Category Archives: Uncategorized

Crane, Derrick and Hoist Safety

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from www.osha.gov

Moving large, heavy loads is crucial to today’s manufacturing and construction industries. Much technology has been developed for these operations, including careful training and extensive workplace precautions. There are significant safety issues to be considered, both for the operators of the diverse "lifting" devices, and for workers in proximity to them. This page is a starting point for finding information about these devices, including elevators and conveyors, and their operation.

Crane, derrick, and hoist safety hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, marine terminals, longshoring, gear certification, and the construction industry.

How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers’ rights?

Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers’ rights under the OSH Act.

OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

Small businesses may contact OSHA’s free On-site Consultation services funded by OSHA to help determine whether there are hazards at their…

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New Testing Reveals Hidden Dangerous Chemicals in Popular Halloween Costumes and “Trick or Treat” Bags

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

Study Finds Costumes and Party Supplies Sold by Top Retailers Contain Hazardous Additives

(Ann Arbor, MI) — A study released today by the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project has found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies. The nonprofit Ecology Center tested 106 Halloween products for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. The products were purchased from top national retailers including CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens.

Media Resources:

“We found that seasonal products, like thousands of other products we have tested, are full of dangerous chemicals,” said Jeff Gearhart, HealthyStuff.org research director. “Poorly regulated toxic chemicals consistently show up in seasonal products. Hazardous chemicals in consumer products pose unnecessary and avoidable health hazards to children, consumers, communities, workers and our environment.”

HealthyStuff.org tested Halloween products for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, arsenic, and tin (organotins).

Some products contained multiple chemical hazards, including a Toddler Batman Muscle Costume whose belt contained 29% regulated phthalates, 340 ppm tin, and lead in the lining of the mask at 120…

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MSHA commemorates 10-year anniversary of Sago Mine disaster

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from www.msha.gov

ARLINGTON, Va. – Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main today issued the following statement on the 10-year anniversary of the Sago Mine disaster:

“On Jan. 2, 2006, at approximately 6:30 a.m., the Sago coal mine in Tallmansville, West Virginia, exploded with 29 miners underground. Although 16 successfully escaped, 12 miners lost their lives and one was seriously injured.

“Two other disasters followed that year – the Jan. 19 Aracoma Alma Mine fire in West Virginia that killed two miners, and the Darby Mine explosion in Kentucky on May 20 that killed five miners. All three of these fatalities were pivotal in the passage of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006.

“Among its provisions, the MINER Act called for the establishment of emergency response plans by every mine operator, better trained and more readily available mine rescue teams, enhanced technology to facilitate two-way communication between surface and underground personnel, and stronger seals between active and abandoned areas. It also added post-mine emergency protections for miners, such as oxygen devices that are more accessible, refuge shelters and lifelines.

“While the legislation put into place increased protections for miners, we know that our work is not done and more actions are needed. MSHA has been working hard to address the lessons learned from Sago and other mining tragedies to ensure that all miners can put…

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Facebooking Your Workers’ Compensation Case

Almost everyone’s using social media these days. Even my 80-year old grandma is on Facebook! However, there are special considerations that you need to keep in mind when posting on Facebook and you have an open workers’ compensation case. Claimants receiving workers’ compensation benefits need to be aware that the insurance companies will watching everything they post or share on their Facebook or social media site.

 

Recently, a man in Australia alleged a compensable ankle injury. However, someone on Facebook posted a video where he was shown demonstrating a karate move involving a high kick. The Australian court gave the video significant weight and the value of his claim was substantially diminished.

 

As a plaintiff’s attorney, I understand that most of the time, Facebook posts frequently represent a quick snapshot of a person’s life when they are generally feeling their best. However, when picked up without the full context, the photo will frequently get misconstrued.

 

For example, let’s say you have an accepted back injury claim. You’re receiving workers’ compensation due to your five pound medical lifting restriction. On a whim, you decide to update your public profile photo to a picture of you taken 5 years earlier while riding a motorcycle. What’s the harm? Well, for starters, a motorcycle weighs more than five pounds. Second, the workers’ compensation insurance company doesn’t know when that photo was taken and will likely assume it was taken recently. Next, the insurance company may attempt to share that photo with your doctor and also use it as support to terminate your benefits. Your attorney will then have to explain that the photo was taken many years ago but the damage may already be done. Things escalate quickly. It’s simply not worth the risk.

 

The Australian case highlights the need for security and privacy settings on all social media accounts. However, it also shows that in this age of social media, sometimes videos or photos may get posted by someone else and it will affect your case. 

Things to Remember (A Work In Progress)

In  1995 I started to write down some “Things to Remember” and I’m still working on it. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty and the pig loves it.
  2. If you want to get out of a hole, stop digging.
  3. You are responsible for your own happiness.
  4. Surround  yourself with positive people.
  5. Lend money to a friend and lose a friend.
  6. Say thank you to those who deserve to be thanked.
  7. If you ever find yourself at a boring dinner party, ask people to describe their most embarrassing moment.
  8. At the end of your career, the time spent with friends and loved ones will provide the best memories.
  9. “ I would gladly give up all that I have for the love of a faithful wife.” J. Paul Getty
  10. “I never forget a face, but in your case I’m going to make an exception.” Groucho Marx

The Wages of Jobs Being Added

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from blog.dol.gov

There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether job growth in the U.S. labor market has been concentrated in low-wage jobs, middle-wage, and/or high-wage jobs. To get at the answer, let’s look at how the distribution of wages has changed over time, starting with the Great Recession.

Job losses during the Great Recession were profound, but they were not felt equally across the wage distribution. Figure A shows the average monthly change in employment between 2007 and 2009 by wage level. The blue bars show the actual change in employment by wage level, and the purple line is a benchmark showing what the employment loss would have been at each wage level if job loss had been evenly distributed.* Notably, this means the purple line is a reflection of the 2007 wage distribution. In 2007, around half of workers earned $17 or less per hour, so it might be expected that around half of jobs lost would be lost by workers who earned $17 or less per hour. But Figure A shows that workers who earn $17 or less per hour made up a disproportionately high share of the losses, since most of the blue bars for those wages extend far below the purple line. In particular, very low-wage jobs — in this case jobs that pay $10 per hour or less – saw strongly disproportionate job loss , as did lower-middle-wage jobs — in this case, jobs that pay $13-$16 per hour. On the other hand, very high-wage jobs – jobs that pay around $50 per hour or more – saw job

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Sometimes You Need Help

Last month our firm held a planning retreat in the beautiful town of Chapel Hill. We reaffirmed our firm’s slogan: “Accidents Happen, Sometimes You Need Help.”

Frequently we speak to injured workers during our free consultation about getting medical treatment. It’s frustrating and scary for an injured person to have to wait for authorization for surgery or a medical referral. Treatment delays are inefficient for everyone. It delays the recovery and, as a result, the return to work. Our goal is to expedite medical care when possible by following up with the workers’ compensation adjuster to have treatment approved and, if necessary, file a motion with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

In a case I had last year, we were hired because the insurance company was dragging its feet authorizing an orthopaedic back doctor. After several communications, the adjuster agreed the referral to an orthopaedic back doctor was authorized. Sadly, the “orthopaedic doctor” that was authorized by the adjuster was actually a gynolcologist-obstetrician for my male client! Furthermore, it took several additional contacts to finally correct the situation and get my client to the appropriate doctor. Finally, my client was evaluated by an orthopaedic doctor, received medical treatment, and was also able to continue working.

Our firm sees these problems every day. I believe we (injured workers’ lawyers and insurance companies) should have a common goal:  Recovery and return to work. But “sometimes you need help” to get to that point.

 

Employee Injured during Employer Sponsored Laser Tag Event = Compensable.

One question that comes up frequently, or at least routinely, in North Carolina workers’ compensation claims involves employees injured while playing or participating in recreational activities while on-the-clock or part of an employer-sponsored team building event.

 

The North Carolina Supreme Court clearly answered this question in Frost v. Salter Path Fire & Rescue, 361 N.C. 181, 185, 639 S.E.2d 429, 433 (2007) when it held that the N.C. Workers’ Compensation Act applied to “injuries occurring during recreational and social activities related to employment” and that this “well established in the jurisprudence of North Carolina.”

 

Most recently, this issue again arose before the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Holliday v. Tropical Nut & Fruit Co., No. COA14-1030. In Holliday, the employee was attending an out-of-town mandatory sales and marketing conference. One of the activities that was part of the conference was a laser tag activity which was assigned by the employer to the employee. While Plaintiff was “covering the floor [of the laser tag arena],” he felt a sharp pain in his leg and had to stop playing the game. He immediately informed his manager of the injury.

 

The Court of Appeals affirmed the North Carolina Industrial’s Commission decision finding that Holliday’s leg injury “arose out of his employment” and accordingly awarded him medical and disability benefits. In its analysis, the Court of Appeals considered six factors: 

 

  1. Did the employer in fact sponsor the event?
  2. To what extent was attendance voluntary?
  3. Was there some degree of encouragement to attend?
  4. Did the employer finance the occasion to a substantial extent?
  5. Did the employees regard it as an employment benefit to which they were entitled as of right?
  6. Did the employer benefit from the event, not merely in a vague way through better morale and good will, but through such tangible advantages as having an opportunity to make speeches and awards?

 

In the Holliday case, the Court of Appeals found that the employer financially sponsored the laser tag event, expressly mandated employee attendance, took attendance at the events, and benefited from the event. As a result, the injury was found to arise out of the employment and disability and medical benefits were awarded.