The workplace is where millions of Americans earn their livings and is the backbone of American society. Unfortunately, many careers and employers subject their workers to dangerous environments, techniques and tools in order to get the job done.
It can be something as simple yet tragic as a fall from a high platform during the construction of a new office building, or something more complex like tinnitus caused by inadequate or deficient ear protection. Regardless of the injury or severity, as a worker, you have rights.
One of those rights is workers’ compensation, the right to continue earning money despite being unable to perform your work duties. Employees and their loved ones have the right to workman’s compensation for injuries sustained while on the job that cause death, partial or total disability, and disfigurement or loss of function (such as permanent scars). In Massachusetts, workers are entitled to 60% of their weekly wage in disability payments. In addition to providing proper compensation for workers injured while on the job, employers – big or small – are required to implement a safe working environment and provide adequate safety protocols when performing dangerous work is unavoidable. Overseen and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor, these strictly-enforced regulations help ensure that employers keep the safety of their employees paramount.
A recent example of negligence leading to a serious work injury happened on Jan 6th, 2016 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A temporary worker was hired through Snelling Staffing Services and placed in employment at the Cambridge Brands Inc. candy factory, which is a subsidiary of Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. The worker had a piece of his left index finger amputated by a candy-wrapping machine.
An investigation by OSHA revealed that: (1) Neither the staffing agency nor Cambridge Brands properly trained the worker with the machinery; (2) That the moving parts of the machine were not properly equipped with safety precautions; (3) That Cambridge Brands did not perform regular inspections to ensure the machine would not run unintentionally and; (4) That Cambridge Brands did not report the amputation within 24 hours of its occurrence, as is now required by OSHA for all hospitalizations and amputations.
As a result, Cambridge Brands was fined $46,000 and Snelling Staffing Services was fined $9,000. Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. was cited for similar violations in 2010 and 2014 in its Chicago location, according to OSHA.
It should be known that any worker asked to perform a duty that can be reasonably, in good faith, seen as overly hazardous maintains the right to refuse that work. In such a situation, employees should alert their employers of their concern and either ask for different work or ask that the hazards be adequately corrected. If the hazard is not corrected or the employer threatens retaliatory action for not performing the work, the employer should contact OSHA immediately. The worker would also have the right to legal representation. After all, utilizing OSHA to ensure an employer takes responsibility for their negligence is only one part of the story. For somebody injured while on the job, it is essential that they are able to pay their bills and continue to support their loved ones while being unable to work.
This is where the legal team at Altman and Altman, LLP come into play. We will ensure that any employer, manufacturer or other third party liable for a workplace accident faces the proper responsibility and that you get the money you need, and are entitled to, in order to continue living your life.
For over 50 years, Altman & Altman, LLP has successfully represented Massachusetts injured workers and their families with workers’ compensation claims and disputes against employees and insurance companies in the Greater Boston Area, as well as throughout Massachusetts. Our work injury lawyers are available around the clock to answer your questions or to provide you a free case consultation. To speak to an experienced workers compensation lawyer give us a call at 617-492-3000.