Proposed Rule Clarifies Employer’s Duty to Report Work Injuries

A rule proposed by The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would clarify an employer’s obligation in maintaining accurate records of recordable injuries and illnesses. Although the rule will not change which types of injuries and illnesses are recordable, it will clarify an employer’s ongoing duty to report.

The injuries and illnesses that mandate reporting and are considered “recordable” include death; injuries requiring more than basic medical treatment; loss of consciousness; injuries resulting in job activity restriction; and a diagnosis of a significant injury by a health care professional. OSHA provides specific forms to log the incidents which employers are expected to review annually to check for accuracy. The purpose of keeping such records is to ensure that employers are maintaining a safe working environment. Failure to maintain such records is a violation. The proposed rule clarifies that even if an employer did not initially report the injury, they are still required to report in accordance with their ongoing duty.

The proposed rule stems from the majority opinion in a recent D.C. Circuit case. The court held that “a citation issued later than… six months of the first day on which the regulations require the recording…is barred by the OSH Act’s statute of limitations.” Because the court considered the language in the OSH Act to be vague, it determined that there was no continuing obligation of an employer to report. The proposed rule clarifies that reporting an injury, illness or death is an ongoing obligation for a period of five years. OSHA may cite for a failure to report for up to six months after the period ends.

The proposed rule will be available for viewing and public comment from July 29, 2015- September 27, 2015. Click here to read the proposed rule.

If you have been injured in an employment related accident, or due to an OSHA violation, you may be entitled to receive Workers’ Compensation.

Contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney who can best advise you of your legal rights and remedies. 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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Attorney General Settles with Company that Violated Workers Compensation Law

The New York Attorney General recently announced a settlement with C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. after an investigation uncovered illegal employment practices in violation of Workers’ Compensation Law 120. The law, which protects employees from being fired as a result of employment related injuries, was allegedly violated by a C&S policy which terminated employees who were injured by “preventable accidents” within the 90 day probationary period. The Attorney General also found that the policy unfairly dissuaded workers from filing claims for Workers’ Compensation to which they were entitled.

The tasks performed by the workers of C&S involve a great deal of heavy lifting, therefore injuries are an inherent part of such a job. Between 2010 and 2011, eighteen workers were terminated for sustaining injuries in what the company classified as “preventable accidents.” The investigation into C&S employment practices arose when an employee filed for Workers’ Compensation and a discrimination suit after his foot was injured due to an accident with a motorized pallet jack. The case was heard before a New York Worker’s Compensation Law judge who ruled in favor of the plaintiff. C&S appealed, but the appeals court found that the company was in violation of the Workers’ Compensation Law.

As part of the settlement agreement, C&S will now be required to inform workers regarding filing Workers’ Compensation claims, in addition to changing their policy. The company is also required to pay $$36,000 in damages to the former employee, as well as a $10,000 penalty to the Attorney General’s Office.

If you have been injured in a work related accident, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. Call an attorney who is experienced in handling such matters who can advise you regarding your legal rights. Contact the Workers’ Compensation attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

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Worker’s Compensation Board to Take Part in New Task Force

The recent New York Times investigation of nail salon worker abuse has led to the creation of a statewide New York task force announced by Governor Cuomo that will protect workers in a number of additional industries known for exploiting its workers. The task force will focus their investigations on industries in which workers are least likely to come forward to report abuse or exploitation. Such industries are usually comprised largely of an immigrant workforce and include: nail salons, restaurants, construction, car washes, cleaning, farming, home health care, etc.

Many workers in those industries are often most vulnerable due to their legal status. Additionally, those industries also pose a high risk of injury and illness which many workers are hesitant to report for fear of retaliation from their employers. The new task force will work to create safer conditions for these employees, as well.

The task force will commence its investigations by looking into complaints that were made by workers to the State and advocacy organizations. Such complaints include issues surrounding unsafe working conditions, wage theft, retaliation, and human trafficking. Additionally, the investigation will also look into workers who were exploited by unfair wage deductions and unscheduled hours. The task force will take into consideration a number of factors in determining where to focus their efforts, including the dangerousness of the industry; reported deaths; number of violations; percentage of immigrant workers; and whether the workers are geographically isolated. Workers are now able to contact the Task Force Hotline directly at 1-888-469-7365 to make an anonymous complaint.

In addition to the Worker’s Compensation Board, a number of other organizations have formed a committee and will be taking part in the task force by meeting monthly. The New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Immigration Coalition, Farm Bureau, and Empire Justice Center are among the numerous committee members.

If you are a worker who has suffered injury due to unsafe employment conditions, contact an experienced Worker’s Compensation attorney who can advise you of your legal rights. 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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Prison Health Care Providers Implement New Safety Measures

Those who work in prisons face an inordinate amount of danger each day. They are constantly at risk of being attacked by people capable of extreme violence. Health care workers in prisons are especially at risk of violent attacks due to the close contact they must have with inmates in order to examine and treat them.

Last year, Corizon Health, Inc. was issued OSHA violations and $71,000 in fines for failure to adequately protect its employees from workplace violence. The company provides health care (including dental and psychiatric) to inmates at correctional facilities across the nation, including Riker’s Island. Between 2011 and 2013, the company saw a sharp increase in violent incidents occurring to health care workers. Over the course of the two years, violent incidents occurring to the health care workers rose from eight to thirty-nine.

Among the incidents cited by OSHA were health care workers experiencing punches to the face, exposure to bloodborne pathogens being thrown, being targeted on a “hit list,” assaults, and being knocked unconscious.
To address the issues that have arisen regarding health care worker safety in correctional facilities, Corizon has implemented new procedures and protocols following the OSHA guidelines. The development of new training measures, improved record keeping and incident reporting, as well as workplace violence prevention policies are expected to help provide safeguards to workers. Panic alarms will also be installed, as well as proper barriers. Additionally, health care workers must be accompanied by a corrections officer while treating inmates. Corizon will pay a total of $38,000 in OSHA fines, reduced from the original sum of $71,000.

Workplace violence can result in severe injury, inability to work, and sometimes even death. If you are a health care worker who has been seriously injured as the result of doing your job, contact an experienced Worker’s Compensation attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and remedies. Call The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP at (866) 557-7500.

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