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According to a recent news feature from the Boston Herald, a Chilean soccer fan who had been watching the international competition was arrested after he had allegedly hit a construction worker in Boston’s Ted Williams Tunnel and then fled the scene.

workman-sign-1003297-mPolice say that when they caught up with the suspect and pulled him over, he allegedly pretended to blow into the roadside breath test and then told the officer that his wife “looks like a toilet.” Continue reading

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According to a recent news feature from News 7 Boston, a worker was injured on the Medford-Everett line when a crane flipped over completely.  Authorities say the project was located at the border between the two Boston area suburbs at a bridge along the Revere Beach Parkway just north of the city.

mSeL02uIt was the end of the workday when workers were putting away their equipment before heading home for the night.  The crane with that they were working was not properly balanced and contained around 200 gallons of diesel fuel, which shifted, causing the crane to flip completely over.  The operator of the crane was still inside the control cabin when it flipped over, and he was trapped in the cab.  He had also broken his arm during the fall.  Continue reading

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Recently, federal administrators issued a long-awaited rule that is intended to reduce workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Codified in 29 CFR, sections 1910, 1915 and 1926, the new regulations go into effect his year and are intended to drastically slash the amount of silica dust to which companies may expose workers. Additionally, a number of preventative measures will become mandatory. miningtruckdust

The goal of the final rule is to slash the risk of lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease – all a risk to U.S. workers who are exposed to silica.

The construction industry has pushed back on these efforts for years – most recently with a study from the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) opining compliance with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)’s final rule would cost the U.S. construction industry approximately $5 billion a year – almost $4.5 billion more annually than OSHA estimated. However, this change was a long time coming, according to work safety advocates. That’s because silica dust has been known for more than 80 years to be deadly.

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez did not mince words: “This rule will save lives.”  Continue reading

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Workers’ compensation in Massachusetts is generally what we consider a “no-fault” system. That means that if you are injured on-the-job in Boston, workers’ compensation benefits can still be paid to you no matter how the accident occurred or who was at-fault. But there are a few exceptions to this, and one of the biggest is when the employer has reason to believe the accident was caused by the injured worker’s use of alcohol and/or drugs.drinkinggirl

For this reason, companies started to make it standard practice to test workers for drugs and alcohol after an accident. But this has been met with mixed response from the courts. For example, the Ohio Supreme court struck down a part of state workers’ compensation law that allowed employers to automatically test workers for drugs and alcohol after a work injury, finding it a violation of workers’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches. Another case in West Virginia resulted in the same finding after a worker who injured his back was ordered to under drug and alcohol screening five days after the work accident.

Now, the issue has been raised again in the wake of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)s newest rules to prompt better reporting of all workplace injuries. Now, effective August 10, 2016, employers across the country are required to have a “reasonable procedure” for workers to report work-related injuries and illnesses both promptly and accurately. The rule forbids this procedure from discouraging or deterring an employee from accurately reporting a work-related injury or illness. Additionally, the rule specifically bars retaliation for a worker who reports workplace injuries or illnesses. Per this new standard, companies that require or request post-accident alcohol and/ or drug testing are going to face down additional scrutiny from OSHA under the new Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses because such post-incident testing may deter reporting of the injury.  Continue reading

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A conveyor belt injury at a commercial bakery last year has resulted in a $140,000 fine from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to a bakery. manufacture

According to reports, it was a simple task the resulted in an unnecessary injury. She was reportedly cleaning a conveyor belt and roller in December 2015 when her hand suddenly got caught between the belt and the roller and the machine began to pull her hand. She suffered numerous broken bones in her arm and hand, but thankfully did not have to endure an amputation.

A local OSHA office investigation revealed the company was in violation of the standard hazardous energy control guidelines. Specifically, the machine had not been turned off and locked out of its power source before starting the cleaning. But this wasn’t the worker’s failing. As it turned out, they had not been trained on how to do so.

The resulting injury and hazards were preventable.  Continue reading

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It wasn’t long ago that a worker in Leominster, about an hour west of Boston, lost his life in a tree-trimming accident after he reportedly fell out of a tree bucket. manwithsaw

According to news reports quoting police and fire investigators, the landscaping worker was employed by an out-of-town tree service that had been called in by the property owner, who called the company because he had a tree in danger of falling. He needed it to be taken down by professionals. Authorities said the worker had stripped the tree of all its branches and was cutting off the top of the tree when he fell some 50 feet to the ground. He suffered severe traumatic injuries and was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It’s the kind of incident about which the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) warns in its public safety guidelines on the tree care industry. The OSHA Hazard Bulletin on Tree Care Work details the many serious hazards in tree care work. Chief among those: Falls and falling objects. Continue reading

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According to a recent news report from WADT, a construction worker was installing insulation on a large building that was undergoing a complete renovation project when he fell two stories.  It seems the support beams under the floor on which he was standing collapsed.

constructionsite2A spokesperson from the local fire department said he fell the entire 20 feet when the floor under him gave way and he fell to the ground landing on the rubble below him.  He was seriously injured in the construction site fall.  Continue reading

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A utility worker in Plymouth suffered serious burns in an electrical injury while working at Myles Standish State Forest, according to The Boston Globe. Federal regulators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have reportedly launched an investigation and will be looking to see whether any work safety violations took place. phonepole

The 51-year-old worker reportedly was in a bucket truck and was just beginning his shift that morning when he apparently touched some live wires.

He was transported by helicopter to Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital for treatment of severe burns on his hands. His clothes also were reportedly charred. He had sustained burned to his abdomen and chest as well, but his condition wasn’t immediately known. He reportedly had not lost consciousness, spoke with a paramedic and understood what had occurred.  Continue reading

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Supervisors are those promoted by companies and entrusted by businesses to ensure things run smoothly and workers are properly trained and safe. But when that does not happen, can those supervisors be held separately accountable?trucksontheroad

According to the recent ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court in Parr v. Breeden, the answer is: No. It all comes down to the trade-off workers made in the so-called “grand bargain” of workers’ compensation. In that deal, made many years ago when workers’ compensation laws were first written, involved workers forfeiting the right to sue employers – even when they were negligent – in exchange for expedient, no-fault benefits when they were hurt or killed on-the-job. But it’s not just the company that is shielded by this “exclusive remedy” provision. It is our co-workers too. Even supervisory co-workers.

In all except the most egregious of circumstances, individual co-workers and even supervisors aren’t going to be found individually liable for injuries suffered by a subordinate at work. It may still be worth exploring in some instances because, particularly on construction sites, who qualifies as a “co-worker” and who is a “supervisor” might not be exactly clear. It could come down to the contract drawn up by the various contractors and subcontractors involved. Continue reading

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Workers who suffer on-the-job injuries are generally and with few exceptions entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.constructionsite2

But these benefits will only cover a portion of lost wages and medical bills. In cases of fatal injuries, they may cover funeral expenses and support for immediate and financially-dependent family. They do not account for one’s pain and suffering or other non-economic damages. In most cases, the exclusive remedy provision prevents workers from suing their employer or co-workers for additional compensation except in the most egregious of circumstances.

There may be an opportunity in some situations to explore third-party litigation, but that is something that has to be considered carefully with your Boston workers’ compensation attorney. The question of who is an “employer” and who is a “co-worker” can get murky on job sites where there may be numerous entities and individuals present. The pre-arranged agreements made prior to the work accident could determine whether there is an opportunity to pursue third-party litigation.  Continue reading