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Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

UPDATE: Protecting medical workers during the Ebola scare

The word Ebola seems to be center-stage in a number of recent news reports. In fact, our previous post discussed worker-safety in the medical field in relation to the "Ebola scare." Since that post was published, the word scare turned into reality for two nurses who treated the first man diagnosed with the virus in the United States. 

It was no surprise that following the spread of the illness to the two nurses, the hospital has come under scrutiny for how the entire situation was handled. The hospital has been accused of failing to adequately train their employees and to put necessary precautions in place. On Monday, Oct. 20, a group of nurses from the hospital spoke out about the situation and showed their support for the hospital where they work. 

Protecting medical workers during the Ebola scare

Over the past several weeks, the media, public health officials and lawmakers have questioned whether or not the American public should be concerned about a widespread Ebola outbreak within the United States. The general consensus seems to be that Americans have little reason to fear such a turn of events. However, the diagnosis of a nurse in Spain recently marked the first case diagnosed outside of Africa. And the death of a patient treated inside the U.S. has many individuals understandably on edge.

Should an outbreak of any significant size occur, medical workers would be among those most directly affected by the virus. When patients are hospitalized for infectious conditions, hospitals must not only protect other patients from contracting the condition but they must also protect workers from contracting the condition as well. The Ebola scare highlights just how important it is to have infectious disease protocols in place before an outbreak occurs.

Post-injury, should you file a lawsuit or seek workers' comp?

If you have been injured while at work, you may be wondering what your legal options are. If your employer’s negligence contributed to your injury, you may be tempted to sue. However, you may be even more concerned about receiving your workers’ compensation benefits. The question of whether to file a lawsuit, pursue workers’ compensation benefits or both is a personal one. But thankfully, it is also a question that an experienced attorney can help you navigate.

In general, you may either collect workers’ compensation benefits or file a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, you may not do both. The reason behind this divide is that the one of the primary purposes of workers’ compensation is to serve as a substitution for personal injury damages. However, every work-related injury case is different and on rare occasions, it may be possible to pursue both options.

Understanding the link between asbestos and mesothelioma

Before 1977, both private residences and public buildings were frequently constructed in ways that utilized asbestos among their building materials. Since that time, asbestos has generally been outlawed as both a building material and as a material used in the production of numerous consumer and industrial products. However, construction workers, demolition workers and a number of other workers still come in contact with this material for a variety of reasons.

When workers are exposed to job sites that may contain asbestos, employers are supposed to outfit them with proper safety gear. Failure to guard against toxic exposure to asbestos can lead to a number of disastrous consequences, including the development of mesothelioma.

Honoring National Farm Safety and Health Week

One doesn’t normally associate the workings of New York City with the farmers of America. One generally has to drive quite far from the city before even encountering a farm. However, the work that America’s farmers do substantially impact the ability of New Yorkers to live like they do. Nearly every mouthful of “real” food that New Yorkers consume contains at least one ingredient that was grown or otherwise cultivated on a farm of some sort. As a result, protecting the nation’s farmers from harm is very much in the interests of New Yorkers.

Unfortunately, the agricultural industry tends to be quite dangerous. Farming and otherwise processing agricultural products is dangerous work for even the most informed and well-trained workers. However, it is also particularly dangerous for the children, teens and migrant workers that comprise a surprising amount of the labor required to keep America’s farms and agricultural operations running.

When a piece of work-related equipment malfunctions

We frequently write about the numerous hazards that workers in New York and New Jersey tend to face on a regular basis. From slippery floors to staggering heights, we stress that both employers and workers need to remain vigilant about safety hazards in order to prevent potentially injurious or fatal accidents.

However, not every accident can be prevented by this kind of vigilance. Even the most safety-conscious employers and employees can experience accidents through no fault of their own. For example, when a piece of work-related equipment malfunctions and causes a worker harm, safety-conscious employers can be left baffled that something so tragic occurred on their watch.

Legal options for individuals injured on the job

In the wake of injuries caused on the job, workers and their loved ones can understandably feel a bit dazed. The chaos associated with receiving medical treatment and beginning to recover can leave individuals emotionally drained. In addition, the mountain of paperwork which often accompanies this kind of injury can be overwhelming.

During this hectic time, it is often beneficial to consult an attorney about your situation. Signing paperwork from your employer or your insurance without first consulting an attorney can leave you with fewer options for financial recovery than you might have otherwise had access to. Depending on your situation, you may be able to take advantage of one or more legal opportunities in the wake of your work-related injury.

The unique hazards that healthcare professionals face at work

The healthcare profession is unique in many respects. Most often, individuals seek out professionals for advice, goods and other services when it suits them to do so. They approach professionals and businesses by choice and when it is convenient. By contrast, individuals often do not seek out medical professionals until their situation has become urgent and dire. Many medical personnel deal with gruesome and dangerous situations on a daily basis due to this unique reality.

In addition, medical personnel must often interact with dangerous equipment, fluids and substances on a regular basis. An object as harmless as a needle can become a mode of transferring deadly viruses in the hands of nurses and physicians. Patients and their loved ones can also be dangerous, in and of themselves. Their bodily fluids, germs and potential for violence regularly endanger professionals in the medical field.

OSHA aiming to protect workers from refrigeration toxin exposure

The Global Cold Chain Alliance represents roughly 1,650 employers affiliated with the temperature-controlled (or cold chain) products industry. These employers, and the 300,000 or so workers they employ, make significant efforts aimed at ensuring that various perishable products that Americans rely on maintain their quality and are safe when consumers pick them off store shelves or otherwise come into contact with them.

This industry is vitally important. Without the employers and workers that focus on this area of consumer safety, Americans would basically risk food poisoning on a regular basis and would lack access to refrigerated medications and other critical products. Yet, for all the efforts that these workers make to ensure the safety of consumers and patients, they often risk toxic exposure due to the nature of their positions.

Tell OSHA what you think about proposed work safety rule

When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration crafts a proposed rule concerning work safety, it must generally submit the rule to the public for comment before it can finalize the rule. This feedback mechanism allows workers, safety advocates and employers to voice their support, opposition, suggestions and concerns to OSHA directly for its review. Although far fewer Americans take advantage of commenting on proposed rules than they might if they better understood the process, those with access to this information should certainly comment on any proposed rules that they feel strongly about.

For example, OSHA recently extended the comment period in regards to an important proposed rule that would greatly impact the tracking of work-related injuries and illnesses in the U.S. Until October 14 of this year, the public may submit comments and general feedback on this proposed rule to OSHA on its website.

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