Corrections Officers Suffer One of the Highest Rates of Workplace Injuries

Recently, a corrections officer at Riker’s Island was injured after two inmates attacked him and threw scalding liquid in his face. The liquid was comprised of corrosive cleaning chemicals that caused him to suffer second and third degree burns. Just a week prior to this attack, another corrections officer required 26 stitches across his face following an attack by two inmates. The assault ensued when the inmates held the officer down in a chokehold and slashed his face with a knife.

Correction officers have dangerous jobs, and one of the highest rates of nonfatal work related injuries of any occupation, nationwide. Across the country, in 2011, there were 254 work related injuries per 10,000 full time employees that were caused by assaults and other violent acts by inmates. Most of the assaults also involved dangerous objects. One-third of the injuries occurred as a result of restraining or interacting with an inmate during an altercation.

In New York City jails alone, there were 108 stabbings and slashings of corrections officers by inmates that occurred in fiscal year 2015. This is twenty more than occurred in fiscal year 2014, and 67 more than had occurred in 2011. However, the number of injuries classified as “serious” dropped from 53 to 43 from 2014 to 2015.

If you are a corrections officer and have suffered injury related to your employment which now limits your ability to work, you may be entitled to a disability pension or 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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Lack of Inflation to Affect Social Security Benefits for 2016

Recipients of social security benefits will not receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2016 due to lack of inflation. Many blame a correlation between low gas prices and the inflation rate concerning the absence of a COLA for next year. The COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers which is computed in accordance with statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor which measures price changes in items such as food, clothing, housing, transportation, etc. Fuel prices have dropped by 23% since last year, lowering inflation. This is only the third time in forty years that there has not been an increase, including in 2010 and 2011.

The COLA affects 70 million Americans, with Social Security benefits being provided to 1/5th of the population including Social Security Disability (SSD). The beneficiaries include federal retirees, disabled workers, their spouses and children, and disabled veterans. Additionally, 8 million people receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)- a financial needs-based program for the disabled. This program would also be affected as the program recipients will also see no COLA increase.

While benefits will not be increasing this year, SSI/SSD are important benefits to disabled workers. If you suffer from pain so severe that you cannot work, and have medical evidence attesting to your condition, you may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability Insurance.  Contact an attorney who is experienced in helping clients obtain the benefits they deserve.  Call The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP at (866)557-7500.

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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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American Red Cross and OSHA Alliance Raises Awareness Concerning Bloodborne Pathogens and Disease Transmission in the Workplace

Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Red Cross renewed their alliance for another five years. The purpose of the alliance is to raise awareness concerning incidents that occur in the workplace as well as protecting workers from exposure to hazardous substances. The organizations have found their ten-year history of alliance to be successful in their joint endeavors of promoting health and safety in the workplace.

One area that the Red Cross has been an extremely valuable resource to OSHA is in providing information concerning the transmission of disease in the workplace and bloodborne pathogens. It has been estimated by the Center for Disease Control that 5.6 million workers in health care industry and related occupations are at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens containing HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Such pathogens may be contained in biohazardous materials such as human blood, human blood components, or products that are made from human blood. A common way for exposure to occur is through experiencing a needle stick or body fluid exposure.

Time can be of the essence if exposed to the blood or bodily fluids of another to prevent the possibility of contracting a disease. The New York State Department of Health suggests the following procedures if you have been exposed:

  • Immediately report the incident to your supervisor
  • Cleanse the area that was exposed
  • Refer the employee’s immunization history, medically evaluate the employee and administer care
  • Appropriately document the incident
  • Follow appropriate procedures to have the patient or source tested for HIV and hepatitis once consent has been obtained
  • Test the exposed employee for HIV and hepatitis

The New York State Department of Health also advises in situations such as exposure to bloodborne pathogens that a Workers’ Compensation claim should be initiated. 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 Cites Brooklyn Construction Company for Safety Violations Leading to the Death of Worker

Recently, a Brooklyn construction company has been cited for safety violations that led to the fatal fall of a 51 year old worker last April. The citations included one willful violation due to lack of fall protection and five serious violations connected to the accident. OSHA’s director of the Brooklyn area, Kay Gee, remarked that the tragedy could have been prevented with the lifesaving equipment the company knew was required.

The worker had fallen from the sixth floor of a building while raking concrete that had been freshly poured at an edge that was left unprotected.

Upon inspection, OSHA found that workers were not provided with the required fall protection gear, including harnesses and lifelines. Additionally, OSHA found that the construction company did not provide the necessary instruction to workers concerning minimizing fall hazards. The inspectors also found other hazardous conditions such as missing stairway guardrails, defects in the extension ladder, floor holes that were left unprotected, and debris from construction left in stairways and work areas.

The company faces $84,600 in proposed fines if it does not comply with OSHA’s requirements within fifteen days of being issued the citations.

Falls have happened too often on construction sites throughout New York City in the last year. They are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and are entirely preventable with proper training, equipment, and planning. OSHA has launched a Fall Prevention Campaign to raise awareness of the safety issues when working at elevated heights.

If you have been injured in a workplace related accident, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. Contact an attorney who is experienced in dealing with 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.

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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.

New Regulation Would Protect Workers Exposed to Beryllium

OSHA has recently proposed a new regulation that would help protect workers who are exposed to beryllium.  The chemical, which is released through dust, fumes, mist and in other forms, can cause a fatal respiratory disease in those who are exposed.  Annually, 35,000 workers are exposed to the chemical and 245 new cases of illnesses related to beryllium exposure arise each year.  Such illnesses include lung cancer and chronic beryllium disease- a condition causing inflammation and scarring of the lungs.  Officials estimate that implementing new regulations would prevent 100 deaths and 50 new illness cases annually.

The new regulation would lower the allowed exposure limit from 2.0 to .2 micrograms per cubic meter of air- 1/10th the current level.  The maximum amount of exposure time legally allowed is currently 8 hours.  Additionally, workers would be medically monitored to assess whether they exhibited early signs of beryllium related illness.

Beryllium, a naturally occurring element, is commonly found in the aerospace and electronics industries.  Additionally, it is also used in the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.  In fact, the Labor Department compensated 2,500 nuclear workers who were exposed to beryllium at a total cost of $500 million, to date.  The chemical can also be found in dental lab work and foundry operations.  The proposed regulation would not apply to those who work in an industry in which beryllium is found in raw materials, such as at coal burning power plants, or aluminum producing facilities.

The proposed rule is open for public comment between August 7, 2015 and November 9, 2015.  To read the proposed rule, click here.

Exposure to beryllium, or any other toxic chemical in the workplace can cause serious health conditions.  If you have suffered adverse health effects from being subjected to exposure to a dangerous substance or condition at work, contact an experienced Workers’ 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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Three New Bills Aimed at Improving SSDI Program

Two senators have recently introduced legislation that is aimed at improving the quality of the Social Security Disability Insurance Program. As it is expected that the reserve fund will be depleted by next year, the purpose of these bills is to ensure that funds are being used legitimately. A 20% cut is currently scheduled for next year which would adversely affect the 11 million Americans rely on SSDI. If passed, the proposed legislation could positively reform the current state of the program.

The intent of the Promoting Opportunity for Disability Benefit Applicants Act grants the Social Security Administration the power to provide those who were denied SSDI benefits with information on other support services. As the application process typically takes 100 or more days, workers are forced to wait for a decision regarding benefits when they could be re-entering the workforce. The goal of the Act is to ultimately help workers successfully re-enter the workforce and avoid the application process cycle.

Another bill introduced, The Improving the Quality of Disability Decisions Act of 2015, requires the Social Security Administration to review decisions made by Administrative Law judges in order to guarantee that they are complying with the law, as well as SSA’s policies. While the bill does not have a direct effect on spending, it does ensure uniformity in the consistency and quality of decisions that are made.

The third bill, The Disability Fraud Reduction and Unethical Deception (FRAUD) Prevention Act, imposes monetary penalties on those who attempt to defraud social security. The bill expands upon Social Security’s ability to protect the taxpayer’s money by exposing and punishing fraudulent activity. In addition to increasing the monetary penalty of a misstatement to $7,500, those who defraud could also incur a felony conviction and a sentence of ten years in prison.

Especially considering the pending legislation, if you are unable to work due to illness, mental or physical disability, contact an attorney who is experienced in obtaining Social Security benefits for their clients. Call The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP at (866)557-7500.

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