Media outlets are marking the 100th anniversary of Boston’s deadly molasses flood, which tore through the city’s North End, killing 21 and injuring another 150.refinery-300x204

The Washington Post reports the rivets on a 50-foot-high storage tank began punching through the crisp January afternoon in staccato bursts. I dull roar followed as 2.3 million gallons of molasses engulfed the Boston waterfront in a tidal wave 25-feet high and 160-feet wide. Traveling at 35 miles an hour, the wave tore through the North End, crumbling small structures and knocking the firehouse off its foundation. Several city workers drowned while eating lunch outside, and a pair of 10-year-old boys were swept away in the flood.

Investigation in the aftermath revealed area residents had noticed the tank had started to leak through the summer months. Instead of repairing the tank, the company promptly painted it rust brown, making the leaking molasses virtually invisible. While the incident has reached legendary status primarily because of the sticky mess it left behind, Massachusetts injury lawyers know it was also a key incident that put the nation’s focus on corporate America’s obligation to the safety of workers and surrounding communities.

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Hopefully you are enjoying a warm holiday season with friends and family.

But as the New England weather turns frigid, many workers and employers must take steps to prevent injuries through Massachusetts’ long winter season.snowworkinjury-300x225

When we think of work-related injuries associated with winter weather, we often think of utility crews, snow-plow and road crews, law enforcement and other employees who must brave outside temperatures as part of their daily routine. Certainly, these workers are at heightened risk. But many others face increased injury risks, from those working in cold factories and warehouses to retail workers task with snow removal and other outdoor activities. In fact, such employees are often unprepared for winter-weather tasks, which can put them at even greater risks than those used to working in extreme temperatures (both hot and cold) as part of their work routine.

Workers’ compensation lawyers in Boston know the risks are substantial but not unpreventable. Both employees and employers must do their part to stay safe on the job as temperatures plummet across New England.

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Boston Channel 7 News reports a construction worker was killed after being struck by a utility vehicle in Concord. The badly injured worker was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. Investigators report the worker was on the side of the road when a backing utility vehicle ran him down.reverse-300x225

We recently wrote about the high risk of injury in construction work. And it’s true construction workers face greater and more frequent injury risks than those working in many other occupations. However, transportation accidents are a leading cause of fatal workplace injury across industries and occupations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports more than one-third of all fatal workplace accidents are caused by transportation incidents, claiming more than 1,700 lives a year.

With the start of winter weather, a wide variety of workers in New England are at increased risk of transportation accidents. From law enforcement, to utility crews and snow-removal crews, workers are often at the mercy of passing motorists when it comes to avoiding serious or fatal on-the-job injuries.

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Environmental health concerns of employees at the Hampden County Superior Court building are being investigated.

As Mass Live reports, courthouse employees showed up in Springfield to grill state officials over health concerns for those working at the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse. The facility was renamed last fall and dedicated to Roderick Ireland, the first African-American chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. oldbuilding-300x225

Earlier this month, employees at the State Street building received a memo about ongoing environmental testing of water, air and building surfaces. Mercury and lead are reportedly of particular concern, after Judge William Boyle became the second judge in the building to be diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lou Gehrig’s Disease, formally known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a nervous system disorder for which definite cause is unknown. However, fewer than 10 percent of cases are believed to be inherited.

The cost of workers’ compensation insurance continues to decline in Massachusetts, even as injured workers face a fight for benefits.

Massachusetts employer pay into the workers’ compensation system based on a percentage of payroll. Boston Business Journal recently reported the workers’ compensation rate has declined for the fourth year in a row — from 5.8 percent in 2015, to 3.83 percent for the coming year. hospitalbills-300x225

While it’s good news for employers, it is no reason for employees to cheer, as the number of serious and fatal worker accidents has continued to increase with the economic recovery. Factors for declining employer costs likely include: Slow processing of work injury claims, routine denials of benefits, a confusing system of benefits injured workers must navigate, and misclassification of workers as independent contractors.

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There is no question we are in the midst of a major opioid abuse epidemic in the U.S. Traditionally, the Greater Boston area always had more problems with heroin abuse as compared to many other areas in the nation. But now we are seeing more and more people struggling with addiction to prescription to painkillers that are opioid based.

While the effects of opioid addiction can be devastating whether a person is addicted to Oxycontin purchased at a local pharmacy or heroin bought in a hand-to-hand transaction on the street, many of those who have become addicted to painkillers started taking them as a result of an on the job injury.

workers' compensation attorney BostonOne thing to keep in mind is that an on the job injury can occur following a single traumatic event. But as our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, a workplace injury can also occur from years of wear and tear on the joints and human body.  We see repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), but we also see many cases where employees suffer serious back and joint issues as a result of working on a construction site or at other manual labor. These workers tend to be prescribed painkillers and they can become addictive, especially when they are over-prescribed as is a common problem in our area. Continue reading

In cases where an employee is killed while on the job, the family will still have to file a workers’ compensation claim, just as the injured employee would have to do in a non-fatal on-the-job accident case. These cases can result in the payment of past medical expenses, reasonable burial and funeral expenses, and the payment of lost-wage benefits in cases where decedent had minor children living at home, or a spouse who survived the worker who was killed on the job, and was dependent on decedent’s income for support.

Workplace Accidents Boston According to a recent new article from CBS Local Boston, a worker was killed in Sharron when he became trapped in a machine. Authorities have said they were called to the scene of the fatal accident, which occurred at a metal fabrication plant located in the Greater Boston area.  When they arrived there around 9:30 a.m., they found the employee had become trapped in a large metal-cutting machine he was operating. Continue reading

According to a recent news article from WCVB 5 News Boston, fatal Boston work accidents are at the highest levels they have been since 2000, and this is justifiably causing serious concern. This not only includes the City of Boston, but also fatal work accidents in the Greater Boston metro area, including cities such as Cambridge, Newton, Natick, and the north and south shores.

Number of Work-Related Deaths in Boston Metro Area at Near Record Highs

Boston Workplace AccidentsAs discussed in this news article, 75 lives have been lost by workers in the Boston metropolitan area in 2016 alone. In actual numbers, this was an increase in 27 worker fatalities, but in terms of percentages, we are looking at an approximately 56 percent increase from the previous year. Continue reading

In most serious Boston workers’ compensation cases, we have an injured worker who needs to undergo medical treatment, and will also miss considerable time away from work.  These are exactly the type of cases for which the workers’ compensation system in the Commonwealth was established. However, there are also cases in which a worker is killed on the job, and these are also situations where a workers’ compensation claim may be the only appropriate remedy.

Workers’ Compensation as an Exclusive Remedy in Boston Workplace Accident Cases

The workers’ compensation system in Boston, which is codified in Section 152 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) is designed tworkers' compensationo be an exclusive remedy.  This means if a worker is injured on the job in Boston, or elsewhere in Massachusetts, he or she must file a claim with his or her employer in order to have medical bills and the cost of rehabilitation compensation paid, and to receive any money for lost wages during the time of recovery. In terms of a permanent personal injury, there may be permanent benefits paid as well, but these are the only two types of compensation in most workers’ compensation cases.  There is no recovery for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other types of special damages typically seen in Boston personal injury cases. Continue reading

In most jobs in the Greater Boston area, a worker is an employee of his or her company or boss and there is very little question about that classification.  This is true if you work for hourly wages at a fast food restaurant and it is also true if you are the regional manager for a large company in most cases. The point is, most workers get a paycheck every two weeks or each month and the employer must withhold taxes based upon the allowance claimed by an employee.  At the end of the year, an employee is entitled to a W-2 form declaring to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), what he or she has made each year and how much he or she has already paid in taxes and other federal withholdings. There are however, some occupations where the lines are blurred and the worker may actually be an independent contractor.

Boston Workers' Compensation This matters in Boston workers’ compensation cases because while an employee within the meaning of the statute (Chapter 152, Section 1(1A) of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L)), is entitled to workers’ compensation in the event of an on the job injury or work-related illness, independent contractors are not.  This means if an independent contractor is injured on the job or becomes sick due to a work-related illness, he or she will have to use personal health insurance and will not be compensated for any lost wages due to time missed from work unless he or she has private short or long-term disability insurance. If it is possible to afford such coverage, it is usually a good idea to get it in the even the worker in injured while on the job in Boston. Continue reading