Articles Posted in Construction site safety

gavel-5-1409595-mIn this Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation claim, an injured union sheet metal worker represented by Carney Law Firm was awarded Section 34A permanent and total disability benefits.  The injured worker, represented by Attorney Brendan G. Carney, initially injured his left knee at work in 1980.  He had left knee surgery and returned to work shortly thereafter.  Then in 1998, while working on a pitched roof, the worker felt a sharp pain in his left knee.  He underwent arthroscopic surgery, and returned to work once again after a few months of disability as he recovered from this second left knee surgery.  He continued to work as a sheet metal roofer, and then in 2008 his left knee pain returned.  He worked through pain, aided by injections, for four more years when his doctor told him he needed a total knee replacement.  Because by this point he had worked enough years to qualify for a retirement pension through his union, he retired from work because of his left knee condition.   Although his left knee symptoms were clearly all related to his history of work injuries, the worker was not aware that he was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  He consulted with another attorney who was not sure whether there was a viable workers’ compensation claim.  That prior attorney contacted our firm for guidance. After a thorough investigation of the injured workers’ medical and employment history, Carney Law Firm agreed to pursue the case.  A claim for Section 34 temporary total disability benefits and payment for medical treatment, and then later a claim for Section 34A permanent and total disability benefits were then pursued by our firm. Continue reading

On concrete-circular-saw-20507539May 7, 2012 Sylbert Stewart fell from the edge of a dipping tank into a pool of chemicals, while cleaning the top of ventilation ducts in the course of his employment at the Belmont metal finishing factory where he has been employed for fourteen years. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited his employer for three separate violations in connection with the incident. Mr. Stewart sustained second and third degree burns from his thighs to his feet, and doctors removed skin from his back, chest, and arms for skin grafts to wrap around his legs.

Mr. Stewart received temporary total disability benefits through the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, which pays 60 percent of his wage loss, and the full cost of medical treatment. However, he did not receive compensation for the scarring on his legs, which covers 38 percent of his total body surface. Currently, in order to be compensated for permanent scarring under the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Act a worker’s blemish has to be on the face, neck, or hands. Thus, if workers are disfigured on their arms, legs, or torsos they do not receive compensation. The disfigurement portion of the Act is obviously pro employer and insurer, which simply fails to take into account the burden it places on the daily life of an employee, like Sylbert Stewart. Continue reading

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As we turn the clocks forward in anticipation for spring, it will not be easy for Massachusetts’s residents to forget the past few wintry months. This certainly has been a winter to remember here in the New England region, and not for the most pleasant of reasons. Certain areas of Massachusetts have seen over 100 inches of snowfall in less than a month’s time, and the many difficulties it has caused have been well documented. In order to keep up with the rapid accumulation, companies and officials have been rushing to clear snow from roofs and roadways. Thus, Massachusetts’ workers have been exposed to dangerous working conditions that have led to devastating, and sometimes fatal, consequences.  Continue reading

concrete-circular-saw-20507539The injured employee in the case of James McDonald v. Brand Energy Services, Inc. was a union laborer who had worked and been injured at work several times dating back to 1991.  In fact, the employee had injured his back four separate times prior to this particular work injury.   With each of the four prior work-related back injuries, the employee received lump sum settlements.  His last injury in which he received a lump sum settlement came in the year 2001.  Approximately three years after his last work related injury he returned to work against the advice of several doctors in 2004.  While employed he did not complete heavy-duty tasks but he did cope with daily pain by taking pain medication while completing lighter assignments. Continue reading

medical-cross-3-971653-mThe new year brought  new changes to the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administrations’ (“OSHA”) work injury reporting requirements for employers.  Prior to January 1, 2015, employers were required to report fatalities occurring at the workplace and incidents that required three or more employees to be hospitalized.  Beginning on January 1, 2015, OSHA now requires employers to report any injuries or illnesses that occur at the workplace and require only one employee to be hospitalized.  The employer of the injured worker must report the work injury or illness to OSHA within 24 hours of their first knowledge of the hospitalization. Continue reading

danger-keep-out-709062-m OSHA has completed its investigation into the April 2014 crane accident in Bourne, Massachusetts that took the lives of two electrical workers.  Two linemen, John Loughran, Jr. and Michael Boyd, both age 34, were tragically killed when the crane truck from which they were working tipped over, causing them to fall more than 150 feet to their death.  Both men were working for Massachusetts Bay Electrical Corp.

In late September, OSHA announced the findings of its investigation into the incident and the fines levied on Mass Bay Electric Corp.  OSHA, stating that the accident was entirely preventable, has fined the employer $168,000 for two willful violations of workplace safety standards.  OSHA found that Massachusetts Bay Electric Corp. did not refer to or use readily available and necessary information that would have allowed the work to be conducted safely, resulting in the loss of two lives. Continue reading

caution-1-581999-sThe United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has created a health and safety module for employers to follow which is aimed to help reduce workplace injuries to their employees. As OSHA states, employees and employers alike have incentives to maintain a safe workplace. Continue reading

beware-of-ice-697306-mMany Massachusetts and Boston area construction projects require work to be performed outdoors during our region’s harsh winter months.  Construction workers are required to work in brutal winter weather conditions, such as extreme cold, snow and ice which can create dangerous working conditions.  Because injuries caused by winter weather conditions on construction sites can be costly to both construction companies and construction workers alike, proper safety measures must be followed in order to prevent these injuries.   Continue reading

danger-keep-out-709062-mOften times unsafe working conditions at construction sites cause injuries to construction workers who are employed at the project.  However, a recent jury verdict awarding over $18 Million to the operator of a motor vehicle who was caused to lose control of his vehicle, crash and suffer injuries resulting in partial paralysis highlights the dangers that unsafe construction sites can pose to not only the construction workers, but also to the entire community surrounding the construction site.

In this case, the plaintiff was operating his motor vehicle when it struck a raised expansion joint, causing him to lose control of his car, leave the roadway and strike an adjacent stone wall and utility pole.  The defendant construction company had been performing work on the roadway and had left loose gravel and other debris within the traveling lane.  The defendant construction company also placed a partial asphalt patch and left an expansion joint spanning the travel lane that rose about two inches above the ground.  There were no warning signs cautioning drivers that the roadway was being worked on at the time.

This case is a good example of a construction company who did not fulfill their safety responsibilities at a construction site.  Construction companies have a responsibility to perform their work in a reasonably safe manner, and should never be allowed to needlessly endanger anybody, whether it be construction workers who are working at their project, or members of the community such as this person who was injured while driving on a town road.  Construction companies must perform a pre-hazard analysis in order to prevent these types of accidents.  A pre-hazard analysis requires a construction company to determine (at the outset of the project) what unique aspects of each particular project could cause harm to people, and then either plan to eliminate that hazard or if it cannot be eliminated, to take reasonable precautions to prevent people from being exposed to the dangerous condition.  A construction company performing work on a roadway that is open to the public should be expected to know that any conditions that they create which could impair a driver’s ability to navigate that roadway are putting the community at a substantial increased risk of harm, which may be serious injury or death.  Construction companies must take all necessary precautions in order to prevent harm to the people who are expected to be exposed to these dangerous conditions.

concrete-circular-saw-20507539Boston’s construction industry saw jobs decline by more than 20 percent during the recession.  However, all signs indicate that Boston’s construction industry is once again booming, with 8,700 construction jobs added between August 2012 and August 2013.  With more construction projects both underway and in the planning phase, this profitable yet dangerous industry is likely to receive more attention for construction site safety practices.  The United States Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released a new construction site safety rule aimed to prevent silica exposure to construction workers.  Silica exposure is known to cause  severe lung diseases characterized by shortness of breath, cough, fever, and cyanosis (bluish skin).

With more construction projects underway and more construction workers being exposed to job site hazards, this new OSHA construction site safety rule is timely.  The rule lowers the legal limit of silica dust that construction workers are permitted to breath by implementing new practices, such as wet cutting and improvements to ventilation.  OSHA estimates that nearly 2.2 million workers in the United States are exposed to silica dust, most of which are employed in the construction industry.

Workers who are diagnosed with lung diseases that are caused by working conditions are entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits.  If the lung condition causes a worker to require medical treatment, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company is responsible for 100% of the resulting medical bills, meaning the worker is not responsible for paying co-payments and deductibles which they otherwise would have to pay by using their health insurance.  If the work-related lung disease prevents a worker from doing the essential functions of his job, then that worker is entitled to weekly workers’ compensation disability benefits (temporary total disability [60% of Average Weekly Wage for up to 3 years], permanent and total disability [66.7% for life] or partial disability {60% of difference between pre-injury average weekly wage and post injury wages, for up to a maximum of 5 years]).  In addition to medical and weekly monetary disability benefits, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer may be responsible for payment of permanent loss of function benefits.