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Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

The Massachusetts Workers Compensation Act states that workers’ compensation is provided for “emotional disabilities only where the predominant contributing cause of such disability is an event or series of events occurring within any employment.” Basically, this means that an employee may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits for emotional injuries, but only if a work-related event was the primary cause of that injury.

If a work-related event or events results in stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression, an employee may be entitled to workers compensation. But certain requirements must be met. Simply claiming that your job is stressful isn’t going to work; you have to show that a specific event, such as sexual assault or harassment, directly caused your stress. If you can answer yes to the following questions, your condition will likely be covered.

  • Have you developed a permanent impairment due to the stressful event or events?
  • Can you prove that a work event directly caused your stress?
  • Was the stressful event outside the norm for this particular job?

Outside the Norm

Consider the third question above: Was the stressful event outside the norm? This is important because you cannot recover workers’s comp for a “stressful event” that you should have known is just a normal part of the job. For example, construction workers routinely work at high elevations. Although heights may be stressful for some people, working from high places is a normal part of construction work. As such, a workers’ comp claim for height-induced stress will probably be denied.

A MA workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine if you qualify for benefits following a work-related stress injury. But there are things you can do to expedite the process and improve your chances of success. For starters, keeping a journal of stressful events that are occurring at work can be immensely helpful if you decide to apply for benefits or bring a personal injury lawsuit. And although workers’ comp covers most work-related injuries, if negligence or misconduct played a role in your injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.

What if I Have PTSD?

Workers’ compensation claims are complex; this is especially true when the injury is emotional. Stress is a relatively broad term, but PTSD is a form of stress caused by a specific traumatic event or series of traumatic events. For example, soldiers often come back from combat with PTSD, and people may experience PTSD after a serious car accident or an assault. If a serious work event has caused you trauma that negatively impacts your ability to do your job, you may qualify for workers’ compensation. Some symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Violent or self-destructive behavior
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing
  • Chronic nightmares
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

All of the symptoms above can make it difficult to hold a job. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you are suffering from work-related stress or PTSD. Continue reading

According to a recent National Safety Council survey, more than 70 percent of employers nationwide report being directly affected by the misuse of prescription drugs in their workplaces. Despite this, only 39 percent of employers surveyed view prescription drug abuse as a safety threat, and even less – 24 percent – consider it to be a measurable problem. And although 71 percent of U.S. employers agree that abuse of prescription drugs is a disease that requires treatment, 65 percent consider it a justifiable reason for employee termination. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you have been terminated due to a substance abuse disorder.

The results above show the significant gap between the actual cost of prescription drug abuse for U.S. workplaces, and employer perception. The reality is that substance abuse costs American taxpayers more than $440 billion each year. Businesses suffer significant losses due to healthcare costs, low productivity, and absenteeism of workers with addictions. However, research has shown that it benefits both employer and employee when the employer helps get the employee into treatment. In fact, doing so can save the employer up to $2,607 per year. But a change in employer perception is crucial to a positive outcome. As long as 65 percent of employers feel that employee termination is the answer to addiction issues, the possibility of employer-initiated treatment programs is slim. But firing and re-hiring may actually cost much more in the long run.

Statistics From the National Safety Council Report

The following statistics about substance abuse in the workplace were revealed during the survey:

  • Employees with substance abuse disorders are absent nearly 50 percent more often than their peers.
  • Workers with substance abuse disorders miss up to six weeks of work each year.
  • The industries that suffer the most from substance abuse disorders include entertainment, construction, and food service businesses; these industries have twice the national average of employees with these disorders.
  • Female-dominated industries have a two-thirds lower rate of these disorders.
  • Untreated substance use disorders cost employers between $2,600 and $13,000 per worker, annually.
  • Workers in recovery are less likely to miss work, and have significantly lower turnover rates.
  • By providing assistance, employers in some industries could save more than $8,400 per worker.
  • The cost of healthcare for a worker with a substance abuse disorder is three times that of the cost for an average worker.

“This is a wakeup call for businesses. When it comes to addiction’s cost in the workplace, the numbers are staggering,” said Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof, one of the companies that contributed to the National Safety Council report. To show employers the importance of having a workplace prescription drug abuse program, Shatterproof and the National Safety Council have developed the Substance Use Cost Calculator, which allows employers to calculate how this crisis is impacting their workplace. A MA injury lawyer can help if you have been fired because of a substance abuse disorder.

“Businesses that do not address the prescription drug crisis are like ostriches sticking their head in the sand,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, the National Safety Council’s president and CEO. “The problem exists and doing nothing will harm your employees and your business. As the tool shows, the cost of inaction is far too great.” Continue reading

Men suffer more workplace injuries than women, but millions of women are joining the workforce in traditionally male-dominated jobs every year. And according to data from the Department of Labor, 57.2 percent of the 128 million working age women in the US have at least a part time job. In the 1950s, the same could be said for only 34 percent of working age women. Although women employed in high-risk industries, such as construction, see the greatest number of workplace injuries, all jobs have the potential to cause injury.

Common Fatal Workplace Injuries Suffered by Women

In 2014, workplace deaths among women increased by 13 percent from the previous year. Some work-related accidents are disproportionately common among women. In 2014, the most common causes of fatal workplace accidents included:

  • Homicides: Accounting for 19 percent of work-related deaths among women, workplace homicides are a leading cause of work-related death among US women. In 2010, there were 506 homicides reported in US workplaces, which is the lowest recorded total of all time. However, despite the decline in overall workplace homicides, they increased by 13% for women.
  • Motor vehicle accidents: Also one of the leading causes of fatal work injuries for male workers, about 19 percent of work-related deaths among women are due to roadway accidents. To reduce serious injury and death, it is crucial that all workers who drive on the job receive consistent and adequate safety training. A MA injury lawyer can help if you’ve lost a loved one in a work-related accident.
  • Slip and fall accidents: Falls, slips, and trips often occur indoors, where most women tend to work. To dramatically reduce fatal injuries from this type of accident, it is essential to keep work spaces clean and clutter free, immediately wipe up spills, make sure walkways are well lit, and improve workers’ safety behaviors through regular training.
  • Struck by object: When women work in industries such as manufacturing and construction, their risk of fatal accidents can be reduced through proper training, the use of safety equipment, and adherence to safety rules and regulations.

Women are also fatally injured in other jobs, including plant work, where workers may be exposed to toxic chemicals and gasses. These industries also have a higher potential for fires and explosions. A Boston workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a workplace accident.

Nonfatal injuries that disproportionately affect female workers include:

  • Musculoskeletal injuries, such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Infectious diseases
  • Respiratory problems
  • Reproductive problems (sometimes caused by exposure to harmful chemicals)
  • Anxiety and other stress disorders
  • Incidents specific to healthcare jobs, such as needlesticks

Hostile Work Environments and Stress

As women tend to experience more family conflict than men, emotional and stress disorders can  be compounded by home demands. When you consider that approximately 75 percent of single mothers work at least part time, it isn’t difficult to understand how stress can take a toll, both mentally and physically. In addition, women frequently have to deal with hostile work environments. They may be unfairly treated, or even sexually harassed by supervisors and other coworkers. This type of environment can make it difficult for women to feel comfortable reporting safety concerns, which can further add to the stress and anxiety that many female workers experience. Not to mention the distractions that come from hostile work environments. In some occupations, such as construction or plant work, a split-second distraction can be deadly. Continue reading

Dozens of construction workers are injured in crane accidents annually in the United States. Injuries and fatalities occur among the men and women operating the cranes as well as to workers and others on the ground. Crane accidents and collapses are one of the deadliest types of construction accidents, accounting for about 40 deaths every year. Read on for more information about common causes of crane accidents and how to prevent them.

Common Crane Accident Causes

Crane accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, including user error and equipment defects. But the most common causes include:

  • Cranes coming into contact with power lines: Nearly 39 percent of all crane accidents are caused when the crane comes into contact with overhead power lines. If any part of the crane, including the boom or cables, makes contact with a live power line, the crane operator and any nearby workers can be electrocuted.
  • Assembly and disassembly accidents: If assembly and / or disassembly is not performed according to the manufacturer’s specifications, it can result in catastrophic crane accidents. A MA work injury attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you have been injured in a crane accident.
  • Crane boom collapses: When the crane boom is extended too far, the crane’s ability to carry loads can be negatively impacted. This uneven distribution of weight can cause structural problems, which can result in the boom buckling or collapsing. This type of accident accounts for approximately eight percent of all crane accidents, and usually leads to serious injuries or death.
  • Tipping over: When the crane is overloaded beyond its capacity, it can tip over or collapse. Tip overs may also occur if the ground beneath the crane is uneven or unstable.

How to Prevent Crane Accidents

Crane accidents result in serious injuries and fatalities every year. If you are concerned that your employer is not following proper safety guidelines for crane operation and maintenance, you may contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and request a safety inspection. If you have been injured in a crane accident, it is in your best interest to consult with a skilled MA work injury lawyer immediately.

OSHA’s guidelines for preventing crane accidents include:

  • An inspector should check the crane for mechanical problems before each use.
  • Cranes should be inspected regularly to identify cracks, wiring problems, and worn or damaged parts.
  • A qualified person must perform any necessary repairs or modifications.
  • The crane should be placed on stable and flat ground and must be at least 10-feet from electrical cables.
  • The crane must not carry a load that exceeds its capacity.
  • Fences should be installed around the site to keep non-workers from getting too close to the crane.
  • A qualified “signal” person should assist the operator when maneuvering loads.
  • Workers should be equipped with fall protecting equipment.
  • The crane’s foundation and all structural supports should be designed by a professional engineer or the crane’s manufacturer.
  • Always use caution with wind. According to OSHA studies, wind is one of the top causes of crane accidents.

Continue reading

Believe it or not, the healthcare industry has one of the highest rates of workplace accidents and injuries. Workers face biological hazards, exposure to chemicals and drugs, and radioactive material hazards on a regular basis. In fact, more healthcare workers are injured on the job than workers in any other industry. Read on for more information about the dangers healthcare workers face and how to dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death if you work in this industry.

What Makes the Healthcare Industry So Dangerous?

In addition to the usual work-related injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries and those caused by slip and fall accidents, healthcare workers have a disproportionate risk of many other hazards. Some of these potentially life-threatening hazards include:

  • Bloodborne pathogens and other biological hazards
  • Exposure to chemicals and drugs
  • Exposure to anesthetic gases
  • Respiratory hazards
  • Ergonomic hazards common to heavy lifting
  • Laser hazards
  • Laboratory hazards
  • Exposure to radioactive materials
  • Workplace violence

Some common, and very dangerous, chemicals that healthcare workers may be exposed to include formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, and paracetic acid. A MA work injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve following a healthcare-related work injury.

Healthcare and Social Assistance Worker Injury Statistics

In 2010, there were approximately 653,900 reported injury and illness cases in the healthcare and social assistance industry. The industry with the next highest number of injuries was manufacturing, with only 501,900. That’s a difference of 152,000 cases. So, what type of healthcare jobs have the highest risk? Nursing aides and orderlies have it the worst, with 249 out of every 10,000 workers suffering from musculoskeletal injuries. In contrast, the average for all workers (including non-healthcare) is 34 out of 10,000. The healthcare industry includes such a wide variety of jobs and tasks, from surgeons and nurses to mechanical maintenance and food service workers. And most of these jobs have a higher-than-average rate of injury. If you have been injured on the job, contact a Boston work injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Tips for Reducing Risk of Healthcare Injuries

Nearly half of all healthcare worker injuries are caused by overexertion or motions such as lifting and bending. Sprains and strains account for most of the reported injuries. By following the tips below, you can reduce your risk of serious injury on the job.

  • Identification and assessment of all hazards
  • Hazard prevention and control training
  • Overall safety training
  • Regular program evaluations
  • Minimal-lift policies
  • Lift-assistance equipment, which can include ceiling-mounted lifts and slide sheets that help during lateral transfers (bed to surgical table)

If you are concerned about the safety of your hospital work environment, talk to a supervisor. If the supervisor fails to respond to your concerns, you can always contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate the situation to determine if any changes must be made.                 Continue reading

When an employee misses six or more days of work due to an on-the-job injury, it is considered a “serious” workplace injury. According to the 2017 Liberty Mutual Insurance Workplace Safety Index, these serious injuries and accidents cost U.S. employers about $59.9 billion in 2014. The study, which has been conducted for each of the past 17 years, seeks to help employers concentrate on the most important areas of workplace safety.

What Are the Top 10 Leading Causes of Serious Workplace Injuries in Massachusetts and Nationwide?

Although any work-related accident can result in serious injuries, the following 10 causes accounted for more than 83 percent of the total $59.9 billion spent nationwide in 2014. And the top three causes collectively represent nearly half of that total.

  1. Overexertion
  2. Same level falls
  3. Falls to a lower level
  4. Struck by an object
  5. Other types of overexertion or bodily reaction
  6. Roadway accidents involving motor vehicles
  7. Slip or trip accidents without a fall
  8. Being caught in or compressed by an object or objects
  9. Struck against an object
  10. Repetitive motions related to micro-tasks

“Each year, we rank the top 10 causes of the most serious, nonfatal workplace injuries by their direct costs to help companies better protect employees and the bottom-line,” reports Liberty Mutual spokesperson Debbie Michel. “Workplace injuries impact both employees and employers. Injured employees face potential physical, emotional and financial harm. Employers face the direct costs of workplace injuries – medical care related to the accident and some portion of an injured employee’s pay – and the indirect costs, including hiring temporary employees, lost productivity, and quality disruptions.”

When compared to the 2016 report, the top 10 causes of serious workplace accidents remained the same. However, the share of those 10 causes in the cost of total workplace accidents grew from 82.5 percent in 2016 to 83.4 percent in 2017. Roadway accidents and same level falls continued the upward trend while overexertion saw a substantial decrease. These results help companies like Liberty Mutual advise employers of how to effectively reduce serious workplace accidents. If you’ve been injured in a serious workplace accident, it’s crucial to consult with a skilled MA serious workplace injury lawyer. Your employer will prioritize his or her best interests. You should do the same.

Which Occupations Have Highest Risk of Serious Workplace Injuries?

Although certain occupations have a greater risk of serious workplace injuries, you can be injured while performing any type of job duty, from secretarial work to fighting fires. The occupations below have some of the highest rate of workers’ comp claims for serious workplace injuries:

  • Laborers
  • Truck drivers
  • Nurses and nursing aides
  • Construction workers
  • Carpenters

If you have suffered any of the above injuries, or have experienced another type of workplace injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome or chemical burns, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced Boston work injury lawyer right away. The right representation can ensure that you obtain the compensation you deserve in a timely manner. Continue reading

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied fines against New Jersey-based Ned Stevens Gutter Cleaning and General Contracting of Massachusetts Inc. after a second incident involving a worker falling from a roof happened within the same year.

The first incident occurred on Nov. 29, 2015 when an employee fell 26 feet off a roof in Newton, and the second incident occurred in Lexington on Oct. 24, 2016 when a worker fell nine feet from a garage roof. The same company had already been cited for a similar event in March of 2014 as well that occurred in New Jersey.

An inspection by OSHA revealed that, in the incident that occurred in Lexington, the employee working atop the garage did not have adequate fall protection prior to his accident, and neither did his foreman, who was vulnerable to a fall from a much higher roof of 26 feet. OSHA fined Ned Stevens $68,591 in total for this violation.

A contract packaging company based out of Dudley, MA is facing hefty fines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after their negligence and subsequent actions seriously endangered one of their temporary workers in May of 2016.

On May 26, 2016, an improperly-trained temporary worker for Shield Packaging Co. Inc., which specializes in filling, packaging and shipping products stored in pressurized aerosol cans, was cleaning the filling nozzles along a production line when the equipment unexpectedly turned on, violently piercing his finger with the sharp filling nozzle and “inflating” his arm with pressurized, propellant gas.

The incident alone was gruesome enough, but Shield Packaging truly blundered in their reaction to the horrible accident. The worker’s employers did not even call 911 in the immediate aftermath. The injured employee was the one to initiate a 911 call. After the call was made, the employee was taken in a private vehicle to the hospital where they underwent emergency treatment and was hospitalized.

Workers’ compensation provides wage replacement and may cover medical expenses if you are injured in a work-related accident in Massachusetts. This is true even if the accident was your fault. These benefits are supposed to be easy to obtain, but that is rarely the case. In theory, you can apply for workers’ comp benefits without an attorney, but the process can be extremely complex and application errors can result in delayed or reduced benefits, or both. Below are five reasons why you should hire an experienced workers’ comp lawyer if you’ve been injured on the job.

Top Reasons to Hire a Lawyer Following a Work Injury

Free Consultation

Most lawyers will consult for free. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our initial consultation is free, and entirely confidential. Whether you decide to “go it alone” or retain legal counsel, a complimentary consultation can give you the guidance and direction you need to move forward with confidence. If you have been injured on the job, contact a MA workers’ compensation lawyer today.

Faster Approval Means Faster Benefits

If your initial claim is denied, you can appeal it, but the appeals process can delay benefits for weeks or months. Why not get it right the first time? By hiring a skilled workers’ comp attorney, your chances of a successful application increase dramatically. This is likely your first time applying for benefits. Experienced attorneys have filled out countless workers’ comp forms. They know what to do, and what not to do. In addition to improved accuracy, a knowledgeable attorney will also remove the burden of meeting deadlines and responding to requests. You are already under a lot of stress, why add to it with paperwork and claim management?

Forms, Forms, Forms

Do you love filling out tax forms? If you do, then ignore these next few sentences. If, like most Americans, you despise filling out tax forms, you probably won’t like this process much more. The language used on workers’ comp forms, lovingly created by government agencies, is rarely clear and to the point. What’s worse – even minor application errors can result in delayed or reduced benefits. In some cases, workers never receive any benefits at all. Lost wages can be financially disastrous, and many families don’t have the luxury of waiting weeks or months for benefits to kick in. Trying to handle the claims process alone can cost you much more in the long run. If you have suffered a work injury, contact a MA workers’ compensation lawyer today.

Claims Experience

When it comes to experience with claims, a skilled workers’ comp lawyer has it. He or she will be able to answer questions with relative ease. No time will be wasted while you try to figure out what information is needed and how to respond to questions. Even more important, if your claim is denied, or any problems arise during the process, you will have an experienced lawyer by your side to quickly, effectively determine the best possible solution. Continue reading

Working in the elements has special risks during every season, but Massachusetts winters can be especially challenging. If you work outside for at least part of the day, it’s crucial to utilize safe practices at all times. The information below addresses some of the most common winter weather-related work injuries and how to avoid them. If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, it’s important that you know what benefits that are available to you immediately and in the long term.

Slip and Fall Accidents

When ice, snow, and freezing rain are a daily occurrence, it’s especially important to take precautions in the workplace. In addition to slippery walkways and parking lots outside, workers can track snow and slush into buildings, resulting in indoor puddles and the potential for slip and fall accidents. Follow the steps below to reduce the risk of weather-related falls at work:

  • Put salt on icy walkways and parking lots and keep them as clear of snow as possible.
  • Inside each doorway, place a non-skid mat to absorb excess snow and slush.
  • When any area becomes slippery – whether inside due to tracked snow or a spill, or outside due to ice or slush – place cones around the hazardous area.

Back Injuries

Whether they are due to excessive shoveling, lifting heavy construction equipment, or slipping on an icy or wet surface,  back injuries are common among workers who are forced to brave the winter elements. The most common winter weather-related back injuries include sprains and strains, fractures, overexertion injuries, and lacerations. To reduce the risk of back injuries at work, follow the tips below:

  • Take frequent breaks when shoveling or lifting heavy objects on the job.
  •  Stretch for several minutes to warm up your muscles.
  • Employers should provide shovels specially designed to reduce back strain.

Cold Weather-Related Injuries

Being outside in below freezing temperatures for extended periods of time can result in serious – even fatal – complications. Hypothermia, frostbite, and cold stress can wreak havoc on the healthiest, toughest workers. Dampness and wind can amplify the dangerous effects of cold weather, and it doesn’t even have to be freezing outside; frostbite and hypothermia can sneak up on you. To prevent dangerous cold weather-related conditions:

  • All workers should be trained on how to protect themselves from temperature-related injuries.
  • When temperatures are low, workers should take frequent breaks in a warm environment to get their internal temperature back to normal.
  • Workers should drink warm drinks throughout the day, such as hot tea, coffee, or hot apple cider.

Work injuries are an unfortunate reality, but we can take steps to dramatically reduce our risk of serious injuries and death on the job. Although all jobs carry some risk, certain occupations – such as construction and roofing, farming and logging, corrections and law enforcement – carry a disproportionately higher risk. In 2015, there were nearly three million reported nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  If you have been injured at work, contact a MA workers’ compensation lawyer today. Continue reading

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