OSHA’s New Reporting Requirements Improve Worksite Safety

With the close of 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced the results of the new reporting requirement which was implemented as of January 1, 2015. The new reporting guidelines require any severe work-related injury, including amputations, loss of an eye, or hospitalization, to be reported within 24 hours. The requirement of reporting a fatality within 8 hours remains unchanged.

Recently, WorkersCompensation.com reported on OSHA’s 2015 data on work-place-related injuries. Employers submitted a total of 10,388 cases of severe injuries in 2015. Out of the total, 7,636 were hospitalizations and 2,644 accounted for amputations.

Taking it further than just mere numbers, OSHA implemented the program in order to create safer workplaces. After a report comes in, OSHA works to identify what the hazard is, and what measures the employer can take to remedy it. Most of the cases reported in 2015 did not require a worksite inspection, which is conducted when OSHA deems it necessary.

If you are a worker who has suffered injury due to an employer’s failure to follow safety regulations, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, represents individuals who have been injured on the job throughout the five boroughs of New York City including Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, as well as both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Frequency of Workers Compensation Claims Decline While the Severity Increases

According to Insurance Business America, over the past ten years the number of workers’ compensation claims is decreasing, but the severity of the injuries reported is increasing. Milliman and Keenan Healthcare analyzed workers’ compensation data and compiled a report showing frequency, severity, and medical and indemnity costs. They considered how reforms may affect the numbers as well. One of the main findings was that losses per $100 of payroll was stable between 2004 and 2014, but during roughly the same time period, the severity of claims increased by approximately 5.5 percent annually. There are ongoing efforts to not only reduce the number of claims, but also the severity.

Additionally, the report showed that from 2013 to 2014, estimated costs per indemnity claim decreased by about 10 percent. In fact, the study showed that younger workers tend to spend more in medical care as compared to other costs, while older workers have larger indemnity losses with about 20 to 25 percent of claims ending up in litigation. Employees between the ages of 36 to 55 approximated more than 50 percent of the indemnity claims paid. Data also showed that the severity of indemnity claims increases with age, and the likelihood of an incident resulting in an indemnity payment rises as well.

In order to remedy the frequency and severity of claims, there is an ongoing effort to improve workplace safety. For example, Workers Compensation reported that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a final rule on the requirements for personal protective equipment, which takes effect on April 25, 2016. The new rules dictate that more modern and improved eye and face protection should be used in the fields of longshoring, construction, marine and shipyard industries, and other general industries. Multiple outdated devices, as old as 1968 versions, were deleted and replaced with current acceptable standards.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, a skillful workers’ compensation attorney can better guide you on how best to file claims. An attorney can help protect your rights and help preserve your coverage. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Sean Patrick Riordan Featured in Subway Surface Supervisors Association Express Magazine

Recently, Sean Patrick Riordan, Partner, McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP, was featured in Subway Surface Supervisors Association Express Magazine. Mr. Riordan’s article “Injured at Work?” provided proper guidelines for workers who are injured while performing their job.

According to Mr. Riordan, an injured worker should first notify their employer of his or her injury, seek medical care for treatment and evaluation of the injury, contact an attorney to file a C3 injury with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, follow up with medical care and workers’ compensation case and finally, speak to an attorney if a long period of time must be taken off from work.

To read the full “Injured at Work?” article click here.

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Governor Cuomo Proposes Major Budgetary Changes Affecting Workers’ Compensation

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released the 2016 Executive Budget in January, which proposes both procedural and substantive changes to workers compensation law. These proposals, if adopted, would greatly impact the benefits and due process rights of injured workers.

One proposal eliminates the Aggregate Trust Fund (ATF) deposit requirement. Currently, the ATF allows permanently partially disabled workers to receive fair settlements, albeit lower than before a 2007 reform, by requiring insurers to deposit money into the ATF. If the proposed elimination of deposit requirements to the ATF is adopted, permanently disabled workers, widows, and dependent children will be greatly affected by the reduction of benefits.

Another budget proposal aims for major reform on how judges are assigned to workers’ compensation cases. Currently, claimants have the right to have their case heard before a single judge. Seeking to eliminate this, the new proposed budget would allow any judge in New York to decide claims whether the case was before them earlier in the proceedings or not.

An additional procedural change proposed concerns the appeals process. Currently, if a worker is denied a claim by the Workers’ Compensation Law Judges, the claimant may appeal to an appeals panel. The 2016 proposed budget will replace the panel with a single commissioner or attorney who would decide the appeal. This would deny claimants the due process right to have their appeal heard before multiple individuals instead of just one.

With budgetary demands, and possible legal reforms, the workers’ compensation system can be confusing and complex. Seeking the advice of an experienced attorney is essential to understanding your rights under workers’ compensation law. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. For more information please call (866)-557-7500 or click here to speak with our office.

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Workers’ Compensation Claim Complexities

Maneuvering through the workers’ compensation claim process can be confusing. Seeking an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assure you that recent laws and policies regarding claims are not overlooked.

In workers’ compensation cases, it must first be determined whether workers’ compensation law actually applies. The injured worker must fall into specific categories and meet the criteria needed to be considered an employee or an agent of the employer. As with many areas of the law, there are exceptions, such as clergy who are performing religious duties, volunteers at nonprofit organizations, certain foreign workers, employees who fall into an independent workers’ compensation system for their trade, and so on.

Additionally, there are several factors that must be taken into account in determining employee status, including the right to hire and fire the individual, whether there is a right to control (as in an employer-employee relationship), the character of the task performed, and the manner of employee compensation.

After it is determined that the worker is an employee of the company or business entity, multiple steps must be taken in a timely manner. The employee must notify his or her employer in writing about the injury, file a C-3 claim form and mail it to the Board District Office. There are also forms that the employer must submit to the insurance company and the Board within a certain timeframe.

Bennett v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre is an example of the complexities a workers’ compensation case may present. On January 25, 2010, an employee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre fell from a ladder and suffered serious injuries. The employee was a maintenance worker and not performing religious tasks, so he qualified as an employee. The employee sought medical treatment soon after the injury, filing a claim for his left leg and back. Two years later the claimant started to have new pain in his neck and lower back and had an MRI of his cervical spine. After the MRI, it was recommended that claimant undergo surgery on his cervical spine. The Workers’ Compensation Law Judge found that surgery was barred because the claim arose after the two-year time limit and was only “casually-related” to the claims which were filed earlier on his left leg and back.

Workers’ Compensation Law § 28, requires that a claimant file within a two-year time period from the date of the accident. The MRI and recommendation for surgery occurred in March of 2012, past the two-year time limit. Additionally, the court reviewed the facts and the claimant’s testimony regarding the timely filings and the new pain, and found that they were only slightly related. The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division for the Third Judicial Department, affirmed the lower decisions and found for the employer based on the procedural timeliness rule.

Bennett v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Center highlights the importance of following procedures to meet strict statutory deadlines. Employees may not know how future injuries will be categorized by Judges. Skillful workers’ compensation attorneys can better guide employees on which claims to file and how to link future related injuries to original claims. An attorney can help protect your rights and help preserve your coverage should further injury stemming from an accident become known later. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

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Can an Employee Receive Workers’ Compensation for Company Holiday Party Injuries?

Many employers choose to host holiday parties for their employees as a way to reward their efforts throughout the year.  The kinds of celebrations an employer chooses to host can vary.  Sometimes the parties are held at an off-site location.  They may also be held at the place of employment.  The party may be held either during company hours, or afterward.  Depending on the circumstances surrounding the party, employers may incur liability in a number of ways.

Some employers are concerned with the liabilities associated with hosting a company party at which alcohol is served.  For example, an employer may ultimately be responsible for any injuries that occur to an employee that could result in Workers’ Compensation claims.  A common scenario from which holiday party injuries can arise are slip and falls due to spills or intoxication.

An employee may be able to receive Workers’ Compensation for injuries incurred during the scope of their employment.  Therefore, if holiday party attendance is required of employees, and any business is being conducted during the party (such as speeches about matters pertaining to the company’s business, or awards being distributed), an employee may be able to successfully argue that the party was part of their work responsibilities.  Additionally, if the party was held at the location of the company, an employee may reasonably believe that the party was in conjunction with work.

You may not be able to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits for an injury if your employer specifically states that participation in the festivities is optional, and the event is hosted off-site outside of the company’s business hours.  Additionally, if you are not expected to perform any tasks at the party that benefit your employer, the party likely falls outside the scope of your employment.

If you have been injured at a holiday party hosted by your employer and think you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation, contact an attorney who is experienced in that field.  The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County.  For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

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New York Times Expose Reveals Construction Site Safety Violations Linked to Completely Avoidable Deaths and Injuries in New York City

A recent New York Times expose has shed light on the rise of injuries and fatalities in New York City’s construction industry over the last two years.  The investigation found that although construction is increasing throughout the City, the rate of accidents is disproportionate to the new construction.  While the rate of new construction projects increased by 11% in the last fiscal year, the rate of accidents increased by 52%.

Additionally, the investigation uncovered that the same safety violations kept arising on many of the same sites despite safety reports and lawsuits.  After investigating construction accidents for two years, the New York Times concurred with the findings of a federal investigation and determined that many of these fatalities and injuries were “completely avoidable.”

Most of the deaths and injuries that occurred on construction sites affected undocumented immigrants who may be fearful to speak out against safety violations on construction sites due to their legal status. The Times cited one recent tragedy in which an immigrant had fallen 140 feet to his death because he was not wearing a safety harness.  Additionally, guardrails had not been installed at the site, and the elevated platform did not meet the wall as required.  Investigators found that the worker had fake certification for safety training.  The safety administration fined the construction company $42,000 for these and additional violations.

While the accidents that occurred in midtown were widely publicized, they accounted for only a quarter of the accidents throughout the city.  Most of the accidents that occurred took place on smaller sites that used non-union and poorly trained workers.

Other incidents that had occurred in the last two years that the Times referred in the expose included:

  • An immigrant worker falling 14 feet to his death due to lack of guard rails and supervision
  • An Ecuadorian immigrant who fell from a ladder because the construction company demanded jobs be done quickly and without safety training
  • A worker who fell through a floor opening due to slippery conditions that went ignored
  • A worker who was not wearing a safety harness fell two stories on a site that did not provide extension ladders and repair unsafe scaffolding

According to a report issued by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, many construction companies that repeatedly violate safety regulations disregard OSHA citations due to the low number of both OSHA inspectors and monetary penalties.  However, various agencies have begun cracking down on penalizing companies that disregard safety regulations.  For example, although criminality in construction accident cases has often been difficult to prove, the Manhattan DA’s Office filed manslaughter and other charges against two construction companies and managers last August.  The charges were filed after a worker was crushed to death as a result of willfully ignored safety regulations.  Additionally, the de Blasio administration is planning on implementing 100 additional building inspectors as well as new data tools and a code of conduct for the construction industry.  New York City’s investigation department also continues to conduct random inspections that it began in 2012 in an effort to deter the corruption that is so prevalent in the industry.

If you are a construction worker who has been injured on the job, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation.  Additionally, if you were injured due to an elevation related accident, you may be able to sue your employer and third parties under New York’s strict liability “Scaffold Law.”  Contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney to discuss your claim. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles Workers’ Compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.  Call (866)557-7500 for a consultation.

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OSHA Issues Violations to Cemetery After Grave Digger is Nearly Buried Alive

Recently, a cemetery worker in Long Island was seriously injured after he was nearly buried alive.  The worker had been digging a grave when excavated dirt had fallen back into the grave opening, burying him up to his waist.  The incident led to an OSHA investigation into the safety practices of the cemetery.

OSHA proposed a total of $123,200 in penalties for two willful and three serious violations.  The investigation uncovered that the cemetery had not implemented the OSHA required support system for trenching or excavation.  According to OSHA regulations, restraining devices must be implemented within two feet of the edge of a trench in order to keep the excavated dirt from falling back into the grave.  The worker’s injuries were a result of failure to implement such support systems.  Additionally, the investigation’s findings included discovering that equipment used for protective systems was damaged or defective; ladders used did not meet the height regulation; and grave slopes not meeting the proper ratio requirements.

Workers in the cemetery industry can face any number of injuries ranging from falls, injuries related to operating machinery or carrying headstones, as well as hazards related to trenching and excavation.  Essentially, digging at a grave site is an excavation like those performed in the construction industry.  In addition to the hazards workers face by the potentiality of a wall collapse without proper trench support, they can also be exposed to hazardous chemicals.  Workers should have their own personal protective gear such as hard hats to prevent head injury from falling rocks or dirt.  In addition, workers should wear respiratory protection to limit the inhalation of elements such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane that can appear in the soil.

An individual can suffocate as a result of being only partially buried in soil.  Therefore, it is extremely important to exercise all precautions and follow safety procedures when conducting any kind of excavation to prevent a cave-in.  To learn more about OSHA’s trenching and excavation regulations, click here.

If you are a worker who has suffered injury due to an employer’s failure to follow excavation or trenching safety regulations, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation.  The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, represents individuals who have been injured on the job throughout the five boroughs of New York City including Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, as well as both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island.  Call (866)557-7500 for a consultation.

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MLB Umpire Denied Continuation of Workers’ Compensation Benefits After Receiving Med Mal Settlement

Recently, the New York State Appellate Division held that after he settled his medical malpractice lawsuit, a former Major League baseball umpire could not continue to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. Mark Hirschbeck, who had been an umpire in Major League Baseball for over fifteen years was forced to retire after surgery was unsuccessful. However, because his injuries were work related, he was able to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits until the medical malpractice suit concluded.

The suit originated from a hip injury sustained in 2002, which left him permanently disabled after complications arose from hip replacement surgery. Hirschbeck brought a medical malpractice and products liability suit against the manufacturer of the artificial hip that resulted in a $3.2 million settlement. After the settlement was made, the Workers’ Compensation insurer claimed that a 2007 agreement with Hirschbeck allowed the suspension of benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Board ruled for the insurer, and the Appellate Division affirmed.

In order to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits if you have sustained a work related injury, the employer must be covered by Workers’ Compensation. Most employers are required by law to have Workers’ Compensation insurance, but there are exceptions. Additionally, to receive benefits, the recipient must be an employee. Independent contractors are not covered by the insurance.

If you have suffered injury due to a workplace accident, contact an attorney who is experienced in Workers’ Compensation claims.  The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County.  For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

OSHA’S Susan Harwood Training Grants Help Provide Safety Training for High-Risk Workers

Safety training programs are integral to help protect workers in certain industries from the inherent hazards they face as part of their employment.  For the fiscal year 2015, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration awarded $10.5 million in grants to 80 non-profit organizations nationwide to help educate workers who face high risks of injury.  The program is aimed at helping those workers who are employed by small businesses and vulnerable workers who face high-risk hazards on the job.  The grant program has provided training for over two million workers since 1978.

The purpose of the programs is to help workers gain the knowledge and tools to understand and recognize hazards in the workplace, learn how they can prevent injuries from occurring, and understand their rights.  The organizations that will be funded to provide the instruction include colleges, community groups, churches, labor unions, and employer associations.

Depending on the needs of the worker population, each nonprofit may provide either general safety courses, or educate on a selected topic that is relevant to the targeted audience.  For example, some of the programs provided by the grant include fall prevention in construction; workplace violence education; ergonomic hazards; construction in road zones safety; heat illness prevention; and agricultural safety.

An additional $2.3 million in grants will also be provided to fifteen organizations to develop and provide safety and health training on an on-going basis to workers and employers in the at-risk population.

If you have suffered injury due to a workplace accident, contact an attorney who is experienced in Workers’ Compensation claims.  Call The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP at (866)557-7500.

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