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Articles Tagged with workers’ compensation

There is a move under foot in several states, including in Massachusetts, to extend labor protections to all domestic workers. Under current laws, some of these workers are typically denied such rights as overtime pay and breaks to eat. Many are also denied the right to workers’ compensation insurance benefits. Currently, under Chapter 152 of the Massachusetts General Laws, a domestic worker employed for less than 16 hours weekly is only covered by workers’ compensation if the employer voluntarily chooses to include them. The same is true of seasonal or casual workers.

On the west coast, a state assemblyman intends to reintroduce a bill addressing these issues. It was ultimately defeated last year. At that time, their state governor exercised a veto amid concerns that passage of the law would adversely impact the elderly and infirm, particularly those who require 24-hour care.

New York has already passed a bill to further protect domestic workers. If the California assemblyman is successful with his proposed bill, his state will be the second to recognize these rights. Efforts are also being made in Massachusetts to address these concerns.

A gas explosion in Springfield recently decimated a strip club and a day care center, destroying or imperiling as many as 42 buildings in the downtown area. The accident injured a number or gas workers, policeman and firemen as well as several civilians. As such, the tragedy raises some important issues about workers’ compensation benefits as they are applied in the state of Massachusetts.

The gas company received reports of a gas leak late on a Saturday afternoon. Officials moved to evacuate the area ahead of the 5:30 p.m. explosion. The people injured were primarily city and gas company employees. When gas workers discovered an explosion was imminent, most of the individuals who were injured took cover behind a utility truck. The truck was destroyed in the blast that followed.

In all, nine firefighters and two policemen, as well as four gas company workers, two civilians and a Springfield government employee were taken to two area hospitals for treatment. The nature and extent of their injuries was not detailed in a news report. However, officials lauded the quick thinking of the workers involved to prevent the potential for catastrophic injuries to a great number of people.

A workplace injury can occur at just about any job site in Massachusetts. However, the chances for a serious workplace injury are increased when an employer ignores safety guidelines in the face of multiple OSHA investigations. One employer identified as a recidivist offender has now agreed to pay a $200,000 fine to OSHA as well as to completely revamp its safety guidelines and procedures.

The company focuses on work involving underground sewer and water mains and has received nine OSHA citations over the past 12 years. The principal cause for concern is that workers are said to be exposed to risk of a workplace injury due to cave-in hazards. The latest violations involved two projects in the metropolitan Boston area, and OSHA originally issued fines in excess of $350,000. The company contested the OSHA findings, and that led to a settlement that was recently announced by OSHA.

Under the settlement, the company will pay a $200,000 fine, characterized by a representative speaking on behalf of OSHA as hefty. The company has agreed to reconstitute its safety procedures and allow OSHA access to its excavation work sites for the next three years without the necessity of a warrant. Further, a new safety program will be developed and implemented by the company. Finally, the company also agreed to formulate a permit system which will identify workplace accident hazards for each job and implement a specific plan for addressing the dangers.

A Massachusetts State Trooper had a close call recently when he was the victim of a motor vehicle accident on I-95 southbound in Canton. The 27-year-old officer was assigned to construction zone detail near Exit 11 when he was the victim of a car accident. He was said to be sitting in his cruiser when he was rear ended by another vehicle.

It was reported that the early morning crash happened when a pickup driver fell asleep at the wheel. There were two passengers in the pickup along with the 35-year-old driver. While the passengers were not injured, the driver was said to have some type of arm injury. The Trooper did not fare as well. He suffered neck and back injuries and was taken to Boston Medical Center, though he has reportedly since been released.

Normally, when an individual is injured on the job, workers’ compensation benefits apply. Though police are excluded from the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, state law requires that they receive full pay while recovering from a work related injury. Fortunately for the injured officer, he has other potential remedies available to him.

A country club employee was recently injured in an on-the-job accident involving a work cart. The Massachusetts workplace injury occurred at about 8:30 a.m. when the worker got out of the cart. As he did so, it was said to have rolled backwards on a hill. He apparently tried to stop the movement of the cart but fell when he tried to get back into it. Consequently, the front wheel of the cart rolled over one of his legs, pinning it in a position from which he was unable to free himself.

The worker was said to have been stuck for nearly a half hour before he was discovered and 911 was alerted. Local firefighters responded. Shortly before they arrived, others at the country club were able to lift the cart from the injured man. Though conscious, he was said to be in pain.

Rescue workers applied a medical splint. It was noted that the device used was intended for circumstances where a bone had been broken. Once placed on a backboard, he was transferred to Salem Hospital for treatment. No further word on his condition was immediately available.

A 1998 Massachusetts study found that the average cost for the complete series of rabies treatment was $2,376. Another state indicated the cost can now exceed $7,000. Those significant figures were relevant to a recent workers’ compensation claim in a southern state, filed by a former veterinarian assistant.

The woman was working as a vet assistant on May 2, 2011 when she was asked to hold down a cat so that blood could be drawn. She did so, though she was reported to have open wounds and scratches on her arms that were unrelated to the cat. Subsequently, the cat was diagnosed with rabies, and the worker underwent a two-week series of rabies treatment that was initiated two days later. The treatment was based on the fact that she was exposed to the saliva of the cat during the blood drawing procedure. As a Massachusetts worker facing a similar predicament might do, she filed a workers’ compensation claim to cover her expenses related to the treatment.

A veterinarian in the clinic where the woman worked submitted a letter on her behalf. The doctor stated the worker was exposed to the cat’s saliva and thus could face the possibility of contracting rabies. Essentially, if the cat licked its wounds and the worker’s open wound came in contact with the saliva, the worker would be at risk for rabies. The doctor offered that she had confirmed with the local Virginia hospital that the worker needed post-exposure rabies treatment.

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