Archive for January, 2021

Workplace deaths reached highest level in 12 years during 2019

Workplace deaths

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2019 was not a good year for workplace safety. The BLS released its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data on December 16, 2020. The report concluded that 5,333 worker deaths occurred in 2019 due to workplace accidents. That’s a 1.6 percent increase from 2018 and the highest number of worker deaths since 5,657 fatalities occurred in 2007. The rate of workplace fatalities remained at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time workers for three consecutive years.

The BLS data also shows increases of:

  • Transportation-related fatalities – 2%
  • Slip, trip and fall fatalities – 11.3%
  • Construction and extraction worker fatalities – 6.3%
  • Driver/sales worker and truck driver fatalities – 1,005 (highest since 2003)

This report is the second of two, yearly BLS reports. The first report, which was released on November 4th, includes data on nonfatal private-sector workplace injuries and illnesses. The first report concludes that the number of workplace injuries and illnesses in the private sector (2.8 million) remained unchanged from 2018 to 2019. In addition, the report found:

  • 15% of injuries and illnesses in 2019 happened in manufacturing.
  • On average, injured workers missed eight days from work. For workers age 65 and older, it was 16 days.
  • Workers that missed work due to sprains, strains, and tears visited medical facilities at a rate of 6.5 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.

The National Safety Council released a statement to address the high number of workplace fatalities.

“Employers need a systematic approach to safety that includes having policies, training and risk assessment techniques in place to address major causes of fatalities and injuries. Leadership needs to set the tone from the top and engage all workers in safety, identify hazards and measure safety performance using leading indicators to continuously improve,” said the agency.

How can an attorney help me if I lost a loved one due to a workplace fatality?

Workers’ compensation in Massachusetts and Rhode Island is set up to provide financial support for injured workers. But it also provides benefits to survivors and dependents of deceased workers. In order to qualify for death benefits in Massachusetts, you must be the spouse or child of the deceased worker. If you’re the worker’s child, you must be under the age of 18, a full-time student, or be unable to work due to a physical or mental disability.

Massachusetts workers’ comp death benefits pays for:

  • Weekly benefits – 66% of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage.
  • Eligibility for yearly cost-of-living adjustments two years after the date of the workplace injury/illness.
  • $60 per week to each eligible child if the deceased worker’s spouse remarries.
  • Burial costs and funeral costs.

In Rhode Island, surviving spouses and children are also eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits. Weekly benefits are 75% of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage and 80% for a spouse with children. Children must be under the age of 18 or be unable to work as a result of a disability. Spouses lose their eligibility for benefits if they remarry.

If you were hurt on the job, or lost a loved one due to a workplace injury or illness, the workers’ comp lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you get the benefits you deserve. We serve injured workers and their families in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. To get started on your claim, contact us online or call us for a free case evaluation.

Understanding Accidental Disability Retirement (ADR) Benefits

Workplace disability

What injured public employees need to know

Most public employees in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have access to accidental disability retirement (ADR) benefits if they’re hurt on the job. However, the laws and regulations pertaining to ADR are complex and your eligibility to get compensation may be unclear. Here’s what you need to know about your ADR benefits as an injured public employee.

Who is covered under ADR?

In general, if you’re a public employee in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, you are covered under ADR. This applies to most people who work for the state government or any local, municipal or county government or authority, with some exceptions (one of which, notably, is the MBTA).

What counts as “disability” for the purposes of ADR?

Essentially, the definition of “disability” for ADR purposes is tied to the job you had at the time of the injury. It’s a question of whether you can do that specific job, not whether you can do any job at all. For instance, if your job at the time of the injury involved lifting loads up to 50 pounds, and you are now unable to lift more than 20 pounds, you should be considered disabled for ADR purposes, even though there are plenty of other jobs you could do.

What kinds of injuries are eligible for ADR?

To get ADR, you have to be injured while performing your specific job duties. This is a more specific definition than that used for workers’ compensation, which applies to any injury you sustained while on the job (with a few exceptions).

What does ADR pay for?

ADR only provides a single benefit: wage replacement. Specifically, it pays 72 percent of your pre-injury wages for as long as you are eligible to receive the benefits, which is reviewed periodically. If you remain disabled, you can continue to receive those benefits for the rest of your life.

What’s the difference between ADR and workers’ comp?

Workers’ compensation uses a much more restrictive definition of “total disability” than ADR. While ADR only requires that you can’t do your pre-injury job, workers’ comp requires that you can’t do any job in order to qualify as totally disabled. Conversely, ADR only provides wage loss benefits, whereas worker’s comp pays for your reasonable and necessary medical treatment in addition to wage loss.

If you’re a public employee injured on the job, you’re looking at a complex legal situation as you try to make the most of ADR, workers’ compensation, and whatever other legal options you may have. There are strict deadlines that apply to these claims and you need to take prompt action to protect your rights. We proudly represent injured public employees throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and if you’ve been hurt, we’d be happy to talk to you. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl today to schedule your free consultation.