12
Jan 2022
By

Lone Worker Safety Critical For Avoiding Workplace Accidents

Workers’ comp lawyer explains how to stay safe on the job

Many jobs require employees to work alone. Among workplace safety experts, these workers are known as “lone workers.” Jobs that require employees to work alone can cover a wide range, including:

  • Overnight convenience store workers
  • Utility repair workers
  • Delivery truck drivers
  • Car repair mechanics
  • Warehouse workers
  • Late-night maintenance workers and cleaners

Unfortunately, workplace accidents often occur involving lone workers, according to a recent article from the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health website.

In order to avoid such accidents, more needs to be done to educate workers and employers about the risks lone workers face on the job. When lone workers are hurt on the job, they are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

What is a lone worker?

As the name suggests, a lone worker is any worker who works alone. This includes employees who work in remote settings or work nontraditional working hours. However, safety consultants interviewed by Safety + Health noted that a lone worker can be anyone who works in a situation where they are alone all or most of the time, even if they’re working in a factory or another workplace situation where there is more than one employee in the same building.

“The way we categorize a lone worker is if we have workers who can’t be heard or seen by another individual during the course of work,” Dave Nickel, a senior consultant and health and safety director for ERM, in an interview with Safety + Health. “They aren’t anticipated to be visited by someone throughout the course of a day. Nobody is visiting or dropping off supplies.”

What are common causes of lone worker accidents?

Work-related accidents involving lone workers happen for many different reasons. Some of the common causes of workplace injuries involving lone workers include:

  • Work-related accidents due to severe weather conditions, including high winds, lightning, flooding, avalanches, or dangerously cold temperatures.
  • Burn injuries due to fires or electrocution.
  • Slip and fall accidents.
  • Work-related traffic accidents.
  • Being physically assaulted by a stranger.

Whatever the circumstances, employers must take steps to protect workers’ safety and well-being. Otherwise, employees can sustain serious injuries on the job.

What can employers do to prevent accidents?

There are many steps employers can take to protect the safety of lone workers. Different suggestions highlighted in the Safety + Health article about lone workers include:

  • Having specific practices and safety procedures in place to protect lone workers.
  • Establishing a formal means of communication between lone workers and other employees or supervisors.
  • Having pre-determined check-in times for lone workers. That way, if lone workers do not check in, employers will be alerted so they can follow up to make sure they’re safe.
  • Not allowing lone workers to work alone or work at all if hazardous conditions exist, including hazardous weather conditions that may arise or which are forecasted during the employee’s shift.
  • Clearly explaining potential hazards to lone workers.
  • Providing safety training to lone workers specifically designed to address possible hazardous situations, including forest fires, wild animals or falling from a height.

Employers need to be prepared and anticipate possible risks lone workers might face on the job. If not, serious injuries or work-related accidents can easily occur.

What options are available to injured workers?

If you or a loved one was hurt while working alone, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, actually obtaining such financial compensation can be harder than many people might realize.

Many times, an employer’s insurance company will deny an application for worker’s compensation benefits. Sometimes, it’s because companies insist that the injury happened outside of work. Or they might try to claim that the injured worker has a pre-existing medical condition rather than a new work injury. When there are no witnesses to the accident — which is usually the case when a lone worker is injured — there is more room for the insurance company to dispute, delay and deny.

Whatever the circumstances of your particular case, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help. We have decades of experience handling worker’s compensation claims in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As a result, we know how to help workers apply for such benefits and how to demand the money they rightfully deserve.

Get the law firm that gets results. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a Rhode Island workers’ compensation lawyer at one of our three office locations. We handle workers’ compensation claims throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

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12
Jan 2022
By

Fatal Workplace Accidents At Lowest Level In 7 Years, Study Reports

Workplace accidents can result in on-the-job fatalities.

Workers’ compensation lawyer explains recent trend, why fatalities are down

Following one of the deadliest years for workplace accidents, the number of workplace fatalities nationwide in 2020 declined to its lowest level since 2013, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

A total of 4,764 people died due to on-the-job injuries nationwide in 2020, according to an article published on the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health website. That’s a decrease of 10.7 percent compared to 2019, when a record 5,333 died due to work-related accidents.

However, not all the numbers for 2020 were encouraging. That year, a total of 44 healthcare support workers died due to work-related injuries or illnesses, an increase of 15.8 percent compared to 2019, according to the BLS.

Why are workplace fatalities lower?

Many different types of workers and industries experienced significant decreases in workplace fatalities in 2020. Workplace fatalities among black workers decreased by 14.7 percent in 2020 to 541 deaths. Transportation-related fatalities fell by 16.2 percent to 1,778 deaths the same year. Worker suicides also decreased in 2020 by 15.6 percent to 259 deaths, according to the BLS.

Such figures seem encouraging, but workplace safety officials warned that the decrease in workplace fatalities in 2020 was likely due to fewer people working due to the ongoing pandemic. “Fewer people were in direct contact with preventable hazards,” Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, said in an interview with CNBC. In other words, this isn’t necessarily indicative of safer workplaces, just workplaces that temporarily had fewer people working in them.

Why do fatal workplace accidents happen?

Work-related fatalities happen for many different reasons. The four most common reasons are often referred to as the “fatal four,” especially when referring to construction fatalities. The fatal four are:

  • Falling from a height (33.5 percent of construction fatalities, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA))
  • Struck by object (11.1 percent of construction fatalities)
  • Electrocution (8.5 percent of construction fatalities)
  • Caught between objects (5.5 percent of construction fatalities)

In addition, work-related traffic fatalities account for 21.7 percent of all workplace fatalities, including 1,038 deaths in 2020. Slip, trip and fall accidents also account for many workplace fatalities, including 805 deaths in 2020, according to BLS.

What legal options are available to families?

If a loved one died on the job, family members may be eligible for financial compensation. Workers’ compensation pays death benefits for on-the-job fatalities. In addition, if your loved one’s death was the result of third-party negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.

The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help your family navigate this complex legal process. Our law firm has years of experience fighting for the rights of injured workers and their families in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We’re familiar with the state and federal labor laws in both states. We know how the legal system works. That’s why we have such a strong track record of success in cases involving workplace fatalities.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation lawyer you can trust to fight for your family’s rights. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workers’ compensation claims and wrongful death cases in both states.

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15
Dec 2021
By

Preventing Work Injuries in Manufacturing with Ergonomics

An industrial safety topic. A young male factory worker using a proper lifting technique

Workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island can sustain painful and debilitating injuries, especially those who work in manufacturing. Through the use of ergonomics, employers can help create a safe work environment while reducing the injury rate among their employees.

Ergonomic Danger Signs

Ergonomic-related repetitive-stress injuries can cover a wide range. Some examples of injury-causing postures and movements that are common among those who work in manufacturing include:

  • Arms above the head: This can create several issues, including muscle spasms, shoulder strains, and shoulder inflammation.
  • Twisting back: Any movement beyond 35 degrees of rotation can cause muscle strains, disc herniation, or bone spurs.
  • Forward bending: The simple task of bending down to pick something up can cause pressure and stress on the lumbar spine and back musculature.
  • Non-neutral wrists: Bending wrists decreases grip strength and can cause issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Frequent kneeling and squatting: Can lead to osteoarthritis or bursitis in the knees.

Ergonomic Corrective Actions

The risks associated with repetitive motion tasks are pretty straightforward. So are some of the solutions, according to EHS Today, a monthly occupational safety and health magazine:

  • Arms above the head: Lower tasks through engineering or equipment that will accommodate working in the employee’s power zone (between mid-thigh and mid-chest height), where the worker can lift the most weight with the least amount of effort.
  • Twisting back: Redesign the work area to best accommodate the task or train employees to turn their whole body instead of just their upper torso when moving materials.
  • Forward bending: Lower workstations, utilize equipment, or change/redesign tools.
  • Non-neutral wrists: Redesign of work area, as well as education and additional training for workers.
  • Frequent kneeling and squatting: Identify tasks that pose a risk, redesign the work area to raise it up (if possible), and fit employees with knee pads.

Employers should be proactive about ergonomics in the workplace and collaborate with their employees to identify and address health-related issues. They should also establish safety training programs to minimize the risk of injuries.

Pursuing Workers’ Comp Benefits

Injured workers have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits, but the process of obtaining them isn’t always as easy as it should be. Often, those who suffer an on-the-job injury have trouble navigating the system and don’t end up with the benefits they deserve.

At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we provide individual attention to injured workers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We know how the workers’ compensation system works, and we can guide you throughout every step in the process. Whether you’re not sure how to file for workers’ comp benefits or you need to appeal a denied claim, our law firm can aggressively advocate for your best interests and work to get the best possible outcome in your case.

If you sustained a workplace injury, schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer from our law firm to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options.

Our law firm has been fighting for injured workers in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts for decades.

Contact us today to see how we can help you.

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13
Dec 2021
By

Rhode Island Contractors Cited For Endangering Workers

construction trench collapse

Some construction work involves digging deep trenches to pour a foundation, install a sewer line, bury electrical conduit or lay down pipes. Employers are required to take specific safety precautions. When they don’t, there can be a construction accident that leaves workers seriously injured.

For example, the sidewalls of a trench need to be protected. If they aren’t, the trench can collapse and workers can be buried in soil and debris within seconds.

An OSHA inspection at a Warwick sewer installation site on July 8, 2021, found that area contractors had failed to follow federal standards for protecting the safety of workers digging trenches.

Violations found at work site

The inspectors determined that workers of Reyes Landscaping Inc. had been working in a five- to eight-foot deep trench without any protection against a cave-in. The contractor had also allowed soil to pile up at the trench’s edge, and some materials were falling back into the trench.

Reyes Landscaping Inc. does business as Reyes Landscaping & Masonry in Johnston and TRD Contracting LLC in Greenville.

Several hazards were identified, including:

  • The trench had not been inspected by a competent person before work started.
  • Employees did not have helmets.
  • The ladder used to enter and exit the trench was inadequate.
  • Objects were being lifted using an uninspected and unlabeled steel alloy chain.

OSHA returned to the site on July 13 but found that the hazards had not been corrected. Workers were still being exposed to the risk of cave-in and struck-by accidents as they worked in a trench that was now 9 feet, 6 inches deep.

Reyes Landscaping was cited for two willful and five serious violations, and the agency proposed $63,586 in penalties. TRD Contracting was cited for four serious violations, and the agency proposed $11,704 in penalties.

Fighting for injured workers

“An unprotected trench can be an early grave. While no collapse occurred in Warwick, the danger to these workers was real and imminent,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Sestito in Providence. He noted that a cubic yard of soil can weigh “as much as a small car.”

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 24 deaths caused by trench collapses in the construction industry in 2019.

Construction workers can be seriously injured in workplace accidents. Workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to pay for medical expenses and provide partial wages to help injured workers get by. But the process can be complicated. Claims can be disputed by employers and insurance carriers and are often denied. In some cases, a third-party injury claim is also needed for the injured worker to recover full compensation for their losses.

That’s why it’s important to have an experienced Rhode Island workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl has been fighting for injured workers for decades. Our workplace injury attorneys know the laws and how the workers’ compensation system works. We build strong cases for compensation and fight for our clients through every step of the process.

We know that an injury from a workplace accident can affect you physically, emotionally, and financially. If you’ve been hurt on the job in Rhode Island or Southeastern Massachusetts,  learn more about how we can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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29
Nov 2021
By

OSHA Focuses On Tree Work, Landscaping Industry Enforcement

Cutting a hedge with a hedge trimmer motor.

Some of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. involve tree care and landscaping. Threats of electrical accidents, getting “hit by an object,” and falls from height are everyday hazards of the industry.

The fatal injury rate for loggers, for example, is 30-times the rate for all U.S. workers, according to a recent study.

In an effort to protect workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched an enforcement program targeted at the tree-care and landscaping industry. From now through much of 2026, OSHA will increase safety investigations in these sectors.

In New England, there are about 5 tree and landscape industry worker deaths per year and many more serious injuries. Over the last 5 years, New England tree and landscaping industry deaths were due to workers being struck by trees, falling out of a tree, coming in contact with an electrical wire, or getting hit by a vehicle in a work zone. Almost half of the deaths happened in Massachusetts.

Workers most at risk

Many tree care and landscaping work-related fatalities are due to poor safety standards, OSHA says. When a person dies on the job, OSHA typically investigates the incident. If necessary, OSHA will assess fines and penalties. Among the New England deaths, OSHA says many of the fatally injured workers were not wearing protective clothing or using protective equipment.

Incidents were most likely to happen while employees were performing:

  • Tree removal
  • Tree trimming
  • Line-clearance tree-trimming
  • Working with a chipper
  • Tree felling
  • Loading and unloading trucks and trailers

Workers who are most exposed to these dangers include landscape construction, tree care services, lawn and cemetery care, right of way maintenance, seasonal property maintenance (such as snow removal), and weed control (except crops).

OSHA’s targeted program, also known as a Regional Emphasis Program or REP, instructs safety inspectors to keep an eye out for real-time practices that ignore safety standards. If such activities are observed, the agent can apply for quick supervisory approval to inspect the worksite. The result is often requirements and suggestions for safety improvements as well as the assessment of fees for alleged violations.

Common tree worker injuries

Fatal tree and landscaping accidents are a serious problem, but so too are the number of bad injuries affecting industry workers. Among the most common types of injuries affecting sector employees are:

  • Cuts and amputations
  • Overextension of muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons
  • Brain damage and traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
  • Neck, head, and spine injuries
  • Sprains and bone fractures
  • Hand and foot injuries

Among those most at risk of serious and fatal injuries are young and inexperienced workers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About half of all serious injuries in these sectors are suffered by workers ages 34 and younger. The smallest companies have the highest risk for employee injuries within the first 90 days of work.

Legal help is available

The risks tree care and landscaping workers face during a single shift are steep but significantly reduced when employers follow safety regulations. If you were recently injured or a loved one died in a work accident, you can schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to go over your legal rights and options.

For decades, our law firm has been fighting for injured workers in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. We pride ourselves on being compassionate and respectful to every client. And we put our experience to work for you to get the results you deserve.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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29
Nov 2021
By

Electrocutions Remain Major Cause Of Construction Site Injuries

Construction worker uses electric welder at work site.

A construction accident attorney discusses the dangers

Many gains have been made in making construction worksites safer for all, but fatalities and serious injuries due to electrocution remain an issue.

More than half of all workplace electrocutions reported each year take place at a construction site, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Causes of construction worker electrocutions

In New England, there are about five electrocution-related deaths per year and many more serious injuries. The most common causes of worker electrical injuries include:

  • Contact with power lines
  • Lack of ground-fault protection
  • Path to ground missing or discontinuous
  • Equipment not used in the manner prescribed
  • Improper use of extension and flexible cords

Misused equipment is a contributing factor in a lot of electrocution injuries at work. These situations include things like:

  • Using multi-receptacle boxes designed to be mounted by fitting them with a power cord and placing them on the floor
  • Using equipment outdoors that is labeled for use only in dry, indoor locations
  • Using circuit breakers or fuses with the wrong rating for over-current protection, like using a 30-amp breaker in a system with 15-20 amp capabilities
  • Using modified cords or tools like those that have removed ground prongs, faceplates, or insulation

Your right to a safe work environment

In the U.S., all employees have a right to a safe work environment for their chosen field. This means that a safe work environment for an office worker has different standards than those on a construction job site.

When working with electricity and around high voltage, your employer owes you a degree of safety as defined by federal and state law. In one year, the electrical contractor and wiring installer industry was assessed $1.4 million in penalties, according to OSHA.

Standards most frequently ignored in this industry usually involve:

  • Aerial lifts
  • Ladders
  • Lack of safety training and education
  • Stairways
  • Respiratory protection
  • Lack of fall protection
  • Unavailable, inadequate, or damaged personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Lockout and tagging of circuits
  • Hazard communication
  • Vehicle-mounted elevating and rotating work platforms

Fight for the compensation you deserve

Work injuries can be serious and life-altering incidents. Especially in instances of electrocution, recovery is often a long and expensive process. Workers’ compensation benefits are meant to help you through this time and cover your medical costs, but the process of obtaining benefits is often complex.

Navigating the workers’ comp system can be a challenge, and if you’re not careful, you could miss out on the benefits you’re entitled to. Depending on the details of your electrical accident, you may also be able to pursue compensation from a liable third party.

If you were seriously hurt or a loved one died in an accident at work, you can learn your legal rights and options by scheduling a free case evaluation with an experienced construction accident lawyer.

With three locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, our law firm has extensive experience helping injured workers recover the compensation they need and deserve.

To find out what we can do for you, contact us today.

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15
Oct 2021
By

Work-Related Hearing Loss Is a Serious Work Injury

Construction Worker wearing personal protective hearing protection in a high noise area.

A workers’ comp lawyer serving MA & RI explains

Hearing loss injuries sustained on the job can have serious consequences. Once you lose your hearing, you cannot get it back. Whether your hearing loss happens slowly over time or due to a single, sudden event, losing your hearing at work is a serious medical condition that affects millions of workers throughout the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is promoting National Protect Your Hearing Month this October.

In many cases, people who suffer hearing loss at work are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. But actually getting such financial compensation and other benefits can often be challenging for many different reasons. That’s why it’s important to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who understands how the legal system works in your specific state.

How common is work-related hearing loss?

Work-related hearing loss injuries are some of the most common work injuries nationwide, according to the CDC. Specifically, hearing loss is the third-most common chronic physical condition among adults nationwide. The two most common physical health problems that affect adults are hypertension and arthritis.

An estimated 12 percent of workers nationwide have difficulty hearing, according to the CDC. This includes 8 percent of workers who have tinnitus (commonly described as a ringing in the ears) and 4 percent of workers who have difficulty hearing and tinnitus.

Among workers who have difficulty hearing, 24 percent sustained their hearing loss due to work-related conditions known as occupational exposure. That’s because millions of workers each year are exposed to dangerously loud noise levels and other hazardous work conditions.

Frequent causes of hearing loss at work

There are two common causes of work-related hearing loss injuries – loud noises and hazardous chemicals. This is why employers should provide workers with hearing protection, including earplugs and protective headphones.

Each year, an estimated 22 million workers nationwide are exposed to hazardous noise levels on the job, according to the CDC. Noise is considered hazardous if it is above 85 decibels or if someone has to raise their voice to speak with someone 3 feet away or less.

As for hazardous chemicals, more than 30 million workers are exposed to chemicals considered harmful to the ear or a person’s hearing. Such chemicals are considered ototoxic or poisonous to the ear. Ototoxic chemicals include:

  • Chemical solvents, including styrene, toluene, and trichloroethylene
  • Lead, mercury, and other metals and compounds, including organic tin
  • Asphyxiants, including hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide
  • Nitriles, including acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile
  • Antineoplastic agents and other pharmaceuticals

Which workers are the most at risk?

Certain professions face a higher risk of sustaining hearing loss at work, including those who work in:

  • Construction
  • Factories
  • Assembly lines
  • Airline maintenance
  • Sheet metal work

Whatever type of work you perform, if you believe you sustained a loss of hearing while on the job, make sure you take steps right away to protect your health and your rights as an injured worker.

What should I do if I’m suffering from hearing loss due to work?

If you believe your hearing loss injury is work-related, make sure you take the following steps right away:

  • Tell your supervisor at work you are experiencing hearing loss and you believe your injury is work-related.
  • Seek medical attention right away. Tell the doctor you are having trouble hearing and ask them to examine you and run diagnostic hearing loss tests, including an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test or a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test. It’s important to have documentation of your work-related hearing loss.
  • Ask your doctor for written copies of all medical records related to your hearing loss.
  • Talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

The sooner you can talk to an attorney, the better you can understand the legal options available to you.

A workers’ comp attorney can fight for the benefits you deserve

Even though hearing loss injuries are among the most common types of workers’ compensation claims, that doesn’t mean you’ll have an easy time getting the benefits you need for your injury. Many employers and insurance companies deny these types of workers’ comp claims, insisting that the hearing loss injury occurred outside of work.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options and to better understand your rights. The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you every step of the way. We have years of experience helping injured workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island demand the support they deserve. As your attorney, we can investigate your claim and help you apply for workers’ compensation benefits. That way, you can get the support you need and deserve for your hearing loss.

Learn more about how we can help you. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation attorney who will make sure your concerns are heard loud and clear. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workers’ compensation claims in both states.

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15
Oct 2021
By

Despite Aches and Pains, Many Remote Employees Didn’t Seek Workers’ Comp Benefits in 2020

Photo of a young woman sitting at her desktop computer, doing computer programming in her home office

Find out why from a workers’ comp attorney

Workers’ compensation claims declined overall during the pandemic last year despite remote employees experiencing more aches and pains, according to news reports about the issue, including one published by The Hartford Courant.

Even though more employees said they were getting hurt while working from home, insurance companies did not receive more workers’ compensation claims from remote workers for occupational injuries last year.

Instead, many companies took preventative steps designed to reduce aches and pains for remote workers, according to officials from Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. interviewed by The Hartford Courant. During the past 18 months, requests from businesses seeking services designed to prevent work-from-home injuries increased by 200 percent.

Despite complaints, claims didn’t increase

Overall, workers’ comp claims declined by 9.8 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, according to statistics compiled by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) as reported by the Insurance Information Institute (III). Last year, $42,500,412 worth of net premiums for workers’ compensation claims were issued compared to $47,142,191 in 2019.

Insurance companies expected an increase in claims last year from remote workers based on more complaints about aches and pains from people working from home. But such complaints did not result in more workers’ comp claims from remote workers, according to Mary Nasenbenny, chief claims officer at Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.

“They’re not going to HR to report things,” said Vivienne Fleischer, co-founder and president of Performance Based Ergonomics, in an interview with The Hartford Courant. “They might say I need support. My back hurts. I need a new chair.”

Common work-from-home injuries

Many workers last year had similar complaints about injuries or aches and pains due to working remotely at home. According to Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., some of the most common complaints they received from employers about remote workers involved:

  • Lower back pain due to poor ergonomic seating or improper chair height.
  • Neck pain due to improper keyboard height.
  • Eye strain due to staring at computer screens all day.
  • Shoulder pain or upper back pain.
  • Ear fatigue or hearing-related problems due to the use of earbuds.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome and other muscle strain injuries due to chronic overuse.

What should I do if I have a work-from-home injury?

If you believe you have sustained an injury while working remotely, take the following steps right away to protect your health and your rights:

  • Tell your employer you are suffering from aches, pains, or another medical condition due to your work.
  • If your medical issue is ergonomically related, ask for a more ergonomic desk, chair, keyboard, or other improvements designed to prevent or alleviate work-related aches or pains. Many employers will conduct an ergonomic assessment to determine if your workspace is ergonomically correct.
  • Seek medical attention right away and have a doctor thoroughly examine you. Don’t try to diagnose your work-related injury yourself. Have a licensed medical professional conduct the necessary tests to determine exactly what’s wrong with you.
  • Ask for copies of your medical records related to your work-related injury.
  • Keep a diary or journal documenting exactly when and where on your body you’re experiencing pain or discomfort.
  • Talk to a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

Injured remote workers have the right to seek benefits

If you were injured while working from home, you have the right to pursue workers’ comp benefits—but claims involving remote workers often turn complicated. Your employer or your employer’s insurance company might claim that your injury was not work-related. As a result, they might deny your claim for workers’ compensation benefits even though your injuries were sustained within the scope of your work.

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we understand what you’re going through. That’s why we want to help. We have years of experience handling workers’ comp claims in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and we know how to help our clients navigate the system to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workers’ comp claims for clients in both states.

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22
Sep 2021
By

New Construction Companies Have More Workers’ Comp Claims, Study Finds

Construction worker has an accident while working on new house. The worker is lying on the ground with his yellow hard hat in the foreground

A construction accident lawyer reveals what you should know

Employees who work for newer construction companies file the most construction accident workers’ comp claims, according to a new study conducted by AmTrust Financial Services Inc., an insurance company that handles claims filed by injured construction workers.

In a recent article published by Business Insurance, the insurance company’s contractor risk report found that employees who work for construction contractors that have been in business for less than four years make up 75 percent of all workers’ compensation claims paid to injured construction workers.

What construction workers are the most at risk?

AmTrust Financial Services’ report was based on an in-depth analysis of 26,000 workers’ compensation claims filed within the past 10 years, according to Business Insurance. The report also identified which workers are most at risk and what types of injuries they sustained the most. Researchers concluded that the following workers are most at risk of sustaining an injury in a construction accident:

  • Construction workers with less than one year of experience made up 33 percent of all workers’ compensation claims.
  • Construction workers with one to two years of experience made up 16 percent of all claims.
  • Plumbers file 28 percent of all workers’ compensation claims.
  • Electricians file 19 percent of workers’ compensation claims.
  • August was the month in which the most claims were filed (construction work is often seasonal and takes place during the warmer months)

These are just some of the workers who face the highest risk of sustaining an injury or illness that requires medical care, time off from work, and other treatment often associated with workers’ compensation claims. Even so, all construction workers face a high risk of sustaining a serious workplace injury. That’s why workplace safety is so important on job sites.

Construction accident statistics

Certain types of construction accidents often result in workers’ compensation claims. According to the AmTrust Financial Services’ report, the most common injury claims among construction workers involve:

  • Slip, trip, or fall accidents – Specifically, lost workdays due to slip and fall injuries were 67 percent greater than the median for all injuries, at 21 days away from work.
  • Lifting strains – The most common construction accident injury at 11 missed workdays.
  • Burn injuries – The second-highest median days out from work at 19 missed workdays.

Many other injuries frequently result in days away from work to rest, recover and receive medical care. When this happens, it’s critical that injured construction workers get the support they need and deserve to fully recover. That’s why it’s important to fully understand your legal rights.

Talk to a construction accident attorney today

Construction accidents might seem like straightforward workers’ compensation claims. Unfortunately, these claims can quickly turn into complex legal cases. Don’t be surprised if your injury claim is rejected by your employer’s insurance for any number of reasons. That’s because insurance companies will look for any excuse to reduce or deny your claim, whether they say you have a pre-existing medical condition or that you got hurt outside of work.

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we know how to handle complex legal cases. We have years of experience handling injury claims for construction workers throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As your attorney, we can get straight to work on your case, including helping you pursue a third-party claim for damages, if applicable.

Discover what we can do you and contact us right away to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. We understand how the legal system works when it comes to construction accidents and can work with you to build the strongest possible legal case. Schedule an appointment today. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and we handle construction claims in both states.

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15
Sep 2021
By

Hospital Workers Face Higher Risk of Injuries & Illnesses

Tired depressed female scrub nurse wears face mask blue uniform gloves sits on hospital floor.

An experienced workers’ comp lawyer explains

Nurses, doctors, surgeons, occupational therapists, medical technicians, and other healthcare professionals working in hospitals face a significantly higher risk of sustaining an injury or illness on the job compared to other professions, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency responsible for enforcing workplace safety and health standards nationwide.

According to the most recent OSHA workplace injury and illness statistics, hospitals nationwide reported 221,400 work-related injuries and illnesses in 2019. Such work-related illnesses and injuries amounted to 5.5 incidents for every 100 full-time hospital employees. That incident rate is almost twice as much as the injury and illness rate for all private industries nationwide, making hospitals “one of the most hazardous places to work,” according to OSHA.

Many work-related injuries and illnesses are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, obtaining these benefits can often be challenging. This is why it’s important for sick or injured hospital professionals to better understand the issue and their legal rights.

Common hospital worker injuries

Injuries sustained in hospitals by employees working there can cover a wide range. Common injuries among nursing aides, orderlies, medical assistants, paramedics, and other hospital professionals include:

  • Broken bones due to slip and fall accidents, being crushed by an object, falling from a height or blunt force trauma.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) due to hazardous or dangerous working conditions. MSDs often involve injuries to the muscles, nerves, joints or tendons due to repetitive work involving muscle strains and sprains, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. This is why an MSD is often referred to as a repetitive motion injury, overuse injury, or repetitive stress injury.
  • Back injuries, especially lower back injuries, due to overuse or as a result of a single incident. Such injuries can range from chronic lower back pain to a herniated disc, which is also known as a bulging disc.
  • Head injuries, including concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). These injuries are often sustained in slip and fall accidents or due to physical assaults by patients, co-workers, or the general public.
  • Strained or sprained muscles, either due to overuse over time or a single, direct blow to the muscle. Either way, hospital workers and other healthcare professionals face a high risk of sustaining such injuries.
  • Cuts and lacerations, including deep skin cuts to subcutaneous tissue, the innermost layer of skin. These types of cuts often require stitches, staples, or sometimes even surgery.

These are just some of the injuries hospital professionals regularly sustain on the job. There are many other types of injuries that can be just as serious and which require immediate medical attention.

Common hospital worker illnesses

Unlike many other professions, hospital workers face a high risk of contracting an illness on the job. Common illnesses sustained by hospital professionals include:

  • Healthcare-acquired infection (HAI), which is an infection acquired in a hospital or another healthcare setting, including an acute care hospital, skilled nursing care facility or emergency room. Infections include pneumonia, gastrointestinal illness, urinary tract infections and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), otherwise known as a staph infection.
  • Sepsis, which is an illness in response to a severe infection. If not treated immediately, sepsis can be life-threatening.
  • Airborne diseases such as measles, influenza (flu), and whooping cough (Pertussis). Hospital workers often contract such diseases due to coming into close contact with infected patients.
  • Viruses such as the coronavirus, which can cause diseases such as COVID-19, due to exposure to patients and other people in the hospital with such diseases.

These are just some of the illnesses hospital professionals face every day on the job. This is why it’s important that hospitals take precautions to prevent worker illnesses or injuries.

Keeping hospitals safe and clean

There are many preventative steps hospitals can take in an effort to prevent workers from sustaining a serious injury or illness on the job, including:

  • Maintaining sanitary conditions in the hospital.
  • Hospitals providing workers with safety equipment and proper safety training.
  • Providing employees with ergonomic equipment designed to prevent repetitive stress injuries.
  • Providing workers with break times during their shift, especially if the job is physically demanding.
  • Hiring security personnel to protect hospital workers from harm.

These are just some of the steps hospitals can and should take to protect workers’ health and safety. Unfortunately, some hospitals do not take all of these preventative measures, resulting in a serious workplace injury or illness. When that happens, it’s important that hospital workers understand their legal rights.

A workers’ comp attorney can help

If you sustain an injury or illness while working in a hospital, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits and other benefits designed to help with your medical care and recovery. Unfortunately, obtaining workers’ comp benefits can sometimes be very difficult. This is why it’s important to talk with an attorney right away if you get hurt or sick while working in a hospital.

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we have years of experience helping hospital workers and other employees throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As a result, we’re familiar with the state and federal rules and regulations that apply to healthcare workers and workplace safety. As your attorney, we can thoroughly investigate your claim and serve as a strong legal advocate, every step of the way.

Learn more about how we can help you and contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. We have three office locations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workplace injury claims in both states.

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