Archive for January, 2022

Jan 2022

Lone Worker Safety Critical For Avoiding Workplace Accidents

Workers’ comp lawyer explains how to stay safe on the job

Many jobs require employees to work alone. Among workplace safety experts, these workers are known as “lone workers.” Jobs that require employees to work alone can cover a wide range, including:

  • Overnight convenience store workers
  • Utility repair workers
  • Delivery truck drivers
  • Car repair mechanics
  • Warehouse workers
  • Late-night maintenance workers and cleaners

Unfortunately, workplace accidents often occur involving lone workers, according to a recent article from the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health website.

In order to avoid such accidents, more needs to be done to educate workers and employers about the risks lone workers face on the job. When lone workers are hurt on the job, they are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

What is a lone worker?

As the name suggests, a lone worker is any worker who works alone. This includes employees who work in remote settings or work nontraditional working hours. However, safety consultants interviewed by Safety + Health noted that a lone worker can be anyone who works in a situation where they are alone all or most of the time, even if they’re working in a factory or another workplace situation where there is more than one employee in the same building.

“The way we categorize a lone worker is if we have workers who can’t be heard or seen by another individual during the course of work,” Dave Nickel, a senior consultant and health and safety director for ERM, in an interview with Safety + Health. “They aren’t anticipated to be visited by someone throughout the course of a day. Nobody is visiting or dropping off supplies.”

What are common causes of lone worker accidents?

Work-related accidents involving lone workers happen for many different reasons. Some of the common causes of workplace injuries involving lone workers include:

  • Work-related accidents due to severe weather conditions, including high winds, lightning, flooding, avalanches, or dangerously cold temperatures.
  • Burn injuries due to fires or electrocution.
  • Slip and fall accidents.
  • Work-related traffic accidents.
  • Being physically assaulted by a stranger.

Whatever the circumstances, employers must take steps to protect workers’ safety and well-being. Otherwise, employees can sustain serious injuries on the job.

What can employers do to prevent accidents?

There are many steps employers can take to protect the safety of lone workers. Different suggestions highlighted in the Safety + Health article about lone workers include:

  • Having specific practices and safety procedures in place to protect lone workers.
  • Establishing a formal means of communication between lone workers and other employees or supervisors.
  • Having pre-determined check-in times for lone workers. That way, if lone workers do not check in, employers will be alerted so they can follow up to make sure they’re safe.
  • Not allowing lone workers to work alone or work at all if hazardous conditions exist, including hazardous weather conditions that may arise or which are forecasted during the employee’s shift.
  • Clearly explaining potential hazards to lone workers.
  • Providing safety training to lone workers specifically designed to address possible hazardous situations, including forest fires, wild animals or falling from a height.

Employers need to be prepared and anticipate possible risks lone workers might face on the job. If not, serious injuries or work-related accidents can easily occur.

What options are available to injured workers?

If you or a loved one was hurt while working alone, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, actually obtaining such financial compensation can be harder than many people might realize.

Many times, an employer’s insurance company will deny an application for worker’s compensation benefits. Sometimes, it’s because companies insist that the injury happened outside of work. Or they might try to claim that the injured worker has a pre-existing medical condition rather than a new work injury. When there are no witnesses to the accident — which is usually the case when a lone worker is injured — there is more room for the insurance company to dispute, delay and deny.

Whatever the circumstances of your particular case, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help. We have decades of experience handling worker’s compensation claims in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As a result, we know how to help workers apply for such benefits and how to demand the money they rightfully deserve.

Get the law firm that gets results. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a Rhode Island workers’ compensation lawyer at one of our three office locations. We handle workers’ compensation claims throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Jan 2022

Fatal Workplace Accidents At Lowest Level In 7 Years, Study Reports

Workplace accidents can result in on-the-job fatalities.

Workers’ compensation lawyer explains recent trend, why fatalities are down

Following one of the deadliest years for workplace accidents, the number of workplace fatalities nationwide in 2020 declined to its lowest level since 2013, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

A total of 4,764 people died due to on-the-job injuries nationwide in 2020, according to an article published on the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health website. That’s a decrease of 10.7 percent compared to 2019, when a record 5,333 died due to work-related accidents.

However, not all the numbers for 2020 were encouraging. That year, a total of 44 healthcare support workers died due to work-related injuries or illnesses, an increase of 15.8 percent compared to 2019, according to the BLS.

Why are workplace fatalities lower?

Many different types of workers and industries experienced significant decreases in workplace fatalities in 2020. Workplace fatalities among black workers decreased by 14.7 percent in 2020 to 541 deaths. Transportation-related fatalities fell by 16.2 percent to 1,778 deaths the same year. Worker suicides also decreased in 2020 by 15.6 percent to 259 deaths, according to the BLS.

Such figures seem encouraging, but workplace safety officials warned that the decrease in workplace fatalities in 2020 was likely due to fewer people working due to the ongoing pandemic. “Fewer people were in direct contact with preventable hazards,” Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, said in an interview with CNBC. In other words, this isn’t necessarily indicative of safer workplaces, just workplaces that temporarily had fewer people working in them.

Why do fatal workplace accidents happen?

Work-related fatalities happen for many different reasons. The four most common reasons are often referred to as the “fatal four,” especially when referring to construction fatalities. The fatal four are:

  • Falling from a height (33.5 percent of construction fatalities, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA))
  • Struck by object (11.1 percent of construction fatalities)
  • Electrocution (8.5 percent of construction fatalities)
  • Caught between objects (5.5 percent of construction fatalities)

In addition, work-related traffic fatalities account for 21.7 percent of all workplace fatalities, including 1,038 deaths in 2020. Slip, trip and fall accidents also account for many workplace fatalities, including 805 deaths in 2020, according to BLS.

What legal options are available to families?

If a loved one died on the job, family members may be eligible for financial compensation. Workers’ compensation pays death benefits for on-the-job fatalities. In addition, if your loved one’s death was the result of third-party negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.

The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help your family navigate this complex legal process. Our law firm has years of experience fighting for the rights of injured workers and their families in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We’re familiar with the state and federal labor laws in both states. We know how the legal system works. That’s why we have such a strong track record of success in cases involving workplace fatalities.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation lawyer you can trust to fight for your family’s rights. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workers’ compensation claims and wrongful death cases in both states.