Recently in Work Injuries & Accidents Category

Download our free Missouri Work Comp App!

February 14, 2014

IMG_2767.JPGThe aftermath of a workplace injury can be an overwhelming, confusing time: after all, injured workers have several issues to consider, and it can be hard to know where to begin. If you've been injured on the job and you're looking for a workers' compensation resource, our firm may have a tool that can help you! Here at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we're proud to offer the "Missouri Work Comp App," available now for free download at the Apple App Store. Here are just a few of the features available via the app:

• Access quick call emergency numbers, to help you get in touch with the right people without hunting for contact information.

• Capture and record important accident information, so you can keep everything you need in one place for easy retrieval.

• Record your proof of insurance.

• Track and record your injury-related expenses.

• Find our office locations.

Please visit the Apple Store to download the App: you can get there in just one step by clicking the "Download our App" button in the top right corner of this page!

Note: Use of this application does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

At Aaron Sachs and Associates, our workers' compensation lawyers serve Missouri employees who are injured on the job. If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, please contact our office to find out if we can assist you with a workers' compensation claim. Call us toll-free at 1-888-777-2886, or click here to submit our convenient "Do I Have a Case?" form via our website. There is no charge for an initial consultation, no pressure and no obligation. Offices in Springfield, Joplin, Columbia, Cape Girardeau and Kansas City.

Preventing workplace falls on Missouri construction sites: Plan, provide & train

February 4, 2013

Thumbnail image for 1057448_ladder_and_sky.jpgIt's common for Missouri construction workers to work at elevated levels, using ladders or other equipment to reach desired heights. Sadly, many falls happen on job sites each year: fall-related injuries and fatalities happen more often in construction than in any other industry. Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveals that falls are the number one cause of death in construction. In 2010, 255 construction workers were killed in falls while working from heights, and over 10,000 workers were injured. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that workplace falls "constitute a considerable financial burden: workers' compensation and medical costs associated with occupational fall incidents have been estimated at approximately $70 billion annually in the United States."

The frequency of workplace falls in the construction industry has prompted OSHA, in partnership with NIOSH, to develop a fall prevention campaign. This campaign is designed to "provide employers and workers with life-saving information and educational materials about working safely from ladders, scaffolds and roofs," according to an OSHA news release. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis stressed that many workplace falls are preventable, provided contractors and construction workers implement fall prevention practices. "Falls are the most fatal out of all hazards in the construction industry, accounting for almost one in every three construction worker deaths," Secretary Solis said. "Our simple message is that safety pays, and falls cost."

OSHA and NIOSH have coordinated with the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) program to create some basic fall prevention tips. The campaign provides various materials to promote three core messages (plan, provide, and train).

• Contractors and workers can plan together, before every job, to work safely at heights.
• Contractors must provide the right equipment for working at heights, and workers need to use that equipment.
• Contractors and workers need to be trained to use the equipment and to work safely.

Multiple factors can contribute to workplace falls, including the following:

• Walking/working surfaces that are wet, cluttered, or unstable
• Unprotected edges
• Floor holes and wall openings
• Unsafely positioned ladders
• Misused fall protection/poor fall protection training

"We have often heard the old adage, 'Plan your work and work your plan,'" said R. Ronald Sokol, president and CEO of Safety Council Texas City, in a recent interview with NIOSH eNews. "This statement is the foundation of the risk management philosophy to eliminate falls from heights. Without proper planning, workers are placed in a reactive mode based on their limited knowledge plus experience and expertise. Proper planning is used to greatly limit fall exposure."

For more information about workplace fall prevention, visit StopConstructionFalls.com.

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What research reveals about workplace injuries in Missouri, nationwide

January 26, 2013

1003297_workman_sign.jpgRecent research has provided both employers and employees alike with specific data concerning workplace injuries: where they happen, why they happen, and how often they happen. When examined together, these studies provide an overview of American occupational health - and some of the findings might surprise you.

What kinds of jobs are the most dangerous?

Federal data reveals that workers at nursing and residential care facilities report the highest incidence rate of non-fatal workplace injuries, at 14.7 injuries per 100 full time workers. Other industries with high injury rates include travel trailer and camper manufacturing, fire protection, skiing facilities and iron foundries. Surprisingly, workers at petroleum refineries were at the other end of the list, reporting 0.7 injuries per 100 full time workers. In terms of fatal workplace incidents, fishing workers, logging workers, pilots and farmers reported the highest death rates.

Does geography affect workplace injury incidence rates?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 3.1 million nonfatal workplace injuries reported by Americans in 2010, meaning the overall U.S. incidence rate is about 3.5 injuries per 100 full-time workers. An estimated 59,000 U.S. workers died in 2007, while approximately 44,000 Americans died in car accidents; 41,000 died of breast cancer; and about 29,000 died of prostate cancer.

In terms of individual states, Maine has the highest injury incidence rate on record, with about 5.6 injuries per 100 full time workers. In contrast, Washington D.C. has the lowest injury rate at only 1.9 injuries per 100 full time workers. Missouri, Utah, New Mexico, Alabama and Florida are the only other states that have reported incidence rates lower than the national average.

How much do workplace injuries cost the United States?

A 2012 study revealed that injuries and illnesses contracted at work cost the U.S. approximately $250 billion dollars per year. That's $31 billion more than all direct and indirect costs associated with all forms of cancer. It's also $76 billion more than costs associated with diabetes, and $187 billion more than expenses associated with strokes.

"It's unfortunate that occupational health doesn't get the attention it deserves," said author J. Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences at the University of California, Davis. "The costs are enormous and continue to grow. And the potential for health risks are high, given that most people between the ages 22 to 65 spend 40 percent of their waking hours at work."

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The Fatal Four: Injuries prevalent on construction sites in Missouri and throughout the U.S.

December 14, 2012

915305_construction_workers.jpgAccording to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 4,114 American workers were killed while working in private industry in 2011. Of those fatalities, 721 - or 17.5% occurred in the construction industry. That's why OSHA officials have identified the "Fatal Four" leading causes of construction worker deaths in Missouri and nationwide. If these four causes of death were eliminated, OSHA reports, 410 workers' lives would be saved every single year.

The Fatal Four: Leading causes of death for Missouri construction workers

• Slips and falls. In 2011, slip and fall accidents accounted for the majority of fatalities in the construction industry (251 out of 721, or 35%). Numerous factors can contribute to these accidents, including icy or wet floors, debris, grease, and uneven walking surfaces. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the work environment, a slip and fall accident can result in multiple physical consequences, including broken bones, back injuries and traumatic brain injuries.

• Electrocutions. When employees work with or near electrical current, they are extremely vulnerable to serious injury. In fact, in all too many cases, employees are unaware of the electrical hazards that may be present in their work environment, especially in the construction industry. Electrocution can be caused by faulty wiring, power lines, or a simple lack of appropriate safety precautions.

• Struck by object. OSHA officials say struck-by hazards are present any time a worker could potentially be hit by an object. In the construction industry, these hazards are common: materials are often moved above people; employees commonly work from heights or elevated surfaces; and workers often use tolls that can create flying objects. Struck-by hazards can lead to head injuries, neck injuries, broken bones and fractures, and other kinds of physical trauma.

• Caught in/between accidents. Caught in/between accidents happen when a worker becomes squeezed, pinched or crushed between moving or stationary objects. They can happen under a variety of circumstances: when trenches collapse; or when limbs caught in machinery; or when workers are pinned by moving vehicles or other equipment.

Under Missouri law, all employers with five or more employees are required to carry workers' compensation coverage. However, employers in the construction industry are required to carry workers' comp if they employ one or more workers. According to the Missouri Department of Labor, "If you erect, alter, demolish or repair improvements you are regarded as a construction industry employer and are required to purchase workers′ compensation insurance if you have one or more employees." For more information about workers' comp in Missouri, click here.

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Texas employee awarded $5.5 million after suffering traumatic brain injury on the job

December 7, 2012

164791_cancer.jpgA Texas man has been awarded $5.5 million in connection with a 2007 injury he suffered on the job. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Charles Robison sustained skull and facial fractures, traumatic brain injuries, a broken collarbone, and a broken arm while working for West Star Transportation, a trucking company based in Lubbock, Texas.

At the time of the accident, Robison was reportedly standing on several boxes, attempting to spread a tarp over a large piece of cotton gin equipment. He fell about 15 feet and landed on his head on a concrete floor. In his lawsuit, Robison alleged that West Star "failed to provide a safe workplace, failed to provide proper fall protection for employees, and [failed] to provide equipment that would have allowed the work to be done safely," the Avalanche-Journal reports.

As a result of the accident, Robison suffered injuries that impaired his speech and his cognitive abilities. He is no longer able to work or care for himself, and he will receive extended medical treatment throughout the duration of his life. In addition, Robison says the damage to his brain had a negative impact on his family and his personal relationships: during the trial, his wife testified that his "attitude toward her changed" following the accident. The couple is now separated.

The jury agreed with Robison, awarding him $5.5 million for the extensive losses he suffered because of the incident, including the following:

• More than $1 million for pain, suffering and physical impairment
• More than $400,000 for future lost wages
• Approximately $3.7 million for current and future medical costs
• Approximately $400,000 (to Robison's wife) for loss of consortium

In Missouri, the workers' compensation system usually serves as the exclusive remedy for injured employees. In other words, in the vast majority of cases, workers who are hurt on the job must pursue a workers' compensation claim, not a lawsuit, to recover damages for lost wages, medical costs, and permanent disability. These workers cannot recover damages for pain and suffering.

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Construction workers at increased risk of fatal workplace falls in Missouri and nationwide

October 25, 2012

file0001782063673.jpgA Mississippi construction worker has died of multiple blunt force injuries after he was hospitalized for nearly a week following fall at a construction site. The Clarion Ledger reports that 43 year-old Stacy Andrew Washington was on the job at Baptist Health System at the time of the incident. Washington was reportedly wearing a harness, but the harness broke, causing Washington to fall five stories to the ground. "It was a massive fall, so you could only image," Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart told the Ledger. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched an investigation into the incident.

On October 23, OSHA revealed its list of the top ten most common safety violations in 2012. The list, presented at the National Safety Council Congress and Expo, demonstrates that fall protection is a major workplace safety concern throughout the U.S.

Top 10 OSHA safety violations in 2012:

1. Fall protection (general requirements) - 7,250 violations
2. Hazard communication - 4,696 violations
3. Scaffolding - 3,814 violations
4. Respiratory protection - 2,371 violations
5. Ladders - 2,310 violations
6. Machine guarding - 2,097 violations
7. Powered industrial trucks - 1,993 violations
8. Electrical (wiring methods) - 1,744 violations
9. Lockout / tagout - 1,572 violations
10. Electrical (general requirements) - 1,332 violations

In 2011, 4,609 American workers were killed on the job, which means about 90 workers died every week, and about 13 died each day. Of 2011 worker fatalities in private industries, 17.5% were employees in the construction industry. According to OSHA, "the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by electrocution, struck by object, and caught-in/between. These 'Fatal Four' were responsible for nearly three out of five (57%) construction worker deaths in 2011." Of the "Fatal Four," falls accounted for the largest amount of deaths in the construction industry, with 35% of construction fatalities attributed to falls.

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Parking garage collapses, bringing five stories of concrete down on construction crew

October 11, 2012

file9821238774587.jpgOn Wednesday, three workers were killed, one is presumed dead, and at least 10 others were injured when an under-construction parking garage "pancaked" on a Florida college campus. According to The Miami Herald, the incident happened at Miami Dade College's West Campus. A crew comprised of 17 electricians, welders, painters and other employees were working on the garage when it collapsed, bringing down five stories of concrete.

Two workers - 48 year-old Carlos Hurtado Demendoza and 60 year-old Jose Calderon - were killed instantly. A third worker, 53 year-old Samuel Perez, died in the hospital after emergency responders were forced to amputate his legs to free him from the rubble more than 12 hours after the collapse. A fourth worker, 53 year-old Robert Budhoo, is still missing and is now presumed dead.

Update, October 15: This evening, investigators discovered the body of an adult male buried in debris at the accident site. Because of the instability of the accident site, it will likely take emergency workers several days to retrieve the body, but it is believed to be Budhoo.

One of the survivors, 27 year-old Anthony Williams, said the sound of the garage collapsing was "like an earthquake, like someone put a stick of dynamite in it." Williams only survived because he made an instinctive decision to jump from the second floor.

Local law enforcement officials and investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are working to determine what caused the massive collapse. According to The Sun Sentinel, a crane was moving a large wall panel at the time of the incident, and there have been reports that a crane may have bumped the structure in the days leading up to the collapse. However, the head of the company that contracted the crew says that incident may be completely unrelated. "I don't have the full confirmation of that. It's my understanding, an incident where the crane bumped a column, it didn't cause any damage to the column," Bill Byrne, President and CEO of Ajax Building Corp., told reporters. "The crane was repaired and inspected and was recertified. The engineers, it's my understanding, looked at the column, deemed it, it was perfectly fine."

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EMS worker killed in ambulance/semi crash: Driver charged

September 27, 2012

206474_need_an_ambulance.jpgAn emergency medical technician has been formally charged in connection with a fatal North Carolina crash that killed his coworker. The Charlotte Observer reports that Jonathan Cory Brown has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle for causing the collision, which resulted in the death of 43 year-old Belinda Gale Rivers.

Brown and Rivers both worked as EMTs for the Sandhills Ambulance Service, which is based in Cheraw, South Carolina. On the morning of the crash, they had dropped off a patient at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and then turned around to return to South Carolina. According to police, Brown was driving and Rivers was in the front passenger seat when their ambulance collided with a tractor trailer at the intersection of Venus Street and U.S. 74 in Monroe. Rivers was thrown from the ambulance and pinned under the vehicle: she was pronounced dead at the scene. Brown remains hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, and the driver of the tractor trailer was uninjured. No patients were in the ambulance.

Following an investigation of the crash, police determined that Brown caused the crash when he attempted to turn onto the highway. "Witness accounts and evidence show that the ambulance entered the intersection at Venus and 74 while the stoplight was emitting a steady red light," Monroe Police Department Chief Debra Duncan told WCNC News. He will appear in Union County Court on December 6.

The criminal charge against Brown was announced on the same day as Rivers' funeral service. Her colleagues attended the service wearing their company shirts, and several emergency vehicles reportedly lined the road between the church and the funeral home to honor Rivers' memory. In addition to her work for Sandhills, Rivers also volunteered for several local rescue services. Her family asks that memorial donations be made to two such services: the Cheraw Rescue Squad or the Chesterfield Rescue Squad. For more information, click here.

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PA construction worker dies after falling 8 stories from roof

September 2, 2012

159890_men_on_roof.jpgLast week, a construction worker was killed when he fell eight stories from the roof of a Thomas Jefferson University Hospital building. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the 39 year-old man, who has not been identified, worked for Palmer Masonry Restoration, based in Somerton, PA. He apparently slipped and fell, and he was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is currently investigating the incident. Investigators are working to determine what the man was doing prior to his fall, and what kind of fall protection system he was using. Palmer Masonry Restoration has declined to comment on the incident, but the company has no prior record of safety violations with OSHA. Palmer's website says all employees must undergo 30 hours of OSHA construction safety training, along with training in fall protection, suspension scaffolding and aerial lift training, before going on the job.

Here are a few facts about workplace falls, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• In 2009, 605 workers died and an estimated 212,760 more sustained serious injuries in workplace falls to a lower level or to the same level, according to Bureau of Labor statistics.

• Workers in the construction industry have the highest incident rate of fall-related fatalities: falls cause one out of every three construction deaths Workers in health services and wholesale/retail industries have the highest incident rates of non-fatal workplace falls.

• In addition, workers in healthcare support, building maintenance/cleaning, transportation, material moving, and construction/extraction jobs are at the highest risk for workplace falls.

• Annually, workplace falls cost an estimated $70 billion in workers' compensation and medical expenses nationwide.

To help address the increased risk of workplace falls in construction workers, OSHA has announced a new 2012 fall prevention campaign to raise awareness about the dangers facing these employees, and to ensure employers have appropriate protections in place for their employees. "When working at heights, everyone needs to plan ahead to get the job done safely, provide the right equipment and train workers to use the equipment safely," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, in an OSHA news release.

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Office workers at increased risk for "chair disease, study finds

539382_work_work_work.jpgWe tend to think about workplace injuries in connection with jobs involving physical labor, but that isn't always the case. While it's true that many on-the-job injuries occur in workers with physical responsibilities, recent research released by the University of Sydney found that office workers are also at a surprisingly high risk of injury and illness.

"The problem is nearly everything can be done at the desk now - communication, library research, file retrieval, even meetings," said Dr. Karin Griffiths, lead author of the study. "It doesn't matter how good the chair is, it is not going to address the health problem of what some researchers are calling 'chair disease'."

In the study, researchers surveyed approximately 1,000 workers from six different government departments. Among their findings: employees who reported the most hours working on the computer also reported the highest rate of musculoskeletal injuries. 85% of employees who spent over eight hours a day at the computer experienced neck pain, while 75% suffered from shoulder pain and 70% reported lower back pain. What's more, these workers were also more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Those in senior and managerial jobs proved to be especially vulnerable, the study found, because they were the most likely to spend extended time at the computer.

597620_office__workstation.jpgIn addition, modern developments in workplace design appear to do little in the way of prevention. Office employees who reported the use of ergonomic chairs, standing desks and good posture were just as likely to suffer medical problems. "Workstation design has come a long way since the '80s and they are good changes," Dr. Griffiths said. "But what I also found was the proportion of people reporting symptoms has not changed much despite this, which means workstation design is not enough to keep up with health issues that arise from paperless, IT-dominated offices."

Medical research indicates that the problem isn't just sitting: it's that many of us sit wrong. Sitting places almost twice as much stress on the spine as standing does. Sitting and slouching - or leaning forward with your earlobes in front of your shoulders - is even worse. When employees spend extended hours hunched over a keyboard over a period of months or even years, the consequences can be even more painful.

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SUV falls 40 feet down elevator shaft in bizarre Manhattan accident: 2 workers injured

Thumbnail image for 368123_up.jpgLast week, two garage attendants were injured on the job when a 4,500-pound Lexus SUV fell approximately 40 feet down an elevator shaft in Manhattan. According to the Wall Street Journal, a trained parking attendant drove the SUV into a vehicle elevator on the 5th floor, but the elevator car was not there: it was down on the building's first floor. After entering the lift, the vehicle plunged down the shaft, flipping upside down and landing on top of the elevator car.

Firefighters on the scene were forced to use Jaws of Life to take the door off the vehicle and extricate Stephen Morales, the parking attendant who was driving the vehicle. He was taken by ambulance along with a second attendant, Angel Rosa, who was in the elevator car at the time of the incident. "It felt like it was a bomb," Rosa told the New York Times. Remarkably, Morales and Rosa escaped serious injury: both men are listed in stable condition at New York Presbyterian-Cornell University Medical Center.

Emergency responders from the New York Fire Department closed the garage and the surrounding block while they attached cables to the totaled SUV, which was wedged in the elevator shaft at a steep angle. It took about two hours for firefighters to drag the vehicle out of the shaft and onto the street.

Two days after the incident, the New York Police Department announced that Morales had been charged with driving without a license and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle: apparently, he was driving with a suspended license when the incident occurred. However, prosecutors have since announced that they do not plan to pursue a case against him, and the charges were subsequently dropped.

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OSHA Warns Outdoor Workers About Risks of Heat-Related Illnesses & Fatalities

The summer months in Missouri are hot and dangerous for outdoor workers, who risk serious heat illnesses as temperatures rise. In particular, construction workers, agriculture workers, and utility workers will want to take precautions to protect themselves from heat stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heat stress occurs when the body cannot cool itself normally because its temperature control system is overloaded. In extreme cases, when a person's body temperature gets too high, heat illness can cause serious personal injury, including damage to the brain and other vital organs. In light of these risks, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is campaigning to bring awareness to workers and employers about heat illness prevention.

682474_thermo_4.jpgDespite increased awareness of the dangers heat can pose, many deaths have been caused by improper protection from heat stress in the workplace. According to the United States Labor Department, heat-related illnesses strike thousands of employees every summer, resulting in an average of over 30 worker deaths each year.

Although many heat-related illnesses are directly linked to working outdoors in hot conditions, other injuries can also be provoked by dehydration or sweaty palms. Special training and planning is needed to ensure that employees are protected under these conditions. When employers don't take action to prevent occupational heat exposure, they place their employees at risk for physical harm. Workers who experience any symptoms of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat cramps, or heat rash should seek medical attention immediately.

OSHA has started a national campaign to educate employers and employees about the risks associated with summer weather. It is vital that care is taken to prevent serious personal injuries connected to heat, according to Dr. David Michaels, assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "It is essential for workers and employers to take proactive steps to stay safe in extreme heat, and become aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion," Dr. Michaels said in an OSHA news release. The Administration also emphasizes the importance of abundant "water, rest, and shade" to safeguard outdoor workers' physical health.

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Workplace Injury Plus Medical Malpractice Equals a Complicated Case

391481_knee_x-ray_2.jpgNormally, workers' compensation claims are very different from medical malpractice cases. But what happens when medical malpractice results from treatment for an injury covered by workers' compensation?

This predicament can be unbelievably frustrating. It's upsetting enough to be injured and unable to work: when you feel you have an unsympathetic doctor who isn't treating you effectively, a tough time becomes even tougher. Seeing an injury worsen when you're expecting it to improve can be disheartening and even alarming - particularly when medical bills are continuing to pile up.

So, can an injured employee sue a workers' comp doctor (who is typically selected by the employer) for medical malpractice? It's a complicated question. In fact, it is nearly impossible to give a conclusive answer without reviewing the exact circumstances and medical records connected to a specific case. As our workers' compensation lawyers know, there are multiple factors that must be considered.

It's worth noting that in some states, workers' comp doctors cannot be sued for medical malpractice because the doctors are considered "co-employers." In other words, the doctors are covered by the same laws as the employer, meaning the workers' compensation system is the only way to address the malpractice.

In Missouri, however, a workers' comp doctor is considered a third party who can be subject to a lawsuit. And it's common for injured employees to question the methods of workers' compensation treating physicians, particularly when the recovery process is painful, expensive and time-consuming.

While it's true that there have been occurrences of medical malpractice in workers' comp cases, it's important to remember that malpractice has a very specific legal definition. For example, if your injury does not heal (or if it worsens over time), that is not necessarily a sign of medical malpractice. To win a malpractice suit, a plaintiff must prove 4 separate elements:

1. A duty of care was owed by the physician; 2. the physician violated the applicable standard of care; 3. the person suffered a compensable injury; and 4. the injury was caused in fact and proximately caused by the substandard conduct.

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Texting While Driving: Now Causing Missouri Work Accidents

1016505_road_traffic_accident.jpgDistracted drivers are literally everywhere - and they're becoming a major cause of work-related injuries. In 2011, OSHA held a Symposium on Prevention of Occupationally-Related Distracted Driving, where attendees discussed the consequences of using cell phones and testing while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels discussed just how often traffic accidents occur as a result of this careless activity.

There were a number of stakeholders that all had one goal in mind: reducing the number of work-related driving distractions. They spoke with one another in an attempt to create a plan of action, including new directions for research. Our Missouri workers' compensation attorneys understand the importance of these meetings. As technology and workplace environments continue to advance, so shall the rules and regulations to keep these places safe and injury free.

There were a number of organizations that contributed to the symposium, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Johns Hopkins Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health, the Department of Transportation and the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. These organizations participated in a number of presentations, networking opportunities, training material demonstrations and discussions.

The number of workplace fatalities caused by distracted driving continues to climb. Car accidents are the number 1 cause of on-the-job fatalities.

As a large number of workers are required to drive while on the job, each of them face an increased risk of death at work. Many local employees are urged to visit various work sites, meet with clients and customers, and deliver goods. The Departments of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have teamed up in a countrywide campaign designed to halt distracted driving habits and save lives.

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Missouri Work Accidents Often Impact Lungs, Hearing

281294_hearing_protection.jpgIn 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have developed two guidance documents (one for employers and one for employees) that describe the use of spirometry testing. OSHA recommends that workplaces utilize these tests to help reduce and prevent exposure to respiratory hazards, which can cause serious work injuries in Missouri and throughout the country.

Spirometry is a common pulmonary function test that is used to measure the efficiency of air flow in a person's lungs. The inhalation of contaminants (such as dusts and gases) can - over time - cause some serious lung damage or even lung cancer. These documents present a number of ways that employers can identify and eliminate these types of work hazards. Elimination of these contaminants can help to prevent lung disease in workers.

If you work in a contaminant-high environment, our Missouri workers' compensation attorneys urge you to take this test as soon as possible: spirometry can detect changes in breathing, alerting you to lung dysfunction at an early stage. Employers are required by law to ensure the safety of their employees to the best of their ability. If an employer fails to protect a worker from a known hazard, they are responsible.

"Spirometry is the best available test for early detection of decreasing or abnormal lung function," said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "Our joint effort with NIOSH in developing these products will help broaden outreach and enhance knowledge of preventive measures aimed at protecting worker health and safety."

Monitoring workers' lung function can help identify problems sooner rather than later, so that changes can be made in the workplace when needed. The test can help to make your job safer by identifying when workplace hazards may be causing respiratory problems.

"We are pleased to join with OSHA in emphasizing the important role of spirometry in preventing costly, debilitating, and potentially fatal occupational lung diseases," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "These tests are a vital component of health and safety programs in workplaces where workers may be exposed to hazardous airborne contaminants."

OSHA recommends that employers test for diacetyl and diacetyl substitutes through this spirometry test as well.

OSHA is making some other changes. In 2011, they decided to withdraw a proposed interpretation titled "Interpretation of OSHA's Provisions for Feasible Administrative or Engineering Controls of Occupational Noise." This was the interpretation that would have clarified the phrase "feasible administrative or engineering controls." The proposed interpretation they're withdrawing was initially published in the Federal Register back in October of 2010.

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