23
May 2024
By

Survey Highlights PPE Challenges for Women in Construction

A young woman worker wearing a protective helmet and safety gear on a construction site.

When PPE doesn’t fit right, it can do more harm than good. For women working in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, ill-fitting PPE is a common workplace hazard—especially on construction sites.

Ill-fitting safety equipment can do more harm than good

PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, encompasses any specialized gear or attire utilized to safeguard individuals from potential hazards or risks in various environments. Examples of PPE include:

  • Safety boots and shoes.
  • Hard hats.
  • Safety gloves.
  • High-visibility clothing.
  • Eye and ear protection.
  • Aprons, trousers, and life jackets.
  • Respirators.

In a recent survey of 100 women in construction, industry executives, and construction owners, almost 70 percent said that gender-friendly safety equipment is not available at construction sites. In addition, 85 percent said there is no maternity-friendly PPE at work sites. The survey highlights the pressing need to mitigate the heightened risk of injury faced by women in the construction industry.

Understanding the PPE gender gap

When the right PPE is not available to women, not only does it undermine their safety but also their comfort and productivity on the job. Improper PPE can cause injuries affecting women, such as:

  • Respiratory-related injuries and disabilities.
  • Overexertion, sprains, and strains.
  • Wounds and bruises.
  • Bone fractures.
  • Eye injuries.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis.
  • Burns.
  • Respiratory system diseases.
  • Skin disorders.

However, knowing the extent of the PPE problem or risk is difficult. Occasional studies shine a light on the issue. For example, one study found that women in the workplace report experiencing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as neck and shoulder pain at a rate twice as high as men. Researchers said the disparity may stem from tasks requiring women to exert more muscle effort than men or ill-fitting PPE designed primarily for men.

A study from 1996 found that women in construction labor are twice as likely as men to be fatally injured in a motor vehicle accident. Across all industries, exposure, and events that were more likely to injure women than men included overexertion in lifting and repetitive motions, falls, and exposure to harmful substances.

We fight for injured women workers’ rights

With very few exceptions – and regardless of PPE availability – women injured on the job are entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and possibly more. Workers’ compensation and personal injury laws generally apply to all employees regardless of gender. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the process typically involves reporting the injury to the employer, seeking medical treatment, and filing a claim with the relevant workers’ compensation board or agency.

However, just as women encounter discrepancies in PPE, they can also be subject to injustices in pursuing injury compensation. We can help level the playing field. At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, our workers’ compensation lawyers and work injury attorneys understand that your workplace injuries are serious and deserve maximum compensation.

If you were injured on the job at a Massachusetts or Rhode Island construction site or another type of workplace, contact us for a free case evaluation. We can explain your options for seeking lost wages and medical expenses and whether there is potential for Social Security Disability benefits and/or an injury claim or lawsuit against a third party like a subcontractor, defective parts manufacturer, or negligent driver. Contact us today so we can listen to what happened, hear what kind of injuries you’ve sustained, and explain how workers’ compensation attorney can help.

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23
May 2024
By

Can You Get Workers’ Comp for an Injured Hand?

Manufacturing worker holds hand in pain while a co-worker comes to his assistance.

The use of your hands is crucial in performing daily job duties. Hand injuries account for a large number of upper-limb workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims. Beyond physical pain, they impair work and daily activities and can cause financial and personal distress.

Common causes of work-related hand injuries

Hand injuries can vary widely in type and severity. While an injured hand can happen in any industry, construction workers, factory workers, welders, mechanics, and healthcare professionals are the most at risk. Here are some common types of hand injuries:
  • Broken hands from falls or direct blows to the hand.
  • Crush injuries due to hands being caught or compressed by heavy machinery.
  • Hard arm vibration syndrome caused by prolonged use of vibrating tools, leading to numbness, pain, and muscle weakness.
  • Nerve damage from repetitive movements or direct trauma.
  • Burns from contact with hot surfaces, chemicals, or electricity.
  • Sprains and strains that affect the tendons and ligaments, often due to overuse or trauma.

Can I claim for an injured hand at work?

You may be entitled to compensation when you suffer an injured hand at work. However, your hand injury must have happened within the scope of your employment. For example, it could have happened on a job site or while traveling as part of your job.

Understanding how to determine eligibility and what kind of proof you need is crucial for a successful claim. Proving that your hand injury is work-related is a key step in securing compensation. This involves compiling convincing medical evidence, gathering witness statements, and obtaining accident reports.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Inform your employer that you suffered an injured hand on the job. Get a copy of the incident report as proof that the hand injury is job-related.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene where you sustained your hand injury and get contact information of nearby witnesses.
  • See a doctor as soon as possible and let them know that your hand injury happened at work. Also, get a copy of your medical diagnosis to link your injury to your job.
  • Keep all medical bills, receipts, prescriptions, and appointment logs.
  • File your claim with the Massachusetts or Rhode Island workers’ comp board. Your application must be accurate and complete. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you with this process.
  • Get help from a lawyer knowledgeable in Massachusetts and Rhode Island workers’ comp law.

How much compensation will I get for a hand injury at work?

If you sustained a hand injury on the job, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical expenses: Coverage for hospital and medical bills related to your hand injury, including surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost wages: Compensation for a portion of the wages lost due to your inability to work during recovery.
  • Disability benefits: Payments for temporary or permanent disability, depending on the severity of your hand injury and its impact on your ability to work.
  • Rehabilitation costs: Coverage for physical therapy and vocational rehabilitation to help you return to your job or transition to a new one.

By providing these benefits, workers’ compensation ensures that employees receive the necessary support and care following a workplace injury, while also protecting employers from potential lawsuits related to the incident.

Get legal help from a workers’ compensation attorney

If you’ve suffered a hand injury at work, the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you recover both physically and financially. Our legal team is dedicated to representing injured workers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Whether your injury is due to a construction accident or repetitive stress, we believe you deserve full compensation.

Our legal team can guide you through the claims process, maximize your benefits, and appeal any claim denials that arise. Let us fight for your rights and ensure you receive every penny you deserve. Contact us online or call us to set up your free initial consultation.

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26
Apr 2024
By

Workers’ Memorial Day Pays Tribute to Fallen Workers

Workers' Memorial Day graphic

Every day, workers across Massachusetts and Rhode Island put their lives and health on the line to earn a living. When a serious accident occurs, the consequences can be devastating. We often hear about workers who lose their lives due to preventable accidents and work conditions. Even those who survive these accidents are out of work, collecting workers’ compensation benefits during a lengthy recovery.

Workers’ Memorial Day, observed on April 28th, was established to recognize workers who have lost their lives or suffered from work-related injuries and illnesses. It serves as a somber reminder of the importance of workplace safety and encourages us to consider ways we can all contribute to creating safer and healthier work environments.

How prevalent are worker fatalities and injuries?

In 2021, work-related injuries claimed the lives of 5,190 U.S. workers, an 8.9% increase from 2020. That’s a fatality rate of 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. While work-related injury fatalities are tracked by surveillance systems, most deaths resulting from work-related illnesses go unrecorded. Estimates suggest that in 2007, approximately 53,445 people died from work-related illnesses.

In 2021, employers reported around 2.6 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses to private industry workers through the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Additionally, the annual burden of chronic occupational illness in the U.S. is estimated to be between 460,534 and 709,792 additional cases.

Common causes of workplace fatalities and injuries

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common causes of workplace fatalities and injuries in the United States in 2022 include:

  • Transportation incidents (2,066 fatal injuries): These incidents can occur both on public roads and at the workplace and often involve vehicles such as cars, trucks, or forklifts.
  • Falls, slips, and trips (865 fatal injuries): This includes falls from heights, slips on slippery surfaces, and trips over obstacles are significant contributors to workplace fatalities. These incidents can occur in a variety of work environments, from construction sites to office spaces.
  • Violence and other injuries by persons or animals (849 fatal injuries): This includes homicides, assaults, and self-harm, as well as injuries caused by animals (e.g., attacks or bites).
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments (839 fatal injuries): This includes exposure to hazardous chemicals, gases, or other substances, as well as incidents involving extreme temperatures, oxygen deficiency, or other extreme environmental factors.
  • Contact with objects and equipment (738 fatal injuries): This happens when workers are struck by, caught in, or crushed by objects or equipment in the workplace. Examples include being struck by a falling object, becoming entangled in machinery, or being caught between two moving objects.
  • Fires and explosions (107 fatal injuries): Workplace fires and explosions can be caused by the ignition of flammable materials or an equipment malfunction.

What to do after a workplace accident

If you were injured or lost a loved one due to a workplace accident, you may be eligible for various workers’ compensation benefits, which can include:

  • Medical costs for all reasonable and necessary expenses related to the work-related injury or illness, including hospital stays, doctor visits, rehabilitation, and prescription medications.
  • Temporary Total Disability benefits, which provide a percentage of your average weekly wage while you are unable to work due to the injury.
  • Temporary Partial Disability benefits, which provide a percentage of your wage difference if you can only work in a limited capacity due to the injury.
  • Permanent Partial Disability benefits, which provide compensation for any permanent impairment resulting from the injury.
  • Permanent Total Disability benefits, which provide ongoing wage replacement if the injury has rendered you permanently and totally disabled.
  • Vocational benefits such as job retraining, job placement, and other services to help the injured worker return to work.

If you’re a dependent of a worker who dies due to a work-related injury or illness, you may be eligible for death benefits, which can include burial expenses and a percentage of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides benefits to injured workers or their families. The claims process can be confusing, especially if it’s your first time filing. To avoid any errors that could affect your compensation, speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. We can guide you through the application process and handle all aspects of your claim from start to finish. To learn more, contact us for a free consultation with one of our lawyers in Massachusetts or Rhode Island.

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26
Apr 2024
By

Work-Related Transportation Accidents & Workplace Fatalities

Delivery driver driving van with parcels on seat

We often hear how distracted driving and other negligent behaviors lead to car accidents. In 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 3,308 fatalities from traffic crashes involving distracted drivers in the United States. But these accidents don’t just affect commuters and travelers. Work-related transportation accidents are a common cause of workplace fatalities and workers’ comp claims.

This includes three main categories of distracted driving:

  • Manual distractions occur when the driver takes one or both hands off the steering wheel to perform another task. Examples include handling a cell phone, adjusting the radio or GPS device, eating, or self-grooming.
  • Visual distractions involve the driver taking their eyes off the road. This could happen while looking at a smartphone, reading a billboard, searching for items in the car, or even looking at passengers.
  • Cognitive distractions occur when the driver’s mind is not focused on driving. This could be due to talking to other passengers, daydreaming, or being preoccupied with personal, family, or work-related issues.

How common are work-related transportation accidents?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, vehicle accidents are the primary cause of work-related fatalities in the United States. They account for nearly 40% of such deaths each year. These typically include commercial vehicle crashes, pedestrian accidents in work zones, public transportation accidents, and forklift accidents.

Distracted driving is a significant contributor to road fatalities, including those related to work. Other common causes of workplace transportation accidents include:

  • Fatigue and drowsy driving.
  • Speeding and aggressive driving.
  • Lack of driver training.
  • Poor vehicle maintenance.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Safety advocates take action

In response to these alarming statistics, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Safety Council are organizing a panel discussion titled “Roadway Safety is Workplace Safety: The Need to Eliminate Distracted Driving.”

Since their inception, both the NSC and OSHA have collaborated with employers to enhance worker safety, including the prevention of work-related transportation accidents. That includes:

  • Setting and enforcing safety standards that include regulations for vehicle operation and maintenance.
  • Training programs and resources aimed at educating workers and employers about safe driving practices and the risks associated with workplace transportation.
  • Developing and implementing workplace safety programs that include seat belt policies, fatigue management, and distracted driving policies.

Injured in a vehicle accident while on the job?

If you’re injured in a vehicle accident while on the job, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation can cover your medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation services, and long-term disability, depending on the nature of your work-related injuries. Unlike a personal injury claim, workers’ comp is a no-fault system, so you don’t have to prove negligence. You only have to prove that your injury was work-related and you’re classified as an employee.

If the transportation accident was caused by someone outside your workplace, you may have grounds for a third-party work injury claim. For example, if you were making a delivery or working along the side of the road and a distracted driver hit you, you may be able to sue that driver’s insurance company. Unlike workers’ compensation, a third-party claim would compensate you for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, and loss of consortium.

To see how we can help with your potential claim, contact an attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. We can answer any questions you have and help you explore your options further during a free consultation. We proudly serve injured workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

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28
Mar 2024
By

Construction Workers Are Prone To Traumatic Brain Injuries

Close up of a construction worker wearing a hard hat.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) impair brain function and can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Mild TBIs, or concussions, may manifest as headaches, nausea, speech issues, and sensitivity to stimuli. Moderate to severe TBIs could lead to extended unconsciousness, severe headaches, confusion, seizures, and even coma. These injuries often occur in construction accidents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs cause 176 American deaths daily, with 64,000 fatalities in 2020. Between 2003-2010, the construction industry saw over 2,000 TBI deaths. This made up a quarter of construction fatalities and 24% of all occupational TBI deaths, according to NICOSH research.

What are the leading risks of brain injuries in construction?

In the construction industry, workers face heightened TBI risks due to falls from ladders, scaffolds, and roofs. Impacts with falling objects are also a leading cause of construction TBIs. A study from Injury Prevention in 2015 revealed that employees at smaller construction companies (with less than 20 workers) are 2.5 times more likely to experience fatal TBIs than those at larger firms. Workers in steel, structural iron, and roofing are especially at risk.

How can head injuries in construction be prevented?

Mitigating TBIs on construction sites requires rigorous safety protocols, conducting risk evaluations, and offering comprehensive training. Employers are required to ensure a safe working environment under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

For example, hard hats serve as a fundamental defense against head injuries and help protect against other numerous hazards. Neglecting to wear or using damaged hard hats increases injury risks. Employers must supply appropriate safety equipment and enforce the installation of guardrails and safety nets to minimize fall hazards.

NIOSH, OSHA, and The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) have collaboratively initiated a fall prevention campaign. This initiative aims to enhance safety for workers on roofs, ladders, and scaffolds. The campaign highlights the importance of using safety harnesses, guardrails, lifelines, and the rigorous inspection of fall protection equipment.

This initiative stresses choosing the right ladder, maintaining three points of contact, ensuring the ladder is secure, and always facing the ladder during use. Scaffold recommendations focus on using fully planked scaffolds, proper access, ensuring scaffolds are plumb and level, completing all guardrails, securing stable footing, and conducting thorough inspections before use.

What should I do after sustaining a TBI on the job?

After sustaining a TBI on a construction site, it’s crucial to get immediate medical attention and report the incident to your employer. No matter how minor or severe your TBI is, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and disability. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl is committed to helping injured workers get the benefits they deserve while they recover. We understand how complex filing a workers’ compensation claim is, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.

We can ensure that your paperwork is properly filled out and filed. We’ll also advise you on the best practices for building a strong workers’ compensation claim and advocate for fair compensation on your behalf. Our law firm serves injured workers and their families across Massachusetts and Rhode Island. To learn how we can help you, contact us online or call us for a free consultation.

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28
Mar 2024
By

Combating Ergonomic Hazards in Construction

Engineer With Back Pain Injury After Accident At Construction Site

Ergonomic hazards don’t just exist in the office; they are a common risk faced by construction workers (and workers in other industries). Ergonomic injuries often impact joints, tendons, nerves, and muscles. These injuries develop gradually over time. For example, a worker who wears uncomfortable footwear may eventually develop long-term musculoskeletal disorders.

The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in construction highlights the importance of integrating ergonomic safety measures. This could safeguard against both immediate dangers and the cumulative impact of ergonomic hazards.

Work injuries from ergonomic hazards

Research by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reveals that ergonomics-related injuries account for nearly one-third of all cases requiring days away from work. Workers’ compensation claims for musculoskeletal disorders cost U.S. employers over $20 billion annually. These injuries not only incur high costs but can also prolong recovery times and delay workers’ return to their jobs.

This issue is particularly widespread among electrical contractors. OSHA highlights the increased risk of ergonomic injuries within this group as the workforce ages and the range of work expands. Electrical contractors don’t just work in construction. Today, they also work in building maintenance and data or networking installation, areas where ergonomic hazards are prevalent.

Risk factors that contribute to ergonomic hazards in construction

The five key risk factors of ergonomic hazards in construction include:

1. High force: This involves tasks requiring substantial physical effort, such as lifting heavy objects or applying intense grip. High-force tasks increase physical demand and often lead to fatigue and injury to muscles or the skeletal system if repeated or prolonged.

2. Awkward and prolonged postures: Working in positions that significantly stray from a natural posture (e.g., bending, twisting, or reaching) poses ergonomic risks. Electrical contractors often operate in tight spaces or with hard-to-reach equipment, making them susceptible to injuries from awkward postures.

3. Repetition: Repeating the same movements over and over stresses the body. The level of stress is influenced by the number of repetitions, movement speed, muscles involved, and required force. Continuous repetition can result in fatigue and strain on muscles or tendons.

4. Contact stress: This arises when part of the body presses against a hard or sharp surface. Contact stress can cause undue pressure that can impede nerve function and blood circulation over time.

5. Hand-arm vibration: Exposure to vibrations from power tools or machinery can cause discomfort and increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders after prolonged use.

Mitigating risk factors

In construction, effectively managing ergonomic risks involves a careful balance between the workers’ capabilities and the job demands. Recognizing and mitigating risk factors through a comprehensive safety strategy can reduce ergonomic injuries among electrical contractors. This can be done by recognizing and addressing the above-mentioned risk factors.

Implementing effective controls is crucial to mitigating these ergonomic risk factors. For example, the use of mechanical aids such as forklifts is recommended to prevent awkward carrying positions and overexertion in material handling and heavy lifting. Additionally, it’s important to enforce proper lifting techniques through training and visible guidelines. Limits should be set for lifting (a maximum of 50 pounds) to avoid overloading.

Training sessions should highlight correct lifting methods and stress the importance of mechanical aids. Posting signs as constant reminders and designing a work schedule that allows for task rotation can also lead to a safer workplace.

Workers’ comp for ergonomic injuries

If you develop a musculoskeletal disorder or other injury linked to ergonomic hazards on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, navigating the workers’ comp process can be challenging, and if you’re not careful, you could lose out on the benefits you’re entitled to. As such, it’s in your interest to speak to an experienced attorney who can ensure that your claim is properly filed and help you get the full compensation you deserve.

The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl serves injured workers throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. To find out how our dedicated work injury team can help you, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We have law offices in Fall River and Foxborough, MA, as well as Providence, RI.

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26
Feb 2024
By

Injuries Caused by Concrete and Cement on New England Construction Sites

workers pouring cement in road construction

Construction workers in New England face a wide range of risks and hazards every day on the job. In fact, 1 out of 5 workplace fatalities nationwide involve construction accidents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

While there are many common causes of construction accidents in New England, many of them involve concrete and cement. So, what makes these materials so dangerous? Our legal team at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl in Massachusetts and Rhode Island explains.

Common construction injuries involving concrete and cement

Concrete and cement often cause serious injuries to construction workers due to the potentially hazardous components in both building materials. Such workplace injuries often include:

  • Eye injuries due to cement or concrete coming into contact with a construction worker’s eye.
  • Chemical burn injuries due to concrete or cement coming into direct contact with the skin.
  • Respiratory injuries or illnesses, including asthma, due to inhaling hazardous materials often found in concrete or cement, including alkaline compounds such as lime (calcium oxide) and crystalline silica.
  • Back injuries due to lifting or moving cement or concrete, which can be extremely heavy in solid form.
  • Slip, trip, and fall injuries, especially if someone steps in wet concrete or cement.
  • Machine-related injuries, such as broken bones caused by being struck by heavy equipment or power tools used while working with cement or concrete.
  • Work-related injuries involving rebar, the sharp metal rods often pointing up out of concrete at construction sites.

Causes of accidents involving concrete

New England construction sites can be dangerous due to a wide range of hazards. This is why construction companies need to take steps to prevent injuries involving concrete or cement. Unfortunately, many construction companies don’t take the necessary precautions, resulting in a serious injury involving cement or concrete. Common causes of such injuries include:

  • Failing to provide construction workers with safety equipment, such as protective eyewear, respirators, gloves, and sturdy boots that prevent cement from getting inside.
  • Not training construction workers on how to safely use concrete or cement.
  • No warning signs indicating that cement or concrete is being used at a construction site.
  • Poor lighting or poor maintenance, resulting in someone tripping and falling over concrete or into wet cement.
  • Failing to provide construction workers with mandatory rest breaks. This is especially important when working with cement or concrete since such work can often be physically exhausting.

What laws govern construction workers handling concrete or cement?

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), a federal agency, has many laws governing the use of concrete and cement at construction sites. These laws are designed to protect construction workers and prevent construction accidents involving cement or concrete. Such laws include:

  • OSHA 1926 Subpart Q, which contains many rules and regulations for the use of concrete in masonry construction. Such rules include what tools or equipment must be used, as well as OSHA requirements involving precast concrete, lift slabs, and masonry construction.
  • OSHA Standard 1926.701(f), which has specific guidelines for how cement can be applied if using a pneumatic hose. In such cases, construction workers must wear protective head and face equipment.
  • OSHA Standard 1926.701(a), which has strict rules involving construction loads. Specifically, before placing any construction materials on concrete, the person responsible and qualified in structural design must verify that the concrete structure is capable of supporting the load.
  • OSHA Standard 1926.701(e), which prevents supporters from working under loads of concrete buckets while they are being lowered or raised into position.

What should construction workers do after an accident?

Construction companies must respond immediately if an employee sustains an injury due to working with cement or concrete. While such steps will vary from one accident to another, common responses should include:

  • Call 911 and ask for medical attention right away, especially if a construction worker sustains a potentially life-threatening injury involving cement or concrete.
  • Stop work on the construction site, especially if other workers could be hurt while working with concrete or cement.
  • Tell a supervisor right away that a construction accident occurred involving concrete or cement.
  • Ensure that an ambulance or other emergency medical workers can easily access the construction site so there’s no time wasted treating the injured worker.
  • Construction companies should carefully document what happened as soon as possible.
  • OSHA should be notified as soon as possible. That way, OSHA can begin investigating the construction accident right away.

Contact a construction accident lawyer

Construction accidents involving cement and concrete in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and other New England states often result in serious injuries. As a result, injured construction workers might have difficulty getting the financial compensation and support they deserve. That’s because construction companies sometimes deny doing anything wrong because they don’t want to be held responsible for the worker’s injuries.

Whatever the circumstances of your work injury, an experienced construction accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you fully understand your legal rights and the potential options available to you.

Make sure your construction injury gets the attention it deserves. Contact our law firm and schedule a free evaluation with a construction accident attorney focused on winning your case. We handle injury claims involving injured construction workers throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

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26
Feb 2024
By

Protecting Workers at Heights: Have a Fall Rescue Plan

A stop fall descent self controller safety device shock absorbing lanyard attached clipping front of rope access inspector industrial full body safety abseiling harness loop preventing from fall

One of the most common – and most serious – work-related injuries involves falling from a height. That’s why it’s critical that employers have a plan for when an employee falls and sustains an injury.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl in Massachusetts and Rhode Island explain.

How common are falls from height?

Annually, about 46,000 workers sustain a work-related injury due to a fall to a lower level, according to workplace accident statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and cited by the National Safety Council (NSC). Recent annual falls from height statistics include:

  • 46,005 falls from height injuries in 2022.
  • 49,250 work-related falls from height injuries in 2020.
  • 48,040 injuries in 2019.
  • 52,510 injuries in 2018.

As for fatalities due to falls from a height to a lower level, 700 workers died in 2022, along with 680 fatalities in 2021, according to the BLS.

Common injuries sustained in workplace falls

Certain injuries are more common than others when workers fall to a lower level. According to BLS data cited by the NSC, the most common falls from height injuries include:

  • Muscle sprains and tears – 26 percent.
  • Bone fractures – 23 percent.
  • Bruises and contusions – 13 percent.

As for which part of the body is most often injured, such injuries often impact:

  • Lower extremities – 35 percent.
  • Upper extremities – 20 percent.
  • Trunk, especially the back – 18 percent.

Falls from height causes

There are many reasons why fall accidents happen in workplaces. In many cases, falls to a lower level happen at work because an employer did not take the necessary precautions. Examples include:

  • Poor maintenance.
  • Lack of safety protocols, especially those involving scaffolding.
  • Failure to provide employees with safety equipment, such as safety harnesses or other personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) for employees working on scaffolding.
  • Unmarked hazards that cause employees to trip and fall.
  • Lack of safety training.

What laws govern workplace falls?

Many laws were created to protect workers and prevent falls from height. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), a federal agency, created many of these laws, including:

What should employers do after a fall from height?

Employers need to have a plan in place for how to respond to a workplace fall. Such plans will vary from one profession to another but often include:

  • Posted materials at work sites explaining exactly what workers should do in the event of a fall at work.
  • Employee training that explains such protocols in detail so no time is wasted after a fall from a height accident.
  • Provide regular practice training to workers so they know how they should respond to such situations so all employees know exactly what to do after a fall from height injury.

In general, accident response plans often include the following steps:

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Do not move the injured worker.
  • Notify a supervisor that a fall from a height accident has occurred.
  • Make sure emergency medical workers can access the injured worker as soon as possible.

Seeking legal help for a work-related fall

Work-related injuries involving falls from height in Massachusetts and Rhode Island often quickly turn into complicated legal cases. This is why it’s important for injured workers to fully understand their legal rights. Otherwise, they might not receive the benefits they deserve.

If you or a loved one was injured in a fall from a height at work, an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you every step of the way. We know the rules and regulations that apply to such accidents. We understand how the workers’ compensation system works in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. That’s why we have such a strong track record of success.

Get the personal attention you deserve after your workplace injury. Contact us and schedule a free evaluation with a workers’ compensation attorney focused on your best interests. We can review your case, explain your options, and get right to work on your workers’ compensation claim.

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31
Jan 2024
By

BLS Reports Alarming Rise in Workplace Deaths

Construction engineer worker at heights on top of building with suspended cables and fall protection.

Hazardous work conditions, lack of safety measures, and poor employee training often lead to serious injuries and workers’ compensation claims. However, these factors also lead to an alarming number of preventable workplace deaths.

Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlights a growing concern in workplace safety across various sectors. In particular, the report emphasizes the growing number of worker deaths, as well as the frequency and cause of fatalities on the job.

How many work-related fatalities were there in the U.S.?

In 2022, the United States experienced an alarming increase in fatal work injuries, with 5,486 reported cases. This marked a 5.7% rise from the 5,190 workplace deaths in 2021. Additionally, it marked the sixth time over seven years that workplace fatalities surpassed 5,000 deaths, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

One concerning statistic is the frequency of work-related deaths. For example, in 2022, a workplace death occurred every 96 minutes, compared to every 101 minutes in 2021.

Common causes of workplace deaths and occupational risks

Transportation and material moving occupations were hit hardest, with 1,620 fatalities. This accounted for 37.7% of workplace fatalities, making them the leading cause. Most of these deaths were among driver/sales workers and truck drivers. That’s followed by construction and extraction workers with 1,056 deaths, mostly due to falls.

Violence and injuries inflicted by others or animals saw an 11.6% increase to 849 cases, with homicides accounting for 61.7% of these incidents. Unintentional overdoses reached a record high of 525 fatalities, continuing an upward trend since 2012.

Disparities among workplace demographics

Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino workers experienced higher fatality rates than the national average. Transportation incidents were the leading cause. Additionally, foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers in the construction industry represented a significant portion of fatalities in this demographic.

Workers aged 55 to 64 faced the highest fatality numbers due to transportation incidents and falls. Also, women accounted for a disproportionate number of workplace homicides despite accounting for a smaller percentage of overall workplace fatalities.

Seeking legal help after a fatal work accident

Whether you’re in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits if your loved one died while on the job. Both states offer compensation for burial expenses and dependent benefits.

For dependent benefits, you may receive a portion of the worker’s average weekly wages. The duration and amount of these benefits vary based on your relationship with the deceased worker and your age. Typically, a spouse or minor children are eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits. However, if you’re a grandchild, sibling, parent, or other relative who is financially dependent on the deceased worker, you may be able to pursue death benefits.

To find out what you’re eligible for and how to file a claim, speak to the workers’ compensation lawyers at The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. We can help you explore your options and answer any questions you have during a free consultation. To get started, contact us online or call our law offices in Fall River, Foxborough, or Providence.

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29
Jan 2024
By

Safety Helmets: How To Make The Right Selection

Construction helmet on a wooden table

Work-related head injuries are often the result of construction accidents. They’re typically caused by being struck by objects, falling, or accidents involving machinery. These injuries range from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries. They often lead to significant medical expenses, lost work time, and long-term disability. The risk of head injuries on the job highlights the need for safety helmets that offer adequate protection.

With so many different styles, price ranges, and claims of enhanced protection, choosing the right helmet for work is no simple feat. This task is further complicated by a lack of comprehensive test data offering clear, evidence-based recommendations. However, it’s important to focus on brain protection, laceration protection, and helmet retention when making your decision.

Brain protection challenges and solutions

Historically, helmet design has somewhat neglected brain protection, particularly against rotational motion, a key factor in concussions on job sites. Helmets need to address two types of head injuries: skull fractures and brain injuries.

While a rigid outer shell and inner liner can mitigate skull fractures caused by direct impacts, they are less effective against many brain injuries. These typically result from rotational forces during impact, causing brain shearing and potentially irreversible damage.

Notably, over 60% of work-related brain injuries arise from slips and falls and same-level falls. About 90% of them don’t involve skull fractures. This highlights the distinct mechanisms affecting the brain compared to the skull. Recognizing this, sports helmets have incorporated the multi-directional impact protection system (MIPS) to dampen rotational forces. Similar technologies are now emerging in safety helmets.

Do safety helmets offer laceration protection?

Traditional helmets are primarily designed for crown impacts. However, they often fail to provide adequate laceration protection. A study from 1987 highlighted this deficiency, noting the limited effectiveness against side impacts. The ANSI standard Z89.1 addressed this by introducing the Type II designation, indicating helmets tested for lateral impacts.

Despite this, many leading brands still offer predominantly Type I protection. This highlights the need to choose ANSI Type II certified helmets for better lateral impact protection.

Do safety helmets offer retention during an impact?

A helmet’s protective capability should allow it to remain securely in place during an impact. While chin straps are crucial for this, the U.S. standard ANSI Z89.1 doesn’t mandate them but requires retention testing if included.

The European standard EN 12492 for mountaineering helmets necessitates chin straps but has less stringent lateral impact testing compared to ANSI Z89.1. Therefore, helmets with chin straps that meet or exceed ANSI Z89.1 Type II performance are advisable for optimal protection.

Choosing a safety helmet by industry

Various types of safety helmets are used in different industries to prevent workplace injuries. Here are some of the common types:

  • Standard hard hats: These are typically used in construction, mining, and manufacturing. They protect against impact from falling objects and bumps against fixed objects.
    Full-brim hard hats: These are similar to standard hard hats but with a wider brim that offers additional protection against sun, rain, and falling debris.
    Bump caps: These are lighter and more comfortable than hard hats. They’re designed for environments where workers risk hitting their heads against stationary objects rather than from falling objects.
    Safety helmets with face shields: These are used in environments where face and eye protection is necessary, such as in industrial manufacturing or certain types of construction.
    Welding helmets: These provide protection against the intense light, ultraviolet, and infrared radiation generated during welding. They also protect against hot metal and slag that can fly off during the welding process.
    Electrically insulated helmets: These helmets are made of non-conductive materials. They’re designed for electricians and other workers exposed to the risk of electrical hazards.
    Thermal helmets: These are used in environments with extreme heat or cold. They provide thermal insulation to protect the head from extreme temperatures.

Know your rights in the event of a head injury on the job

Safety helmets may reduce the likelihood of a head injury, but they’re not foolproof. If you’re a worker who has sustained a head injury on the job, you may be out of work for an extended period. You may be eligible for compensation through a workers’ compensation claim. However, simply filing a claim doesn’t mean you’ll successfully obtain the benefits you deserve.

Any errors in the application and filing process can lead to your benefits getting delayed, reduced, or denied. That’s why you need the help of the experienced Massachusetts and Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys at The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. Our legal team can ensure your application is properly filled out and the filing process goes smoothly. Plus, we can help you get the right medical care and advocate for fair compensation on your behalf.

Contact us online or call us to find out how we can help you. We offer free consultations, and there are no obligations. Let us learn about your workplace accident, provide guidance, and answer any questions you have about your potential legal options. We have law offices in Fall River, Foxborough, and Providence.

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