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Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

Serious construction accidents have been on the rise in recent years, especially in high-population areas, such as Boston, New York, and New Jersey. In response, safety advocates are pushing for increased training requirements for workers in the construction industry. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced his plan to implement additional construction worker training requirements, but the real estate industry has concerns. Why?

If de Blasio and New York union leaders achieve their goal and increase training requirements for the construction industry, workers will need to receive dozens of hours of additional training, which translates to higher real estate costs and less time to complete construction jobs. Politico reports that, “In response to a recent uptick in injuries and deaths, City Hall is proposing a requirement that all workers be trained between 54 and 71 hours.” And the extra training doesn’t stop there.

The “proposal would require an extra 30 hours of training for supervisors, and certain workers would have to undergo additional ‘task specific training,’ such as working in confined spaces and with scaffolding.” Extra training couldn’t be anything but positive for the safety and well-being of construction workers and the general public, but it’s evident why the real estate industry is concerned. Before the proposed deal is approved, however, it requires City Council approval. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you or a loved one has been injured in a work-related accident.

Construction Safety

It’s as-yet unknown whether the new proposal will pass. In the meantime, construction workers and employers can dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury or death by following the safety guidelines below:

  • Workers should always use personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles, foot protection, slip resistant, safety-toed boots, snug-fitting gloves, and a hard hat.
  • Scaffolds should meet all safety requirements established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Where electrical work is being done, a lockout/tagout system should always be in place.
  • Extension cords should always have grounding prongs.
  • Multiple plug adapters should never be used at a construction site.
  • Where floor openings exist, a guardrail or appropriate cover should be used at all times.
  • Permanent floor openings should be framed with toeboards.
  • Where surfaces are elevated, post signs indicating a change in surface height.
  • Establish hazard communication protocol.
  • Only properly trained and qualified workers should operate cranes, and hoisting or rigging equipment.

In 2015, a total of 25 construction workers died on NYC construction sites, compared to 17 in 2011. Not surprisingly, undocumented immigrant workers have the greatest risk of serious injury or death on construction sites. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident. Continue reading

Long-term disability (LTD) insurance provides benefits if you are unable to work due to an injury or illness. Generally, LTD benefits are between 50 percent and 80 percent of your normal wages. Group policies can be purchased through an employer and individual policies can be purchased independently. But even the most straightforward LTD plans can be complex, and each one is different. If you are unable to work and considering filing an LTD claim, the following information will help you determine how to move forward.

A skilled Boston LTD lawyer can help you examine your group or individual LTD policy to see what benefits and limitations to expect. For starters, each policy has its own definition of the term “disability,” and your disability may or may not be covered. Further, some disabilities qualify, but with specific limitations. For instance, many insurance companies cap benefits for mental health conditions at 24 months. However, there may be exceptions for chronic and particularly severe conditions, such as schizophrenia.

Own Occupation vs. Any Occupation

Once you’ve determined that your disability is covered by your LTD policy, you must consider whether your policy falls under the category of “own occupation” or “any occupation.” Own occupation refers to an inability to perform the duties of your regular occupation, whereas any occupation refers to an inability to perform the duties of any job. Own occupation is less strict: you will receive benefits if you cannot do your current job, even if you can do another job in its place.

On the other hand, “any occupation” benefits will not be received unless you are unable to perform any job. For instance, if you can no longer deal with the physical strain of a construction job, but you can do a desk job, an any occupation policy would not provide benefits. Many policies switch from own occupation to any occupation after a set time period, typically 24 months.

Waiting Periods and Exclusions

Most policies exclude pre-existing conditions, which means that any medical condition for which you’ve been treated in the past 90 days will not be covered. LTD policies also generally contain something called an “elimination period,” during which you are disabled but no benefits are available. It usually lasts between 90 and 180 days. Short-term disability (STD) benefits are intended to bridge this gap.

As stated above, every LTD policy is different. Some pay benefits until retirement age, others pay for five or 10 years. In almost every circumstance, you will have to file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) before you can receive LTD benefits. SSDI is an income-based program intended to offset your LTD benefits if you qualify.

If your LTD is from a group policy (employer sponsored), you will likely have to pay taxes on any benefits you receive as group policies are usually purchased with pre-tax dollars. If, however, you have an individual plan, you may have purchased it with after-tax dollars, in which case your benefits will be tax free.

What if My Benefits are Denied?

Denials are actually quite common. If your initial application was denied, you can appeal the decision internally, before taking it to federal court. An experienced MA disability attorney can help you appeal a denial so that you may receive the full benefits to which you are entitled. Continue reading

Work injuries rise during summer months for various reasons; long hours outside in the elements, dehydration, and a spike in “riskier” jobs such as road construction, to name a few. The good news is, the majority of these injuries are easily preventable. Read on for more information about the most common summer work injuries and how to avoid them.

Hyperthermia

Most of us have heard of hypothermia, but what about hyperthermia? This condition occurs when the body heats up too quickly and is unable to cool down as efficiently. Left untreated, hyperthermia can lead to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Although spending hours in the hot sun increases your chances of heat stroke, even short periods in direct sunlight can have serious health implications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 7,000 people died of heat-related illnesses in the U.S. between 1999 and 2010. That’s an average of more than 600 deaths annually.

Heat Stroke

If you work in direct sunlight or high temperatures for any period of time, you increase your chances of suffering from heat stroke. Listen to what your body is telling you; if you develop symptoms of a heat-related illness, take immediate action. Get out of the direct sunlight, drink water, and seek medical attention. Symptoms of heat stroke may include:

 

  • Increased body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Coma
  • Death

Dehydration

When the body loses significant amounts of water, dehydration can occur. Excessive sweating is a leading cause of dehydration. The body sweats in an attempt to cool itself; if you sweat out more water than you take in, you risk becoming severely dehydrated. The best way to combat this potential work injury is to avoid working in direct sunlight for extended periods, and to consume plenty of liquids when working outside for any length of time. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Skin Cancer

When most people think of work-related illnesses and injuries, they think of conditions with immediate symptoms. However, some work-related injuries don’t become apparent for weeks, months, or even years. Workers who spend extended periods of time working outside are susceptible to complications from exposure to direct sunlight, including skin cancer. Even severe sun burns can be classified as a work injury. To prevent skin cancer and serious sun burns, wear protective clothing and a hat, work in the shade when possible, use sun block on exposed skin, and try to limit outdoor work hours to before 10 am and after 2 pm.

Construction Accidents

Construction and road work peak during summer months. As such, so do injuries common to these work environments. In summer, motor vehicle accidents involving road workers increase, as do injuries from on-site machinery at construction and road construction sites. A MA work injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Of course, slips, trips, and falls can happen in any season, but they tend to occur more frequently during summer months. This is likely due to an increase in work that involves high places during summer, such as construction, roofing, road construction, painting, and tree climbing. Broken bones, head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries can result from work-related slips, trips, and falls. To prevent serious injury or death, always use fall protection when working at high elevations. Continue reading

More than four million people suffer a work-related injury or illness in the United States annually. Of those injuries, more than two million are severe enough to result in missed work and the need for ongoing medical treatment. For about 1,000 of these workers, injuries are fatal. The good news is, most of these injuries are preventable. Read on for more information about the most commonly-filed workers’ compensation claims, and how to avoid being injured at work.

Leading Work-Related Injuries

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance intended to protect workers, both financially and medically, if they are injured on the job. The on-the-job injuries that result in the most workers’ comp claims include:

  • Slips, trips and falls: Wet floors, icy walkways, and uneven flooring can all cause slips, trips and falls in the workplace. Sometimes falls are just embarrassing…sometimes they are deadly. Falls account for 15 percent of all accidental fatalities, and they are second only to car accidents as a cause of death.
  • Overexertion: Lifting, pulling, or pushing a heavy object can lead to overexertion. If a worker extends a joint beyond its normal range of motion, it can result in immediate pain and a long recovery period. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
  • Struck by an object: These injuries are especially common in occupations that involve mass storage of inventory or supplies. If an employee attempts to reach an item on a high shelf and it falls, the employee may be struck by the item. Such injuries range widely in severity, from minor to fatal.
  • Roadway accidents: Most common among truck drivers, roadway accidents can occur for various reasons, including inclement weather, driver fatigue or distraction, OUI, and other road hazards. On or off the clock, roadway accidents are a leading cause of accidental death in the United States.
  • Repetitive Motion: Construction sites and factories may be inherently dangerous places to work, but even a corporate office can cause debilitating injuries. In fact, repetitive motion injuries from typing and using the computer are among the most common workers’ compensation claims. Injuries such as carpal tunnel and tendonitis can make performing even the most routine office tasks extremely painful.
  • Falls to a lower level: When a worker falls off a roof, ladder, or down a flight of stairs, life-threatening injuries can occur. These injuries are most common in the construction industry, but any person in any occupation can suffer from fall-related injuries. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job.
  • Electrocution: These accidents account for about 1,000 deaths in the United States annually. Faulty wiring, power lines, and malfunctioning appliances are the most common causes of work-related electrocutions. Electricians, construction workers, and utility employees have the highest risk for electrocution accidents.

Report Your Concerns

Work-related injuries and deaths cost about $155.5 billion annually. You can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death by making sure that your work space is clean, safe, and that you have received adequate training. If you feel that your workplace is unsafe, speak with a supervisor. If your supervisor fails to address your concerns, you can always contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The agency assesses work environments to ensure that they follow specific health and safety standards at all times. Continue reading

Workplace-related burns are most common in occupations that involve working in close proximity to chemicals, high temperatures, electrical currents and machinery. Workplace burns can be thermal (high temperature), chemical, or electrical. Burns can result in serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. But they can also cause permanent scarring, which may be accompanied by emotional pain and suffering if the scars are located on a highly-visible part of the body, such as the face.

Facts About Scar Compensation in MA

In MA, workers’ compensation covers most work-related injuries. But what about scarring? What if you suffer from severe facial scarring, but your ability to perform your job duties isn’t affected at all? Can you still obtain workers’ comp benefits? A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to obtain compensation if you’ve been injured on the job. The facts below provide some pertinent facts about how workers’ comp handles on-the-job scarring.

  • The location of the scar is important. In order to be compensated for a scar, it must appear on your face, neck or hands. Under Section 36 of the MA Workers’ Compensation Statute, any scar on these parts of your body is compensable.
  • If you have a compensable scar, you do not need to miss work to receive workers’ comp payments. For example, if you are burned while working as a chef, you do not need to miss a single day of work to receive benefits, assuming that the scar is on the face, hands or neck.
  • The scar does not have to meet a minimum length or size to be covered. If you have a scar on your face, hands or neck, the size and length will certainly impact the amount of benefits you are eligible to receive, but a small scar does not disqualify you from receiving benefits.

How to Avoid Workplace Burns

Burns in the workplace are actually very common, but nearly all of these accidents are easily preventable. By following the tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury, disfigurement and death:

  • Familiarize yourself with workplace safety rules. It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that you are aware of this information at all times, and that you receive adequate safety training on a regular basis. Talk to your employer if you are unaware of company safety policies. If your employer isn’t receptive to your concerns, you can always contact OSHA.
  • Use extra caution around hot surfaces and hot substances (oil or grease), chemicals, and electrical wiring. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been burned on the job.
  • Wear appropriate safety clothing and gear. Depending on your occupation, protective clothing may include fire-resistant fabrics and materials, gloves and eye protection.
  • Know what to do if an accident occurs. No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen. Before beginning any high-risk job, ensure that there are easily-accessible fire extinguishers (and that they are functioning), eyewash stations and first aid kits on hand.
  • Stay focused. In this day and age, it’s not hard to get distracted. But distractions can be deadly when you’re working with electricity, high temps and toxic chemicals. Avoid taking shortcuts, and keep your mind clear and focused. If you’re having a bad day or you’re ill, it may be best to ask for a lower-risk task that day.

Continue reading

A total of 70 people died in work-related accidents in Massachusetts in 2016. That’s a 10 year high for on-the-job fatalities. In South Boston, a worker in a seafood warehouse died from exposure to ammonia fumes. A Braintree worker died from drowning while inspecting a municipal water tank. And a trench collapse killed two construction workers in the South End.

According to a recently released report by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), 62 of the 70 deaths occurred on the job. The remaining deaths were from occupational diseases, such as lung cancer, and all of those were firefighters. All but one of the workers who died were male. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured on the job.

Since 2012, where a total of 32 work-related fatalities occurred in MA, the number of annual deaths has been rising. According to Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, the co-executive director for the National Council for Occupational safety and Health, the increase in fatalities is reflective of the increase in subcontractors and workers employed by staffing agencies. Goldstein-Gelb said that these employers are not as invested in overall worker safety.

Latino Workers are Most at Risk

In addition, Goldstein-Gelb believes the increase in work-related deaths is partly due to a decline in labor unions and an increase in undocumented workers, who rarely report unsafe working conditions out of fear of retaliation. The death rate among Latino workers is the highest of any ethnic group, with four out of every 100,000 workers dying on the job annually.

“When workers can’t speak up, then there is a greater risk that a hazard will not be identified and addressed and workers will suffer the consequences,” said Goldstein-Gelb. “The less people speak up, you will see an increase in deaths.”

And the problem isn’t just in Massachusetts. The number of people killed in work-related accidents hit a national seven-year high in 2015, at a total of 4,836 deaths. Deaths from occupational illnesses are estimated to cause a shocking 95,000 deaths in the United States every year. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

MA Company Facing Manslaughter Charges in Worker Deaths

The MassCOSH report listed 12 employers that put workers at an increased risk. Among them was Atlantic Drain Services, which is currently facing manslaughter charges for the deaths of Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks, the two workers who drowned in the South End trench collapse last fall. According to the Suffolk district attorney, the company had multiple safety violations prior to this tragedy, and forged documents stating that workers had attended safety training in an attempt to mislead investigators. In response to those deaths, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance requiring the submission of safety records prior to receipt of a work permit. Continue reading

A 54-year-old heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) worker died Tuesday after he fell 30 to 35 feet from the roof of the Blackstone Valley Cinema De Lux. John B. Folkes of Canton worked for Medford-Wellington Service Co., a heating/ventilation/air conditioning vendor contracted by the cinema.

According to police, the 911 call came in at 12:22 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. The caller reported that a man had fallen from the cinema’s roof. When emergency responders arrived to the scene, another worker was performing CPR, but Folkes was unresponsive. Emergency medical services personnel rushed the victim to Mass Memorial Medical Center – University Campus in Worcester, where he was pronounced dead.

Folkes was alone on the roof when the incident occurred. He was working with a four-foot square aluminum heat exchanger at the time. There were no witnesses or video of the 30 to 35-foot fall. State police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the incident. According to police, the fall appears to be an accident and no foul play is suspected.

Work-Related Falls

Same-level falls are more common than falls from high places, but elevated falls are more likely to result in serious injuries and death. The following statistics about elevated falls illustrate how serious this type of accident can be. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine if negligence contributed to your work-related accident.

  • More than 60 percent of elevated falls occur at less than 10 feet.
  • Slips, trips, and falls account for about 15 percent of all work-related accidental deaths.
  • Slips, trips, and falls also account for between 12 and 15 percent of annual workers’ comp costs.
  • Each slip, trip, and fall accident costs employers about $40,000.

According to OSHA, the hazards that most commonly lead to fatal falls from high places are:

  • Unprotected roof edges
  • Roof and floor openings or holes
  • Improper construction of scaffolds
  • Unsafe ladders or improper ladder use

H0w to Prevent Falls

The best way to dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury or death in a work-related fall is through proper safety training and the use of safety equipment. If you are working at heights of six feet or higher, your employer should provide you with the appropriate fall protection equipment, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), and the appropriate ladders and scaffolds for the particular job. Training programs should be required for new workers, and ongoing training should be regularly provided to anyone who is working at heights of six feet or higher. A Boston work injury lawyer can evaluate the details of your case to determine if employer negligence played a role in your injuries.  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.”

If you are injured on-the-job, workers’ compensation usually steps in to cover damages, from medical expenses to a portion of lost wages. Workers’ comp is even available if the accident was your fault. But what if the accident was a result of another’s negligence? If you fall off scaffolding because you weren’t paying attention, that’s not negligence. But if you fall off scaffolding because no harness was provided, negligence might be a factor. If you have been injured in in a construction-related accident, contact a MA work injury lawyer today.

What’s a Third-Party Lawsuit?

Here’s the thing about workers’ comp – it prohibits you from suing your employer. But what if another party was responsible for your injuries. If a third-party vendor or contractor played a role in your injuries, you may be able to file a third-party lawsuit in addition to your workers’ comp claim. If you are injured at work, you can file for workers’ comp which will provide benefits to you while protecting your employer from being sued. If the accident occurred because the brand new crane you were working on malfunctioned, you may be able to sue the crane manufacturer for defective design or faulty equipment. This is known as a third-party lawsuit. Site owners, general and sub-contractors, and equipment manufacturers are the most common types of third-party players in the construction industry.

The construction site owner and contractors may also be liable for injuries, depending on the circumstances. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that general contractors and sub-contractors provide a safe working environment at all times. Further, it is their responsibility to ensure that work safety regulations are followed. They may do this through observation and trainings, adherence to codes, and by providing safe, well-maintained equipment. If general and sub-contractors fail to meet these requirements, they may be liable for damages if an accident occurs. Equipment manufacturers can also be liable if a piece of equipment is found to be defective, or if proper instructions for safe operation are not provided. If you have been injured in a work-related accident, contact a Boston work injury lawyer today.

Photograph, Document, Record

Documentation is key if you believe that negligence played a role in your work injury. It is crucial to keep medical records, collect witness statements, and take photographs of any evidence or relevant information. Jot down the location of the accident, and any pertinent details about the construction site. If a third party was negligent, you may be eligible for additional compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, transportation costs, and more. Keep in mind, however, that third-party lawsuits are complex matters. The help of a skilled injury lawyer will greatly improve your chances of success.

Wrongful Death

If a loved one suffered fatal injuries in a construction-related accident, the family may be able to file a wrongful death claim if the accident was due to another’s negligence. In some cases, multiple lawsuits, including wrongful death, product liability, and personal injury, may be filed. Continue reading

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