Jan 2023

How To Prevent Workplace Head Injuries & Saves Lives

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

Work-related head injuries occur more often than many people might realize, according to workplace accident data compiled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

This is why efforts to prevent head injuries in the workplace must be “an absolute must in most hazardous environments,” said David Consider, senior workplace safety consultant at the National Safety Council, in an interview with Safety + Health magazine.

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl agree that more needs to be done to prevent work-related head injuries. That’s because we have witnessed first-hand just how devastating head injuries can be for injured workers and their families.

Workplace head injuries are common

Work-related head injuries often have serious or fatal consequences, especially in certain industries. For example, between 2003 and 2010, one out of four workplace fatalities in the construction industry involved a traumatic brain injury, according to NIOSH data.

However, construction workers aren’t the only ones who sustain severe head injuries. Safety + Health magazine states that “the risk for head injuries also is present in numerous other occupational sectors.” This is why all employers need to understand why work-related head injuries occur and what these businesses can do to prevent such injuries.

Why workplace head injuries happen

Work-related head injuries often occur due to negligence, especially due to a lack of safety measures by employers. According to Safety + Health magazine, examples of how head injuries happen on the job include:

  • Unsecured falling objects that hit a worker on the head.
  • Workers not being provided with proper head protection, including hard hats.
  • Employers who do not provide proper safety training for workers.
  • Lack of safety inspections, resulting in unsafe working conditions.

How to prevent workplace head injuries

There are many steps employers can take to prevent work-related head injuries. According to Safety + Health magazine, such steps include:

  • Provide employees with proper-fitting hard hats and other head protection equipment.
  • Regularly inspect hard hats for cracks or other defects.
  • Regularly inspect workplaces to make sure there are no loose objects or unsafe scaffolding that could result in a head injury.
  • Provide workers with safety instruction manuals and safety training designed to prevent work-related head injuries.
  • Employers should review such safety measures at least once a year to make sure that workers are properly protected.

How a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney can help

Work-related head injuries in Massachusetts can quickly turn into complicated legal matters. Instead of receiving the support injured workers deserve, many have to fight for the financial compensation they’re legally entitled to receive for their head injury.

When this happens, it’s important for injured workers to fully understand their legal rights. That’s why our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl want to meet with you. We thoroughly understand how the legal system works in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This is because we have successfully handled many legal cases in both states.

Learn more about your rights. Contact our law firm and schedule a free consultation with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney you can count on in a crisis. We’re here for you when you need us most.

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Jan 2023

Fatal Workplace Accidents Reach 5-Year-High Nationwide, Data Reveals

silhouette of a construction worker high above the ground on a steel beam.

Workplace fatalities nationwide reached a 5-year-high in 2021, soaring above 5,000 deaths for the fifth time in six years, according to recent workplace fatality accident data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in its latest BLS fatal occupational injury report for 2021.

“The data included in this report indicate workplaces have become less safe, and it is heartbreaking,” Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said in a recent news article. “Everyone deserves the chance to live their fullest life. This report shows our mission to save lives, from the workplace to anyplace, is critical, and NSC is committed to doing its part to curb this deadly trend and put an end to preventable workplace fatalities.”

Our Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys agree. Unfortunately, based on the latest BLS data, workplaces have become less safe. Any efforts to improve workplace safety and prevent fatal workplace accidents are welcome news to the legal team at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl.

Workplace fatalities on the rise

Fatal workplace accidents nationwide increased by 8.9 percent in 2021 compared to the year before, according to the latest BLS data. In 2021, a total of 5,190 people died in work-related accidents compared to 4,764 people in 2020.

In addition, the fatal occupational injury rate (which measures the number of workplace fatalities per worker) was 3.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the higher number since 2016.

Or, to put these numbers in perspective, someone died on the job every 101 minutes in 2021, according to the recent National Safety Council news story about the latest BLS workplace fatality data.

Why do fatal workplace accidents happen?

Workplace fatalities increased in 2021 for many different reasons. However, some of the largest increases in fatal workplace accidents in 2021 occurred due to the following contributing factors:

  • Exposure to harmful substances—increased by 18.7 percent in 2021 to 798 deaths compared to 2020.
  • Fatal transportation-related workplace accidents—increased by 11.4 percent in 2021 to 1,982 deaths.
  • Intentional injuries by someone else at work—increased by 10.2 percent to 718 deaths.
  • Workplace violence—increased by 7.9 percent to 761 deaths.
  • Fatal slip and fall accidents—increased by 5.5 percent to 850 deaths.

What are the most dangerous jobs?

Certain professions have more workplace fatalities than others. Based on the latest BLS data, some of the most dangerous jobs include:

  • Protective services related jobs, which include firefighters, police officers, and other law enforcement officials. These professions experienced a 31.9 percent increase in work-related fatalities in 2021 compared to 2020 nationwide.
  • Maintenance, installation, and repair-related work, which had a 20.9 percent increase in the number of work-related fatalities in 2021 compared to the year before.
  • Commercial truck drivers, which experienced a 16.3 percent increase in workplace fatalities in 2021.
  • Construction-related work, which had 2.6 percent more job-related deaths in 2021.

How can a Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney help?

Fatal workplace accidents in Rhode Island and other states often become complicated legal cases. Depending on the circumstances of the workplace fatality, surviving family members may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation and perhaps even additional compensation.

This is why it’s important for families to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer licensed to practice law in their state right away. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you every step of the way. We have years of experience handling complex workers’ compensation cases in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. As a result, we thoroughly understand how the legal system works in both states.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact us and schedule a free consultation with a Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney who puts your best interests first. We can answer your questions and explain your different legal options.

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Dec 2022

8 Winter Workplace Hazards and How to Prevent Them

Road workers installing a new fence railing of bridge, outside in the cold and snow.

Winter can be a difficult time for workplace safety.

Winters in the northeast can be long and cold, and working in winter weather can bring additional workplace hazards that can result in injury, illness, or even death if precautions aren’t taken.

If you work outside, it’s vital that you take the necessary steps to keep safe during the cold months of the year. But even if you don’t work outside during the winter, there are things you should do to avoid getting injured in a work accident. Here are some of the most common winter hazards found in workplaces and how to avoid them.

Slips, trips, and falls

Ice and snow can create slick surfaces, which can easily cause slips, trips, and falls that lead to serious work injuries. Ice can form on sidewalks, parking lots, and other areas where workers walk, increasing the risk of a fall. It is important to wear proper footwear with good traction to reduce this hazard. Employers should place floor mats and caution signs in areas where the ground is slippery. Also, any areas prone to icing should be treated with rock salt or sand, especially stairways, which can be dangerous when ice accumulates on steps, handrails, and landings.

Exposure to cold weather

Exposure to cold temperatures can lead to various work injuries and illnesses, from frostbite to hypothermia. Employees who work outdoors during the winter should be instructed to dress warmly and to limit their exposure to cold temperatures as much as possible by taking frequent breaks in warm areas. Thermal gloves, hats, and insulated boots can help keep workers warm and reduce the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.

Car accidents

Slick roads and decreased visibility due to darkness and snow can make it difficult for workers who drive to do their jobs safely. When driving for work in the winter, be sure to slow down, increase your following distance, and use extra caution when turning and braking.

Employers can also protect their workers by keeping work vehicles well-maintained and providing information about winter driving safety, such as sharing resources from organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, employers can provide emergency kits in work vehicles with items like blankets, flashlights, and emergency flares.


The two main sources of workplace fires during the winter are malfunctioning heating systems and electrical equipment. Malfunctioning heating systems are especially hazardous in older buildings or those with outdated electrical wiring. For example, if a heater has worn-out wiring or insufficient insulation, it could spark a fire. Loose wires and overloaded connections are also a fire hazard at any time of year.

To avoid work injuries or accidents related to fires, employers should inspect their building’s heating system regularly and make sure it’s up-to-date with the necessary safety features. For example, electrical cords and outlets should be kept clear of combustible materials like paper and furniture, and fire extinguishers should be easily accessible throughout the workplace.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the most serious and potentially life-threatening winter work hazards. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created by burning certain types of fuels, such as wood, propane, natural gas, oil, and coal. When inhaled, carbon monoxide can cause severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and disorientation. If left unchecked, carbon monoxide poisoning can even lead to death.

Employers should always take the following precautions:

  • Ensure that all outdoor heaters are inspected and serviced before use.
  • Never use fuel-burning heaters or equipment in an enclosed area.
  • Ensure the exhaust pipe for any fuel-burning equipment is located away from the workspace.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in areas where fuel-burning equipment is used.
  • Have all fuel-burning heaters and equipment checked regularly for gas leaks or other potential problems.

Electrical hazards

When working outside in the winter, exposed wires, equipment, and outlets are all vulnerable to weather-related damage. This can result in serious work injuries or even a fatal work accident.

To prevent electrical hazards in the workplace during the winter months, employers should:

  • Make sure that any exposed wires are insulated or protected from the elements.
  • Have qualified electricians check all power tools, outlets, and equipment for signs of wear or damage from cold weather conditions.
  • Test generators and other emergency power sources regularly to ensure they work properly.
  • Install adequate drainage systems around power sources to prevent water accumulation.
  • Provide employees with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when working with electrical equipment outdoors in the winter.
  • Provide employees with proper safety training on working with electricity in the winter months.
  • Post signs warning employees of any potential electrical hazards in the area.

Repetitive stress injuries

Cold weather can increase the risk of repetitive stress injuries due to the increased effort required for tasks like shoveling or lifting in cold temperatures. Shoveling snow for work can be a physically demanding activity that causes exhaustion, overexertion, dehydration, back injuries, and even cardiac issues. Workers should warm up before the activity, scoop small amounts of snow at a time, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and take frequent breaks in warm areas. While shoveling snow, remember to keep your back straight, lift with your legs, and do not turn or twist your body.

Snow blower accidents

To protect workers from electrocution, employers should ensure that powered equipment, such as a snow blower, is properly grounded. In addition, when performing maintenance or cleaning, always confirm that the equipment is properly guarded and that power sources are disconnected.

When workers attempt to clear jams with snow blowers while the equipment is turned on, they frequently suffer lacerations or amputations. Never try to unclog a clog by hand. Instead, turn off the snow blower and wait for all moving parts to stop before clearing wet snow or debris from the machine with a long stick. Always maintain a safe distance between your hands and feet from moving parts, and never refuel a snow blower while the machine is running or the engine is hot.

Talk to a workers’ comp lawyer about your options.

In New England, the cold, snowy winter months can bring a number of hazards to the workplace that can cause severe injuries and illnesses. That’s why if you’ve suffered a work-related injury or accident due to a winter hazard, it’s important to know your rights and speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

If you’ve been injured on the job due to a winter hazard, the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you understand your rights and fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Don’t hesitate to seek legal advice if you’ve been injured at work in an accident. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you. We have three offices in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workplace injury claims in both states.

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Dec 2022

Can You Still File for Workers’ Compensation If the Accident Was Your Fault?

A factory worker with a finger injury is helped by a co-worker.

Workers’ compensation is an important safety net for people who are injured while on the job. If you’ve been hurt at work, then you may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits to cover the cost of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses and a percentage of your lost wages. But what happens if you’re injured as a result of your own actions? Can you still get workers’ comp even if the injury was your fault?

In most cases, the answer is yes. You can still file a claim and receive workers’ compensation benefits even if the work accident was your fault. However, there are some caveats to this rule that are worth noting. Here’s what you should know.

How does fault affect workers’ compensation?

In short, it doesn’t. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system. It doesn’t matter who caused the accident; all that matters is that you were on the job when it happened.

There are certain exceptions, which we’ll get to in a moment. However, if you were injured while performing regular job duties and weren’t doing anything egregiously wrong, you will likely be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Remember, the workers’ compensation system is designed to provide financial assistance for employees who are injured on the job, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. That said, it is important to make sure that you fully understand how the process works by seeking advice from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in your area.

What are some exceptions to the no-fault workers’ comp rule?

If you were injured while engaging in unsafe behavior, such as refusing to wear proper safety equipment, then your workers’ comp claim may be denied because you were engaging in “willful misconduct,” that is, putting yourself in a dangerous situation where you’re likely to be injured. Even though workers’ comp is a no-fault system, if your employer believes that the work accident was caused by gross negligence or deliberate disregard of safety rules, they may deny your claim.

Additionally, if it is found that the accident was caused by alcohol or drug use on the job, your claim may be rejected on that basis. Your claim can also be denied if you intentionally injured yourself or if you were hurt in a fight you started.

If your employer or their insurance company has denied your workers’ compensation claim, it is important to understand your legal rights. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help evaluate your case and ensure you are treated fairly throughout the workers’ compensation process. They can also advise you on how to appeal the denial of your claim, if necessary.

How do I file a workers’ comp claim if I am at fault?

Whether you were at fault or not, you have rights as an injured worker. However, to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you must follow the process.  This involves notifying your employer that you were injured in a work accident, filing the appropriate paperwork, and providing documentation of your injury and how it was caused—all within very strict deadlines.

The key is to talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who knows the laws and how the workers’ compensation system works in your state. At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we can help you understand your rights, determine the best course of action to get the compensation you deserve, and guide you through the entire process.

No matter how your work accident occurred, you still have options to recover compensation for your losses. To learn more about how our law firm can help you, contact us today for a free case evaluation. We have three offices in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and proudly serve injured workers in both states.

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Nov 2022

Work Injuries & Illnesses from Hazardous Chemical Exposure

worker wearing protective mask, goggles, hard hat looks at containers of hazardous chemicals inside a factory.

Some of the most common work-related injuries and illnesses involve exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Each year, an estimated 13 million workers nationwide get sick or injured due to exposure to hazardous chemicals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In many cases, sick or injured workers are often eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits while recovering from a hazardous chemical exposure injury or illness. However, getting such benefits can be much harder than many realize.

Employees must understand why and how these work-related illnesses or injuries happen on the job. They should also know their potential legal options if they were exposed to hazardous chemicals at work and need help recovering their losses. That’s why the Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl want to meet with you. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.

Common workplace hazardous chemicals

Injuries and illnesses caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace can involve a wide range of chemicals, including:

  • Arsenic
  • Asbestos
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Zinc

Many other chemicals can cause severe injuries or illnesses depending on the type of chemical, the amount involved, and how long someone was exposed to it. This is why sick or injured workers need immediate medical attention if they suspect they have come into contact with dangerous chemicals. You can never be too careful when it comes to your health.

Why workplace hazardous chemical injuries occur

Most work-related injuries or illnesses caused by hazardous chemicals occur in one of three ways:

  • Breathing in a hazardous chemical.
  • The hazardous chemical comes into direct contact with the skin.
  • Exposure to a hazardous chemical for a long time over many years.

Injuries and illnesses due to hazardous chemical exposure

Common, severe illnesses and injuries caused by exposure to dangerous chemicals include:

  • Brain injuries, including brain damage, often due to long-term exposure to hazardous chemicals over many years.
  • Breathing disorders, including asthma, due to lung damage.
  • Cancer, including lung cancer and leukemia.
  • Neurological disorders (damage to the central nervous system), including Parkinson’s disease.
  • Skin conditions, including rashes, burns, and other injuries caused by dangerous chemicals coming into direct contact with the skin.
  • Vision-related injuries, including partial or total blindness.

How negligence can play a role

Many work-related injuries and illnesses caused by hazardous chemicals occur due to negligence in the workplace. This includes:

  • Improper ventilation in the workplace results in dangerous chemicals not being removed from the air in a workspace.
  • Improperly storing hazardous chemicals.
  • Not providing employees with proper protective equipment, including masks, gloves, and more advanced personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Not providing workers with the proper training to safely handle hazardous chemicals.

How a Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney can help

Workers’ compensation claims involving hazardous chemicals often become complicated legal cases. In addition, sick or injured workers might be able to obtain additional financial compensation in addition to workers’ comp benefits (in certain circumstances).

This is why it’s critical that sick or injured workers talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer right away. The knowledgeable legal team at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl has been helping people get the benefits they deserve for years in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. When you have us on your side, you can put yourself in a position to recover the money you deserve.

Learn more about your legal rights. Contact us and schedule a free consultation with a Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney you can trust to put your best interests first. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workplace injury claims in both states.

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Nov 2022

Is There Workers’ Comp for Defective Machinery Injuries?

Factory worker engineer working in factory using tablet computer to check maintenance boiler water pipe in factory.

You shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for a work accident.

Faulty and defective machinery may be a bigger source of workplace injuries than most people realize.

According to a global study, defective machinery and equipment accidents may cause almost 20 percent of workplace accidents reported annually. A piece of work machinery may become defective for many reasons, including:

  • Cheap or faulty parts.
  • Poor maintenance.
  • Normal wear-and-tear.
  • Misuse.
  • Machinery modifications.
  • Improper installation.

Types of defective machinery injuries

Defective machinery accidents don’t always cause an injury, but when they do, they are usually severe or fatal. Employees can be crushed, wounded, struck, scalded, or compressed by malfunctioning equipment. These injuries can be disabling and deadly.

Defective equipment accidents can cause employee injuries like:

  • Broken bones.
  • Burns.
  • Electric shock.
  • Traumatic brain damage
  • Spine and back injuries.

Nerve damage that impairs mobility or decreases brain function can also result from defective equipment injuries. Amputations, as well as vision and hearing loss, are common, too.

Workers’ compensation for defective machinery injuries

Employees injured at work and the families of fatal workplace accident victims are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The program offers compensation for work-injury medical expenses, recovery, and lost wages.

However, getting all of the benefits a worker deserves is not simple. Some employers reject claims. And insurance companies will use any justification to undervalue an accident victim’s medical costs, wages, and agony.

If you were injured in a work accident or developed a work-related illness in southeastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island, schedule a free case consultation with The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl to learn more about your potential legal options.

Defective parts third-party lawsuit

Typically, you cannot sue your employer after a defective machinery accident because workers’ comp is a no-fault system. That’s why it’s important for workers injured by malfunctioning equipment to understand the full range of their legal options.

In addition to claiming workers comp, an injured worker may have a strong third-party lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective equipment. But there may be others who are liable, too. For example, they may have a case against an outside maintenance vendor, the company that installed the equipment, the property owner (if the employer is renting space), or those who trained employees to use the equipment.

A lawyer can help identify all liable parties and pursue maximum compensation after a work accident or related illness.

When it comes to workers’ compensation, experience matters

Founded in the 1980s, The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl has encountered every trick and tactic used against injured workers to reduce or reject their claims. Our defective machinery accident attorneys know how to break down these obstacles. They have developed the skills to investigate and build strong claims for defective machinery injury compensation.

If you were injured in a defective machinery accident at work in southeastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island, we can help. For more information about your legal options and to get a claim estimate, contact us for a free case evaluation.

We have offices in Fall River, Foxborough, and Providence. But if you can’t come to us, we can come to you.

Do not wait. Successful workers’ compensation applications and injury lawsuits must meet strict legal deadlines. Contact us today for your free case evaluation; We are ready to hear from you now.

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Oct 2022

Can New Hard Hat Tech Reduce Construction Worker Head Injuries?

Construction workers wearing hard hats install a roof.

Despite advancements in employee safety equipment and standards, construction workers are at a heightened risk for workplace accidents that cause head injuries and brain damage.

However, developers of a new type of hard hat say they have the technology to reduce Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) like concussions, skull fractures, and similar damage due to construction workplace accidents.

Hard hat technology developers and manufacturers, WaveCel, say their new equipment protects against direct and oblique hits to the head.

Injured workers have a right to compensation

At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we support the development of new and improved worker safety technology. We know that every year, about 7% of all head and brain injuries sustained at U.S. workplaces happen in the construction industry. There were over 5,150 construction worker brain injuries reported in 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

As an established workers’ compensation and work injury law firm in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhodes Island, we see how catastrophic head injuries devastate victims and families. We stand up for injured workers and the families of fatal work accident victims.

If you were injured or a loved one died at work in southeastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island, you may be entitled to compensation. We can help you figure out your potential legal options, and it won’t cost you anything. Contact The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl for a free case evaluation right now.

Hard hat history and technology

Hard hats have reduced worker injuries and saved lives since the early 1900s. The first hard hats were based on metal “doughboy” soldiers’ helmets. The wartime design was adapted by Ed Bullard to protect miners in the 1920s and quickly caught on in other industries. According to the Smithsonian, the Hoover Dam construction project in 1931 may have been the first time U.S. workers were required to wear hard hats.

Modern hard hats often have webbing, foam, or some impact-absorbing padding under their yellow or white plastic shells. The work helmet typically protects construction workers from objects that fall directly upon them but not from objects that strike at an angle. A sudden indirect blow to the skull can send a worker’s head spinning and cause severe or life-threatening injuries.

The company says that the WaveCel hard hat has a honeycomb structure made of thin, permeable materials that are effective at stopping spin and absorbing glancing hits.

What causes construction head injuries

Even when wearing protective headgear like hard hats, welding visors, safety goggles, and other equipment, construction workers are frequently injured. Some of the most common causes of construction site head injuries involve:

  • Slip and falls.
  • Scaffolding.
  • Forklifts.
  • Falling objects.
  • Electrocution.
  • Heavy machinery like cranes, drills, and PITs.

Accidents like these could result in a concussion, contusions, intracranial hematoma (internal bleeding), nerve damage, or another type of disabling injury.

Get maximum work injury compensation

Head injuries are among the most expensive work injuries to treat. That means injured construction workers need to collect the full value of their workers’ compensation benefits and pursue all additional compensation options, if any. Injured workers are often entitled to compensation for injury-related medical expenses and lost wages, among other things.

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a construction work accident in southeastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island, you probably have a lot of questions. Get answers you can trust. Contact us for a free case evaluation to learn more about how the law applies to your situation, a compensation estimate, and a review of your legal options.

Don’t delay. A strict statute of limitations applies to work injury and workers’ compensation claims. We have offices in Fall River and Foxborough, Massachusetts, as well as Providence, Rhode Island. A member of our team is available to hear from you any time, day or night. Contact us for your no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation right now.

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Oct 2022

Fall Prevention is 2022’s Most Common Work Safety Violation

Construction worksite in MA or RI

Our workers’ compensation attorneys stand up for injured employees.

According to OSHA, the longstanding problems plaguing worker safety remain strong.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently revealed its annual top 10 list of workplace safety violations. Although there was some movement within the ranks, in 2022, the most frequent infractions were the same as those cited in 2021.

The number one work safety violation in 2022 was “fall protection.” Many worksites, OSHA says, lack proper safeguards to prevent serious injury or fatal falls. Fall-related violations are also in the top 10 – ladders, scaffolding, and fall prevention training.

Injured workers have rights.

The top 10 list demonstrates how some employers will disregard employee safety standards yearly. At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we see how this negligence devastates workers and families. People injured or made ill at work are often in a lot of pain and worried about the future. Unable to work, many injured workers accumulate debt.

It doesn’t have to be this way. For decades, our law firm has fought to protect the rights of injured workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. We help employees get the workers’ compensation benefits and injury compensation they deserve. We take on the burden of the workers’ comp process and negotiate aggressively for maximum compensation so that our clients can focus on healing.

If you were injured at work or made ill due to employment, get answers to your legal questions. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

OSHA’s top 10 violations

Employees everywhere need to understand the risks to their health and safety. The following is OSHA’s list of the top safety standards employers were most likely to ignore in the fiscal year 2022.

  • Fall protection.
    Common workplace fall accidents include slipping and falling on slippery surfaces or tripping over wires.
  • Hazard communication.
    Studies estimate that poor communication and misunderstood directions lead to work accidents resulting in injury or death.
  • Respiratory protection.
    Employers must provide employees with appropriate respiratory protection. If an employee chooses to provide their own equipment, the employer must ensure that it meets mandatory prevention, maintenance, and sanitation standards.
  • Ladders, construction.
    At work, ladders must be maintained in good working condition. When circumstances call for it, employers must provide enhanced protection like guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) to workers using ladders.
  • Scaffolding.
    Fall protection equipment is often necessary while working on scaffolding surfaces but is not always provided.
  • Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout).
    When energy is not under control, bad accidents occur. A typical scenario is an injury caused during large equipment maintenance. For example, if the machine is not properly shut down, it could spring to life while the employee cleans it. Examples include burst steam valves or jammed conveyor belts.
  • Powered industrial trucks (PITs).
    One of the most utilized PITs is forklifts. Unfortunately, there are many ways a forklift can cause injuries. For example, a forklift may tip if the driver turns too quickly, carries an overweight or unbalanced load, drives with an elevated load, or is driving while texting.
  • Fall protection training.
    Employers must train workers to identify fall hazards, avoid risks, and properly use safety gear to prevent falls at work.
  • Eye and face protection.
    Personal protective equipment (PPE) that reduces the risk of eye and face injuries includes hard hats, safety glasses, chemical splash goggles, face shields, welding shields, and laser safety glasses.
  • Machinery and machine guard.
    The results of a machinery accident are severe and frequently require amputation. Machines that typically require some form of guarding include saws, presses, manufacturing equipment, cranes, trucks, conveyor belts, and cutters.

Get the compensation you deserve after a work accident.

Our workers’ compensation and work injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl consider it an honor to protect the rights of injured workers. We know how to conduct thorough accident investigations and build solid cases for maximum work injury case compensation. Our law firm serves all of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts from our offices in Fall River, Foxborough, and Providence.

If you were injured in a workplace accident are have been made ill due to job conditions, contact us for a free case consultation to learn more about your rights, get an estimated case value, and help weigh your legal options.

Do not delay. There are many strict deadlines and actions that must be taken soon after the incident for the best chance at a successful workers’ compensation claim or work injury lawsuit. A member of our team is available to hear from you any time, day or night. Contact us to schedule your free case evaluation right now.

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Sep 2022

Are Injured Warehouse Workers Eligible for Workers’ Comp Benefits?

Forklift in a warehouse

Warehouse accidents can cause severe and debilitating work injuries.

Warehouse workers often sustain serious injuries on the job. When they do, they are usually eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

In some cases, injured warehouse workers can receive additional financial compensation that’s not covered by workers’ comp, such as compensation for pain and suffering.

Talking to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your legal rights and options is key. Below, you can find the answers to common questions about warehouse accidents and the potential benefits available to injured warehouse workers.

Injuries are common among warehouse workers.

Warehouse workers sustain far more work-related injuries than many other professions. On average, employees who work in the warehouse and storage industry have an injury rate of 4.8 per 100 workers, according to work-related injury statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as reported by Safety + Health Magazine.

To put such numbers in perspective, 2.7 workers per 100 workers on average get hurt at work in all other private industries combined, according to BLS data cited by Safety + Health Magazine. Based on such statistics, warehouse injuries are 77 percent higher than work-related injuries in other industries.

What are common causes of warehouse worker injuries?

Certain types of accidents are more common than others among warehouse workers. Some of the most common and most serious warehouse accidents include:

  • Slip and fall accidents, especially in cases involving concussions and other head injuries.
  • Forklift accidents, including being hit by a forklift or getting hurt when a forklift overturns.
  • Packaging machinery accidents, especially if a worker’s hands get caught in the machinery.
  • Pallet truck accidents, especially if workers are trapped in or underneath such machinery.
  • Falls from a height, especially when warehouse workers fall off a ladder or fall to a lower level.
  • Being struck by a falling object is especially common in warehouses since there are so many boxes being moved around a warehouse at all times.
  • Exposure to harmful or dangerous substances, including hazardous chemicals.

Are injured warehouse workers eligible for workers’ comp benefits?

In most cases, injured warehouse workers are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state. For example, in Massachusetts, “All employers operating in Massachusetts are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees and themselves if they are an employee of their company,” according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ website.

Rhode Island has similar rules. State law “requires employers with one or more employees to provide workers’ compensation insurance,” according to the State of Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training website.

Can injured warehouse workers obtain additional compensation?

The answer to this seemingly-simple question varies depending on the circumstances of your warehouse accident. In many cases, injured warehouse workers are only eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are certain situations when injured workers may be able to receive additional financial compensation.

Situations in which injured warehouse workers may be able to receive additional money for their injury-related expenses may include:

  • Injuries that are caused by someone working for a different company in the same warehouse, in which case the injured worker may be able to file a third-party lawsuit.
  • Injuries that are caused by hazardous situations at work that the company knew about but did not address in a reasonable amount of time or that the company simply ignored.

Can injured warehouse workers sue their employer?

Here again, the answer to this question varies depending on your work injury circumstances. In many cases, injured workers cannot sue their employer for injuries sustained at work. However, the best way to know if you or a loved one can file a lawsuit against your employer for a warehouse injury is to talk to an experienced work injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Why you need a workers’ compensation attorney

Obtaining workers’ compensation benefits can be a very complicated process. If you make a mistake, you might have to wait a long time to get benefits, or your initial application for benefits might get denied.

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we have extensive experience helping people in Rhode Island and Massachusetts get the benefits they deserve. As a result, we know how the system works in both states and can help you find your way forward.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation to see how a workers’ compensation attorney can help you. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workplace injury claims in both states.

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Sep 2022

Can Construction Workers Get Workers’ Comp for Hearing Loss or Impairment?

Rhode Island construction worker uses a saw to cut pavement

Getting workers’ comp for hearing loss can be complicated.

People who work in construction are among the employees most likely to suffer hearing loss or hearing impairment due to their jobs.

Typically, workers injured on-the-job in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are eligible for workers’ compensation, but collecting benefits for hearing loss can be an uphill battle.

Employers and insurers often deny workplace hearing-loss claims. They’re hoping you will believe them when they say you do not deserve workers’ comp. They want you to give up on pursuing what is rightfully yours.

Injured construction workers deserve compensation.

If your hearing was damaged because of work, do not give up on getting the compensation you deserve. Dig in your heels. Call us. We can help.

The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, P.C. knows the truth about construction workers and workers’ comp benefits.

  • 1. More than half of older construction workers have work-related hearing loss.
  • 2. Work-related hearing loss is covered by workers’ comp.
  • 3. Injured workers deserve compensation.

If you work in construction or another field and have experienced work-related hearing loss or hearing impairment, contact us for a free case consultation. Our law firm serves all of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. At no cost to you, we can explain how the law applies to your situation and your potential legal options.

Workplace hearing loss risks

Construction workers are 40 percent more likely to suffer work-related hearing loss than employees in other industries. According to a recent study, carpenters and boilermakers are among the construction jobs at the highest risk for hearing damage.

Loud noises come from jackhammers, concrete saws, crashing lumber, dockyard cranes, collapsing scaffolding, high-pitched warning alarms, gas leak explosions, drills, sanders, bulldozers, grinders, and other construction equipment.

Employers are required to provide you with a safe working environment. This includes protection against hearing loss and impairment. The risk of damage can be reduced when employers supply workers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) like earplugs and headphones. However, many employers don’t do this or provide poor-quality PPE.

How to prove workplace hearing loss

Unless your hearing loss is due to a catastrophic event, like an explosion, an adjuster might claim that your hearing loss is due to something other than work – like age, pre-existing injuries, hobbies, or lifestyle choices. We’ve even seen insurance adjusters with the nerve to accuse seriously injured workers of “faking it.”

At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we do not accept these excuses – and neither should you. To prove your hearing loss to workers’ compensation authorities, our work injury attorneys use evidence such as:

  • Thorough medical examination report.
  • Audiometric report (a special test that measures your hearing abilities).
  • Expert medical testimony.
  • Witness statements describing how hearing loss has affected your life.
  • Worksite decibel measurements.
  • Regulatory investigations and reports.
  • Recordings.
  • Your own personal and powerful story of how work-related hearing loss has devastated your life and reduced your ability to communicate with and relate to the people around you.

Types of workplace hearing impairment and deafness

In general, there are three or four types of work-related hearing loss.

  • Traumatic hearing loss – Typically caused by a single, loud event like an explosion, gunshot, or direct ear injury.
  • Cumulative hearing loss – This is caused by repeated exposure to loud noises. The damage builds up over time, leading to hearing impairment, deafness, or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
  • Ototoxic substances – Chemical substances and toxic materials can do just as much damage to the ears as loud noises and physical force. In construction, common ototoxic substances workers may be exposed to include solvents like carbon disulfide, styrene, and trichloroethylene, as well as lead, mercury, and carbon dioxide.
  • Dual exposure – Many construction workers are exposed to more than one type of hearing damage. This is called dual exposure, and it may heighten the risk of hearing damage.

Construction workers who are deaf or hearing impaired due to their jobs are entitled to benefits. Workers’ compensation pays for injury-related medical expenses, rehabilitation, temporary and permanent disabilities, and lost wages.

Compassion, experience, respect, results

Since the 1980s, the legal team at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl has fought hard to get injured construction workers the compensation they deserve. Our law firm knows what it takes to prove that your hearing damage is from work.

We know how to obtain the type of evidence necessary to prove work-related hearing loss. If you have a hearing impairment, hearing loss, deafness, or tinnitus due to your work in construction, or another industry, contact us for a free case consultation to see how a work injury attorney can help you. We serve all of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, with offices in Fall River, Foxborough, and Providence.

Do not delay in reaching out. You must meet strict deadlines to successfully apply for workers’ compensation. A member of our team is available to hear from you anytime, day or night. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

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