Archive for June, 2020

How to avoid electrocution on the job

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

Some jobs carry a higher risk of injury or death from electrical hazards than others. Workers in the construction and trade industries and electricians and their apprentices can sustain serious or fatal injuries from contact with electricity.

What you may find surprising is that 28 percent of on-the-job electrical-related deaths in 2017 were linked to professional and business-related services, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Workers in non-trade businesses often are unaware of the dangers of electricity in their workplace.

What are the types of electrical accidents on the job?

According to the National Center for Biological Information, electrical injuries are common and are associated with a high rate of death. People who survive electrical accidents often face a difficult recovery because of damage to internal organs.

Types of electrical burns include:

  • Electric shock: When current passes through the body, which may result in damage to internal organs, muscles, nerves and soft tissue.
  • Flash injury: When an electrical arc passes over the skin and does not enter the body.
  • Flame injury: When an arc flash ignites clothing or other objects and causes a fire.
  • Low voltage injury: An electrical burn caused by a power source of 500 volts or less.
  • High voltage injury: An electrical burn caused by a high voltage power source and often associated with electricity passing through the individual’s entire body.

What is electrocution?

An electrocution is a type of fatal injury caused by electric shock, or current passing through the body. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists electrocution accidents as one of the top four fatal injuries for construction workers.

Common electrocution hazards on job sites include:

  • Exposed wiring
  • Wet conditions while outlets are exposed
  • Overhead or buried power lines

When working around electricity, it’s important to take steps to stay safe. OSHA recommends employers and workers:

  • Identify utilities before starting work.
  • Check for overhead power lines when operating equipment.
  • Keep a safe distance from power lines.
  • Do not use portable electrical tools unless they are grounded or double insulated.
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters for protection.
  • Be aware of possible electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms.

What to do after an electrical injury or electrocution

Nobody expects to suffer an electrical accident or electrocution while working. I you were injured, however, you will need to be prepared to take action. Remain calm, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. In some cases, victims go into shock and don’t realize they have been seriously injured. It’s critical to consult with a medical professional.

Victims injured at work will need to file a workers’ compensation claim to recover losses. Workers’ comp will cover medical bills and lost wages, among other benefits.

If a third party (an entity other than your employer) was negligent, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

Electrical accidents can become complex legal cases. A third-party may deny any responsibility. An employer and their insurance company may downplay the severity of the injuries.

Schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to make sure your rights are protected. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. Trust us to handle your claim while you focus on your recovery.

How to Be Safe at Work as MA Loosens COVID-19 Restrictions

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has issued a set of general rules that requires all employers to follow social distancing protocols for both employees and customers. Under the rules, all employees also must wear masks or face coverings. The governor, however, did not mandate that employers supply the equipment. Some workers, depending on the nature of their jobs, may have to wear gloves or other protective gear.

Businesses must also offer areas where employees can wash their hands, and must regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Guidance specific to industries will be released as the reopening of the economy continues.

Workers exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms have the option of staying home without fear of losing their jobs. Employers must address each individual situation and put plans in place for the safe return of workers. In general, ailing workers are entitled to up to two weeks of paid sick leave.

What If You Don’t Feel Protected from COVID-19 at Work?

You may suffer from underlying conditions – asthma, serious heart conditions, diabetes, being over age 65 and others – that put you at greater risk if you are exposed to the virus. You can ask your employer to make accommodations for you, such as a private office, different work shifts, or continuing to work from home.

If your employer is not following pandemic safety protocols, you and your coworkers can file a complaint with your local board of health, the state attorney general’s office, or the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Be sure to document your case. Laws also protect you from retaliation by your employer if you report their behavior.

Depending on the circumstances, however, an employer can fire you if you refuse to return to work. If you simply do not feel safe and choose to quit your job for “just cause,” you may qualify for unemployment benefits. The process is complicated and could require you to testify at a hearing.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from COVID-19 at Work?

The biggest obstacle to people returning to work is the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. Conditions and safety advisories seem to change almost daily. As a result, your right to work in a safe environment may clash with your employer’s desire to return to business as soon as possible. New regulations are likely, with worker advocates and business lobbyists likely to square off in the legislature and in the courts. In the meantime, your livelihood could be in legal limbo.

The workers’ compensation lawyers at The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl know how to fight for the rights of clients in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. We have a proven track record of aggressively defending worker rights against employers and insurance companies. We can guide you through the legal process toward fair compensation. Contact us at our offices in Fall River and Foxborough, Mass., or Providence, R.I., for a free case consultation today.