April 23, 2014

Remote Workers Face Additional Work-Injury Risks


Many workers do dangerous work off-site and in locations distant from their employer's main place of business. For example, utility and cable repair workers are often out in the field, as are those responsible for cell phone tower maintenance. tower-1334864-m.jpg

When an employee works remotely, it makes it harder for an employer to set and enforce safety rules. Remote workers are more autonomous and may not always follow an employer's strict guidelines. Further, employers cannot supervise a worker who is out in the field and may be unable to provide adequate training or safety equipment to reduce the risk of injury or death.

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April 21, 2014

Whistleblower Protection and Worker Discipline


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the responsibility of regulating safety on worksites and has the authority to set rules designed to protect workers. OSHA has too few inspectors and too tight of a budget to be as effective as it should be at doing this job. Because of understaffing, OSHA cannot inspect businesses frequently and companies could get away with safety violations for years. fire-hydrant-booster-and-pipes-1434480-m.jpg

Things got worse at OSHA recently when the agency had to cut its budget due to the federal sequester. However, amidst the cuts, OSHA increased its resources for investigating whistleblower cases. Whistleblower cases let employees, those most likely to be aware of safety problems, come forward and provide information about violations or wrongdoing on the part of employers.

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April 20, 2014

Noisy Worksites Make for More Accidents


When coworkers can communicate effectively with each other at work, many accidents on-the-job can be prevented. For example, a coworker could warn his peers of hazardous conditions or do something as simple as shout "look out," in order to stop an imminent accident from happening. Unfortunately, in some workplaces, it is difficult for people to communicate as a result of excessive noise. hearing-impaired-1016277-m.jpg

Excessive noise can result in damage to a worker's hearing that never goes away. A Spartanburg, SC work accident lawyer can represent victims who suffer hearing losses because of loud worksites and help them to make workers' compensation claims. The hearing problems and potential deafness may not be the only issue that workers on loud job sites face either, as a new study reported on in Canadian Occupation Safety suggested that both hearing loss and loud workplaces may increase the risk of all types of workplace accidents.

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April 16, 2014

Parking Lot Injuries and Workers' Compensation Claims


One of the more common areas for the occurrence of North Carolina work injuries are parking lots and parking decks.
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Employees traverse them every day, and yet our Greensboro workers' compensation lawyers know these sites seldom receive the same maintenance as the company's interior structure. This is especially true when the lots aren't open to the public. Employee parking lots are frequently the site of back-over accidents, slips, trips and other injuries.

It's been held by many courts and workers' compensation boards in numerous jurisdictions that employees injured in work parking lots are entitled to receive benefits. Of course, there are always exceptions, and a number of factors can play into the decision. These include elements such as lot ownership and maintenance, the on-the-clock status of the worker, whether work equipment was involved, etc. As the recent case of Hersh v. County of Morris reveals, these matters can be complicated. In fact, this case made it all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court before a conclusion was reached, indicating this was an issue for which both sides felt it worth a fight.

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April 13, 2014

Workers' Compensation for Employees in Transit


There are some Spartanburg workers' compensation claims in which establishing causation or employer liability is fairly simple. These are cases where the worker was clearly at the job site, on the clock and suffered injury in the midst of the work day.
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However, in situations where employees travel or are in between job sites, the question of whether an injury is compensable becomes more complex. Motor vehicle travel is one of the most dangerous modes of transportation, so it's unsurprising that we see so many disputed workers' compensation claims arising from these scenarios.

In the case of Carson v. State ex rel., Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div., the issue before the Wyoming Supreme Court was whether injury and death sustained in a car accident had occurred in the course of employment.

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April 10, 2014

Self-Inflicted Work Injuries Not Compensable Under South Carolina Law


For the most part, if you suffer a work-related injury in South Carolina or some illness that arises out of the course of your duties, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
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However, there are a few exceptions. One of those would be cases in which the injury was intentionally self-inflicted. That is, if you deliberately do harm to yourself while at work, your company may not have to pay you workers' compensation benefits.

It's important to note, though, that it is possible for an injury to be self-inflicted, but not intentional - and therefore compensable. In these cases, it all comes down to proving intent, and that can make the procedures a bit more complicated and bit more subjective than in other situations. This is where having an experienced Anderson workers' compensation lawyer can make a difference.

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April 7, 2014

Temporary Worker Protection A Growing Focus


Amid growing concern that legislators have failed temporary workers by allowing regulation of their well-being to slip through the cracks, lawmakers in California are taking action. factory2.jpg

According to a new report by ProPublica, the state may become one of the first in the country to hold company's legally responsible for safety and wage violations by subcontractors and temp agencies that supply them with a temporary work force.

Our Greensboro workers' compensation lawyers have grown increasingly concerned about the ballooning temporary workforce. Although these individuals are entitled to work injury compensation through the staffing agency or subcontractor, the fact is they suffer work ailments at a rate 50 percent higher than the average worker. (In some states, the rate has been noted as more than 70 percent higher).

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April 5, 2014

Poultry Industry Danger Highlighted at Congressional Hearing


In light of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposal to allow work-speed increases within the nation's poultry processing plants, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights heard testimony from work safety advocates asserting that such action would not only increase the risk of foodborne illness, but worker injuries as well.
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Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers know that North Carolina ranks No. 4 in the country's poultry processing industry, employing some 28,000 workers statewide and producing some 3.7 billion pounds of chicken. That represents more than 25 percent of our state's total agricultural take for the year.

And yet, workers in these plants frequently suffer serious injuries, though they are vastly under-reported. A 2013 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center called "Unsafe at These Speeds" focuses on Alabama's poultry industry, interviewing more than 300 workers and culling federal data from the Bureau of Labor and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Alabama ranks third in the nation for poultry production.

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April 3, 2014

Securing Medical Coverage for South Carolina Work Injuries


The effects of a Spartanburg work injury can linger or worsen even after an employee has returned to work. sorter.jpg

The worker may have been medically cleared to return to most of his or her regular duties, but that may not be the end of ongoing pain or a condition that becomes aggravated or grows worse with time.

Workers in these situations are entitled to seek compensation for their continued medical care, and missed time off work. This is true even if the worker is no longer employed at the company where the original injury occurred. In these instances, however, it's important for the workers' compensation lawyer representing you to establish that the current condition is directly related to the prior work injury.

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March 29, 2014

Employers Seek to Reduce Workers' Compensation Costs


Employees who have suffered a work injury in Charlotte need to know from the outset that your employer is more interested in mitigating his or her own costs than ensuring you receive the proper compensation. sparks.jpg

If you needed proof, just look to the recent article printed in Insurance Business America entitled, "InFocus: How agents can slash 20% to 50% from workers' comp costs."

The report indicates that a recent MarketScout study found that across the country, workers' compensation rates rose an average of 3 percent in February, indicating insurance carriers are raising their rates and reducing their offerings. The article outlines ways that employers can reduce their workers' compensation expenses.

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March 27, 2014

New Chemical Safety Provisions From OSHA Pending


Last year, 15 workers were killed in West Texas during an ammonium nitrate explosion. The incident spurred officials with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration to issue a new Process Safety Management standard per the President's Executive Order 13650. chemicals.jpg

The agency recently announced it would be extending the comment period for potential stakeholders before making final revisions and formalizing the measure.

Greensboro workers' compensation lawyers understand the new measure broadly seeks to improve chemical safety and security at all workplaces.

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March 25, 2014

Court: Workers' Comp Laws Bar Estate From Wrongful Death Case


The estate of a residential treatment counselor who worked at a mental health clinic will not be allowed to proceed with its wrongful death action against two administrators at the facility, according to a recent ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
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Although the ruling in Estate of Moulton v. Puopolo is technically only applicable in that state, our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers know that the reasoning is based on a legal principle that is relevant to North Carolina injured workers and their families.

The basis of the decision is this: Workers' compensation laws serve to act as an exclusive remedy to injuries that arise out of the course of employment. That means that eligible employers are usually immune from personal injury or wrongful death claims that result from workplace hazards. Personal injury actions and wrongful death claims resulting from work injuries must be filed against third parties other than the employer.

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March 24, 2014

OSHA Postpones Crane Operator Certification Requirements


Not long ago, three construction workers in Raleigh were injured while working on a project at North Carolina State University when they were struck by a steel beam dropped from a crane. crane.jpg

The incident is still under investigation, but word of the accident emerged around the same time that officials with the Occupational Health & Safety Association announced they would extend the deadline for crane operator training requirements - by three full years.

The new rules, which were supposed to go into effect this November, have been pushed back until November 2017. Once they do go into effect, anyone who operates a crane will have to be either certified by an approved organization or qualified by an audited employer program.

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March 22, 2014

Proof of Casual Relationship Required for Compensable Work Injuries


The lingering effects of a work-related injury can last a lifetime. If a worker has to undergo continuing treatment for that earlier injury, our Winston-Salem workers' compensation lawyers will fight to make sure that the new expenses are covered.
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It's important for workers in these situations tounderstand that proving correlation between current medical treatment and a previous work injury can be a complex matter. However, it's imperative that there be ample and continuing documentation proving that the two are connected. Otherwise, an administrative law judge could reject your claim.

That's what happened in the recent case of Bodily v. State ex rel. Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div., which was reviewed by the Wyoming Supreme Court.

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March 19, 2014

Old Work Injuries Can Factor Into Newer Injury Findings


Workers whose jobs have caused them to sustain repeated and worsening injuries should present a case to the North Carolina Industrial Commission that reflects the entire picture. Old work injuries can become factors in determining the extent to which a worker can be compensated for new injuries.

Our Greensboro workers' compensation lawyers know that employers will push back on these cases, arguing that each injury is separate and unrelated in the hopes of lessening their liability. However, an experienced attorney can help connect the dots for an administrative law judge by presenting documentation and medical expert testimony countering the employer's stance.

This is what happened recently in Mike Brooks, Inc. v. House, in which a workers' compensation claim made it all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Court records indicate an administrative law judge determined the worker had suffered permanent total disability as a result of multiple work-related injuries. A district court affirmed this ruling, but the appellate court reversed it. Then, the state supreme court later reversed the appellate finding, once again deciding in favor of the worker.

The employee in question had made a career as a commercial truck driver. The record reveals that in 2002, he was involved in a crash that resulted in injuries to his shoulder, neck and cheek bone. Two years later, he again injured his neck while attempting to push a large tire onto a rack. He filed a workers' compensation claim based on a finding of 26 percent industrial disability.

He returned to work after that, and in 2005, began working for the company that later became a party to his workers' compensation lawsuit. Two years after he started working for this firm, he slipped and fell in an icy parking lot while retrieving cargo from the back of his truck. The result of his fall was a serious back injury. He had to undergo surgery and physical therapy, though he was eventually allowed to return to work with significant restrictions. Later, he returned to work with no restrictions, though he was deemed to have a lingering disability rating of 5 percent.

His back pain continued for many months, with him disclosing to his supervisors that it was "tearing me up" and he was placed on pain medications. Several months later, as he pushed open a heavy door while at work, he felt an immediate burning in his back, as if he had been stabbed by a hot poker.

Doctors noted possible nerve damage. After ordering an MRI, his doctor advised him to stop working. Several surgeries were performed on the worker's back in order to fuse his spine.

By the following summer, he was given the green light to return to work, but with significant restrictions on bending, twisting and lifting. He was rated at 23 percent impairment. The worker never returned to work for that particular company.

He filed a petition for workers' compensation benefits, Two doctors testified at an administrative law hearing that his injury slipping and falling on the ice was a "substantial contributing factor" to all of the back problems for which he had been subsequently treated.

The administrative law judge agreed, finding that the worker had sustained permanent total disability and rejecting the employer's assertion that the later injury involving the heavy door was separate and distinct. He also rejected the employer's claim that the injuries he incurred while working for his previous employer were far more significant.

The administrative law judge's decision was upheld by the district court. However, the appellate court found that the testifying experts lacked critical information regarding the worker's older injuries.

The Iowa Supreme Court reversed, finding that the district court's ruling was "supported by substantial evidence when the record is viewed as a whole."


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