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Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Workplace accident at landfill kills 1 when slope fails

Each occupation in New York and elsewhere has its own hazards, and employers must assess the dangers and address them to protect the safety and health of employees. When safety hazards are overlooked, it could lead to a workplace accident with devastating consequences. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the tragic death of a landfill worker in a neighboring state.

According to the manager of the landfill where the death occurred, independent studies and investigations are underway. Reportedly, garbage and dirt buried five employees when a landslide occurred on Feb. 8. Four of the workers managed to get out, but the fifth man was overwhelmed by 40 feet of trash. Rescue workers searched for 48 hours before they were able to retrieve his body.

Claims for workplace illness compensation rejected

Former employees at a gun range in a neighboring state say they were exposed to a dangerous workplace environment. Lead is a known workplace illness hazard in facilities in which workers have to handle firearms and ammunition. The owner of the now-closed business made headlines when police caught him with a vehicle filled with weapons outside New York City last year. His arrest prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate the business.

That investigation led to 35 safety violations, many of which involved excessively high lead levels in the facility. The workers claim to have suffered illnesses caused by exposure to lead. One former employee says he received some workers' compensation benefits, but it covered only some of his medical expenses. His doctor now refuses to continue treatment until unpaid bills are settled.

Welding industry hazards can cause serious workplace illness

Employees in New York in occupations that involve welding, brazing and cutting are part of over 500,000 workers in the tri-state region surrounding New York City who face serious health risks if they work without proper safety gear. The danger posed by this industry comes in the form of gases and fumes that could be hazardous. Welding activities produce visible smoke -- in the welder's breathing space -- containing harmful gas byproducts and metal fumes that can cause workplace illness.

The metals that can bring about dangerous fumes when welded include aluminum, copper, lead, iron, manganese, tin, silver, nickel and many others. The gases produced that may cause respiratory illnesses include argon, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, helium, nitric oxide, nitrogen and more. Only unprotected workers are at risk of inhaling theses hazardous gases and fumes, and illness is preventable if all employers would provide adequate respirators that fit properly.

Can marijuana use affect workers' compensation benefits?

With marijuana now legalized for medicinal use in some states, including New York, the laws regulating it in the workplace may need some updating. Back in 2013, an employee of a juvenile center in another state injured his neck and shoulder while trying to subdue an aggressive youth. His workers' compensation benefits claim was questioned when blood tests revealed that he tested positive for marijuana.

Reportedly, a drug test following the incident showed the presence of pot in his system, and so did a follow-up test on the next day. Although a court determined that the marijuana might not have been the major cause of the incident that caused the injuries, it rejected his claim for compensation. The worker appealed, claiming the court based its finding on only one sentence of the law, rather than applying the entire section in context.

Serious injuries after fall leads to roofer's death

Roof workers in New York and other states face various dangers related to the heights at which they do their jobs. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety regulations to which business owners in this industry must comply. However, many employers fail to provide fall protection to prevent serious injuries on the job site.

A roofer recently lost his life in an incident that occurred in a neighboring state. A building owner contracted a roofing company to repair damage from last season. While workers were on the roof, part of it collapsed and caused one of the roofers to fall about 20 feet onto the concrete floor of a lower level. Reportedly, some of the damage that was to be repaired were cracked rafters, and that is the suspected cause of the collapse.

Is enough done to prevent construction accidents?

Workplace safety in New York is said to be in need of loads of attention, and part of the cause for the dire situation is the lack of federal inspectors. Reportedly, there has been a significant drop in the number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors. In fact, in 2014, only 71 OSHA inspectors were left to cover all industries in New York. This marked a 13 percent decrease, while 18 percent more building permits were issued in New York City. The role that unions play in the number of fatalities in construction accidents in the city seems significant.

Two days before Christmas, a construction worker lost his life on a building site in the Upper East Side. His was the 31st on-the-job death in New York City in two years. Reportedly, this worker who fell from the third floor of a building under construction failed to secure the lanyard of his fall protection to an anchor point. Authorities say he, along with 28 of the other 30 workers who died on the job, was a nonunion worker.

Work injury: Prevention in office environments better than cure

Many New York residents spend most of their hours every day working in offices without realizing that safety hazards are not only present in workplaces such as construction sites. There could be numerous safety hazards in office environments, any one of which can cause a serious work injury. Developing safety protocols for the office may be a smart move -- from establishing emergency exit procedures to making sure any spills at the water station are cleaned before someone suffers a slip and fall accident.

The most appropriate step to address potential hazards might be to consider what could go wrong. Companies should design a plan for action in the event of a natural disaster such as a flood, tornado or earthquake. However, the hazards that seem insignificant are more prevalent and must receive adequate attention. Check fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors frequently and ensure even those employees in offices furthest from the alarm can hear it. Check all electric cords for fraying and make sure they do not cross walkways or passages where it can cause trip hazards.

Fatal work injury: OSHA cites trailer maker for teen's death

The worksites of industrial companies in New York and elsewhere typically pose a variety of safety hazards that employers must address. The results of an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration into a fatal work injury that occurred at a metal fabrication plant last July underscores the importance of compliance with federal safety regulations. The tragedy involved the death of a 17-year-old who had just started the job when he lost his life.

The site of the workplace accident was a trailer maker in another state. Investigators reported that the young worker was underneath the loading table of a laser-cutter system. The machine was active during the time when the man cleared metal scrap away from below the table, and it unexpectedly lowered the table onto him. The table trapped him, and this ultimately caused his death.

Construction accidents: Worker dies in fall down elevator shaft

The president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York commented on the sadness of lives lost due to employers' disregard of safety regulations. This followed the death of an employee of a company cited for violations that led to construction accidents on previous occasions. This time, a 30-year-old man who died two days before Christmas.

According to a police report, the site of the accident was a 19-story complex of luxury apartments under construction. The man was apparently working on the third floor when he fell down the elevator shaft and landed in the basement. Paramedics rushed him to an area hospital, but he succumbed to fatal head injuries. He was declared dead upon arrival at the medical facility.

Workplace accidents: Laundry company cited again

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration works hard to protect workers from hazards nationwide, including in New York. The federal agency recently cited a laundry company in a neighboring state for the second time in two years for allowing work environments that are conducive to workplace accidents. OSHA issued several citations for safety violations -- some of which were repeat offenses.

Investigators found workers operating electrical equipment inappropriately without protection against excessive noise exposure. Broken equipment remained in use, and employees had to cross a busy street to push laundry carts from one building to another. Furthermore, fire extinguishers were blocked, and bathroom facilities were reportedly inadequate. There was also concern about the safety of workers after police reported gunshots were heard in the area.

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