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It’s an all-too-familiar scenario: an employer neglects to follow proper safety procedures and a worker is subsequently injured.

Such was the case for an excavation worker in Longmeadow this summer. Davide Nascimento was working on the installation of a sewer line along Hazardville Road in Longmeadow, when a portion of roadway collapsed and broke a six-inch water main pipe causing an instant flood of the excavation and Nascimento to drown.

An inspection by the Springfield Area Office of U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration revealed that Nascimento’s Ludlow-based employer A. Martin & Son Construction, Inc. did not take adequate measures to protect the water line against damage. Inspectors also found that the company also did not inspect the excavation for evidence of a situation that could result in a cave-in, such as damage from the previous night’s rainstorm that weakened excavation walls.

Springfield area director Mary Hoye said, “Mr. Nascimento would not have died had his employer followed proper procedures to identify and eliminate excavation hazards. Trenching and excavation operations are among the most dangerous in construction work. Employers must educate themselves and employees on trenching safeguards, including cave-in protection and having a competent person on-site to identify hazards and promptly correct any hazards.”

OSHA consequently cited A. Martin & Son Construction this month, for two serious violations of workplace safety standards. Each citation carries a proposed penalty of $7,000, the maximum fine for a serious violation.

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Two workers were injured last week, one fatally, after falling at a construction site at the Minnesota Vikings stadium. The two workers, who were employees of St. Paul-based Berwald Roofing Co., were working alongside more than 1,200 others at the job site. While performing a “fairly conventional” installation, they fell more than 50 feet. It was unclear at press time whether the two workers were wearing safety harnesses, a requirement for anyone working in certain elevated areas.

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A worker was killed yesterday after a falling from a construction lift at at a Taunton job-site.

According to OSHA officials and police at the scene, the construction lift was operating on a slope just behind St. Mary’s school, near the property boundary with Morton Hospital. The fatal accident occurred when the lift tipped over, but it is unclear how or why the accident happened. OSHA officials are currently trying to piece together whether safety standards were violated. Ted Fitzgerald, a regional representative for OSHA said that, according to the information he received, the worker was employed by Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp.

CONSTRUCTION SITE INCIDENTS

The construction industry remains the most dangerous line of work in all of United States, with construction-related deaths accounting for more than 20% of all occupational injuries. According to a recent post by the National Trial Lawyers and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), 4,585 workers were fatally injured while on the job in 2013; an average of 88 deaths per week or 12 deaths per day, according to OSHA’s most recent figures. As Massachusetts workers compensation lawyers we are acutely aware of these statistics and for decades we have been helping families of those injured on the job.

Falls accounted for 35% of deaths, followed by struck by an object (10%), electrocutions (9%), and caught in-between injuries (2%). Considering the statistics, these “fatal four” accounted for more than 55% of all construction worker deaths in 2011. Additionally, these ten standards were the 10 most frequently violated and cited by OSHA:

  • Fall protection

We all currently live in the golden age of technology. Cell phones essentially double as a computer with the added bonus of being able to fit in the palm of our hands. At work, people are able to communicate with other workers and with their bosses almost immediately—exchanging correspondence without ever having to leave their desk. You would think that these massively helpful leaps in technology would assist modern workers in achieving their employment goals at an accelerated rate. But a new article from Boston.com begs to differ. Workers in this day and age are actually working at a much slower pace than those who held the same positions up to 17 years ago.

A study conducted by Wells Fargo has indicated that the influx of communication and information based technology isn’t proving to be as beneficial as one may think. It may actually be actively contributing to the decrease in productivity across multiple job fields. With the exception of the information industry (jobs which include journalism, technical support, and data processing) each of the industries listed on a graph provided by Wells Fargo show decreases in productivity. Some businesses, such as Waste Industries, show only a slight decrease. While others, such as Construction, show a wider berth. The report, which was released on July 6th, compared productivity growth charts from 1998-2003 to ones provided for 2004-2014. And while the reports indicated that, yes, there was still a margin of growth during the past decade or so—it evolved at a much slower rate than in previous years. Continue reading

Do you work in an office? Do you feel like sometimes your back or neck hurt from sitting in one place and in one position all day? If you feel like you’re suffering from any work related discomforts, kinesiology researcher Julie Côté thinks she may be able to help.

Côté, who also teaches at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, has been conducting research in order to find ways to lessen these types of muscle distresses for office workers. Her belief is that if you modify certain aspects of your day-to-day routine at your place of business, you may be able to reduce or prevent your likeliness to suffer from serious muscular and skeletal pains that plague one out of ten people who work in an office. Côté firmly believes that your body is your work instrument—and how you choose to treat your body may reflect in your ability to work comfortably on a daily basis. Continue reading

With summer now in full force, it’s important for those who regularly work outdoors to understand the risks of potential heat stress and heat stroke. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety Health Administration has developed a new mobile application that allows workers and employers at job sites calculate the heat index for their job site and determine the risk level to their workers.

“With a simple “click,” [workers] get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness-reminders about drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency, adjusting work operations, gradually building up the workload for new workers, training on heat illness signs and symptoms, and monitoring each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.” (OSHA.gov)

According to OSHA’s website, working in full sunlight increases heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

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A Brockton roofing contractor is facing more than $72,000 in fines after OSHA officials passing by a Rhode Island jobsite spotted a dangerous situation and pulled over to investigate.

According to reports published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA inspectors were on their way back to their Providence office on January 22, after completing an unrelated inspection, when they passed the North Smithfield jobsite and saw a dangerous situation in clear view.

Two men working for Brockton contractor Ivan Paredes were spotted without protective gear and the ladder-jack scaffold they were working on did not have the necessary guardrails. They were working 16-feet off the ground and faced a possible life-threatening hazard. According to OSHA reports, the passing inspectors pulled over and ordered the two roofing employees off the scaffold and began inspecting the jobsite.

“This was a clear-and-present danger. These employees could have fallen at any time and been killed or disabled. Ivan Paredes knew of this hazard, but chose to ignore it and his legal responsibility to protect his employees,” Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s area director for Rhode Island, said in a statement to OSHA.

The contractor’s willful negligence and failure to provide fall protection resulted in OSHA citing Paredes the maximum fine for a willful violation: $70,000. Paredes was also cited an additional $2,800 for an additional hazard for not having employees use an access ladder to reach the work platform safely.

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An appeals court has reversed an earlier ruling allowing General Motors to decrease the work injury benefits it was giving to a retiree who was hurt while on the job. The Michigan Court of Appeals said that UAW, the union for America’s autoworkers, lacked the authority to vote to modify collective bargaining for workers who had already retired. The court noted that there was no evidence showing that the plaintiff gave the union the authority to represent him to change the agreement that he retired under.

Some 1800 GM retirees saw a reduction in their benefits in 2010 because of a law, passed in the 90’s, which let companies reduce workers’ compensation checks by how much they were getting in their disability pension. For a long time GM and UAW agreed they would not reduce the checks until workers had turned at least 65. However, in the wake of GM’s financial problems, a deal was struck in 2009 between the union and the automaker to make cuts to workers’ compensation benefits.

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