Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Stavis Seafood received 20 safety violations Friday, several months after the death of one of its workers. Brian Caron, a Peabody man and father of two, was fatally injured by an ammonia leak at Stavis’ South Boston plant. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the accident was caused by improper design, operation and maintenance of ammonia equipment. Due to these safety violations, Caron and other employees were exposed to a deadly amount of ammonia.

The fatal accident occurred on March 23 when a pipe on the plant’s second floor burst, sending toxic fumes into the work area. According to a statement released by OSHA, the seafood company failed to properly label ammonia piping, properly ventilate the building to prevent the risk of explosion caused by an ammonia leak, routinely inspect pressure canisters, test ammonia sensors, and ensure that ammonia was properly contained at all times. If you are concerned that your work environment is unsafe, contact a Massachusetts work injury lawyer today.

Stavis Seafood Facing $173,168 in Fines

The OSHA investigation has found that the machine room where workers were stationed and the storage room used to store ammonia were not properly separated. In addition to the lack of a door to separate the two rooms, there were also large holes in the plant’s floor. “The company’s failure to follow industry and OSHA standards exposed its employees to the hazards of an ammonia release as well as falls, electric shock, hazardous chemicals and delayed or obstructed exit from the facility during a leak or other emergency,” reported James Mulligan, OSHA’s acting area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. “It’s clear that Stavis Seafoods must take effective action to correct these hazards and prevent their recurrence so that no other employees are harmed on the job.” And the violations don’t stop there. Stavis was also cited for improper chemical storage and labeling, multiple electrical hazards, and infrastructure issues. As a result, Stavis is facing OSHA-proposed fines of up to $173,168.

Types of Chemical Exposure and Associated Injuries

Chemical-related work injuries can be extremely harmful, even deadly. Ammonia isn’t the only dangerous workplace chemical. Others include benzene, mercury, pesticides, solvents, lead, acids, and paint. Injuries can be suffered due to contact with the skin, inhalation of toxic fumes, and even accidental ingestion. Injuries due to work-related chemical exposure include burns to the skin, eyes, lung or throat, and rashes. Chemical exposure can also cause neurological damage, including nerve damage and brain injuries. Although excessive inhalation is most often linked to brain damage, even skin exposure can have neurological consequences. If you have been harmed on-the-job due to the inhalation of toxic fumes, contact a MA injury lawyer today. Continue reading

Numbers from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) showed that in 2014, more American workers died on the job than any year since 2008. The census showed 4,821 workers died in 2014, which equates to 13 worker deaths every day in America at a rate of about 3.4 per every 100,000 workers.  The most deadly job is construction, which resulted in 899 deaths in 2014, a nine percent increase over its 2013 totals. Oil and gas extraction jobs were also particularly deadly, with 144 deaths. Private mining and quarrying resulted in 39 more. One of the most common causes of workplace death were falls, slips and trips, which caused 818 deaths.

In general, the most common cause of death for workers in 2014 was vehicular accidents, which accounted for 1,157 deaths, marking a five percent increase over last year. Other leading factors were workplace violence incidents, which encompasses person-on-person violence, animal attacks and homicides. These incidents combined accounted for 765 deaths.  Deaths affected workers aged 55 and older disproportionately higher than any other group of people at 1,691 deaths (35% of all deaths). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33 million Americans aged 55 and older were employed in 2015 and 1.3 million more were seeking employment. It is estimated that by 2019, 25% of the U.S. labor force will be 55 or older.

Work-related illnesses and injuries to are estimated at anywhere between 3.8 and 11.4 million each year, a stat that is hard to confirm due to underreporting. The AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 workers unions, estimated that 50,000 people died in 2014 from occupational diseases. The AFL-CIO also estimated that between $250 to $370 billion is lost every year due to workplace illnesses and injury.

Pros and cons of OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a federal agency given authority under the United States Department of Labor to ensure safe working environment and best practices. They were established as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, signed into law by Richard Nixon.  Although the regulatory oversight of OSHA has undoubtedly raised the bar in terms of what employers must do to guarantee the health of their employees, limitations always exist when dealing with a scope as large as the entire United States.

One main criticisms of OSHA is that they are stretched far too thin to effectively regulate the country’s entire workforce. According to the AFL-CIO, OSHA only has 1,840 inspectors (1,035 working for state branches and 805 federal inspectors) to oversee about 8 million workplaces, equating to a rate of about one inspector for every 74,760 workers.  Another main criticism is that OSHA does not possess the power to hand down meaningful fines to companies that violate the law. The AFL-CIO reports that the median federal fine for killing a worker was just $7,000 and the median state fine for killing a worker was just $3,500. They also report that OSHA has only criminally prosecuted 89 worker death cases since 1970.  Continue reading

In April, events across Massachusetts paid tribute to the 63 MA workers killed on-the-job in 2015. In addition to honoring the victims and their families, ‘Workers’ Memorial Day’ also served to highlight worker safety in general. According to Jeff Newton, membership and communications coordinator for the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), “Sixty-three workers in the State of Massachusetts lost their lives to dangerous jobs last year.” Newton went on to say, “One thing we want to make the public aware of is that dangerous jobs are still claiming far too many workers in the state.” Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.

Dying for Work in Massachusetts

MassCOSH recently released a report titled “Dying for Work in Massachusetts” that calls attention to the problems surrounding worker safety. The report details the ways in which workers were killed, and it addresses increasing safety concerns for immigrant workers specifically. According to the report, immigrant workers have a significantly higher risk of being fatally injured in a work-related accident.

Workers’ Memorial Day

Every April, Workers’ Memorial Day celebrates the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. At the main event at the State House in Boston, and supporting events in Springfield and Northampton, speakers educate and inform the public about workplace safety. “And what we will be doing is reading the names of the workers killed aloud, and we will be having labor leaders speak as well as having family members who lost a loved one speak as to why workplace safety needs to be a higher public priority,” Newton said.

20% of Nationwide Worker Deaths are Construction Related

More than 4,600 workers were killed in work-related accidents in 2014, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Of those deaths, about 20% occurred in the construction industry, one of the most dangerous industries in the country. Although construction jobs are inherently dangerous, the risk of serious injury and death can be dramatically reduced when employers follow safety precautions, provide adequate training and supervision to workers, and perform routine maintenance and inspections on all equipment. In addition, workers should always be provided with proper safety gear, such as harnesses, safety goggles, hard hats, and any other equipment necessary for the specific job. Continue reading

In August of 2015, a Massachusetts worker was killed when an aerial lift he was operating tipped over. Kevin Miranda was operating the lift when it tipped, ejecting him from the operator’s basket and throwing him 16 feet through the air. Following the accident, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an investigation of Miranda’s employer, Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp. of Taunton. Just this month, the administration determined that his death could have been prevented if Skyline had adhered to federal and industry safety standards. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.

At the time of the accident, the aerial lift’s boom was extended to a height of 45 feet. OSHA inspectors noted several safety violations, including that the lift was placed on uneven ground and the lanyard on Miranda’s fall protection system was not attached to the lift. OSHA also concluded that Skyline had failed to train Miranda to recognize such a hazard, an important requirement of the agency’s standards.  As such, Skyline was cited for one serious violation and two willful violations, totaling $102,900. The company must comply with the penalties and citations and meet with OSHA’s area director within 15 days from the receipt of the citations, or contest the findings within that time frame.

“This incident and the needless death that resulted were preventable. Kevin Miranda’s employer was well aware of the necessary safety requirements, yet disregarded them,” said OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, Kenneth Shedden. “Safety standards exist for a good reason: to prevent incidents such as this, and the deaths and injuries that can result. Employers must know and adhere to all applicable standards. The lives and well-being of their employees depend on it.”

Falls Are Number One Cause of Construction-Related Fatalities

According to OSHA, falls are the top cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Fatal falls are often the result of unstable working surfaces, and / or failure to use appropriate fall protection equipment. Both were factors in Miranda’s death. If the lift had been placed on stable ground and Miranda’s fall protection system had been properly attached to the operator’s basket or boom, he might still be alive today. Continue reading

Trenching and excavation are among the most dangerous construction-related operations in the country today. Employers and employees must be highly educated on everything from trenching safeguards to cave-in protection before engaging in this type of work. An incident in Massachusetts earlier this year serves as a grim reminder that employees cannot always rely on the employer to ensure the safety of their working environment. On July 31, 2015, Davide Nascimento was killed while installing a sewer line in an excavation. When a portion of the roadway above him collapsed, it broke a water main pipe. Water rapidly filled the excavation, trapping and drowning 28-year-old Nascimento. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.

The inherent dangers of Trenching Work: The greatest risk to workers is the potential for cave-ins. They are the most common accident in this field and frequently result in fatalities. In fact, trench collapses are responsible for dozens of fatalities every year. Beyond cave-ins, other hazards include falls from high places, falling debris, hazardous or toxic atmospheres, and incidents with equipment.

Never enter an unprotected trench: Unless an excavation is made entirely in stable rock, trenches require a protective system if they are 5 feet deep or greater. If they are 20 feet deep or greater, the protective system must be designed by a professional engineer or based on a professional engineer’s tabulated data.

Know your protective systems: There are multiple protective systems, and the required system depends on the job you are doing. For example, a sloping system cuts the trench wall at an angle so that it slopes away from the excavation. A shoring system involves the installation of an aluminum hydraulic or similar support to prevent cave-ins from soil movement. A shielding system uses trench boxes or similar supports to protect workers from soil cave-ins. Designing these systems is extremely complex and requires the expertise of a registered professional engineer.

Always have a competent person: Standards set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) require daily inspection of trenches by a ‘competent person.’ This is an individual with the ability to identify hazards or hazardous working conditions, including those that may be unsanitary or dangerous to workers. This individual is authorized to eliminate or control such hazards by taking prompt action to correct them.

Make sure you have safe access in and safe access out: In order to safely enter and exit an excavation, it is essential that all workers have access to ladders, ramps, steps, and any other means of exit. If these devices are not well maintained or located within 25 feet of workers, the consequences can be disastrous. Continue reading

A construction worker passed away this Friday in the second fatal worksite accident in Taunton, Massachusetts in the past three weeks. According to preliminary reports, law enforcement officials were called to a worksite at Myles Standish Industrial Park at approximately 8:50 AM when an individual notified them of a worker with “life-threatening injuries”. The victim has not yet been identified pending family notification.

The Taunton Police Department, who responded to the scene, posted a statement online stating that, “Upon arrival it was determined that an adult male had succumbed to his injuries and was deceased.” The extent and nature of the individual’s injuries have not been disclosed at this time. Law enforcement officials have not indicated the nature of the accident that caused the fatal injuries to the worker.

In addition to the Taunton Police Department, the Taunton Fire Department as well as personnel from the AMR Medical responded to the scene in an effort to save the individual’s life. The worksite, which is located at Charles F. Colton Road, will now face an investigation in an effort to determine what events led to the worker’s death. According to reports, law enforcement officials have remained on scene to continue their investigation. The accident occurred outside of an 800,000 square foot wine and liquor warehouse facility belonging to the Martingnetti Company. The facility spans approximately 115 acres along the Charles F. Colton Road. Representatives from the company have not issued regarding the incident a statement at this time. Continue reading

A circuit judge has turned down Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ motion to dismiss a complaint submitted by a woman whose husband died while testing a ride. Terrie Roscoe sued the company in 2012, the year after her husband, attractions mechanic Russell Roscoe, was struck by a ride vehicle at the Animal Kingdom.

At the time of the work accident, Roscoe and other workers were “wet testing” the Primeval Whirl ride. This involved workers spraying water at the top of the lift platform during inspections.

According to the family’s lawyer, the accident happened while Russell was in the ride envelope, where he wasn’t supposed to be. The attorney said there was sufficient evidence indicating that managers knew where Russell was and that the worker had reasonable grounds to think that a car was not going to be launched while he was in the ride envelope.

Continue reading

The widow of a man who was exposed to asbestos while working as a school bus driver for nearly four decades has been awarded a $7.7 million mesothelioma verdict. The driver, Lewis Nash, became exposed to the fibrous materials during the time he spent in the bus garage where vehicle maintenance was performed. The asbestos came from the clutches, brakes, and gaskets of the buses. Nash died from mesothelioma at the age of 81 in 2012.

The jury found Navistar, now called International Harvester, liable for Nash developing this serious form of cancer. The company manufactured the school buses.

Because it can take years for symptoms of mesothelioma to surface, there can be a very long latency period for the person affected. This is why Nash wasn’t diagnosed until almost twenty years after he retired.

Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rules, private-sector employers must fulfill tougher reporting requirements for injuries on the job. Now, employers have to report all work-related deaths within eight hours and give notification of any eye losses, amputations, and inpatient hospitalizations within 24 hours of discovery.

The new requirements went into effect on January 1. Employers can report an incident either by calling the closest OSHA area office, contacting the OSHA hotline, or submitting a report online.

Previous to that, employees had to notify the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration of all workplace deaths or when at least three workers injured in the same incident were hospitalized.

A Fall River worker was recently killed when he was struck by a piece of construction equipment in the head. The “fusing machine” swung toward 45-year-old Paulo Matos, fatally injuring him after workers lost control of the device. At the time, the construction worker was working on natural gas lines in a road project.

Matos worked for AGI Construction, a contracting company. The state’s Department of Transportation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the work accident.

Please contact our Massachusetts worker’s compensation lawyers today if you or your loved one were seriously injured in an accident on the job. You typically cannot sue your employer but you should be entitled to work injury benefits. Also, other parties who were involved in the job but are not your employer could potentially be held liable if their negligence contributed to the construction accident injury or death.

Contact Information