Trench collapse accidents put workers at high risk of injury and death.trench

Just last year in Columbia, you may recall a worker died at a construction site of new student housing, where the 31-year-old was buried 6 feet below ground level when a cave-in occurred. The man had been an employee with the city. A similar incident occurred on Fort Bragg a year before, when a civilian contractor was buried under 18 feet of dirt after a trench collapse. It was determined a rock or large clump of dirt knocked the wall loose.

Such tragedies of course aren’t unique to North Carolina and South Carolina. In March, a construction worker in Northeast Ohio was killed in a trench cave-in that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently deemed “preventable.”

According to a recent article by The Cleveland Plain Dealer, OSHA imposed a nearly $45,000 fine against the worker’s employer, citing the company for one repeated and five serious safety violations that played a role in causing the worker’s death. Continue reading

An injured worker will receive workers’ compensation benefits after the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the state industrial commissions decision to find credible the employee’s testimony that he hadn’t heard a supervisor give him a direct order not to touch a live wire near standing water. electriclightbulb

In Keaton v. ERMC III, the court noted that while it is true (per the 1982 decision in Hoyle v. Isenhour Brick & Tile Co.), that disobedience to a direct and specific order by a then-present supervisor will break the causal relation between employment and resulting injury, in this case, the plaintiff denied ever hearing the pertinent instruction from his boss. But because the full commission found credible the worker’s instruction that he didn’t hear this testimony, it stands to reason the worker could not disobey an order he never heard.

Therefore in this case, worker’s injuries are compensable.  Continue reading

Workers’ compensation in North Carolina is intended to cover certain expenses for all work-related injuries suffered by employees. However, if that employee has been drinking on the job, the employer can use this as a defense to argue the injury should not be covered. beerbottles

Per the 1984 North Carolina Appeals Court ruling in Anderson v. Century Data Sys., Inc., the employer has the burden to prove intoxication pursuant to statute. Being drunk on the job is an effective defense to workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina if:

  • Intoxication was not caused by alcohol/ substance provided by the employer or his supervisory agent;
  • He or she was under the influence of a controlled substance without a prescription;
  • He or she had willful intention to injure or kill himself/ herself or another.

Continue reading

Workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina are considered by the state industrial commission. A disagreement regarding a decision from a single commissioner will go before the full commission. A disagreement at that level can be appealed to the state appeals court and then, if necessary, to the state supreme court. gaveljan

But those appellate judges generally do not try to reweigh all the evidence. That’s the job of the commission, which has a great deal of discretion in deciding how much credibility to assign to which witnesses. The appeals courts are usually only concerned with whether the commission and/or lower courts abused discretion or misapplied the law. This same general schema is present in most state workers’ compensation systems.

In the recent case of IA Construction v. WCAB, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was asked whether the appeals court was wrong to reverse the industrial commission on the basis that it had given improper weight to one of employer’s expert witnesses.  Continue reading

The National Safety Council (NSC) has released a list of its top 7 workplace hazards.worker

Nothing on the list is particularly earth-shattering, but it all requires review, considering how many workers continue to be injured in accidents that are entirely preventable.

The NSC’s consultants travel the country year-round to conduct workplace safety audits for companies whose leaders want to ensure they are in compliance with not only the industry standards, but the law.  Continue reading

Workers’ compensation law in North Carolina allows for compensation of occupational injuries and diseases that are either caused or aggravated by work-related conditions. That can in some cases include psychological injury or claims of workplace stress.sad

Often, these are cases wherein the physical injury results in a psychological injury, such as depression. However, emotional trauma or “pure stress” claims can be recognized as well.

Still, most employers will fight hard against these type of claims. Any hope of prevailing will require the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.  Continue reading

A young landscaping worker was reportedly killed his very first day on the job recently in New York when he became entangled in a tree grinding machine, also known as a wood-chipper. The 23-year-old worker was pronounced dead at the scene of the horrific accident, which occurred shortly after 1 p.m. on a recent Wednesday. woodchipper

The awful accident sounded eerily familiar to our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers. That’s because in December, a 19-year-old in this state was killed after falling into a wood chipper on his very first day on the job in Kings Mountain. In that case, the teen reportedly tried to kick a tree limb inside and his closed got snagged. His boss, so distressed at the accident, suffered a heart attack on site. He had reportedly been working side-by-side with experienced employees, and his boss insists he had been assigned a task that was safe for beginners.

There is new research that now shows work-related injuries are more common among novice employees.  Continue reading

A series of high-profile road construction worker injuries and deaths underscores the need for motorists to use greater caution in construction zones.roadconstruction1

You may recall at the end of April when a 44-year-old woman was charged with drunk driving and two felony counts of serious injury by vehicle after slamming into two North Carolina Department of Transportation workers on Interstate 440. Both workers were severely injured, and one had to have both legs amputated after he became pinned between the driver’s car and his work truck.

But these are isolated incidents, and the problem stretches far beyond the Carolinas, particularly in the summer months, when roadway construction across the country picks up. Continue reading

Workplace deaths in the U.S. have inched upward for the first time since 2010, according to the finalized data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on 2014 death statistics. workersengineers

The preliminary count of workplace deaths that year was 4,679, but the final figure was higher: 4,821. That makes it the highest annual total since 2010. It also brings the fatal work injury rate in the U.S. to 3.4 work deaths per 100,000 full-time (or equivalent) workers. That’s up form the 3.3 fatal work injuries per 100,000 that was reported in 2013.

What these figures mean is that we have 13 work-related deaths every single day in the U.S. That is more than a dozen families who saw their loved one off at the start of their shift and never got to see them come home.  Continue reading

New figures from the National Safety Council (NSC) indicate 1 worker is injured every 7 seconds in the U.S. Each day, that adds up to 12,900 injured workers and 4.7 million every year. worker0

The report shows that younger workers and those who are new to the job are at the greatest risk of injury.

Another recent study, Travelers’ Insurance “Injury Impact Report” revealed more than 25 percent of all workplace injuries happen in the very first year of employment. The Travelers’ report analyzes five years worth of workers’ compensation claims – 1.5 million in all – in hopes of determining how and why workplace injuries in the U.S. occur. The study also wanted to look at how much they cost.  Continue reading

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