Apr 2022

Promoting Safety With a Multilingual Workforce

Group of multi-ethnic workers

Employers need to consider cultural backgrounds

The racial and ethnic diversity of the population increases every year in the United States, and with that comes an increase in the number of multilingual workforces. Although having a diverse group of workers is beneficial in many ways, some of these workers may not speak English. Studies published in Safety and Health Magazine show that in companies with less than 50 workers, only 37.5 percent of supervisors spoke the same language as immigrant workers.

This raises a concern when it comes to the health and safety of these workers.  Misunderstanding safety protocols and miscommunication with other workers and management all come into play when there are language barriers. Sadly, those barriers often lead to preventable workplace accidents.

How to avoid language barriers

It is up to employers to make resources available to non-English-speaking employees. This may seem unnecessary when things like Google Translate exist, but online tools aren’t always perfect, and often, they can make communication more confusing. Online tools can be great at translating things word for word but don’t take into account sentence structure, grammar, and different dialects.

Having an in-person translator is a great first step toward clearer communication in the workplace. Simply having a translator who speaks, reads, and understands the same language may not be enough, as dialects bring further complications. For instance, one word could have two different meanings depending on cultural background.

Training non-English-speaking employees

Training workers who don’t speak English is crucial for their safety. Effective training, according to Chron, covers operation instructions, emergency procedures, company policies, regulations, and safety procedures. Training should be delivered slowly, repeatedly, and in simple terms. A translator and other resources in a worker’s native language can be a huge help.

Construction Regulatory Alert and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) advise tips and extra training steps to help ensure all workers fully understand the ins and outs of the job and company, regardless if they speak a different language:

  • The law. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employees to be provided with safety training in a language they understand.
  • Demonstration. Everyone has different learning styles and sometimes words are just not enough. To help employees fully understand, demonstrations make it easy for workers to simply watch, follow along and copy what they see.
  • Simplicity. To avoid confusion, train with simple words and materials. Avoid advanced terminology that could be confusing in any language.
  • Visuals. Images are more universal and can speak louder than words. Signs, posters, and videos are great ways to spread information.

Protecting the rights of ALL workers

No matter where you were born or what language you speak, you deserve to be safe while on the job. You also deserve to know your legal rights if you were hurt at work.

That’s why if you suffered a workplace injury, you should talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to get a clear understanding of all your available options.

You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages, but the only way to know for sure is to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer in your area to review your case.

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we’re proud to serve as aggressive advocates for injured workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Let us go to work for you and fight for the outcome your case deserves.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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Apr 2022

Falls From Height Cause the Most Fatal Construction Accidents

First aid support accident at work of construction worker at site. Builder accident falls scaffolding on floor, Safety team helps employee accident.

Falling from a ladder, scaffolding, or roof
can have grave consequences

There are many different types of construction accidents that can be fatal, but falls from height are the No. 1 hazard that construction workers face on the job site. In 2020, there were a total of 351 construction deaths due to falls and thousands of injuries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) have all partnered together on a Fall Prevention Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about falls in construction and provide safety tips to workers and employers.

OSHA shares three steps employers and workers can take to help prevent falls from happening.


Having a set plan before any work begins is crucial to avoid safety hazards that can lead to falls. This includes deciding how the job will be completed, each task and step it will take to complete the job, and the safety equipment needed for each task. Planning ensures the success of the job and protects the safety of the workers.


Making sure workers are provided with the right equipment is key to protecting their safety. Employees working on a site six feet or more above lower levels are especially at risk for injury or death if a fall occurs. Workers need the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, harnesses, and other safety gear to avoid an accident.


Everyone needs to be properly trained on the use of equipment. Workers should know everything about the equipment before using it. Employers also have to train workers on recognizing hazards on the job. Having training refreshers is highly advised.

Jobs that have the highest risk of falling

ConstructionConnect provides a list of the top 10 jobs that resulted in fatal injuries in 2020, and many of these jobs come with a risk of falling from height:

  • Construction Laborers – 308 deaths
  • Supervisors of Construction and Extraction Workers – 88 deaths
  • Roofers – 88 deaths
  • Carpenters – 79 deaths
  • Electricians – 70 deaths
  • Construction Equipment Operators – 65 deaths
  • Painters and Paperhangers – 53 deaths
  • Pipelayers, Plumber, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters – 30 deaths
  • Helpers, Construction Trades – 19 deaths
  • Structural Iron and Steel Workers – 16 deaths

Let a construction accident lawyer review your case

Recovering from a construction accident involving a fall can take a long time. Your health comes first and should be your main focus. But medical bills and other accident-related expenses can stack up fast, making it difficult to focus on healing. Whether you apply for workers’ compensation benefits or file a lawsuit against a negligent third party, you should be able to receive financial compensation for your losses. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.

That’s where we come in. At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we have years of experience getting our clients the medical care and compensation they deserve. We know the ins and outs of the law in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and we know what it takes to get real results for our clients.

Discover what our law firm can do for you. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced construction accident lawyer. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

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Mar 2022

Eye Safety Wellness & How To Prevent Work-Related Eye Injuries

Doctor examining wheelchair patient after eye surgery

Thousands of people every day sustain a work-related eye injury. In particular, an estimated 2,000 workers injure their eyes every day and need emergency medical care, according to Weekly Safety, a blog devoted to workplace safety-related issues.

Some work-related eye injuries happen in an instant. Other eye injuries might take months or years to develop. Either way, employers need to do everything they can to prevent work-related eye injuries, which are often covered by workers’ compensation benefits.

As a result, Prevent Blindness, a volunteer eye safety and health organization, has designed March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month for the second year in a row. The goal of the workplace safety initiative is to educate employers and workers about eye injuries and some of the best ways to prevent them.

What are common work-related eye injuries?

As noted above, an estimated 2,000 people sustain work-related eye injuries every day that require emergency medical treatment. This includes 15,000 welding-related eye injuries every year, according to Weekly Safety. Some of the most common work-related eye injuries include:

  • Cut or scratch to the eye
  • Corneal abrasion (a scratch to the cornea or white part of the eye)
  • Punctured eyeball
  • Acute hyphema (bleeding between the iris and the cornea of the eye)
  • Eye strain, particularly digital eye strain
  • Vision deterioration
  • Partial or total blindness

Why do workplace eye injuries happen?

Workplace eye injuries often occur due to five common causes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These causes are:

  • An object scraping the eye – Such objects can include dust, metal slivers, wood chips, or glass.
  • Blunt trauma to the eye – An object striking the eye, often with strong force.
  • An object penetrating the eye – Whether it’s a piece of metal, wood, or a nail, when such objects pierce the eyeball, partial or total blindness can occur.
  • Chemical burns to the eye – Powerful cleaning products or chemicals can cause damage to someone’s eye (or both eyes) if they come into contact with the eye or surrounding tissue.
  • Thermal burns to the eye – Excessively high heat or steam can cause work-related eye injuries. Welders in particular often sustain this type of eye injury.

In addition, eye strain caused by looking at computer screens or other electronic devices for too long can cause long-term eye damage and reduced macular health.

What can be done to prevent workplace eye injuries?

There are many steps employers can take to prevent eye injuries in the workplace. Such safety measures include:

  • Provide employees with protective eyewear (goggles, face shields, etc.) if their job could potentially result in a work-related eye injury.
  • Employers should conduct a safety assessment of the workplace to determine if there are any potential hazards that could result in an eye injury.
  • Provider workers with safety training, including highlighting possible dangers.
  • Place signs around the workplace reminding employees to wear eye protection in hazardous areas.
  • Make sure computers used by employees are positioned correctly so workers do not experience digital eye strain.

Find out how an eye injury attorney can help you

Having an eye injury lawyer on your side can often make a dramatic difference in the outcome of your case. Even if you’re eligible for workers’ compensation or other benefits, your attorney can help you explore all your legal options. This is especially important if you become blind and permanently lose your ability to see due to your work-related eye injury.

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, our attorneys can help guide you through the complex legal process and fight for your best interests. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation attorney you can trust. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workers’ compensation claims in both states.

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Mar 2022

How Common Are Workplace Burn Injuries?

Bandage for burn injury

One of the most common and most serious workplace injuries someone can sustain is a burn injury, according to a medical study conducted by doctors who regularly treat burn injury victims.

In an instant, someone can sustain a serious burn at work. Such injuries often require immediate medical care, including emergency medical treatment. Such work-related injury expenses are often covered by workers’ compensation. But actually obtaining such benefits can often be challenging.

So how bad is the problem? How common are workplace burn injuries? And why do these accidents happen on the job? Below, you can learn more about burn injuries sustained at work and the legal options available to injury victims.

How common are workplace burn injuries?

Overall, people sustain more than 5,000 burn injuries each year, according to statistics compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Of these burn injury victims, more than 60 people die each year on average due to work-related burn injuries, according to the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

Based on such statistics, work-related burn injuries account for 40 percent of all burn-related deaths, according to the medical study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). The study was conducted by doctors and medical researchers who treat people for burn injuries.

Another study cited by researchers reported that burn injuries accounted for 42 percent of all work-related injuries. As a result, burn injuries are one of the most common on-the-job injuries.

Causes of on-the-job burn injuries

Work-related burn injuries happen for many different reasons. The most common causes include:

  • Burn injuries caused by fires
  • Electrical burns
  • Burn injuries caused by explosions
  • Scalding burns caused by hot liquids
  • Chemical burns caused by gasoline, paint thinner, cleaners, and other substances

What some people might not realize is many work-related burn injuries occur due to negligence or mistakes made by employers that result in unsafe working conditions. Examples include:

  • Not providing workers with protective safety equipment
  • Failing to train workers how to safely operate equipment
  • Not properly maintaining equipment, resulting in an accident
  • Inexperienced workers causing an accident that results in a burn injury

Who is most at risk of suffering a burn injury at work?

Certain workers and industries sustain more burn injuries than others. Men sustain 90 percent of burn injuries, according to one study cited by the doctors who treat burn injury patients. In addition, younger men are more likely to sustain a work-related burn injury. One study found that men between the ages of 25 and 34 sustained the most work-related burn injuries, followed by men between the ages of 35 and 44.

As for particular employers, 29 percent of work-related burn injuries involve people working in the manufacturing industry sector. Restaurant workers sustained the second-most work-related burn injuries at 15 percent, followed by electrical workers (15 percent of work-related burn injuries), automotive workers (13 percent), construction workers (10 percent), and chemical plant workers (9 percent).

Talk to a burn injury attorney today

You might think you don’t need an attorney if you or a loved one sustained a burn injury at work. Such injuries are often covered by workers’ compensation. A type of insurance, workers’ compensation should provide injured or sick workers with money for medical expenses and replacement income.

However, actually obtaining workers’ compensation benefits can be very difficult. And depending on the circumstances of your work-related accident, you may be eligible for additional financial compensation.

The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you explore all the legal options available to you. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation attorney who knows how to skillfully handle such complicated legal cases. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workers’ compensation claims in both states.

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Feb 2022

How Safety Complacency Can Result in Workplace Accidents

Male worker falls through a wooden pallet while on the job.

Our workers’ comp lawyers explain how to keep workplaces safe

Companies need to put employee safety first at all times. Otherwise, workplace accidents can easily occur, resulting in a serious workplace injury. Each year, more than 2.7 million people sustain a work-related injury or illness, according to the latest statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

When accidents happen at work, injured employees often need extensive medical treatment, time off from work, and support to help them fully recover. That’s why workers’ compensation benefits are so important.

But what if there were steps companies could take to prevent such injuries in the first place? According to a recent report, there is something companies can do to reduce workplace injuries and keep workers safe. The answer? Not becoming complacent about workplace safety.

“Complacency is a state of decreased external awareness and reduced sensitivity to hazards caused by the brain’s ability to activate neural pathways,” Sharon Lipinski, CEO of Habit Mastery Consulting, recently wrote in EHS Today.

What is safety complacency at work?

Complacency means becoming satisfied with the current state of events. The word also often implies a resistance to change. This might sound good if everything’s going great. But when it comes to workplace safety, employers need to be vigilant and constantly stay on top of the latest developments in workplace safety, according to Lipinski.

“Successfully combatting complacency starts by understanding that the root cause of complacency is how the brain handles repetitive behavior,” Lipinski writes. “In other words, complacency is a byproduct of habit.”

This means that when companies don’t make safety a priority, bad habits can result in hazardous work conditions. And the more hazards in a workplace, the more likely an accident will occur on the job.

How companies can make safety a priority

There are many different ways companies can make workplaces safer. In terms of complacency, Lipinski offered several suggestions for creating a workplace culture that puts workplace safety first. Such suggestions include:

  • Create pre-planning checklists for workers. Before someone starts a job, make sure they know exactly what they need to do. Such checklists can range from which tools to use to what steps should be taken to perform their job safely.
  • Anticipate what might go wrong. Think ahead. Use your experience. When injuries occurred in the past, what went wrong? Try to anticipate possible unexpected events
  • Change workers’ perspective. Ask them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes at work. Encourage them to examine a problem from another point of view.
  • Make safety a priority at work. This includes addressing the most dangerous conditions at work first.

Companies also need to provide workers with the necessary safety equipment and safety training to do their job right.

Give your workers’ comp case the attention it deserves

You might think you don’t need an attorney if you or a loved one got hurt at work. All you have to do is tell your employer you got hurt on the job. Then you’ll receive workers’ compensation benefits, right?

Don’t be so sure. Getting the benefits you deserve can be much more challenging than you might realize. And if you don’t receive those benefits, you could end up having to pay for your injury-related expenses out of your own pocket.

That’s not right. That’s why we want to help. At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, one of our experienced Rhode Island workers’ compensation lawyers can make sure your workplace injury gets the attention it deserves. We know what to do because we have years of experience helping injured workers throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Learn more about your legal rights. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation attorney who puts your best interests first. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workers’ compensation claims in both states.

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Feb 2022

Reducing Slip & Fall Accidents in the Workplace

Business lady falling down stairs

A workers’ comp lawyer serving RI & MA explains what to know

Slip and fall accidents remain a common cause of serious injuries and fatalities at work. Every day, numerous people slip, trip, or fall at work. As a result, injury victims often need extensive medical care and time off from work to recover. Workers’ compensation should cover such injury-related expenses. But getting the benefits you deserve can often be very difficult.

That’s why it’s important for employers to do everything they can to prevent slip and fall accidents from happening in the first place. Below, you can learn more about these common workplace accidents and effective strategies for stopping them at work.

How common are workplace slip and falls?

Sadly, slip and fall accidents at work happen far more often than you might realize. Worst of all, they’re becoming even more common in recent years. In 2019, workplace fatalities due to slip, trip, or fall accidents increased by 11.3 percent compared to 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In addition, 27 percent of the 888,220 nonfatal work injuries (239,800 injuries) that required employees to miss work in 2019 were due to slip, trip, and fall accidents, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

What’s more, for the past 11 years, slip and fall accidents have consistently topped the list of the most frequently cited causes of workplace accidents, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Keeping workers safe

Companies can employ many different strategies for preventing slip and fall accidents in the workplace. Some of the strategies recommended in a recent Safety + Health article about workplace safety include:

  • Identify contributing factors – In the case of slip and fall accidents, this often means identifying potentially hazardous situations at work.
  • Keep surfaces clean – Many slip and fall accidents at work occur due to water or other substances left on the floor, stairs, or walkways.
  • Proper footwear – Make sure employees have shoes with a firm grip. Slip-resistant shoes can prevent workers from slipping and getting hurt.
  • Remain vigilant – Employers can’t simply make a few changes and stop making any improvements. Preventing slip and fall accidents at work needs to be a year-round effort.
  • Prioritize safety – Companies need to make sure safety comes before profits or productivity. That’s because many slip and fall accidents occur because employees care more about meeting deadlines than worker safety.

“All industry leaders want a safe workplace, but there are often competing messages that prioritize production speed,” said Bradley Evanoff, professor of occupational and environmental medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. “Companies need consistent messaging and action that shows the importance of safety.”

Get fast, effective legal representation when you’re injured

If you get hurt at work due to a slip and fall accident, you should receive financial compensation for your injury-related expenses, including medical bills and replacement income. Employees often receive this money in the form of workers’ compensation benefits.

But actually getting workers’ comp benefits can be much harder than people think. The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you every step of the way. We know how the system works, and we know how to help our clients get the workers’ comp benefits they need and deserve. That’s because we have years of experience helping injured workers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Discover how our law firm can help you. Contact us today and schedule a free case evaluation. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workers’ compensation claims in both states.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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