Streamlined Prosecutions of Workplace Safety Violations Resulting from the Worker Endangerment Initiative

Recently, WorkCompCentral Workers’ Compensation and American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds announced the federal government’s launch of the Worker Endangerment Initiative. This new program combines the prosecution of employer workplace safety and environmental violations. Often, employers who criminally violate the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), are also violating environmental laws at the same time. The initiative includes data sharing, joint investigations and streamlining the criminal referral program. The goal is to make it easier to prosecute environmental violations.

For one, the Environmental Crimes Section will be able to prosecute not only traditional environmental crimes, but also OSHA violations and other workers’ safety statutes. With this initiative, an employer can be charged with workplace safety violations, environmental law violations, and related offenses such as obstruction of justice and making false statements, in the same case. This will allow prosecutors to combine what would have been several cases into one, and make it more efficient to prosecute employers.

If you have been injured on the job, an attorney can help protect your rights. 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.

OSHA Takes Action Against U.S. Steel for Retaliating Against Employees Who Delayed in Filing Workplace Injury Claims

When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, companies must abide by state and federal law, but they are able to implement their own internal policies. Some companies have a policy which requires employees to report an incident immediately. The issue with immediate reporting is that a workplace injury may not be symptomatic at the time of the incident or accident.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against U.S. Steel for allegedly retaliating against two employees after the individuals reported injuries they sustained on the job. U.S. Steel’s policy is that employees must report injuries immediately. The two employees both reported injuries when they became symptomatic, and then were suspended without pay for not reporting sooner.

The first incident occurred when a technician had a small splinter in his thumb, which he was able to remove himself without any complications. Days later, though, his thumb became infected and medical treatment was necessary. At that point, the technician reported the incident because of the required medical treatment, and his supervisor suspended him for five days without pay.
The second employee, a laborer located in a different plant, bumped his head on a beam. At the time, the employee was wearing a hard hat and did not feel any pain. After some time passed, the employee noticed an issue with his shoulder, possibly caused by his contact with the beam. The employee sought medical treatment, and reported the incident to his employer. This employee, as well, was suspended for a period of five days without pay.

Both employees filed complaints against U.S. Steel with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claiming that their suspensions were in retaliation for reporting injuries. OSHA found that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of Section 11(c), the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking to enjoin U.S. Steel from retaliating against employees, for revision of the company’s internal policy, and to rescind the disciplinary action taken against the two injured workers.

Skillful workers’ compensation attorneys can guide employees on which claims to file and how to handle internal workplace policy. 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, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

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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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