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According to a National Public Radio and ProPublica investigation, in recent years states across the country have been taking apart the workers’ compensation system. This has proven financially disastrous for the many workers who are seriously hurt on the job.

The reforms have reportedly been so drastic that they practically guaranteed that a seriously injured worker would have to struggle financially. Also, many injured workers and their families are now spending years fighting with insurers for the prescriptions, surgeries, and medical help that they need.

That’s why it is so important that now, more than ever, a worker who is injured on the job speak to a Boston workers’ compensation lawyer right away. You have benefits and rights to which you are entitled and they should be protected.

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A state investigation has uncovered numerous tax and labor law violations were committed by at least 15 construction companies in the $18 million renovation of the Boston Marriott Copley Place. A state task force targeted toward investigating the underground economy has found that the hotel’s contractors illegally classified employees and failed to report wages, which ultimately deprived the state of almost $86,000 in taxes.

These violations were first revealed by The Boston Globe last month, when it reported that the source of one contractor’s workers was a drug rehabilitation ministry in Philadelphia called Victory Outreach. These employees were not only paid significantly less than minimum wage-at $4 an hour-but also worked 12 hours a day, six days a week. The hotel’s owners have claimed that they were unaware of the alleged violations until State Police came to the hotel in January to personally interview the aforementioned workers.

However, investigators also discovered that a multitude of other companies were involved in the repeat violations uncovered by the task force, which stemmed largely from the employment of “shadow workforce” over a period of many months. Six companies were accused of misclassifying workers, and seven for failure to report wages or register to pay for unemployment taxes. The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an attempt to avoid paying unemployment taxes or sponsoring other benefits. The failure to report wages is another method of attempting to avoid paying unemployment taxes.
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Interstate Electrical Services, a North Billerica electrical contractor, has been cited by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for “willful and serious violations” relating to a November 2011 blast at an Andover jobsite. Reportedly, OSHA’s Andover Area Office determined that an electrical panel was not effectively guarded and, as a result, two workers installing electrical service made contact with the unguarded area and an arc flash occurred.

After the incident, OSHA issues a willful violation citation, which carried a $70,000 fine. It also issued the contractor two serious citations, amounting to $11,000 in fines. These citations stemmed from additional electrical hazards related to a damaged power cord and energized electrical wire that was not properly protected. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial risk for death or serious physical injury resulting from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
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On Monday afternoon, a 31-year-old worker suffered life-threatening injuries after falling from a structure where he was working. Several beams had reportedly given way and the worker’s safety line was attached to one of the beams, so the falling beam pulled off the wall. He apparently suffered head trauma and was taken to the emergency room following the construction accident.

An official from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was en route to the area to investigate the cause of the industrial accident.

OSHA already conducted a safety check at the job site at the end of May and found no violations. However, the same company paid $5,000 in fines for serious violations of their ‘fall protection systems’ at a different job site in 2009.

Source: Construction worker injured in fall, ArgusLeader.com, August 24, 2010
Omaha Man Pulled Off Wall At Sanford Job Site, Keloland.com, August 23, 2010 Continue reading

On Monday afternoon around 1pm, a construction worker was injured when a 10-by-13 foot concrete slab fell on his arm, pining it between the concrete and a pipe.

The large slab was dislodged while crews performed maintenance work of the ceiling of an underground parking garage. The construction accident occurred on the lowest floor of a three-level garage in New York City’s Upper Eat Side.

The injured worker was taken to a local hospital. Fire and police officials at the scene of the construction accident said his injuries were non-life-threatening.

Source: Worker Injured in Upper East Side Construction Accident, DNAInfo.com, June 7, 2010 Continue reading

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has released data from a new study that examined payment per claim for drugs prescribed to injured workers. The study covered 16 states, and found that the average number of pills per claim with prescriptions in Texas was 41% higher than the study’s median. The average number of prescriptions per workers’ compensation claim was 34% higher.

While injured employees in Texas received the same types of medications as workers in other states, Texas physicians more frequently prescribed muscle relaxants and anti-infectives. WCRI attributed this discrepancy to regional differences in medical training or practice norms.

The average price per pill paid to Texas pharmacies was comparable to the median in the 16 states studies, but doctors in Texas had a slightly higher incidence of using brand name medications. This study is part of an annual series that will benchmark the cost, price, and utilization of pharmaceuticals in workers’ compensation.

Source: Payment Per Claim For Drugs Prescribed To TX Injured Workers Nearly 30 Percent Higher Than Study Median, WorkersCompensation.com, May 11, 2010 Continue reading

The Boston Globe reports that a North Andover resident is now one of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) most wanted fugitives. Albania Deleon, 39, ran the largest asbestos removal training school in New England from 2001 to 2007. However, federal officials discovered that Deleon was granting fraudulent certificates stating the bearer had training to safely asbestos.

Officials estimates that Deleon and her assistants gave fraudulent certificates to over 2,500 works, who then removed asbestos from hundreds of schools, churches, homes, libraries, and hospitals across New England through Deleon’s staffing agency, Metheun Abatement Staffing.

Because these workers did not receive proper safety training, they have unwittingly exposed themselves to hazardous conditions that could lead to lung cancer and death decades into the future. Many of them did not even know how to wear a respirator and may have exposed their family to the hazardous fibers by unknowingly bringing them home.

Delean sawed off her ankle monitor and fled in March. Law enforcement officials are searching for Deleaon across three countries, vowing to catch her for putting so many workers at risk.

She ‘harmed so many. And we will catch her’, Boston Globe, May 17, 2009 Continue reading

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