Repetitive stress injuries—including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis—are extremely common, can be debilitating, and are often sustained on the job. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 100 types of repetitive stress injuries may occur in the workplace. In order to obtain workers’ compensation for such an injury, however, you must be able to show that your job caused your injury.

Common Causes of Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace

If any of the situations below apply to you, there is a good chance that your repetitive stress injury was sustained in the workplace. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

  • You spend most of your day working on a computer. Sitting at a computer for hours a day may sound like an unlikely way to get injured, but it’s actually one of the most common. Performing the same movements over and over again throughout the day is the most direct route to a repetitive stress injury. Small movements that may seem benign—such as clicking your mouse, or typing and holding a desk phone between your ear and shoulder—can lead to painful, chronic conditions, many of which can make even simple tasks impossible.
  • You work in construction. Any time you perform repetitive movements for weeks or months in a row, you can develop a repetitive stress injury. Tasks like swinging a hammer, digging or running a jackhammer can result in damage to tendons, joints and muscles. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
  • You stand all day or sit all day. The human body is not intended to be in the same position all day. Studies have proven that excessive sitting can cause back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as other health problems…it can even shave years off your life! Excessive standing can also wreak havoc on your body. Hips, knees and back are especially vulnerable to these problems.
  • You work in retail. Cashiers and others who work in retail often stand for long periods. As stated above, this alone can lead to health problems. However, retail cashiers are particularly prone to repetitive stress injuries because of the limited but continuous motions they must make all day. Watch the cashier the next time you’re standing in line. Throughout a single shift, a cashier may have to turn, grab, lift, swipe, type and pull thousands of times.

Examples of Repetitive Stress Injuries

These injuries are among the most commonly reported causes of lost work time. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that repetitive stress injuries accounted for about 33 percent of all work injuries in 2013. The most common include:

  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Trigger finger
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Low back injuries
  • Muscle strains

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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

The BLS recently released a workplace deaths report revealing shocking results; fatal workplace injuries and illnesses increased by seven percent from 2015 to 2016. In fact, the 5,190 workers who were killed in work-related accidents last year accounted for the highest rate of workplace deaths since 2008. With the efforts of OSHA, and countless workplace safety campaigns popping up nationwide each year, this substantial increase is sobering.

According to the BLS, traffic incidents were the number one cause of workplace deaths, accounting for about 40 percent of all fatal work accidents. The other top causes were violence (including suicides and homicides) at 17 percent, falls at 16 percent, contact with objects and equipment at 15 percent, and exposure to harmful substances at 10 percent. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Deadliest Industries

Not surprisingly, construction and industrial workplaces ranked highest for on-the-job fatalities. The breakdown of the most deaths by industry for 2016 is as follows:

  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Agriculture (forestry, fishing, and hunting)
  • Government
  • Waste management
  • Manufacturing
  • Accommodation and food services
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas extraction

Jobs with Most Fatalities

According to the BLS report, logging may be the nation’s deadliest occupation. For every 100,000 workers, there are more than 135 fatalities. The other deadly jobs include:

  • Fishers
  • Pilots
  • Roofers
  • Garbage collectors
  • Steel workers
  • Truck drivers
  • Farmers

Any job can be hazardous, but the jobs above pose an increased risk of serious injury or death. A MA work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

How to Stay Safe at Work

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the most common work hazards include:

  • Working at high levels
  • Chemical exposure
  • Electrical hazards
  • Forklifts
  • Lockout / tagout
  • Confined spaces

Although the above hazards cannot be altogether eliminated from certain jobs, the risk to workers can be dramatically reduced when employees are provided with proper safety equipment and training. Continue reading

February 4 through 10 was National Burn Awareness Week, during which the American Burn Association encouraged the public to think about burn dangers in the home and workplace. Although more than 96 percent of burn injuries are non-fatal, many victims suffer debilitating medical complications and severe scarring that can affect them physically and emotionally for a lifetime.

In the Workplace

Thousands of workers suffer burn injuries annually in the United States. The three most common types of workplace burn injuries are thermal (heat), electrical, and chemical. Reduce the risk of these injuries by following the tips below:

  • If you are working with flammable or combustible materials, keep them away from open flames and sparks.
  • Employees working with flammable or combustible materials, or near open flames, should wear flame-resistant clothing.
  • Do not touch equipment until you are certain it is not hot.
  • If a worker suffers a thermal burn injury, move him or her to a safe place. If clothing is on fire, help the person to stop, drop and roll until the flames are completely extinguished.
  • If the burn is mild (first-degree), apply cool water to the injury, elevate the body part, and give the person water to drink.
  • If the person has sustained a second-degree burn, do not apply cool water. Simply elevate the body part and give the person water to drink.
  • If the burn is more serious (third-degree), do not apply cool water, do apply a sterile, nonstick dressing to the wound, treat the person for shock, and seek medical attention immediately.
  • To prevent chemical burns, ensure that chemicals are stored and labeled correctly.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear when working with dangerous chemicals.
  • Before beginning a job working with chemicals, make sure that you know the location of a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and nearest eye wash station.
  • Immediately remove contaminated clothing if you come into contact with dangerous chemicals.
  • To avoid electrical burns and electrocutions, utilize proper Lockout / Tagout procedures at all times.
  • Overhead power lines should be marked.
  • If a worker suffers an electrical burn or injury, turn off the power.
  • Do not touch the injured worker until you are sure the power has been turned off.
  • Check the worker’s airway and breathing, treat for shock, and seek medical attention immediately.

A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

When workers are injured or become ill on the job, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are paid out of an insurance policy held by the employer which protects both employer and employee. The employee is generally entitled to receive compensation for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages in exchange for agreeing not to sue the employer. Lost wages can be financially devastating for a family; the benefits provided by workers’ comp can be a life saver.

Fortunately, workers’ comp covers most work-related illnesses and injuries. Unfortunately, workers’ comp claims can be lengthy and complicated, and even a minor error can result in delayed or reduced benefits. Two of the most confusing aspects of workers’ comp are the waiting period and retroactive period. The information below will help you understand these two requirements, and how they may impact your claim. A MA workers’ comp lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

Waiting Period

The waiting period refers to the number of days the injured worker must miss work before he or she may begin to receive indemnity payments. Although the waiting period may seem unfair to a newly-injured worker, there are two important reasons for its existence. For one, waiting periods are intended to prevent workers with minor injuries from filing frivolous claims. Knowing that she is going to lose wages for at least the duration of the waiting period, an employee with a minor injury will be less likely to file a claim, knowing that the loss would almost certainly outweigh the gain.

In MA, the waiting period is five days. If you are injured and miss five or less days of work, you will receive no benefits. If you are injured and miss more than five days of work, you will receive benefits for the days that exceed the waiting period. In some cases, employers will allow injured workers to use sick or vacation days to cover the days missed during the waiting period.

Retroactive Period

If the injured worker fulfills the requirements of the retroactive period, he or she will receive benefits for work days they missed during the waiting period. In MA, the retroactive period is 21 days.

Consider Laurie’s case. Laurie injures her back in a work-related accident and is temporarily unable to work. In all, Laurie misses 38 days of work. For the first five days, Laurie receives no pay due to the waiting period requirement. On the sixth day, Laurie begins receiving indemnity payments. On the 21st day, Laurie satisfies the retroactive period requirement, and thus, receives payment for the first five days of missed work.

If, on the other hand, Laurie had returned to work after only 20 days (before the 21-day retroactive period), she would not have received compensation for the first five days of work she missed. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed 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

More than two million construction workers work on scaffolds every year. Unfortunately, in an already dangerous industry, scaffolds pose an even greater risk. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), scaffold accidents cause about 4,500 injuries and more than 60 deaths annually. As such, employers must ensure that they are doing everything possible to protect workers from scaffold-related accidents.

A recent BLS study revealed that 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents reported the cause of the accident to be one of three factors: the plank or support gave way, the worker slipped, or the worker was struck by a falling object. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

Scaffolding Safety Concerns

One of the leading causes of injuries and deaths in the construction industry, scaffolding accidents can be dramatically reduced by implementing proper safety measures.

 

  • Always inspect scaffolding prior to use. Before each work shift, workers should visually inspect the scaffolds, looking for defective or damaged parts that should be replaced. Also inspect personal fall protection equipment to ensure that it is in good working order.

 

  • Follow scaffold instructions and guidelines for set up and use. Every scaffold has its own load capacity, set up specifications, and other guidelines.

 

  • Workers should be regularly trained on scaffold use, as well as on the specifications for a particular scaffold prior to a job assignment. Training should include how to perform visual inspections, how to set up and break down scaffolds, how to properly ascend and descend the scaffolding, and how to safely and accurately utilize fall protection equipment.

 

  • Workers should always use proper safety equipment and gear. Scaffolds should be equipped with guardrails, and should be braced and attached to a solid structure. Personal safety gear is equally important. This includes non-slip footwear, fall protection equipment, and head protection.

 

  • Ensure that scaffolds are erected on solid, stable ground. In addition to being placed on a stable surface, it is imperative that scaffolds are properly braced using poles and uprights. Never use objects such as bricks or concrete blocks to “prop” or stabilize scaffolding.

 

  • Never exceed a scaffold’s load capacity. Each scaffold is designed to hold up to a certain weight, and nothing more. Exceeding the maximum load capacity can result in a scaffold collapse.

 

  • Stay at least 10 feet from power lines. Unless the lines near scaffolds can be disconnected, never place scaffolding in close proximity; electrocutions are often fatal.

 

  • Spills, clutter and other debris on scaffolds can be deadly. As mentioned above, many scaffold accidents are due to a worker slipping and falling. Avoid a potentially-deadly fall by wearing fall protection equipment and keeping scaffolds free and clear of spills and debris.

 

If your employer is not following one or more of the safety guidelines above, speak up. If you don’t feel that your employer is willing or able to resolve the issues, you can report your concerns to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

Most work-related injuries and illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation, but not all injuries are easy to prove. This is especially true of emotional disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A worker who experiences something traumatic or horrific on the job may develop symptoms of PTSD, which can make it nearly impossible to perform essential job duties. If an individual cannot work due to work-related PTSD, is he eligible for workers’ compensation?

What Causes PTSD?

PTSD is defined as an emotional or physical response to the memory of a traumatic event. Often associated with soldiers returning from war, PTSD can occur due to a car accident, domestic abuse, or any type of trauma. The following work-related events may cause PTSD:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Verbal abuse
  • Witnessing the death of a co-worker
  • Riots in a prison
  • Exposure to any type of violence
  • Receiving threats
  • Bank robbery
    Severe injuries, such as burns and amputations
  • Being attacked

Certain occupations have a higher than average incidence of traumatic events. These include law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and firefighters. However, any dangerous or high stress work environment comes with an increased risk of developing PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD

Individuals suffering from PTSD may experience the following symptoms:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Fear of going to work
  • Loss of motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sadness, anger, or generally negative feelings

All of the symptoms above could make it difficult for a person suffering from PTSD to perform his job duties. Further, if someone continues to work while suffering from the symptoms above, he could put himself and his co-workers in grave danger. A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

So, Does Workers’ Comp Cover PTSD?

In MA, workers’ comp does provide benefits for workers suffering from PTSD, as long as the injury is work-related. That being said, due to the difficulty in proving the existence of PTSD, obtaining benefits can be a serious challenge. While a chemical burn or an amputated finger is visibly obvious, a psychological disability is not. In addition, the worker must prove that his PTSD was caused by a work-related event and was not a pre-existing condition.

PTSD may be a standalone work injury, or it may appear in connection to a more obvious physical injury. In many cases, a worker who sustains severe injuries may recover from the physical injuries long before the PTSD symptoms subside. In fact, PTSD symptoms can linger for years following a traumatic event.

If you apply for workers’ comp for PTSD, your employer’s insurance carrier will do everything possible to avoid paying the claim. The insurer may review your medical records, contact you repeatedly, and even conduct surveillance. As such, it is essential to consult with an experienced MA workers’ comp lawyer if you are suffering from work-related PTSD. Continue reading

It’s cold outside. Really cold. For those who have to work outside in the elements, the cold can be more than just a nuisance. It can be deadly. Winter 2018 is expected to be one of the coldest in years. Even so, some people have no choice but to brave the elements. Many construction workers, for example, work outside year round, even during New England’s harshest winters.

Tips for Keeping Construction Employees and Contractors Safe When it’s Cold

If your employees work outside for extended periods during winter months, what can you do to protect their health and safety, and reduce your liability? The tips below can help.

 

  • When temperatures are extreme, limit outside work schedules so that workers are in the elements for shorter periods of time. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

 

  • Require workers to wear proper gear at all times. If they don’t have their own gear, supply it. Every worker should be equipped with a heavy coat, boots, gloves, and a hat. Gear should be water resistant, and shoes should have nonslip soles to prevent slipping on snow or ice.

 

  • Watch weather forecasts. If a blizzard is on the horizon, working outside could be dangerous. Even driving to and from the job site could put workers at unnecessary risk. If heavy snowfall and ice are in the forecast, consider taking the day off.

 

  • Ensure that workers have access to a warm area for breaks. When the weather outside is frightful, workers need a place to escape from the elements and warm themselves. A heated trailer or tent can do the trick.

 

  • Tell workers to limit their coffee intake. Although a cup of hot coffee might seem like the perfect winter warmer, caffeine can increase the heart rate, making someone feel warmer than they actually are. That being said, fluids are important when it’s cold outside. Workers should drink plenty of water throughout the day.

 

  • Inspect the work site before work begins, every Snow and ice accumulation and downed power lines can occur during the night, and pose serious risks to workers. Before work begins each morning, make sure that no hazards developed during the night.

 

  • Address any hazards. If snow and ice accumulated during the night, it should be removed or addressed before work begins. If it cannot be removed, sand or kitty litter should be put down to increase traction. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured at work.

 

  • Work vehicles should be inspected at the start of the winter season. Ensure that each vehicle is in proper working order and that it is equipped with an emergency kit, including ice scraper, shovel, flashlight, emergency flares, tow chain, a blanket, sand or kitty litter, water, and snacks.

 

  • Train workers on what to do if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident or become stranded, both of which present added consequences during extreme weather.

 

  • Ensure that workers are trained on first aid, and how to recognize signs of hypothermia and frostbite.

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