Pressured to Work While in Pain

Pressured to Work While in Pain

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) released a report in August, 2018, detailing the use—and abuse—of opioid pain medication in the construction industry. Researchers now know that Massachusetts workers in construction have a much greater risk of dying from pain medication overdoses than workers in other industries. When workers are injured on the job and are prescribed opioid pain medication, they often start by taking pain pills in order to keep working but end up being addicted. Such opioid prescription pain medications are known as hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, and morphine. Unlike some full-time employees who have benefits, construction workers generally aren’t paid when they aren’t on the job. Even worse, they could lose their employment simply by not working when they’re sick or injured, regardless of the severity of their injury or illness. Injured workers often take pain pills to keep going every day and to keep food on their family’s table. As Jodi Sugarman-Brozan, the executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health put it, “There is a lot of pressure to work in pain.” Steve Heisler, “The Injury Lawyer,” can help evaluate your Maryland claim, get in touch with expert witnesses, conduct a thorough[…..]

New Focus for Talcum Powder Cases

Talcum Powder

Two recent court cases involving Johnson & Johnson’s (J & J) baby powder have resulted in the awarding of damages to plaintiffs suffering from mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that generally affects certain cells lining the lungs and abdomen. The cancer is often caused by asbestos exposure and rarely appears without cause. During May 2018, jurors in California state court awarded a 68-year-old woman compensatory damages of $21.7 million for asbestos-related mesothelioma that she claims resulted from extremely heavy usage (two bottles a month) of J & J’s powder over decades. Earlier, in April 2018, New Jersey jurors in the company’s corporate hometown of New Brunswick found J & J liable for $117 million in damages. A 56-year-old man claimed that his asbestos-related mesothelioma was due to daily usage of the company’s talcum powder products since his birth in 1972. These two cases are game-changers when it comes to the dangers of talcum powder and cancer risk. Previous cases have focused on ovarian cancer and have not involved claims of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powders. What is Mesothelioma? The cancer known as mesothelioma usually results from workplace exposure to asbestos that occurs over many years. The most[…..]

Occupational Hazard: Beryllium in the Workplace

MD Beryllium Injury Lawyer

Beryllium is a substance that probably doesn’t appear in your everyday conversation, unless you are studying chemistry or you work in certain industries. But repeated exposure to beryllium can cause a number of health problems and serious diseases. After four decades, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) finally issued a safety exposure rule for beryllium in January, 2017. However, in June of 2017, the new administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) argued for changes to the agreement that was so long in the making. What is Beryllium? A metallic element found in nature, beryllium has many commercial uses. Some businesses that use or expose their workers to beryllium include: Aerospace and aircraft manufacturing and maintenance Computer manufacturers Construction workers in certain industries Dental laboratories Foundries and metals reclamation/recycling Shipyard workers Telecommunications industries. Risk arises from repeated exposure in situations where beryllium is mined, processed, or converted into metallic alloys or other substances, or from living near an uncontrolled hazardous waste site containing beryllium. Exposure to Beryllium: When is it a Problem? We all experience low levels of beryllium in the course of our lives—it’s in our air, water, and food—and these low levels pose no risk. However, persons employed[…..]

“He Died Standing”

Worker in Factory

You would not think, in the 21st century, that workers would still die simply because they are doing their job. It’s deeply unfortunate, but the distressing fact is that workers die every day, especially where employers are not practicing legally mandated safety. Fatal injuries on the job rose from 2013, when they were 4,585, to 4,836 in 2015. The Latino/Latina rate of workplace fatalities also rose from 3.7 to 4.0 for every 100,000 full-time employees. This ethnic group suffers the biggest ratio of workplace deaths. A 2012 white paper by OSHA reported that the human price of fatalities also has a monetary cost. By their figures, the 4,836 fatalities in 2015 placed a burden of roughly $420 billion on all of us. Because in this day and age shocking work fatalities still happen, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) has assembled a list of companies with lousy safety records that they have named “The Dirty Dozen.” Any company on the list has shown a marked indifference to employee safety and health, with multiple violations on their record, along with serious employee injuries and deaths. The Dirty Dozen for 2017 Leading the list of the Dirty Dozen[…..]

Summer Dangers for Construction Site Workers

Workplace Accident

For some of us, summer is a time of trips to the beach and other types of fun. But for those who work in construction, it means long days laboring in the sun, sometimes in extreme heat and under hazardous conditions. Construction jobs are some of the most perilous occupations in which you can engage, and the hottest months often make such jobs even more dangerous. The 2013 estimates for the months with the most work-related injuries per day, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), were June (3,336.0), July (3,282.4), and August (3,375.5). If you work in the industry, perhaps this is not news. However, you might not be aware of some of the special hazards that summer brings your way. What’s So Risky About Construction Work? Construction work’s deadliest accidents are called “the Fatal Four:” falling, getting struck by objects, being caught between or inside objects, and electrocution. Year-round, such accidents cause many of the fatalities and injuries suffered on construction sites. The most common and most dangerous risk of construction work comes from falling: falls from high places such as roofs, falling off scaffolding, collapsing scaffolding, slippery surfaces, and so forth. However, summertime carries its own special[…..]

Stay Safe While Working in the Cold and Snow

Maryland Winter Work Accident Lawyer

Everyone complains about their job, it seems. But those who work outside in all kinds of weather may have a lot more to complain about, especially in the winter. Did you realize that in the Baltimore area our average low temperature in January is 23.5 degrees F, and in February it’s only 26 F? Our record low for both months is -7 (seven below zero). And, when it comes to snow, 20.2 inches for the winter is merely average for our area. During late January 2016’s storm, “Snowzilla” left behind 29.2 inches of the white stuff at BWI Airport, making it the largest snowstorm on record around here. People whose jobs involve working outside know how cold and miserable it can get. If you routinely work outdoors during the winter, this article is for you. What Does OSHA Say? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a part in winter work that you might not be aware of. For example, if your job involves snow removal, did you know the activity is regulated by OSHA? Snow removal that is necessary for work to resume on construction sites is also regulated. What this means is that your health and safety[…..]

When Working Means Dying

Maryland Work-related Death Lawyer

Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones. You work at a job with a low risk of serious injury or death. Perhaps you are not as lucky, and you know exactly what the headline above means. If you work in the industrial, heavy machinery, construction, or roofing industries, there’s a good chance you have seen someone who was injured, or perhaps even died, while on the job. Perhaps it is you who was injured. Recent Industrial Deaths in Maryland Maryland has its share of heavy industry and related injuries and deaths. But recently, our area has experienced several distressing events. Over a span of only three weeks, we had three on-the-job deaths in the Baltimore area: A 19-year-old Dundalk teen died at a metals processing plant in Sparrows Point in mid-June, 2016. He was crushed after being pulled into a steel-rolling machine. The young man had been on the job only one month. Just two days later, in June, 2016, a welder died at a White Marsh construction site because a metal beam struck him. This occurred at a job site on the 5200 block of Campbell Blvd. A 32-year-old man from Windsor Mill died at the scene in[…..]

New Public Database Helpful for Workers

Working on a laptop

In an effort to bring greater transparency to the reporting of workplace injury and illness, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a “final rule” on May 11, 2016, that creates a publically-viewable database. This final rule revises OSHA’s regulations known as the Recording and Reporting of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. The new database will likely benefit workers in certain industries, who will be able to look up whether one employer has a higher numbers of injuries than another. The names of companies and a listing of injuries and illnesses, along with their numbers of occurrences, will appear in the database. (No personally-identifying worker information will be listed.) Under the present system, employers keep logs of all on-the-job illnesses and injuries. The logs can be viewed by employees and by OSHA inspectors, but no others outside the company can usually see the information. However, the new rule will require certain changes, especially for industries considered “high hazard” (construction, manufacturing, freight trucking, waste collection, hospitals, nursing homes, and grocery stores). Among the changes is the obligation that companies with over 249 workers will have to send detailed injury and illness information electronically to OSHA. How can this new database help[…..]

Summertime, and the Workin’ Is Hard…

Workplace Accident

Please forgive our riff on the classic Gershwin song, “Summertime,” but we have a point to get across to you. Most workers are at greater risk of workplace injury for a variety of reasons. Injury rates spike during the summer, and knowing the reasons why can perhaps help you avoid harm. After crunching data from 2003 through 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) determined the following: The total number of injuries per day was the highest during June, July, and August by a significant amount. The injury rate for soreness, pain, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and for suffering multiple injuries was higher in June, July, August, and occasionally in September. Fractures, surprisingly enough, were highest during December, January, and February. The injury rate by duration of injury, from 1-2 through 11-plus days, was generally higher in June, July, August, and occasionally in September. Now, why are these facts so? More Hours and Workers Aren’t the Reasons You might think that one reason for more injuries during the summer would be more workers, or more hours worked, but the BLS eliminated seasonality bias using certain mathematical formulas. Therefore, the facts that more hours are worked, or that more persons are[…..]

Breathing Easier at Work

Silicosis Symptoms

It’s taken a while, but finally the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have now come up with new standards regarding occupational silica dust exposure. The regulations were created in 1971 with no changes since then, so the update was sorely needed. Fortunately, it looks as if the new protections for workers will help prevent the many dangers of exposure to silica dust, also known as respirable crystalline silica. It’s estimated that these new regulations will prevent over 900 new cases of silicosis and 600 deaths annually. OSHA has issued what is called a “final rule,” meaning that the new standards will take effect on June 23, 2016. Employers will have from one to five years to come into compliance. What the New Rule Establishes The new rule regarding silica exposure creates two different standards: one for the construction industry, and one for general industry and maritime jobs. It is expected that worker exposure will be cut in half for general industry and maritime employees, and by five times for those who work construction. Exposure to silica dust will now be limited to a time-weighted average, spread over eight hours, of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter[…..]