Archive for July, 2018

Boston Sees Spike in Workplace Deaths

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyThe United States Department of Labor has released its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data on 2016 workplace fatalities, and the greater Boston area is notable for a significant increase from the year before. In fact, Boston’s workplace fatalities in 2016 reached levels not seen since 2000.

This stood out in comparison to a much smaller increase that happened in workplace deaths across the nation, which resulted in a national workplace fatality count that reached over 5,000 for the first time since 2008.

A Local Spike

Wicked Local Westborough reports that Boston area workplace deaths have stayed under 50 per year for the last decade, reaching a low of just over 20 in 2012. 2015 came close, at nearly 50 workplace fatalities, but 2016 skyrocketed up to 75. Where the national average saw a 7 percent increase in workplace fatalities, Greater Boston saw a 56 percent increase.

Construction and extraction occupations claimed the most lives of any industry in Greater Boston, at 24 workplace fatalities. While transportation incidents were responsible for the largest number of workplace fatalities nationwide at 40 percent, other factors were of particular note in the Boston area. These included exposure to harmful substances or environments at 19 deaths, and violence and other injuries by persons or animals with 17 deaths.

The harmful substances category includes deaths related to unintentional overdose and the non-medical use of drugs and alcohol. Federal reports indicated a spike in these numbers due in part to opioid-related incidents. Within the category, the subcategory exposure to other harmful substances jumped from 5 to 16 fatalities.


Massachusetts has made strides to see these numbers change. With Gov. Baker extending OSHA protections to public-sector workers and recent laws raising the maximum fine for corporate manslaughter from $1,000 to $250,000, it is expected that we will begin to see more care taken to protect a larger range of employees. However, with a very small force of OSHA inspectors in the commonwealth, it may be difficult for the government to hold each employer directly responsible.

In this environment, it is deeply important that workers who are injured on the job hold their employers responsible quickly and effectively. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation. That’s why it’s best to speak to an attorney at The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl to discuss your options.

Older Construction Workers at Risk of Hearing Loss

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyNot all job-related injuries are the same. Most are short-term: if you break your arm, for example, it’s put in a cast and you’re back at work in a matter of days or weeks. But other injuries are long-term and permanent, as pointed out in a recent study by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).

As reported by Safety and Health Magazine, the center found 58 percent of former construction workers suffer from hearing loss. The study of 19,000 workers previously employed at Department of Energy nuclear power sites, based on data from the Building Trades Medical Screening Program, also uncovered factors that worsen the condition.

Report finds high risk of hearing loss among certain construction workers

Overall, the report said, the workers had “significantly increased risk of hearing loss compared to reference populations.” The study, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, also found that:

  • Workers with more than 30 years of experience are nearly four times more likely to suffer from hearing loss than workers with fewer than 10 years on the job.
  • Workers who smoke are 18 percent more likely than nonsmokers to have hearing loss.
  • Workers who have the most exposure to solvent are 15 percent more likely to experience hearing loss than workers with the lowest exposure rates.

The fact is, hearing loss is a workplace injury. Some workers lose their hearing quickly when they are subjected to deafening noise at their work sites. Workers also can suffer hearing loss slowly over time, the result of years of exposure to machinery on the job. In many cases, employers fail to provide hearing safety training or protection, such as ear plugs or headphones, despite regulations and conditions that call for them.

The symptoms can go beyond hearing loss. Some people suffer from constant ringing in the ears and debilitating ear aches. In extreme cases, especially when subjected to sudden loud noises, such as explosions and other accidents, workers can suffer a ruptured ear drum and total hearing loss in one or both ears. All hearing injuries are permanent – they do not heal, and they can have a direct impact on the quality of your life for decades.

If you or a loved one has experienced workplace hearing loss, you likely are lost in the maze of local, state and federal regulations. Where do you turn for expert medical attention? Who do you know who understands the bureaucracy of workers’ compensation? Any advice you receive from your employer is self-serving since they are primarily interested in protecting themselves. Where do you turn for professional and compassionate assistance during your time of need? In Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, a workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl has experience handling cases just like yours. An attorney can offer free case consultations while working on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing unless they win your case.