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Workplace Accidents

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5 Steps To Take To Protect Your Rights When You Injure Yourself At Work

Getting up and going to work for someone else is a reality for most people in America. Our employers help us put food on the table and clothes on our backs. Unfortunately, these employers can also cause us injury. When that happens, you need to be able to protect your rights when it comes to building a workers’ compensation case.

If you are ever injured while working, taking the following steps can help you recover the compensation that you are entitled to when it comes to work-place injuries.



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Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Perils of Office Work


What are the common injuries associated with office work?

Some workplaces in Pennsylvania are known to be risky for workers such as coal mines, construction sites, manufacturing plants, refineries and factories. Many workers in these industries suffer injuries from falls, falling objects, equipment failures, explosions and exposure to hazardous substances. When it comes to office work, however, many people think the greatest risk is aggravation from coworkers and superiors. But work related injuries also frequently occur in offices. That's the bad news.


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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Shopping-Related Injuries: Who Is at Fault?


When are stores responsible for patrons' personal injuries on their premises?

Thousands of personal injury claims filed in the U.S. annually are the result of injuries that have occurred during shopping expeditions. Although most of us do not view shopping as a dangerous activity, injuries that take place in stores, shopping malls and other retail establishments can be severe, life-changing, and even, on occasion, fatal.

Types of Shopping Injuries

Many shopping injuries are minor and may involve small cuts or bruises, but others are serious and need emergency attention.
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Friday, March 11, 2016

The Danger of Weed in the Workplace

Can I file a workers' comp claim if I get stoned at work and have an accident?

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the use of marijuana is having an impact in the workplace. As the number of pot smokers rises, more employees and job applicants are testing positive in drug-screening tests. If you fail a test as part of a pre-employment requirement, you will not be hired. If you are required to take a drug test at work and the results are positive, you could be disciplined or even fired. Ultimately, weed in the workplace is a safety issue.

The Dangers of Marijuana at Work

The primary reason for prohibiting use of marijuana in the workplace is because smoking grass on the job has been linked to job accidents and injuries stemming from the short-term effects of being high such as impaired body movement, difficulty thinking, memory problems and altered senses. In short, there is a link between illicit drug use and workplace accidents. While smoking pot mat be reasonably safe in a controlled environment, the fact that workplace safety may be jeopardized my individuals being stoned at work raises concerns.

This is especially an issue in work situations that involve the use of machinery or driving vehicles.
The impact of marijuana use on transportation safety is a clear and present danger. Some studies demonstrate the drug impairs attentiveness, motor coordination, and reaction time, and affects an individual's perception of time and speed. Moreover, pot smoking impacts driving performance and increases the risk of collisions, some of which can be deadly. Marijuana use may also trigger problems with attendance and worker productivity, which is becoming a greater issue as weed becomes more socially acceptable stemming from the liberalization of marijuana laws. That being said, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug with a high potential for abuse.

Workplace Substance Abuse Policies

In light of the increased use of marijuana, it is crucial for employers to establish a strong workplace substance abuse policy. While smoking weed has been legalized in some states, employers may still ban the drug at work. Moreover, federal laws require certain industries and contractors to prohibit illegal drug use. Employers not covered by these federal laws still need to provide employees with a safe workplace. Of course, employees have a responsibility as well.

While workers who have an accident or are injured at work are entitled to compensation, if the injury was the result of drug or alcohol use, your claim will be denied, and you face the possibility of being disciplined or losing your job. If you were injured at work in Pennsylvania through no fault of your own, however, you should consult with an attorney who has expertise in workers' compensation law.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Bureau of Labor Statistics on Workplace Injuries and Death

Is the workplace becoming safer or more dangerous?

A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a preliminary report on work-related injuries and deaths; final data is scheduled to be released this spring. It is important to remember that such statistics are not merely abstract numbers -- they represent a great deal of pain, physical, emotional, and financial, to victims and their loved ones.

The news for Pennsylvania is somewhat heartening. Workplace fatalities in the Pittsburgh area are the lowest they have been since they were first charted in 2003. There were 18 workplace deaths in 2014, down from 29 the previous year. Across the country, however, the statistics are not leaning in the right direction. The nation has seen a 2 percent rise in worker deaths increasing from 4585 in 2013 to 4679 in 2014.

Common Causes of Worker Fatalities

The causes of worker deaths in Pennsylvania parallel those in other parts of the country --  accidents involving construction, transportation, farming, machine operation, mining warehousing, and slip and fall. Suicides and homicides also feature in the mortality statistics. Women are far less likely to die in the workplace than their male counterparts, because only about a tenth of the jobs in the most dangerous occupations are performed by women.

Examining the trends in worker injuries and fatalities in an effort to curb, or even eliminate, them, Pittsburgh's Area Director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Christopher Robinson, reports that the decline in fatalities reflects increased enforcement concerning common hazards, improved partnerships with trade associations, and expanded outreach to both employers and employees.

In recent years, OSHA's Pittsburgh office is focusing on falls, the second leading cause of worker injuries in 2014. Robinson declares, "We’ve placed a great amount (sic) of emphasis on enforcement when it comes to fall protection.” In addition, a death due to a mining accident in the southwestern part of the state a few days ago, the second fatality

in that mine during the last year, and the third mining fatality in the U.S. since January 4th, has drawn attention to the stark need for improvement in safety for mining workers.

While OSHA and other government agencies join forces with employers all over the country to improve the statistics regarding work-related injuries and deaths, workers' compensation benefits are available to workers hurt during their employment. If you have been injured in the workplace, it is important that you contact a skilled workers' compensation attorney to help you navigate the difficult waters of bureaucracy in order to obtain your rightful benefits.

 


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Workers' Compensation Board Blames Negligence for Worker's 40-foot Fall

What benefits are available to a worker who is paralyzed following a work-related accident?

Paralysis is one of the most severe workplace injuries an employee can endure, and is likewise compensated as such. In most cases, a paralyzed worker will be unable to ever return to the jobsite, a condition referred to as the “permanent loss of function.” In the event a workplace injury causes the permanent loss of a body part or extremity – either due to paralysis or dismemberment – the worker will likely receive total disability payments, equaling two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage at the time of the incident. If, after 104 consecutive weeks of benefits, the worker is still unable to return to the job, he or she will need to obtain a medical evaluation which must reflect a “profound” disabling condition.

West Chester man paralyzed by workplace negligence

In a truly horrific set of circumstances, a West Chester man was recently paralyzed from the waist down after falling 40 feet from a makeshift platform. Unbelievably, the man’s supervisor ordered another worker to lift him nearly three stories – using a rough-terrain front-loader, which ultimately toppled and caused the resulting 40-foot fall.

Following the incident, the employer was subjected to an immediate inspection by OSHA, which revealed widespread instances of negligent, dangerous workplace protocol. First, the company was cited for routinely misusing front-end loaders for unapproved uses – including, apparently, moving employees from one area to another. Further, the company was cited for failing to provide fall protection, and failing to properly train workers to recognize the instance of fall hazards. Likewise, the employer was penalized for haphazardly using unneeded equipment to weigh down scaffolding bases, a maneuver further solidifying the obvious patterns of carelessness and recklessness within the management of construction projects.

In a statement by the Philadelphia OSHA office, "[t]his tragedy could have been averted if these two companies had not been so careless about worker safety….A young man is now confined to a wheelchair because of the disregard of the employers at this site for the safety and well-being of their workers. Their actions are inexcusable and will not be tolerated.."

If you have suffered a workplace injury, a qualified attorney can help you obtain compensation.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Off-duty Worker Prevails in Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Following Unsuccessful Rescue Attempt of Fellow Laborer

Can I collect workers’ compensation benefits if I am injured at work, but not technically “on the clock?” 


As the name suggests, workers’ compensation benefits are reserved for those who are injured while engaged in an employment-related activity. The concept draws a clear line between work-related injuries versus those that occur during personal pursuits – the latter of which are not covered. But how does the law treat that thin grey area in which a worker – who is not technically “on the clock” – is injured on the jobsite? As the following story details, these cases are decided based on a thorough analysis over whether the victim was acting within the “scope of employment” at the time of the injury, and not whether he was actually being compensated at the precise moment of the accident. 

Off-the-clock worker prevails following rescue attempt

In July, 2010, an Allegheny County sewage plant worker rushed to the aid of a fellow employee after the employee fatally fell into a concrete pit on the jobsite. Not realizing the futility of his efforts, the plant worker descended into the pit – along with several other workers – to try and rescue the employee, to no avail. On the way out of the pit, the worker was overcome by methane gas, and fell from the ladder injuring his left leg, knee, foot, ribs, back, head and lungs.

In the days following this fateful fall, the injured worker filed for workers’ compensation benefits, which were initially granted by the Workers’ Compensation Board. The employer and its insurance provider immediately appealed the decision to the Commonwealth Court, asserting that a rescue attempt is not an employment duty, and should therefore not be compensated under the terms of the workers’ compensation policy. More specifically, the employer alleged that the victim was not even assigned to work anywhere near the pit, and had stepped outside the scope of his employment just by being in the area. More succinctly, the employer asserted that “his compulsion to act as a Good Samaritan was not employment-related….”

Fortunately, the Court held in favor of the victim and ultimately decided that “[a]ttempts to render aid to another do not, in and of themselves, constitute an abandonment of employment.” In a victory for Pennsylvania’s workers, this holding stands for the notion that the “scope of employment” standard is heavily fact-driven and must be applied subjectively to each situation, regardless of whether the worker was on-the-clock at the time of the injury. 

If you are having difficulty with a workers’ compensation issue, please do not hesitate to contact the Montgomery and Bucks County, Pennsylvania attorneys at Louis P. Lombardi, III & Associates by calling (610)239-7600 to discuss your case today. 


Friday, June 12, 2015

Driver Injures Four Construction Workers in Pennsylvania Turnpike Crash

Can you receive workers compensation or a personal injury settlement for the work related death of a loved one?

A motorist injured four construction workers in an early morning crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Bensalem Interchange.  The driver was killed during the crash.  One worker was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and another worker was airlifted to another Philadelphia hospital and rushed into surgery shortly after arriving.  The two remaining construction workers had minor injuries and were taken to a local hospital in Bristol for observation.  Authorities are investigating the incident.      

The construction workers, all male, were working for contractors hired by the Pennsylvania Turnpike to work on a link between the Turnpike and I-95.  This crash comes on the heels of another incident in Bedford County.  In that incident, a state trooper attempted to pull over a car.  The car sped off and swerved into a lane under construction hitting a construction worker.  Thankfully, none of the workers died in this accident. 

Being employed as a construction worker on a main road or highway is a dangerous job.  Many construction workers and others are killed while working on Pennsylvania roads every year.      

As a result of the recent events, the Turnpike Chairman, Sean Logan, requested extra troopers in construction zones to enforce speeding and distracted drivers.  The extra enforcement is part of Operation Orange Squeeze.  A trooper sits inside of a construction vehicle while another trooper waits in a patrol car to pull over the speeding car.  Drivers traveling 11 mph or more in a construction zone face a $200 fine and a 15-day driver’s license suspension.  Last year alone there were 150 crashes in construction zones.  

Unfortunately, no matter how many extra precautions are taken to keep workers safe, work-related deaths will still occur on these roads.  If a member of your family was killed in a work-related accident, the attorneys at Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates may be able to help you with your workers compensation or personal injury claim.  Our Montgomery and Bucks County attorneys can be reached by calling (888) 818-4343.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Work-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries Could Create Lifelong Limitations

What are some of the side effects of work-related traumatic brain injuries? 

Each day, Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries in their homes, on the roads and in the workplace. These serious injuries result not only in physical disabilities, but cognitive loss and personality changes. While many tissues in the body can recover from injury, brain cells cannot. 

TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head, which may or may not cause an open wound to the skull, which disrupts normal brain functioning. Not all blows to the head result in a TBI. The harm from TBIs range from “mild” (a short change in consciousness) to “severe” (a long period of unconsciousness or lost memory).  Most TBIs are mild and normally called concussions.

TBI is a leading cause of death and disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It estimates that TBIs contribute to nearly a third of all injury deaths.  

TBI can result in impaired thinking, lost memory, limited movement, lost sensation (including vision and hearing) and emotional functioning (personality changes, anger and depression).  These effects not only impact workers but their families and communities as well.

CDC figures paint a sobering picture of the number and severity of TBIs across the country. In 2010:

• about 2.5 million emergency department visits, hospital admissions and deaths were connected to TBI, (either by themselves or in combination with other injuries);

• the deaths of more than 50,000 people were connected to TBI; and

• TBI was a diagnosis (by itself or with other conditions) in more than 280,000 hospitalizations and 2.2 million emergency department visits.  

The leading causes of TBI are: 

• Falls - 40.5%,

• Unknown/other - 19%,

• Traffic accidents - 14.3%

• Being struck by or against an object - 15.5% 

• Assaults - 10.7%.

Work-related TBIs can be caused by:
• slips and falls in areas that are uneven or slippery;

• accidents involving construction equipment, autos or trucks;

• being struck in the head by an object or piece of equipment being moved from one place to another; and

• being the victim of a crime at the workplace.

If you or a loved one in Montgomery or Bucks Counties has suffered a work-related TBI, the law firm of Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates can help you obtain the medical treatment and compensation you deserve. Call (888) 818-4343 or (610) 239-7600 to schedule your free consultation. 

 


Monday, January 12, 2015

Pennsylvania State Liquor Store Manager Awarded Workers Compensation Benefits the Second Time Around

What can you do if your workers’ compensation claim is denied?

Many Americans are injured on the job everyday.  That is why most employers are required to carry some form of workers’ compensation insurance.  Sometimes, a worker is injured in an unusual way and when he or she makes a claim for benefits it may be denied due to the uncommon circumstance.  When this happens, the worker often has the right to appeal.  This is exactly the situation in a recent Pennsylvania workers’ compensation case. 

In 2008, Gregory Kochanowicz was working as a manager at a Pennsylvania state liquor store in Morrisville.  During his shift, a robber entered the store wielding a gun and demanded that Kochanowicz hand over the money in the store safe.  The robber held a gun to Kochanowicz’s head throughout most of the ordeal and also duct taped him and a co-worker to chairs.

While, Kochanowicz remained physically unharmed, he claims to have been seriously disturbed by the incident. Kochanowicz claims that he was unable to go back to work after the ordeal and to have suffered severe emotional distress.  As such, Kochanowicz filed a workers compensation claim with his employer the Pennsylvania Liquor Control.  The agency disputed the claim and the Commonwealth Court denied Kochanowicz’s plea for benefits. Kochanowicz appealed the denial to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and this court sent the case back down to the Commonwealth Court for further review.  At this point, the Commonwealth Court decided that benefits were warranted and found in favor of Kochanowicz.  The court noted in its opinion that because the circumstances leading to Kochanowicz’s injuries were not considered normal working conditions that he should be entitled to benefits.  

If you were injured at work, even in an unusual way, do not be discouraged from pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.  The attorneys at Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates are experienced in representing clients in a variety of circumstances and may be able to help you.  The firm represents clients in and around the areas of Montgomery and Bucks County, Pennsylvania and can be reached at (610)239-7600 or (888)818-4343.  Contact us for a consultation today.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sugar plant accident highlights risks for temp workers

Factory work presents many risks for workers, depending on the setting and the type of work being done. Employers, of course, have the duty of ensuring their employees and temporary workers are adequately protected. As we frequently point out on this blog, though, employers don't always do this.

A recent accident at a sugar plant in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, is an example of the serious consequences of safety failures on the part of an employer. An employee at the plant, according to investigators, had been buried alive in sugar after attempting to unclog a large hopper. Investigators pointed out that a manager at the plant had removed a safety device 13 days before the accident, which device would have prevented the employee's death had it been left on.


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