Archive for December, 2021

Dec 2021

Preventing Work Injuries in Manufacturing with Ergonomics

An industrial safety topic. A young male factory worker using a proper lifting technique

Workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island can sustain painful and debilitating injuries, especially those who work in manufacturing. Through the use of ergonomics, employers can help create a safe work environment while reducing the injury rate among their employees.

Ergonomic Danger Signs

Ergonomic-related repetitive-stress injuries can cover a wide range. Some examples of injury-causing postures and movements that are common among those who work in manufacturing include:

  • Arms above the head: This can create several issues, including muscle spasms, shoulder strains, and shoulder inflammation.
  • Twisting back: Any movement beyond 35 degrees of rotation can cause muscle strains, disc herniation, or bone spurs.
  • Forward bending: The simple task of bending down to pick something up can cause pressure and stress on the lumbar spine and back musculature.
  • Non-neutral wrists: Bending wrists decreases grip strength and can cause issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Frequent kneeling and squatting: Can lead to osteoarthritis or bursitis in the knees.

Ergonomic Corrective Actions

The risks associated with repetitive motion tasks are pretty straightforward. So are some of the solutions, according to EHS Today, a monthly occupational safety and health magazine:

  • Arms above the head: Lower tasks through engineering or equipment that will accommodate working in the employee’s power zone (between mid-thigh and mid-chest height), where the worker can lift the most weight with the least amount of effort.
  • Twisting back: Redesign the work area to best accommodate the task or train employees to turn their whole body instead of just their upper torso when moving materials.
  • Forward bending: Lower workstations, utilize equipment, or change/redesign tools.
  • Non-neutral wrists: Redesign of work area, as well as education and additional training for workers.
  • Frequent kneeling and squatting: Identify tasks that pose a risk, redesign the work area to raise it up (if possible), and fit employees with knee pads.

Employers should be proactive about ergonomics in the workplace and collaborate with their employees to identify and address health-related issues. They should also establish safety training programs to minimize the risk of injuries.

Pursuing Workers’ Comp Benefits

Injured workers have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits, but the process of obtaining them isn’t always as easy as it should be. Often, those who suffer an on-the-job injury have trouble navigating the system and don’t end up with the benefits they deserve.

At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we provide individual attention to injured workers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We know how the workers’ compensation system works, and we can guide you throughout every step in the process. Whether you’re not sure how to file for workers’ comp benefits or you need to appeal a denied claim, our law firm can aggressively advocate for your best interests and work to get the best possible outcome in your case.

If you sustained a workplace injury, schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer from our law firm to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options.

Our law firm has been fighting for injured workers in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts for decades.

Contact us today to see how we can help you.

Dec 2021

Rhode Island Contractors Cited For Endangering Workers

construction trench collapse

Some construction work involves digging deep trenches to pour a foundation, install a sewer line, bury electrical conduit or lay down pipes. Employers are required to take specific safety precautions. When they don’t, there can be a construction accident that leaves workers seriously injured.

For example, the sidewalls of a trench need to be protected. If they aren’t, the trench can collapse and workers can be buried in soil and debris within seconds.

An OSHA inspection at a Warwick sewer installation site on July 8, 2021, found that area contractors had failed to follow federal standards for protecting the safety of workers digging trenches.

Violations found at work site

The inspectors determined that workers of Reyes Landscaping Inc. had been working in a five- to eight-foot deep trench without any protection against a cave-in. The contractor had also allowed soil to pile up at the trench’s edge, and some materials were falling back into the trench.

Reyes Landscaping Inc. does business as Reyes Landscaping & Masonry in Johnston and TRD Contracting LLC in Greenville.

Several hazards were identified, including:

  • The trench had not been inspected by a competent person before work started.
  • Employees did not have helmets.
  • The ladder used to enter and exit the trench was inadequate.
  • Objects were being lifted using an uninspected and unlabeled steel alloy chain.

OSHA returned to the site on July 13 but found that the hazards had not been corrected. Workers were still being exposed to the risk of cave-in and struck-by accidents as they worked in a trench that was now 9 feet, 6 inches deep.

Reyes Landscaping was cited for two willful and five serious violations, and the agency proposed $63,586 in penalties. TRD Contracting was cited for four serious violations, and the agency proposed $11,704 in penalties.

Fighting for injured workers

“An unprotected trench can be an early grave. While no collapse occurred in Warwick, the danger to these workers was real and imminent,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Sestito in Providence. He noted that a cubic yard of soil can weigh “as much as a small car.”

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 24 deaths caused by trench collapses in the construction industry in 2019.

Construction workers can be seriously injured in workplace accidents. Workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to pay for medical expenses and provide partial wages to help injured workers get by. But the process can be complicated. Claims can be disputed by employers and insurance carriers and are often denied. In some cases, a third-party injury claim is also needed for the injured worker to recover full compensation for their losses.

That’s why it’s important to have an experienced Rhode Island workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl has been fighting for injured workers for decades. Our workplace injury attorneys know the laws and how the workers’ compensation system works. We build strong cases for compensation and fight for our clients through every step of the process.

We know that an injury from a workplace accident can affect you physically, emotionally, and financially. If you’ve been hurt on the job in Rhode Island or Southeastern Massachusetts,  learn more about how we can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.