Science Center as a model for workplace safety. Barr & Barr will create a health and safety plan, establishing benchmarks and goals for subcontractors to meet or exceed.

Plan Elements

The workplace health and safety plan, which will be administered by qualified safety and health representatives, will include the following elements:

  • Weekly project safety discussions with subcontractors.
  • Quarterly safety stand-downs.
  • Reviews of upcoming projects.
  • Analysis of workplace hazards.
  • Evaluation of the partnership on an annual basis.

Plan evaluations will be consistently reviewed and evaluated by OSHA to ensure that training is effective. At least one representative from OSHA will attend monthly review meetings. “Our common goal is to ensure a safe and healthful working environment at the construction site and for this project. Partnerships bring together recognized best workplace practices and create success,” said OSHA’s area director in Springfield, Mary Hoye. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve suffered a work-related injury or illness. If negligence played a role in your injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation.

Strategic Partnership Program

The project, which is estimated to cost about $195 million, includes the construction of the 250,000 square foot, four-story science center. Signed in January 2017, the project is scheduled to conclude in August 2018. The Amherst project is one element of the larger Strategic Partnership Program, which OSHA established to recognize voluntary efforts of partners to eliminate serious hazards in the workplace.

“We are delighted to enter into this partnership with OSHA for the Amherst College New Science Center. It is our belief that this partnership agreement will enhance the entire team efforts to provide state-of-the-art safety programs, and will be a major benefit to the men and women building the project,” said executive vice president and chief operating officer of Barr & Barr, Stephen Killian. If you have been injured on the job, it is essential to consult with an experienced Boston work injury lawyer as soon as possible.

OSHA Worker Rights

Everyone is entitled to a safe workplace under federal law. Your employer must provide a safe workplace that is free of safety hazards and health risks. If you are concerned about the safety of your work environment, you have the right to report the issues without fear of retaliation. The following are worker rights, protected by federal law. If you feel that any of your rights are being violated, you can report your concerns to OSHA.

  • Workers should receive training in a language they understand.
  • Workers must be able to work on safe, properly maintained machines.
  • Workers should have access to essential safety gear.
  • Workers must be protected from toxic chemicals.
  • Workers can request an OSHA inspection at any time.
  • Workers can report illness or injury.
  • Workers may obtain a copy of their medical records.
  • Workers may obtain a copy of the workplace injury log.
  • Workers may obtain a copy of work-related injuries.
  • If tests are conducted to identify hazards in the workplace, workers may obtain a copy of the results.

Continue reading

Believe it or not, the healthcare industry has one of the highest rates of workplace accidents and injuries. Workers face biological hazards, exposure to chemicals and drugs, and radioactive material hazards on a regular basis. In fact, more healthcare workers are injured on the job than workers in any other industry. Read on for more information about the dangers healthcare workers face and how to dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death if you work in this industry.

What Makes the Healthcare Industry So Dangerous?

In addition to the usual work-related injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries and those caused by slip and fall accidents, healthcare workers have a disproportionate risk of many other hazards. Some of these potentially life-threatening hazards include:

  • Bloodborne pathogens and other biological hazards
  • Exposure to chemicals and drugs
  • Exposure to anesthetic gases
  • Respiratory hazards
  • Ergonomic hazards common to heavy lifting
  • Laser hazards
  • Laboratory hazards
  • Exposure to radioactive materials
  • Workplace violence

Some common, and very dangerous, chemicals that healthcare workers may be exposed to include formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, and paracetic acid. A MA work injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve following a healthcare-related work injury.

Healthcare and Social Assistance Worker Injury Statistics

In 2010, there were approximately 653,900 reported injury and illness cases in the healthcare and social assistance industry. The industry with the next highest number of injuries was manufacturing, with only 501,900. That’s a difference of 152,000 cases. So, what type of healthcare jobs have the highest risk? Nursing aides and orderlies have it the worst, with 249 out of every 10,000 workers suffering from musculoskeletal injuries. In contrast, the average for all workers (including non-healthcare) is 34 out of 10,000. The healthcare industry includes such a wide variety of jobs and tasks, from surgeons and nurses to mechanical maintenance and food service workers. And most of these jobs have a higher-than-average rate of injury. If you have been injured on the job, contact a Boston work injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Tips for Reducing Risk of Healthcare Injuries

Nearly half of all healthcare worker injuries are caused by overexertion or motions such as lifting and bending. Sprains and strains account for most of the reported injuries. By following the tips below, you can reduce your risk of serious injury on the job.

  • Identification and assessment of all hazards
  • Hazard prevention and control training
  • Overall safety training
  • Regular program evaluations
  • Minimal-lift policies
  • Lift-assistance equipment, which can include ceiling-mounted lifts and slide sheets that help during lateral transfers (bed to surgical table)

If you are concerned about the safety of your hospital work environment, talk to a supervisor. If the supervisor fails to respond to your concerns, you can always contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate the situation to determine if any changes must be made.                 Continue reading

Research indicates that about 70 construction workers die each year from trench cave-ins. Most commonly, a worker is injured or killed when a trench collapses and buries the worker under dirt or debris. Construction is one of the most dangerous professions in America, responsible for 899 worker deaths in 2014.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a trench as “a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet.” This means that some trenches can be much deeper than 15 feet, which poses a serious risk of fatal falls in addition to cave-ins.

Workers can also be harmed by hazardous conditions that come from being underground, including toxic environments, electrical accidents, gas line ruptures and water main breaks, the latter of which claimed the lives of two workers in Boston recently.

Criminal charges have been filed against the owner of Atlantic Drain Services, a Hyde Park drain cleaning company, following the October death of two workers. Kevin Otto, the company’s owner, is facing two counts of manslaughter, as well as charges that he misled investigators and concealed records after the trench collapse that killed Kevin Mattocks, 53, and Robert Higgins, 47.

The two Atlantic Services employees were killed when a water main broke, flooding the 15-foot-deep trench they were working in. According to the Boston Fire Department, the trench lacked necessary safety protections, including a trench box. A trench box is a steel or aluminum structure that protects workers in a trench, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), strictly requires trench boxes for trenches deeper than five feet.

According to Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, “The evidence has established that the defendants were well aware of this shoring requirement, as well as the grave danger that workers would be exposed to without it, because they’d incurred two separate OSHA violations in the past 10 years for failing to follow it.”

When an employee misses six or more days of work due to an on-the-job injury, it is considered a “serious” workplace injury. According to the 2017 Liberty Mutual Insurance Workplace Safety Index, these serious injuries and accidents cost U.S. employers about $59.9 billion in 2014. The study, which has been conducted for each of the past 17 years, seeks to help employers concentrate on the most important areas of workplace safety.

What Are the Top 10 Leading Causes of Serious Workplace Injuries in Massachusetts and Nationwide?

Although any work-related accident can result in serious injuries, the following 10 causes accounted for more than 83 percent of the total $59.9 billion spent nationwide in 2014. And the top three causes collectively represent nearly half of that total.

  1. Overexertion
  2. Same level falls
  3. Falls to a lower level
  4. Struck by an object
  5. Other types of overexertion or bodily reaction
  6. Roadway accidents involving motor vehicles
  7. Slip or trip accidents without a fall
  8. Being caught in or compressed by an object or objects
  9. Struck against an object
  10. Repetitive motions related to micro-tasks

“Each year, we rank the top 10 causes of the most serious, nonfatal workplace injuries by their direct costs to help companies better protect employees and the bottom-line,” reports Liberty Mutual spokesperson Debbie Michel. “Workplace injuries impact both employees and employers. Injured employees face potential physical, emotional and financial harm. Employers face the direct costs of workplace injuries – medical care related to the accident and some portion of an injured employee’s pay – and the indirect costs, including hiring temporary employees, lost productivity, and quality disruptions.”

When compared to the 2016 report, the top 10 causes of serious workplace accidents remained the same. However, the share of those 10 causes in the cost of total workplace accidents grew from 82.5 percent in 2016 to 83.4 percent in 2017. Roadway accidents and same level falls continued the upward trend while overexertion saw a substantial decrease. These results help companies like Liberty Mutual advise employers of how to effectively reduce serious workplace accidents. If you’ve been injured in a serious workplace accident, it’s crucial to consult with a skilled MA serious workplace injury lawyer. Your employer will prioritize his or her best interests. You should do the same.

Which Occupations Have Highest Risk of Serious Workplace Injuries?

Although certain occupations have a greater risk of serious workplace injuries, you can be injured while performing any type of job duty, from secretarial work to fighting fires. The occupations below have some of the highest rate of workers’ comp claims for serious workplace injuries:

  • Laborers
  • Truck drivers
  • Nurses and nursing aides
  • Construction workers
  • Carpenters

If you have suffered any of the above injuries, or have experienced another type of workplace injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome or chemical burns, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced Boston work injury lawyer right away. The right representation can ensure that you obtain the compensation you deserve in a timely manner. Continue reading

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied fines against New Jersey-based Ned Stevens Gutter Cleaning and General Contracting of Massachusetts Inc. after a second incident involving a worker falling from a roof happened within the same year.

The first incident occurred on Nov. 29, 2015 when an employee fell 26 feet off a roof in Newton, and the second incident occurred in Lexington on Oct. 24, 2016 when a worker fell nine feet from a garage roof. The same company had already been cited for a similar event in March of 2014 as well that occurred in New Jersey.

An inspection by OSHA revealed that, in the incident that occurred in Lexington, the employee working atop the garage did not have adequate fall protection prior to his accident, and neither did his foreman, who was vulnerable to a fall from a much higher roof of 26 feet. OSHA fined Ned Stevens $68,591 in total for this violation.

A 51-year-old Stoughton worker was tragically killed on Jan. 24 after an incident at his place of work in Freetown. Alphonse Ferent was working at a distribution center for Stop & Shop when he fell between a loading dock and a tractor trailer that was pulling away from the loading dock.

As the truck pulled away, a forklift that was unloading product from inside the tractor trailer fell out of the back of the truck and onto Ferent, killing him, as reported by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH).

Ferent’s death marks the 21st worker death that resulted from heavy objects falling and crushing the victim since 2007. Nationally, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that there are about 85 fatal accidents involving forklifts every year, and approximately 11 percent of the 855,900 forklifts used across the United States will be involved in some type of work accident.

“Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of Alphonse,” said MassCOSH Interim Executive Director Al Vega. “Here at MassCOSH, we have seen far too many lives lost at loading docks. Until employers recognize the inherent dangers that come with moving goods at distribution centers and take to heart their responsibility to keep their workers safe no matter what, we will continue to senselessly lose men and women on the job.”

Employers are responsible for worker safety

This tragic accident involved many aspects that could have been avoided. Any situation involving a forklift on a moving apparatus such as a tractor trailer should be properly supervised and only performed by trained employees utilizing proper safety protocols. In this case, an investigation will be launched to ascertain why the truck began moving with the forklift still performing work in its cargo-holding area.

OSHA requires that all workplace deaths must be immediately reported and investigated to find out what went wrong and what could be done to prevent any future tragedies. The managers at the distribution center, and Stop & Shop, very well may face citations and penalties for any failures found that resulted in the compromising of their employees’ safety.

Although this event could have been the result of a tragic, ill-timed accident, it nonetheless puts a spotlight on the dire importance of proper safety protocols in areas where heavy machinery are used in close conjunction to employees. The family of the worker who lost his life will never be able to regain what they have lost, but they may be able to file a suit for wrongful death if an investigation shows that his death was preventable. Continue reading

Certain work environments in Massachusetts that are predisposed to a higher risk of burn injuries. These include construction sites, chemical plants, and factories. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), about 5,000 burn injuries are suffered annually due to workplace fires and explosions. Read on for more information about the various types of workplace burns, and how you can dramatically reduce your risk of this type of injury.

Types of Workplace Burns

Workplace burns typically fall into one of three categories: thermal, chemical, or electrical.

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