Articles Posted in Dangers in the Workplace

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Manhole Cover 2b morguefile dodgertonskillhauseThe United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has issued a final rule designed to provide added safety for construction employees who work in confined spaces that are not designed to be occupied on a continuous basis. Since manholes, tanks, ducts, tunnels, silos, and other confined spaces typically lack an emergency escape route, workers are often placed at increased risk for a variety of injuries and tragic deaths.

According to OSHA, the rule was created after two workers were asphyxiated while repairing a manhole. Sadly, one employee was killed while attempting to save his coworker. In addition to asphyxiation hazards, workers who operate in confined spaces also suffer harm caused by heat, toxic chemicals and other substances, explosions, and electrocution. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated that, although construction employees regularly enter confined spaces, fatal accidents do not have to result from doing so. Perez estimated that nearly 800 severe injuries may be prevented by the new rule each year.

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Busy Shopping Season Leads to Hazards

In the midst of the holiday shopping season, retailers are pushing hard to make a large percentage of their profits for the year. Shelves are piled high, aisles are crowded with special displays and decorations, doorways are blocked by excess stock and discarded packaging. The stockpiling of goods for sale creates many hazards for employees, leading to falling boxes and even blocked exits in the event of a fire.

OSHA Cites Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. After Complaint

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected the Dollar Tree Stores Inc. location in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood and concluded that employees could be subject to such safety issues as blocked exits and a jam-packed stockroom. The agency assessed $177,800 in proposed fines against Dollar Tree. OSHA inspected the store after an employee complained to the agency’s Braintree Area Office.

OSHA officials condemned the company as having committed repeat offenses and showing no motivation to correct previous workplace safety problems. An inspector had notified the store’s management of problems at one inspection but discovered to his dismay on a subsequent visit that no steps had been taken and the same hazardous conditions existed, compromising employees’ health and safety. Continue reading →

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1402599_untitled sxchu username KrappweisFour Massachusetts contractors were recently cited by the nation’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) over worker fall hazards at an Easthampton renovation project. According to the agency, OSHA’s Springfield office responded to a dangerous working conditions complaint regarding the project in July 2014. Following an inspection, the four contractors were issued proposed fines totaling more than $110,000 for placing employees at risk of falling up to 40 feet.

OSHA Area Director Mary Hoye stated falls are the leading cause of worker injury and death in Massachusetts and across the United States. In 2010, 35 percent of construction worker deaths in the nation resulted from employee falls. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least seven employees were killed in a fall at a Massachusetts construction project in 2012. Unfortunately, employees often suffer tragic disabling or fatal accidents when a workplace lacks sufficient fall protections.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADue to numerous requests for additional time for safety training, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently announced that a temporary enforcement policy related to the agency’s new Confined Spaces in Construction standard would become effective on August 3rd. Full enforcement of the new policy will reportedly begin in October.

The rule was issued in May and requires employers in Massachusetts and across the nation to afford construction workers with substantially similar safety protections that are currently provided to workers in other industries such as manufacturing. Those measures include sharing information regarding potential health and safety hazards with workers and continuously monitoring potential dangers related to enclosed work spaces. The new standard is expected to reduce fatal accidents and protect as many as 800 construction industry employees from sustaining serious harm at work each year.

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file7441249787549 morguefile melodi2In April, the 62 Massachusetts employees who were killed on the job during the preceding 16 months were recognized as part of an annual Workers’ Memorial Day. Each year, Workers’ Memorial Day is observed around the anniversary of the date that the nation’s Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed. According to the Executive Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (“COSH”), Mary Vogel, most of the work-related fatalities that occurred throughout the Commonwealth last year were preventable. Vogel stated proper safety precautions and procedures are vital components for avoiding tragic workplace deaths in Massachusetts and nationwide.

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favorites from camera 013 edited jamierodriguez37A Brockton, Massachusetts roofing contractor is reportedly facing $72,800 in proposed fines in connection with fall hazards at a North Smithfield, Rhode Island job site. According to the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), safety inspectors uncovered the danger in January while heading back to their Providence office following another job site inspection in the same area. From that location, the inspectors purportedly witnessed two roofers working from an elevated scaffold without protective equipment. As a result, the two OSHA inspectors apparently initiated an immediate and unplanned inspection of the work site.

After ordering the roofers off a ladder-jack scaffold, the OSHA inspectors determined that the scaffold was not equipped with guard rails. In addition, the employees were reportedly working at an elevation of about 16 feet without any equipment designed to keep them from falling, and their employer apparently failed to require the roofers to use an access ladder in order to reach the scaffolding platform. OSHA’s Area Director Patrick Griffin stated the situation constituted a “clear-and-present danger” to the workers, who could have been seriously hurt, disabled, or killed as a result of the alleged violations. According to Griffin, the roofing contractor should not have ignored his legal duty to protect the workers from injury.

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1LqJgSAh morguefile 5demayoThe United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has proposed more than $41,000 in fines against a New Jersey-based painting contractor over allegedly exposing workers at a Fall River, Massachusetts work site to both fall and lead hazards.  The proposed fines stem from an October 2014 inspection at the Charles M. Braga Jr. Memorial Bridge spanning the Taunton River.  The inspection occurred after the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standard’s (“DLS”) noted high levels of lead in the blood stream of many of the painting company’s workers.

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file00073412185 morguefile username ronniebThe United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission regarding a shipping company that operates 170 freight terminals across the country. According to the complaint, a number of OSHA inspections revealed that the company failed to properly maintain forklifts at 11 shipping terminals in nine states, including Massachusetts.

OSHA claims that inspections revealed the company failed to maintain its forklift equipment according to established safety standards since at least 2006. As a result, workers risk being struck, crushed, or otherwise injured by the equipment. In its complaint, OSHA has asked the Review Commission to order the unsafe and defective machines to be removed from service.

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file0001097532734 morguefile mensaticA Massachusetts administrative law judge (“ALJ”) may not adopt conflicting medical testimony when awarding workers’ compensation benefits. In Loretta R. King v. City of Newton, a 62-year-old woman was employed in a public school cafeteria. In April 2010, the woman allegedly injured her right leg when she slipped and fell while cleaning cafeteria tables at work. After her fall, the school nurse applied an ice pack to the woman’s injury. The following day, the woman returned to work using a cane, and her supervisor ordered her to seek medical care. Two days after she was injured, the employee was diagnosed with a sprained ankle and bruised knee at a local hospital. Soon afterward, the woman’s employer began paying her temporary total incapacity workers’ compensation benefits.

Following a June 2011 medical examination report, the woman’s employer sought to discontinue her workers’ compensation disability benefits. During a conference regarding the matter, the employee requested that her employer pay for a motorized lift chair to be installed at her home. The ALJ considering the case denied the employer’s request to discontinue the employee’s disability benefits and ordered the employer to pay for the requested medical device. The woman’s employer then appealed the ALJ’s order.

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A correctional officer works in a hazardous environment. Work hours are spent, not necessarily around dangerous chemicals or machines, but with prison or jail inmates, who can sometimes be dangerous people.barbed-wire-1390182-m[1]

A correctional officer injured at work is entitled not only to workers’ compensation, but also to additional benefits, such as assault pay, similar in concept to the combat pay awarded to members of the military for serving in a battle zone. Assault pay is available to correctional officers  in addition to workers’ compensation benefits, and the two schemes are related benefit programs.

In a case, William Benson vs. Commonwealth, No. 13-P-1134, decided in May 2014  by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, an injured officer disputed the lower court’s calculation of his separate benefit payments for assault pay, which were paid in addition to his benefits for workers’ compensation. Continue reading →