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Articles Posted in Work Injury

Data provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveals that, of the 4,693 worker deaths in 2016, more than 20 percent (991 workers) occurred in the construction industry. The top four causes of construction worker deaths – dubbed the fatal four – were falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions and getting “caught in” or crushed by equipment. The fatal four accounted for 63.7 percent of the fatal accidents. The exact breakdown is as follows:

  • Falls – 384 fatalities
  • Struck by an object – 93 fatalities
  • Electrocutions – 82 fatalities
  • Caught in or between objects – 72 fatalities

The above data is proof that construction sites are one of the most dangerous workplaces in the United States today. Due to heavy equipment, electrical work, temporary structures and extreme heights, serious injuries and deaths are shockingly common in this industry.

It is the employer’s duty to take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards in the workplace that could cause serious injury and death. When employers fail to do so, and a worker is injured or killed, the employer may be liable. Although workers’ compensation often provides benefits for work-related injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation if the employer was negligent?

Was My Employer Negligent?

The help of an experienced MA work injury lawyer is essential when determining whether employer negligence was a factor. Some common indicators of negligence at construction sites include:

  • Falls due to unstable, slippery or cluttered walkways or platforms;
  • Lack of protection around platform edges;
  • Unprotected holes in the floor and walls;
  • Improperly positioned ladders;
  • Inadequate fall protection equipment and training;
  • Trench collapse due to lack of, or improper, safety guards;
  • Lack of proper supervision;
  • Poor equipment maintenance; and
  • Overall lack of training.

Filing a Lawsuit

If you are injured in a work-related construction accident, an experienced Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed. If you lost a loved one in a work-related construction accident, you may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In order to bring a successful wrongful death suit, you should be able to show that:

  • Your loved one died as a result of the employer’s negligence;
  • You have suffered losses due to your loved one’s death; and
  • If your loved one had lived, he or she could have recovered damages for pain and suffering from the defendant.

Losses may include, but are not limited to:

  • financial support;
  • love;
  • emotional support;
  • consortium between spouses; and
  • quality of life.

If you are concerned that your workplace is unsafe, speak to a supervisor immediately. If your supervisor is unable, or unwilling, to address your concerns, you can always report the problem to OSHA, the agency tasked with establishing – and enforcing – workplace safety guidelines. Employers that violate OSHA guidelines will be required to remedy the situation within a specified time period and may face fines for the violation. Continue reading

In hazard-prone work environments, such as manufacturing plants, it’s not uncommon for minor safety protocols to get overlooked in favor of more serious concerns. For example, while wearing a hard hat to protect against head injuries may be a non-negotiable, employees often  forego wearing cut-resistant gloves; it’s not like hand lacerations are life threatening. But even minor injuries, such as hand lacerations, can lead to bigger problems.

For starters, a worker is likely to become immediately distracted when a hand injury occurs. If she is working with complex machinery at the time, the distraction could be deadly. In some cases, the distraction can snowball into an incident involving multiple workers. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

The Real Cost of Minor Injuries

The hand laceration itself, although not life threatening, can still be devastating to a worker’s ability to perform necessary job duties. More than one million U.S. workers seek emergency medical treatment for lacerations annually. Just about every job requires the use of the worker’s hands. As such, hand lacerations can lead to time off work and lost wages for the worker, as well as insurance claims, increased premiums and employee-replacement costs for the employer. The average cost to a company for an employee who suffers a single laceration is $41,000.

Follow the steps below to dramatically reduce your risk of injury or death in the workplace.

  • Don’t overlook the “less serious” safety precautions; non-slip soles and cut-resistant gloves are just as important as personal fall protection equipment, for example.
  • Don’t engage in a hazardous work task when you are fatigued, distracted or stressed.
  • Take breaks at regular intervals throughout the day to prevent fatigue. In addition to resting during these breaks, drink some water and consider doing jumping jacks or some other energizing activity.
  • Your employer should perform regular inspections and maintenance of all equipment. If you are concerned that this isn’t being done properly, speak to a supervisor. If your concerns are not adequately addressed, you can always contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency tasked with establishing – and enforcing – workplace safety guidelines.
  • Your employer should also provide regular employee training, and established safety policies should be clearly stated, up to date and easy to locate. Posters, safety drills and the distribution of regular emails are effective ways of reminding employees of safety policies and the importance of following them.

Employees who don’t follow established safety policies should face tough consequences. When a worker’s noncompliance is allowed to continue, other workers will soon follow suit. Companies with zero-tolerance policies for safety violations have lower rates of worker injury and death. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

Work-related injuries can occur in any occupation, from secretaries and librarians to construction workers and miners. You don’t have to be working in a “dangerous industry” to get injured. In fact, repetitive motion injuries are most common among office workers. Repetitive motion injuries often affect the hand and arm, causing a wide range of complications, including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.

But hand and arm injuries can also be more catastrophic; thousands of crush injuries, lacerations and amputations occur annually in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 50,000 workers suffer an arm injury every year. Arm injuries cause workers to miss an average of 11 days of work. And work-related hand injuries are even more common. The BLS estimates that more than 137,000 workers suffer a hand injury annually. These injuries typically result in less missed work, however, with the average being five days.

Combined, hand and arm injuries affect nearly 200,000 U.S. workers every year. With such staggering numbers, employers should consider reviewing their hand and arm safety policies. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured or become ill at work.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Obtaining workers’ compensation for amputations and crush injuries is often easier than for repetitive motion injuries, which are more common but harder to prove. Further, repetitive motion injuries are not felt all at once after a single, traumatic event. Rather, the pain and complications associated with repetitive motion injuries reveal themselves over time as they continue to damage the nerves, muscles, and / or tendons. But when these injuries become apparent, they can be just as debilitating as a more “serious” injury. The pain from bursitis or epicondylitis (tennis elbow), for example, can be excruciating. If a worker is no longer able to perform his or her job due to this type of injury, the loss of income can be just as devastating as it is with sudden injuries, such as amputations or chemical burns to the eyes.

Traumatic Injuries

With the more event-based, traumatic injuries such as amputations and crush injuries, the cause is often related to poor employee training, lack of safety gear, and failure to implement proper lockout/tagout procedures, which protect against unexpected start ups while workers are performing maintenance on a machine. If employer negligence played a role in a hand or arm injury, the worker may be entitled to additional compensation – beyond workers’ comp benefits – for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. For example, an employer may neglect to properly guard machinery and provide employees with appropriate safety gear. If the failure to do so results in a serious injury, the employer may be liable.

According to the BLS, thousands of U.S. workers lose a body part to workplace amputations annually, and about 21 workers die from these amputations. The most common pieces of equipment responsible for work-related amputations and crushing injuries are drill and mechanical power presses, meat grinders, food slicers, conveyors, portable and table saws, milling shears and machines, slitters and grinders, and power press brakes.

Lacerations

Serious lacerations account for up to 30 percent of all on-the-job injuries. Deep puncture wounds and lacerations that involve tendon or nerve damage are often due to poor training and safety protocol, failure to wear appropriate safety gear, and lack of guarding equipment. These injuries can occur because the worker simply wasn’t paying attention, but all too often employer negligence is a factor. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured at work. Continue reading

Workers’ compensation exists to protect employees if they are unable to work due to a work-related injury, and employers from being sued for those injuries. Most work-related injuries and illnesses are covered by workers’ comp, but there are some exceptions. Further, even claims for covered injuries and illnesses may be denied due to application errors, untimely filing, or other issues. You may find the following information helpful if your workers’ compensation claim has been denied.

When a workers’ comp claim is denied, the claimant receives a letter informing him of the decision. One of the most common reasons for denial is untimely reporting or filling. When an injury or illness occurs, the law holds that the worker must report the claim right away, often within days. It is then the employer’s duty to immediately notify its workers’ comp carrier and the state. Failure to follow these steps precisely may result in a denial.

My Employer Disputed My Claim

This is another common reason for a denial. Let’s say you claim that your back injury is work-related, but your employer thinks you actually sustained your injury playing basketball. She might dispute the validity of your claim, which could result in a denial. If this occurs, you may need to gather additional evidence to substantiate your claim.

My Condition is Not Covered

Although most on-the-job injuries are covered by workers’ comp, there are some exceptions. If your injury is not serious enough to qualify, or the condition itself isn’t covered, your claim may be denied.

In MA, an injury that occurs outside of the scope of your job duties may not be covered. For example, if you and a co-worker decide to hit some golf balls in the field outside your office building, you aren’t likely to have a workers’ comp claim if you accidentally get hit in the head with a golf club. You may have been at work, during work hours, but hitting golf balls isn’t a work-related activity. The same would be true if you were inside the building at the time of your injury. On the other hand, if the same injury occurred at a golf course, during a work outing at which you were entertaining clients, you would likely be covered by workers’ comp.

Even if your injury or illness occurred on work property and in the scope of your job duties, the medical condition itself may not be covered. Some mental health conditions, such as stress, may not qualify you for benefits. A MA workers’ comp attorney can help you determine your eligibility for benefits. Continue reading

Mesothelioma is a particularly-deadly type of cancer that affects the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue surrounding multiple organs in the human body. As the most commonly-affected area is the lining around the lungs and chest wall, shortness of breath is often one of the first symptoms. That being said, Mesothelioma is a slow-growing form of cancer, and initial symptoms can take decades to appear. For this reason, the disease is often quite advanced when diagnosed.

More than 80 percent of Mesothelioma cases are a result of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was used in insulation before the risks were known. Well, at least before the public knew about the risks. There is evidence that asbestos manufacturers knew about the dangers long before the federal government began regulating its use. In addition to asbestos-based products, the carcinogenic mineral occurs naturally underground. As such, construction workers, those who mine asbestos, and people who work with asbestos-based products are most at risk of developing this deadly disease.

Asbestos is Not a Thing of the Past

It is a common misconception that asbestos is no longer an issue in the workplace. For starters, any building built before 1980 may contain asbestos in the roof, walls, or insulation. And even buildings built after 1980 may have asbestos. For these reasons, construction workers still have an increased risk of asbestos exposure, and thus, of developing Mesothelioma or lung cancer. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you are suffering from a work-related illness or injury.

Auto mechanics also have a higher risk of asbestos exposure. In 1989, the US Environmental Protection Agency began the process of phasing out asbestos-based brakes. But a federal court rescinded the ban in 1991. Recent analysis shows that dust samples taken from brake repair shops contain significant levels of asbestos. Unfortunately, the majority of auto-repair shops are ill-equipped to deal with this problem. In fact, compressed air used to blow dust from brakes can exacerbate the problem, filling the air with millions of asbestos-containing dust particles. All auto-repair shops should consider purchasing respirators and vacuums for mechanics who work on brakes.

Who is Most at Risk?

Although your risk of asbestos exposure is significantly lower today than 30 years ago, workers in many occupations are still at risk. Asbestos exposure remains a hazard for those who work in:

  • Auto-repair shops
  • Construction sites
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Paper mills
  • Refineries
  • Power plants
  • Ship yards

And in the following industries:

  • Auto-repair mechanics
  • Boilermakers
  • Bricklayers
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Insulators
  • Plasterers
  • Plumbers
  • Pipe fitters
  • Refinery workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Steelworkers

A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve developed a work-related injury or illness. Continue reading

The waiting period built into workers’ compensation benefits functions as a type of deductible. If you are injured on the job, workers’ comp generally pays for associated medical treatment, a portion of your lost wages, and compensation for permanent disability. If you cannot work, these payments can mean the difference between financial disaster and financial stability.

Many workers’ comp applicants are surprised to discover that benefits rarely start immediately. In most cases, beneficiaries will be subjected to a waiting period. During this time, you will be unable to collect benefit payments, with few exceptions. A MA workers’ comp lawyer can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve suffered a workplace injury.

Waiting Period

Massachusetts scaffolding accidents are extremely common. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 65 percent of construction workers use scaffolds regularly. The agency estimates that 50 workers die and 4,500 are injured annually in the U.S. due to scaffolding accidents. To combat this problem, OSHA releases workplace-accident information and safety standards every year. By maintaining standards that are at least as effective as OSHA’s, a workplace can dramatically reduce its risk of work-related accidents. Unfortunately, in an effort to save money and cut corners, these regulations are sometimes overlooked by employers and workers alike.

How to Prevent Scaffolding Accidents

Most scaffolding accidents are the result of user error, faulty equipment, improper construction of the scaffolding itself, or negligent maintenance. Workers can be seriously injured or killed when they are struck by a falling object, lose their footing and fall from the scaffolding, or when supports give way. The following tips can help you prevent injury or death in a scaffolding accident.

  • Inspect scaffolding prior to use. A daily visual inspection can help workers to more effectively detect damage, defects, or worn parts that should be replaced.
  • Follow manufacturer guidelines, such as specifications for set up and break down, and information about load capacities. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a scaffolding accident.
  • Train workers regularly. Anyone working on or around scaffolding should receive proper training. In addition to general safety information, workers should be trained about that particular scaffold’s design, how to set it up and tear it down, and how to safely climb on and off the scaffolding.
  • Proper gear should be worn at all times. Safety gear, including hard hats, non-slip footwear, and harnesses should be well maintained and readily available for workers. Scaffolding should also be equipped with appropriate safety equipment, including toeboards, guardrails, and
  • Ensure that scaffolding is erected on stable ground. Never use unstable objects -such as bricks or concrete blocks – to support scaffolds.
  • Never exceed your scaffolding’s load capacity.
  • Keep scaffolding a safe distance – at least 10 feet – from power lines. A MA work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a scaffolding accident.
  • Clear debris and spills from scaffolding immediately. Falling debris can be deadly, and spilled liquids and other substances can result in slipping.

If you notice that any of the above guidelines aren’t being followed at your work site, speak to a supervisor immediately. If your supervisor doesn’t resolve the issue, you can always report the problem to OSHA. An agency representative will visit your work site to conduct a safety investigation. If violations are discovered, the company will need to immediately remedy the issue, and may be cited, fined, or both. Continue reading

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful condition affecting the hand, fingers, and wrist. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the hand to the arm, becomes compressed where the hand and wrist meet. The condition is given its name due to the protective sheath covering the median nerve – the carpal tunnel. A person suffering from CTS may experience burning, tingling, numbness, and extreme pain in the palm of the hand.

Although CTS is often caused by work-related repetitive motions such as typing, proving that you have CTS – for the purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits – is not always an easy task. If you are suffering from symptoms of CTS, the first step is to visit your doctor for an exam. CTS rarely gets better on its own. In fact, in most cases, symptoms will progress if left untreated. In addition to getting treatment for your CTS, a visit to the doctor will also establish a medical record of your condition, which can be immensely beneficial if you decide to file a workers’ comp claim. A Boston workers’ comp attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you are suffering from a work-related injury.

The Problem with Repetitive Stress Injuries

CTS injuries are often more difficult to prove than other work-related injuries. For starters, all repetitive motion injuries occur over time, rather than due to an isolated accident. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Bob falls from scaffolding and is knocked unconscious, prompting his co-workers to call an ambulance. At the hospital, doctors discover that Bob has a broken leg. As a result, Bob is unable to work for two months, incurring thousands of dollars in medical bills.
  • John works on an assembly line. After two years of assembling the same car parts over and over again, day in and day out, he develops extreme pain in his right hand. The debilitating pain makes it impossible for John to perform his job. John reports the pain to his supervisor who tells him to go to Rite-Aid and get a wrist brace if it’s bothering him.

Which of the above scenarios is more likely to end with a successful workers’ comp claim? The reality is, both Bob and John should be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. But Bob’s scaffolding accident and casted leg are easier to evaluate than John’s sudden complaint of pain in his hand. His employer might also argue that the wrist pain – even with an official carpal tunnel diagnosis – is a pre-existing condition. In either case, the help of a skilled MA workers’ comp attorney will help ensure that you get the benefits you deserve in a timely manner.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Facts and Statistics

If you are suffering from CTS, you are not alone. It is the most common nerve disorder of the upper extremities.

  • Approximately five percent of the working population suffers from CTS.
  • CTS surgery is the most commonly-performed surgery of the hand and wrist, with more than 460,000 surgeries annually in the US.
  • According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, almost two-thirds of work-related injuries to the upper body are due to repetitive trauma.
  • Women have twice the risk of developing CTS as men.

Continue reading

Cranes are used on construction sites to move heavy objects. If not operated safely, they can be extremely dangerous. Crane accidents are a leading cause of serious injury and death in the construction industry. In fact, the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that there were 818 crane-related fatalities in the 10 year period between 1997 and 2006. The reasons for these accidents vary widely, from mechanical failures to user error. Fortunately, most crane accidents are easily preventable. The following information looks at common causes of crane accidents and how to prevent them.

How to Prevent Crane Accidents

Because of their sheer size, weight and height, cranes can be deadly when misused or poorly maintained. Crane collapses, which may occur when weight limits are ignored or the crane is placed on an unstable surface, often result in death. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the following conditions are crucial to the prevention of crane accidents:

  • All crane operators and related workers must receive proper training.
  • Crane equipment should be regularly maintained and inspected for the detection of equipment failures or defects.
  • Cranes and loads must be properly rigged.
  • Manufacturer-specified weight limits must be strictly observed.
  • Crane assembly and disassembly must be closely supervised.
  • Anyone working on or around a crane must be able to openly and effectively communicate with others working on or around the crane.
  • Cranes must be placed on stable ground.
  • Cranes must be a safe distance from power lines.

Electrocution

According to OSHA, nearly half of all overhead crane accidents occur when the crane makes contact with a power source. These accidents often result in the electrocution of anyone touching the crane when it comes into contact with a high-voltage power line. But even workers in close proximity to the crane can be seriously injured. In fact, nearly 200 workers die this way every year. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Overloading

About 80 percent of all crane collapses can be attributed to overloading. When the crane’s operational capacity is exceeded, structural stress can result in structural failures and collapse. Swinging or suddenly dropping the load can also lead to collapse. Overloading is most often a direct result of human error, and can be prevented through proper training and supervision. Relying on instinct to determine whether a load is too heavy can lead to disaster. The use of load-measuring technologies can significantly reduce the risk of this potentially-deadly hazard. Continue reading

When people think of chlorine, the first thing that comes to mind is usually swimming pools. But chlorine is actually an extremely toxic – potentially deadly – substance. In fact, the gas produced by chlorine is so deadly that it was used during WWI as a chemical weapon. Although most chlorine-related injuries are minor burns or skin irritations, more serious injuries occur every year. Chlorine gas can cause fatal explosions, and even short-term exposure can result in life-threatening respiratory complications.

A fatal chlorine accident occurred in 2015, when an unmarked drum of chlorine gas was crushed. Eight Pacific Steel and Recycling employees were injured at the Spokane, Washington facility. One of those workers died. In 2017, one of the injured employees filed a lawsuit. Felix Shuck suffered a fifty percent reduction in lung capacity, as well as multiple other injuries that prevented him from continuing to work. However, Shuck is suing the company that delivered the chlorine gas, not his employer. Ibex Construction is being sued for negligence for allegedly hiring a subcontractor whose failure to label the drum resulted in the fatal accident.

But Pacific Steel and Recycling didn’t get away unscathed; a government agency fined the company for failure to follow certain procedures. For example, they failed to ensure that the gas drum was empty prior to accepting it, and they stripped the drum of its pressure gauges, which may have contributed to the accident. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an accident involving toxic substances or fumes.

How to Avoid Injuries Related to Toxic Substances

If you must work around toxic substances, the following practices can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death.

 

  • Substitute an existing substance, process, or equipment with a less hazardous alternative.
  • Isolate the hazard with an appropriate barrier or limiter, such as machine guards, remote-controlled equipment, and acoustical containment.
  • Ventilate the work environment through one of two methods – dilution of the substance by mixing with uncontaminated air, or the capture and removal of the substance at the source.
  • Change operating practices to reduce exposure to chemical hazards. This can be done by adjusting work schedules, limiting access to high-risk areas, and establishing preventive maintenance programs.
  • Use personal protection equipment, such as ventilators, masks, and protective clothing.

 

Who is Liable for Injuries Caused by Workplace Exposure to Toxic Substances?

Work-related injuries are generally covered by workers’ compensation, but individuals may recover additional damages if negligence contributed to the accident, as in the case above. Chlorine gas is one type of toxic substance, but there are many others, including asbestos. Asbestos is one of the deadliest toxic substances in the history of workplace toxic substances. According to the World Heath Organization more than 100,000 people die annually due to asbestos-related lung cancer, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. In many cases, multiple parties may be liable for injuries caused by workplace exposure to toxic substances, including contractors (as in the case above), the original manufacturer, and the employer. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

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