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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEmployers in Massachusetts and throughout the United States are required to protect excavation workers who dig five feet or more from sidewall collapses. Safety measures may include sloping soil at a shallow angle, shoring trench walls, or using a trench box designed to protect excavation workers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), an East Coast business willfully failed to follow mandatory trenching and excavation safety guidelines with tragic results. Sadly, two men were killed when a trench collapsed.

Following an investigation into the trench cave-in death of two employees, OSHA issued one willful and nine serious violations to the landscape, excavation, and snow removal business that employed them. In general, a willful violation occurs when an employer voluntarily or knowingly disregards federal health and safety laws designed to protect workers. A serious violation results when an employer knew or should have known about a hazard that is substantially likely to cause an employee to suffer serious physical harm or death.

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Like all states, Massachusetts provides workers’ compensation benefits to eligible workers who have been injured on the job. Along with paying for any required medical treatment, Massachusetts workers’ compensation will also provide wage replacement benefits as long as the worker is unable to work.

While many injuries clearly fall within the realm of a workers’ compensation claim, others are not as clear. For example, if a construction worker falls off a ladder, the worker will undoubtedly realize that he or she has a potential claim under the workers’ compensation system. But a worker who is suffering an emotional or mental disability that is related to his or her employment may not realize that he or she has a potential workers’ compensation claim. Under Massachusetts law, however, a worker could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for an emotional or mental disability.

The Burden of Proof

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As a Massachusetts worker, you should be entitled to benefits under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system if you suffer a qualified workplace injury. Filing a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim can be a lengthy, and complicated, process. A claim for benefits could be denied for any number of reasons.

Some of the common reasons a claim is denied include the following:

  • Technical Requirements—For a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim to be approved, a claimant must follow the proper procedure when submitting the claim. There are also a number of important timeframes that must be adhered to. An initial claim should be filed by your employer on Form 101—Employer’s First Report of Injury or Fatality. A claim cannot be filed prior to the fifth calendar day after your disability occurred but should be filed prior to the 12th calendar day. After that, the Department of Industrial Accidents, or DIA, will review the claim. Additional documentation may be requested by the DIA and/or an appointment scheduled with a DIA-approved physician for an examination. Each step in the process has a deadline and must be completed according to procedures set forth by the DIA. Failing to follow the correct procedures, missing a deadline, or not responding to requests for additional information by the DIA could cause your claim to be denied.