Articles Posted in Work Injury

The Injury Machine? Workplace Accidents at Amazon Warehouses

Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world and the second-largest employer in the country. Unfortunately, it also leads the field in a less favorable category: warehouse injuries.

Amazon workers suffer serious injuries at over twice the rate of other warehouse employees, according to a report by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC). While Amazon employs one-third of all the warehouse workers in the U.S., it is responsible for nearly half of all warehouse injuries.

Electricity is a powerful force. In the wrong circumstances, anyone who comes in contact with it can be hurt or even killed. But for workers in certain industries, accidental electrocution is an occupational hazard faced every day. 

Around 2,200 electrical injuries annually force U.S. workers to take time off the job. What’s worse, an average of 175 workers die each year from injuries caused by electrocution. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, “contact with/exposure to electric current” is the seventh leading cause of workplace fatalities.  

Industries with High Rates of Electrocution Injury  

When you think about serious job-related injuries, what comes to mind? Transportation accidents? Trips and falls? Fires and explosions? While all of those do occur, one of the most common causes of workplace injury is much less dramatic: repetitive movement.   

Simply performing the same task over and over can result in damaged nerves, tendons, muscles, and joints. And the impact on the U.S. workforce is considerable. Injuries caused by repetitive motions cost employers an estimated $20 billion annually in workers’ compensation.  

Types of Repetitive Movement Injuries at Work 

Hearing loss can be detrimental to a person’s quality of life. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), around 30 million people are exposed to chemicals dangerous to their ears at work and another 22 million are exposed to dangerous levels of noise. When workers are exposed over a long period of time this can result in permanent hearing damage and tinnitus. OSHA limits exposure to loud noises in the workplace to curb its negative effects. Workers should be exposed to noise levels above 85 decibels for no more than eight hours. They should also use protective devices in their ears to curb any hearing damage at this noise level. The cost of an injury you endure while trying to get your job done should not fall on you. If you experience hearing loss or tinnitus that you believe is related to hazardous noise levels at work, you may be entitled to compensation.

Who is at risk?

As humans, we are all vulnerable to hearing loss in loud environments. Some professions carry greater risks than others.

Tree workers, whether they work on or near trees, experience a heightened risk of injury. Serious hazards in tree work include falling from trees, tree limbs or entire trees falling on workers, and injury from heavy duty machinery. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) takes safety precautions in tree work very seriously.

If an individual not working in any official capacity is injured by a falling tree branch, they may be able to sue the property owner if the injury occurs on private property. Property owners generally have a duty to make their property reasonably safe for those who are lawfully there. Similarly, if the injury occurred on public property you may be able to sue the local government under a theory of negligence.

The rules are a bit different when it comes to workers injured in a tree accident. Workers injured in an accident involving a tree have the same legal recourse as workers in other jobs. The primary remedy is a workers compensation claim. The system is set up as a no-fault system, meaning you do not have to prove that any of the regulations were not followed to get compensation. All you have to prove is that during the course of your work you were injured. This means even if you are partially at fault, you can be compensated for your injuries. We highly recommend contacting our experienced team of workers compensation attorneys, as insurance companies make a habit of denying valid claims and withholding money from injured parties. We know your rights, and we are here to get you what you deserve. Workers can be compensated for hospital costs and costs associates with long term damage, loss of productivity, and time way from work.

OSHA Protocol:

  • Assess work site for fall and falling object hazards
  • Have an arborist assess likely risks
  • Determine if rigging is necessary
  • Determine if workers will need to use lift
  • Identify and provide the proper protective equipment
  • Only used approved climbing equipment
  • Ensure the training of all workers
  • Workers should remain 10 feet from power lines, or else have them de-energized
  • Take steps to protect workers from falling objects, including establishing a drop zone
  • Establish a communication system between workers
  • Provide traffic controls
  • Establish emergency procedures

Continue reading

Two common cleaning solutions – both safe when used individually – created a toxic cloud of fumes when unknowingly combined by an employee, which claimed the life of the general manager of the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Burlington, Massachusetts and injured about a dozen others. In cases such as this, where you may have been wrongfully injured or a loved one wrongfully killed, attorneys from Altman & Altman LLP in Cambridge can help if you wish to pursue legal action.

How did this tragedy occur?

This sad incident, which occurred on Nov. 7, is a reminder that even otherwise relatively safe household chemicals can become deadly without proper knowledge or care in their use. The worker who cleaned the floors used a common solution called Super 8, which is a bleach-based cleaner that contains sodium hypochlorite. What the employee didn’t know is that another separate employee had spilled an acid-based cleaner called Scale Kleen on the same floor a little while earlier.

The two chemicals combined and created a substance (chlorine gas) that “turned green and started to bubble,” according to what Burlington Fire Chief Michael Patterson told the media following the incident. This substance produced a gas that caused the worker to suffer a burning sensation in their eyes and difficulty breathing.

It was then that the general manager, now identified as 32-year-old Ryan Baldera, attempted to use a floor squeegee to clean up the toxic mixture, but was quickly overtaken by the fumes and later died at a hospital. A GoFundMe page set up to help his family has since raised over $125,000 as the family has not wished to pursue any legal action against anyone for the incident at this time.

To put the science simply, mixing anything with a bleach-based product is a bad idea, and can often result in the creation of deadly chlorine gas – which is a gas so potently deadly that it was often utilized in World War 1 and later banned by the Geneva Protocol for being horrendously inhumane, but has still been utilized by modern dictators to purge large numbers of political and ethnic enemies.

Possible legal ramifications

The family of the killed general manager may still wish to pursue a wrongful death claim, although it would take some investigating to figure out who may be at fault for the death. It could be the fault of the employee who spilled the Scale Kleen, or the employee who then used the Super 8 cleaner, or it could be the fault of Buffalo Wild Wings for failing to adequately train employees in how these two readily available cleaners could potentially cause a fatal reaction if they were ever mixed.

The incident is still under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as law enforcement officials, so it may come to pass that other factors contributed to the young man’s death. What is known for sure is that the workers who were tasked with cleaning the floors on the day of the incident were either unaware of the reaction caused by mixing bleach and acid, or they failed to properly communicate with one another about the chemical spill that had occurred prior to the regular use of the Super 8 cleaner.

Managers of restaurants are supposed to go through adequate ServSafe training in Massachusetts, which includes a portion on handling cleaning chemicals. If this training were not offered or not adequately carried out, the family of the victim and those who were injured as a result may have grounds for legal action. Continue reading

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 69 percent of workers in the construction, transportation, and manufacturing industries say they suffer from on-the-job fatigue. The NSC recently released a report on this very serious problem, The Fatigue in Safety Critical Industries report, which delineates common causes and symptoms of fatigue, as well as the extensive associated costs.

It’s a well known fact that construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Among the most deadly construction accidents are falls from high places (ladders and scaffolding), being struck by objects, electrocutions, and becoming caught in materials and equipment. The risk of every one of these serious accidents is dramatically increased by worker fatigue. A MA work injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Although nearly two-thirds of all construction workers admitted to working while fatigued, the group said they were well aware of the risks involved with doing so. The NSC is urging employers in these industries to assess the level of fatigue their workers are experiencing, and to initiate policies that reduce worker injuries and deaths related to fatigue. One fatigued worker can put an entire team at risk, and the costs associated with fatigue-related accidents are shockingly high.

Common Causes and Symptoms of Worker Fatigue

The Fatigue in Safety Critical Industries report outlined common causes of worker fatigue and the symptoms to look for in employees and co-workers:

Causes

  • Lifestyle-related sleep deprivation
  • Sleep deprivation related to medical conditions
  • Working too many consecutive days
  • Shift work
  • Demands of a physical job
  • Workplace and life stressors
  • Monotonous, repetitive tasks

Symptoms

  • General tiredness, sleepiness, or lethargy
  • Loss of energy
  • Slow reaction time
  • Impaired decision making and judgment
  • “Foggy” brain
  • Loss of short term memory
  • Reduction in productivity
  • Excessive absenteeism
  • Increased accidents and injuries

What Can Employers Do?

Obviously, employers are limited in their ability to improve the lifestyle and overall health of employees, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for employers to reduce workplace fatigue. For starters, they can pay closer attention to the amount of consecutive hours and days their employees are on the clock. Double shifts, back-to-back night and day shifts, and too many days in a row can easily cause fatigue. As such, employers should limit fatigue-inducing schedules as much as possible. Also, employers can ensure that all workers (but especially those working challenging shifts/hours) have access to regular breaks during which they can rest, grab a snack, and drink plenty of water.

Workers with boring, repetitive tasks can also be plagued by fatigue. In order to reduce this risk, employers should rotate job responsibilities so that no worker is stuck with the same boring, repetitive task for too long. And any time a job is physically demanding, workers should receive frequent breaks. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages or obtain workers’ compensation if you’ve been injured in a workplace accident.

Finally, a safe work environment is key to reducing accidents, fatigued or not. Employers should ensure that all workers have access to well-maintained personal protective gear, and that everyone receives adequate training and supervision. Continue reading

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

Each year in the United States, thousands of workers are killed and millions suffer non-fatal injuries. Among those injured, more than three million subsequently develop chronic medical conditions as a result. It’s common knowledge that certain industries—such as construction and logging—rank at the top of the “dangerous jobs” list, but no occupation is immune. In fact, some of the most common injuries—such as carpal tunnel syndrome and back problems—occur in office jobs. The data below, collected by the nation’s leading insurance companies, has revealed the top most commonly-reported work injuries and their causes.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Continuously engaging in the same motions day in and day out over the course of several months or years can lead to injuries. Common repetitive motion injuries include eye problems, strained muscles, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. To prevent these injuries, employees should receive adequate training on proper postures and should be provided with ergonomic equipment to reduce the incidence of injuries.

Entanglement

Factory workers often use heavy machinery to perform their jobs. When fingers, hair, or clothing become entangled in these machines, the worker can be pulled into the machine and become entangled. These injuries often result in the loss of one or more fingers or toes. They can also be deadly. To prevent machine entanglement injuries, protective equipment and training are essential, as are lockout/tagout mechanisms to prevent machines from starting unexpectedly.

Falls from Heights

Anytime someone is working from an elevated area—including roofs, ladders, and scaffolding—there is the potential for a deadly fall. Although falls from heights can occur in any industry, they are most common in construction. In addition to faulty equipment and lack of training and personal protection gear, falls from heights can also be caused due to slippery surfaces. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Reaction Injuries

Typically caused when someone slips and trips but does not fall, reaction injuries can result in trauma to various parts of the body. Preventing these types of incidents can be difficult, but ensuring that walkways are kept dry and clutter-free goes a long way toward reducing the prevalence of reaction injuries. This is another area in which employee training and awareness are of paramount importance.

Slip and Fall Injuries

The number two cause of work-related injuries is slip and fall accidents. In fact, slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of accidental death and injury overall, not just in the workplace. To prevent slip and fall injuries, ensure that spills are promptly cleaned up, and keep walkways well-lit and free of clutter and debris.

Overexertion Injuries

The number one workplace injury is also the most costly. Overexertion injuries include those related to lifting, holding, pushing, pulling, and carrying. A MA work injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

Considering that firefighters are 14 percent more likely to die from cancer than the rest of the population, Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to deem cancer a work related injury for firefighters makes perfect sense. This new legislation will provide coverage for lost wages and all medical expenses for firefighters who develop cancer.

“Cancer is a very real hazard of the job, and we want to make sure we’re doing what we need to do to help those who serve,” said Baker.

According to Edward Kelly, the general secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Firefighters, prior to the new law, firefighters had little choice but to use their sick and personal days to take time off for cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. A MA workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured or become ill on the job.

“As firefighters, we accept the sacrifice of our job as part of our calling,” said Kelly. “But when we get diagnosed with cancer, and we run out of sick leave and we go off the payroll and we lose our health care, that is just wrong.”

Dozens of MA families who have been impacted by firefighting-related cancer diagnoses were interviewed by lawmakers in an effort to get this law passed. Richard MacKinnon, president of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, was particularly moved by the story of Anthony Colarusso, a Plymouth firefighter who died at the age of 39 from esophageal cancer. At the time of Colarusso’s death, he had lost his health insurance and hadn’t received a paycheck in more than three months.

“When this first happened, [Anthony] said he never wanted to see another firefighter go through what he went through,” said Colarusso’s mother. “I know now Tony’s up there and he’s celebrating.”

Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate

Female firefighters are just as at risk of developing work-related cancers as their male counterparts. As such, a provision of the new law includes reproductive and breast cancers.

“We realized that cancer knows no gender and we needed to have the same benefits for our increasing number of female firefighters across the state,” said MacKinnon. A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve been harmed due to a work-related hazard.

Since 2016, more than 300 firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer. Among them, 107 were able to return to work, 99 had to retire due to their illness, and 29 succumbed to the disease.

Work-Related Cancers

In most industries, linking cancer to work environment is difficult. That is not, however, the case with firefighting. Another common work-related cancer, mesothelioma, is also easy to trace to work environment. Long-term exposure to asbestos fibers, which were used in building installation for decades, is proven to cause mesothelioma. In fact, hundreds of people who haven’t worked around asbestos-laden insulation for three or more decades are still being diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. As a result, mesothelioma has long been a covered illness under workers’ comp. Fortunately, firefighters who develop cancer now have a similar ability to recover compensation for their injuries. Continue reading

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