Articles Posted in Industrial Accident

If you thought you missed your chance to file a Massachusetts workers’ comp claim, you may be in luck: the Commonwealth has one of the longest workers’ compensation time limits in the nation. Unlike Michigan, where claims must be filed within two years of the injury, or Arizona, which has a one-year statute of limitations, Massachusetts allows you to file within four years of the date you learned your injury was job related. In the case of a fatal work injury, eligible dependents can file workers’ compensation death benefit claims within four years of the employee’s date of death.

What Causes Delayed Filings of Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Claims?

In order to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts, you must be disabled for five full or partial calendar days (not necessarily consecutive). At that point, your employer should notify the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) of your injury. If you are disabled for less than five days, your employer can file a “medical only” claim with their insurance company.

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

More construction accidents occur during spring and summer than in any other season. And the increase applies to all accident types, including falls, sun stroke, electrocutions, and motor vehicle accidents. There are many reasons for the spike in construction accidents during warmer months, including longer daylight hours, distractions, poor sleep schedules, heavier traffic in roadway work zones, high temperatures, and an increase in construction work overall. Read on for more information about construction accident high season and how to avoid serious injury and death.

Tips to Avoid Construction Accidents

In 2014, more than 20 percent of work-related fatalities occurred in construction. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), its efforts have significantly reduced work-related fatalities – approximately 66 percent since 1970. By following the tips below, you can significantly avoid being injured or killed in a work-related accident.

In 2016, Travelers Insurance released an “Injury Impact Report” identifying the leading causes of work-related injury accidents. The study reviewed more than 1.5 million workers’ comp claims from a diverse selection of industries. The claims, filed between 2010 and 2014, revealed the top five most common claims and their relative costs.

Lost Work Time

The most common injuries by far were strains, sprains and fractures, contusions, cuts and punctures, inflammation, and chronic sickness. The average lost work time for strains and sprains was 57 days, and cuts and punctures followed at 24 days. But the main causes of missed work time were inflammation and fractures, with fractures resulting in 78 days lost and inflammation-related injuries resulting in 91. A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident

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.

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The workplace is where millions of Americans earn their livings and is the backbone of American society. Unfortunately, many careers and employers subject their workers to dangerous environments, techniques and tools in order to get the job done.

It can be something as simple yet tragic as a fall from a high platform during the construction of a new office building, or something more complex like tinnitus caused by inadequate or deficient ear protection. Regardless of the injury or severity, as a worker, you have rights.

One of those rights is workers’ compensation, the right to continue earning money despite being unable to perform your work duties. Employees and their loved ones have the right to workman’s compensation for injuries sustained while on the job that cause death, partial or total disability, and disfigurement or loss of function (such as permanent scars). In Massachusetts, workers are entitled to 60% of their weekly wage in disability payments.  In addition to providing proper compensation for workers injured while on the job, employers – big or small – are required to implement a safe working environment and provide adequate safety protocols when performing dangerous work is unavoidable.  Overseen and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor, these strictly-enforced regulations help ensure that employers keep the safety of their employees paramount.

A recent example of negligence leading to a serious work injury happened on Jan 6th, 2016 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  A temporary worker was hired through Snelling Staffing Services and placed in employment at the Cambridge Brands Inc. candy factory, which is a subsidiary of Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. The worker had a piece of his left index finger amputated by a candy-wrapping machine.

An investigation by OSHA revealed that: (1) Neither the staffing agency nor Cambridge Brands properly trained the worker with the machinery; (2) That the moving parts of the machine were not properly equipped with safety precautions; (3) That Cambridge Brands did not perform regular inspections to ensure the machine would not run unintentionally and; (4) That Cambridge Brands did not report the amputation within 24 hours of its occurrence, as is now required by OSHA for all hospitalizations and amputations.

As a result, Cambridge Brands was fined $46,000 and Snelling Staffing Services was fined $9,000. Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. was cited for similar violations in 2010 and 2014 in its Chicago location, according to OSHA.

It should be known that any worker asked to perform a duty that can be reasonably, in good faith, seen as overly hazardous maintains the right to refuse that work. In such a situation, employees should alert their employers of their concern and either ask for different work or ask that the hazards be adequately corrected. If the hazard is not corrected or the employer threatens retaliatory action for not performing the work, the employer should contact OSHA immediately. The worker would also have the right to legal representation.  After all, utilizing OSHA to ensure an employer takes responsibility for their negligence is only one part of the story. For somebody injured while on the job, it is essential that they are able to pay their bills and continue to support their loved ones while being unable to work. Continue reading

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the organization responsible for protecting the health and safety of workers in the United States.  After the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed, Congress established OSHA in 1971 to ensure safe working conditions for U.S. workers.  One method by which OSHA ensures businesses adhere to health and safety standards is by fining companies who violate these standards.  OSHA has just announced that it will be increasing its monetary penalties for companies that violate health and safety standards for the first time in 25 years.  Because these penalties have not been adjusted for a quarter of a century, they are expected to increase significantly.  Many experts believe the increase could be as much as 80 percent.  The new increases will be effective August 1, 2016.

Currently, the maximum penalty for any initial violation, whether considered serious or non-serious, is $7,000.  Once the penalties are increased in August, the maximum penalty will rise to $12,471.  If a company violates OSHA laws willfully or repeatedly, it can be responsible for maximum penalties of $124,709, up from $70,000.  These increases are meant to adjust for the 25 years of inflation that has occurred since the last increase in 1990.  In addition to the initial adjustment this year, OSHA now has the ability to regularly increase penalties every year to keep up with the rates of inflation.  Unlike most statue violation penalties, which are adjusted for inflation every four years, OSHA and a handful of other federal agencies were not allowed to adjust fines as a result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act.  Businesses should now expect annual increases that take effect by January 15 of every year.  The goal of these modifications to the act is to keep penalties as financially relevant as possible.

OSHA penalty increases will not go unnoticed by businesses.  In the past, the relatively small OSHA fines were discounted as any other cost of normal business.  Relative to other, more substantial costs and risks, these penalties have not successfully deterred companies from violating health and safety laws.  The heftier fines are expected to be more successful, especially for smaller companies.  Experts are hoping that the price hikes will force businesses to make employee safety and OSHA policies a priority.  However, some argue that the fines are already high enough so the increase will not offer any more discouragement from violations.  Regardless of the consequences of these penalties, businesses should use this time wisely to review and improve their safety procedures.  A few tips that can make the revision process efficient and effective are as follows.  Note common OSHA citations and determine if your company is at a greater risk for any listed hazards.  Completing OSHA-Authorized Outreach training can also ensure your workers have understanding of basic safety.  Lastly, complete compliance training for specific hazards and risks your employees in particular may be susceptible to.  Continue reading

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration establishes rules, regulations, and standards that employers must comply with to maintain a safe working environment for employees. In addition to protecting employee safety, OSHA regulations actually help employers in many cases. For example, if an employee is injured but an OSHA investigation reveals that the employer followed all established rules and regulations, these findings will help the employer avoid liability. In a recent and surprising move, OSHA has withdrawn its ‘slips, trips, and falls rule’ from the White House review process in order to review the rule’s benefits and costs. In doing so, OSHA has created a possible dilemma for employers, many of whom are now unsure of how to proceed. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.

How Does Withdrawing This Rule Hurt Employers?

For starters, the rule helped create a safety-net for employers to adhere to. However, the rule also provided some ‘grey areas’ which also served to protect employers. The portion of the slips, trips, and falls rule that pertained to guardrail standards was one such grey area.The standard height of guardrails is set at 42 inches, however, a height of 36 or 37 inches was considered a de minimis violation, which requires no penalty. With the removal of the slips, trips, and falls rule that included this ‘exception’ to the 42-inch rule, employers are now unclear if they have to retrofit all guardrails to the standard height.

The removal of this rule is significant – slips, trips, and falls account for billions of dollars in workers’ comp payments every year. According to Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety’s 2016 Workplace Safety Index, employers spent $15.6 billion on injuries from same level falls and falls to a lower level in 2013, and $2.4 billion on slips, trips, and falls in the same year.

Slips, Trips, and Falls Account for 3,500 Serious Injuries Every Year

The slips, trips, and falls rule, which was originally published in 1990, established requirements for personal fall protection systems, among other things. It has since been rewritten twice to adapt to technological advances. The withdrawal of this rule on December 21 may only be a temporary move. OSHA has stated that it will finalize the rule during the current term and re-publish the rule once this has been accomplished. OSHA referred to other rules which have been temporarily withdrawn, updated, and re-published as well. According to the director of consulting services for the National Safety Council in Itasca, Illinois, W.E. Scott, the rule is beneficial in that it incorporates new technologies to protect workers and may reduce the slips, trips, and falls injuries in the council’s 2015 Injury Facts report. The report revealed 3,500 serious injuries and 20 fatalities due to slips, trips, and falls in 2015.  Continue reading

Six construction workers were injured early Tuesday morning when part of a building at Bryant University suddenly collapsed.

The indoor practice facility, part of the university’s Smithfield, Rhode Island campus, was under construction. At around 8:15 WCVB reports, the building gave way, trapping several workers under beams. Fortunately, all six workers sustained only minor injuries. The 78,000 square foot building has been under construction since May 2015 and was slated to open in 2016. AZ Corp. Construction Management is currently overseeing the building’s construction.

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In the state Senate, a bill was introduced this year that could enhance the benefits allowed for injuries involving permanent disfigurement under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act. Currently, workers here who sustain disfigurement on their legs, arms, and torsos are not entitled to work injury compensation for those injuries, although they may still receive other benefits for income loss, medical care, and non-scar based disfigurements.

Massachusetts workers’ compensation for permanent scarring is only provided for disfigurement that occurs to the neck, face, or hands. State workers’ compensation law awards a lump-sum payment to these permanently scarred or disfigured workers. If the injury is purely scar-based, the amount of the award will depend on the size of the scar and whether discoloration occurred.

The bill would allow workers disfigured on the lower areas of their body to get compensation too.

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