What can employees do about dangerous work conditions?

A Cleveland-area manufacturer was recently hit with nearly $90,000 in proposed penalties after being cited for a variety of dangerous work conditions. Fifteen serious violations, one repeat violation and one other-than-serious violation were issued following inspections earlier this year. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration cited fall hazards, slippery work surfaces, lack of proper machine guarding and electrical safety hazards, among other violations.Dangerous Work Conditions

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4,800 fatal work-related injuries occurred in 2014. Nearly 3 million nonfatal injuries or illnesses were reported in private industry workplaces throughout the same year. Employers are required by OSHA to eliminate known dangers in their facilities, provide employees with proper protective equipment and teach workers about hazards they may encounter.

Dangerous work conditions commonly investigated by OSHA include:

Fall Hazards

Falls from elevated platforms and work stations or into holes in facility floors are among the most common causes of death and serious injury in the workplace. Employers are required to use guard rails, toe-boards and any other means necessary to prevent workers from suffering these injuries.

Eye & Face Hazards

According to OSHA, thousands of employees are blinded each year by preventable workplace injuries. These incidents are often caused by chemical, environmental and mechanical hazards that could have been addressed with proper eye and face protection. Related expenses, such as worker compensation and medical bills, total around $300 million each year.

Respiratory Hazards

OSHA Respiratory Protection Standards require approximately 5 million employees to wear respirators in their workplace. Dust, smoke and vapors are among the threats to the respiratory health of these workers. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses could be prevented if all employers and employees followed OSHA’s guidelines.

How do I file a complaint or request an inspection of my workplace?

If you believe there are serious health or safety hazards in your workplace, or feel your employer is not following OSHA standards to prevent dangerous work conditions, filing a complaint could prevent injuries or even save a life. OSHA keeps all complaint information confidential, and it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for exercising their right to a safe workplace.

Three Ways to File an OSHA Complaint

  • Download and fill out an OSHA complaint form. Fax or mail the form to your OSHA Regional or Area Office.

NOTE: Written complaints are more likely to result in onsite inspections.

If you have questions about health and safety in your workplace, email OSHA.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious workplace injury, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO for a free case review or fill out an online contact form

Elk & Elk Attorneys to Present at NBI Seminar

Elk & Elk Attorneys to Present at NBI Seminar

In the field of personal injury law, it is essential for attorneys and other legal professionals to possess a basic understanding of the human anatomy, types of injuries and common treatment options. An upcoming National Business Institute live seminar featuring presentations from three Elk & Elk attorneys will cover these topics.

Elk & Elk at NBI Seminar

NBI’s “Anatomy and Physiology 101 for Attorneys” will take place on Thursday, June 25, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland Downtown. The seminar has been approved by the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education for 6.0 CLE credit hours, and registration is $349 (includes book).

Click here to register.

The course is designed for legal professionals who handle cases related to personal injuries, insurance, workers’ compensation and/or disability, and will offer helpful insight into the medical aspects of common cases.

Attorneys Matthew J. Carty, Michael L. Eisner and R. Craig McLaughlin of Elk & Elk will present the following topics:

Matthew J. Carty

   Head Injuries: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Michael L. Eisner (presenting with Mary Hahn)

   Shoulder Injuries: 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

R. Craig McLaughlin (presenting with Lisamarie Pietragallo)

   Hand and Wrist Injuries: 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Key Facts About Back Injuries in the Workplace

Human backBack injuries are common in many types of work environments and can happen to anyone, at any time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than one million workers suffer from back injuries each and every year. Preventing back injuries is considered to be one of the greatest workplace challenges employers and employees face. An employment attorney is trained to help workers who have hurt themselves on the job, including back injuries. Here are some facts about this common work-related health problem:

  • Back injuries account for approximately one out of every five workplace illness or injury claims.
  • Back injuries are especially common in those who handle materials as part of their occupation. Lifting, carrying, and lowering these materials are all to blame. Those in the healthcare field are also prone to back problems, as a result of consistently being on their feet throughout the day.
  • An estimated 4 out of 5 reported injuries are to the lower back.
  • Three out of four reported injuries are directly related to lifting.
  • Ergonomic chairs and tools are designed to help workers maintain a good posture and prevent workplace injuries. Some experts claim that one-third of compensable back injuries could be prevented through the regular use of these items.
  • Workers who experience a back injury and are unable to return to the workplace, either for a short- or long-term period, may be eligible for disability compensation. By hiring an employment attorney, he or she can be sure to receive all compensation that is due.

If you experience an injury at work, it is important to report it right away — even if you don’t think the injury was serious. Failure to report a work related injury now can result in serious future consequences. To learn more about workplace injuries, contact an experienced employment attorney.

My boss isn’t covered by Workers’ Comp. What happens if I get hurt at work?

Ohio attorney Gary Cowan discusses what to do if you’re injured at work but your employer isn’t covered by Workers’ Compensation.

 

With most employers, you have access to insurance if you’re injured on the job through a program called Workers’ Compensation.

Workers’ Compensation, or “Workers’ Comp,” is a fund that provides medical attention and treatment to employees after a job-related injury. So, what happens if you don’t have worker’s compensation available to you? Do you have any options to help pay for the harm you suffered?

No Workers’ Comp? – Three things you should know about bringing a lawsuit after a job-related injury

  1. The first thing your attorney will do is to determine whether your employer was at fault for the accident. Remember, even if your employer is not covered by Workers’ Compensation, you may still be awarded money due to their carelessness. An experienced personal injury attorney will question potential witnesses or even co-workers during an interview called a deposition to ascertain the cause of the accident and establish who was at fault.
  2. The next step will be to combat any claims made by the employer. Typically, a company will claim you were negligent in some part of your job and caused your own injury. To build a successful case, your attorney will need to prove your injury occurred due to someone else’s carelessness, rather than your own actions.
  3. Finally, your attorney will look for a way to resolve your case and bring you the compensation you deserve. Whether the fault lies with your employer, a third party or even a co-worker, a knowledgeable lawyer will research all possible methods of recovery through each insurance company and the various policies. By exploring all options, your attorney can help you recover costs related to your injuries – such as medical bills, lost wages and other expenses that you’ve incurred, including any future medical care you may need.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at http://www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Gary Cowan

Keeping an Eye on Workplace Injuries and Illness

Work place safety.
Photo: Geoffrey Whiteway

An important part of staying current on employment law is analyzing the annual release of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We now have the latest numbers for 2012 and the news overall is good. The total rate of workplace injuries and illnesses is down by a small but statistically significant amount.

In 2012, there were nearly three million nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries reported by private industry employers. The BLS reported that “no private industry experienced an increase in the rate of injuries and illnesses in 2012.” What is significant and worrisome is that more than half of the nearly three million injury and illness cases were of a serious nature and involved days away from work, transfer, or restriction.

The difference in rates between injury and illness is huge. More than 94.8 percent of 30 million total incidents are classified “injuries,” while only 5.2 percent are reported as workplace illness. Workplace injuries can lead to legal action where the victim seeks help from an employment attorney.

The report highlights risks related to specific industries:

  • Among service-providing industry sectors, transportation and warehousing had the highest rate of injuries and illnesses
  • Workers experienced sprains and strains in transportation and warehousing at a rate 2.5 times the rate for all industries
  • Transportation incidents occurred at a rate more than 5 times the rate for all industries
  • The mining industry had the highest median days away from work, at 21 days

Staying abreast of these statistics helps government and regulatory bodies to spot trends or risk factors for workers. For employment attorneys, it helps to identify areas of concern for clients and areas where employers or industry organizations may be falling short.

 

Sources:

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh.pdf

https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/work.html

http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/cwc/work-related-injuries-illnesses-and-fatalities-in-manufacturing-and-construction.pdf