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Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Pollution still threatens workers’ health at Endicott IBM plant

An IBM manufacturing plant in the Southern Tier of Upstate New York has long drawn scrutiny due to pollution concerns. For decades, the plant seeped industrial solvents into the ground, affecting nearby residents and workers alike.

A recent article in the Poughkeepsie Journal reports that pollution remains a problem for more than 1,500 employees who still work at the plant. A decades-long cleanup effort has removed more than 70,000 gallons of toxic chemicals from the ground, alleviating the exposure of residential neighborhoods. However, officials from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation report that an underground pool of concentrated solvents remains below the plant site.

King of Prussia Mall Construction Accident Third-Party Lawsuit

WPVI TV News in Philadelphia recently reported that a worker was critically injured in an electrical accident occurring April 13th at the King of Prussia Mall. It begged the question whether adequate safety guidelines are in place to protect construction workers. Carpenters, bricklayers, roofers, electrical contractors and other subcontractors in the construction trades face the most dangerous working conditions in America. This blog will discuss legal options injured construction workers have for recovering money damages, beyond Pennsylvania workers' compensation. 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) office reports that one in five workplace deaths occur as a result of construction accidents, with 3,929 reported fatalities in 2013. Electrocution ranked as the number three cause of construction deaths, behind falls and being struck by an object.

You can seek workers' comp with a pre-existing condition

Imagine that you hurt your shoulder years ago in a work-related accident. Fortunately, you recovered enough to be able to return to work. Imagine now that your shoulder is reinjured while carrying out the core duties of your job. You are facing expensive medical bills and need time off of work to recover. If you already received workers' compensation the first time you hurt your shoulder, can you file another claim?

Many people in New York will likely be relieved to know that the answer to this question is yes. Re-injuries are covered under workers' compensation laws in New York. However, seeking benefits for a re-injury is not always an easy process.

Imploring drivers to 'Obey the Orange'

New York City and surrounding communities tend to be uniquely crowded. No other streets in America tend to be quite as busy and as full as the streets of New York. As a result, it can be difficult for travelers of all kinds to reach their destinations safely and efficiently. In addition, it can be very difficult for road construction crews to do their jobs safely and effectively because so many travelers tend to crowd around and move through areas designated as work zones.

For obvious reasons, road construction crews tend to wear bright orange clothing and protective gear while working. Similarly, signage and cones alerting travelers to work zones tend to be bright orange. Bright orange color is ultimately widely understood to signal drivers, truckers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians to the presence of work construction crews. Unfortunately, not everyone respects what the presence of this color asks motorists in particular to do.

Why OSHA must regulate scaffolding work more strictly

New York is known as the most difficult place to conduct high-rise construction in America. Not only are many of New York’s buildings extraordinarily tall, the cramped nature of the city’s construction makes it difficult to build, tear down and repair these buildings safely and efficiently. Sometimes workers can speed their tasks by utilizing mast-climbing work platforms and other forms of modern scaffolding. While these innovations aid in high-rise construction projects, they require detailed training to operate safely.

For better and for worse, many construction workers in New York and throughout the nation are non-native English speakers. Although many individuals who did not grow up speaking English now speak it fluently, others are not as proficient in English. This impacts the safe operation of the construction industry when trainings and instructions are communicated only in English. When non-native English speakers who are not proficient in English are trained in English alone, they risk missing important safety-related details.

Talking about workers' comp claims on social media

Social media has proven to be a powerful venue for a host of reasons. Not only does social media connect loved ones and allow individuals to network both creatively and professionally, it also serves to promote issue awareness, political causes and business branding. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, social media allows individuals to express themselves. From personal grievances and taste preferences to religious, social justice and political identifications, social media allows for a wide range of personal expression.

However, it is important to understand that simply because social media allows individuals to express themselves that it is not always a good idea to express oneself on a social media platform. It remains advisable to keep some issues private and to express opinions on certain matters in forums other than social media. If you are an injured or ill worker and are either seeking or have received a workers’ compensation claim, it may be best to keep your situation and your opinions about your claim off of social media.

Why cancer is a real occupational hazard for many U.S. workers

The American Cancer Society estimates that during 2015, nearly 590,000 people in the U.S. will die from cancer-related complications and more than 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with some form of the disease. These staggering numbers solidify that cancer is among the most prevalent and deadly of all diseases in the U.S.

Today habits like smoking and materials like asbestos are known carcinogens. However, there are numerous other materials and chemicals that are readily used in the production of goods, products and foods of which their safety and potential hazards remain unknown. While workers in any industry or environment may be exposed to cancer-causing agents and materials, those who work in fields like construction and manufacturing are especially at-risk and vulnerable.

What workers' comp reforms are costing injured workers - Part II

Last week, we began a discussion about reforms which are significantly impacting the effectiveness of workers’ compensation systems nationwide. We briefly discussed the history of workers’ compensation in the U.S., noting that the system was founded so that both employers and workers involved in dangerous industries could benefit from avoiding lengthy court battles related to injuries and illnesses suffered due to work-related causes. Instead of seeking compensation in court, workers were essentially assured that their employers would provide adequate medical coverage and compensation during recovery from work-related injuries and illnesses.

The need for a solid workers’ compensation system has not waned since the industrial age. However, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR reveals that numerous recent reforms to the system have caused workers a host of negative consequences. These reforms have left workers without reliable access to workers’ compensation and have compelled many injured and ill workers to dispute their claims in courts for years. Some of these workers have sunk into poverty and have been forced to live without access to necessary medical care.

Why workers need to be on guard against 'normalization'

It might be the understatement of the decade to say that it has been a tough winter here in the Northeastern section of the U.S. Sadly, most of us have become accustomed to the sizeable snowfalls and frigid temperatures.

While it goes without saying that these kinds of brutal conditions can make a person's work life that much harder, experts indicate that it can also make it that much more dangerous.

What workers' comp reforms are costing injured workers - Part I

American workers’ compensation systems were first embraced during the Industrial Age. As America expanded and industry exploded, both workers and employers realized that all interested parties could benefit from an agreement by which workers surrendered their right to sue employers for workplace injuries and in exchange, workers received a virtual guarantee that employers would compensate them for their medical bills and an adequate share of their wages during the recovery process.

American industry has changed a great deal since the Industrial Age. More Americans now work in offices than work in mines, on railroads and on construction projects. However, the need for a solid workers’ compensation system has not changed. We frequently write about the numerous workplace hazards that many American workers face on a regular basis. Workplace injuries and illness still debilitate many workers on either a temporary or permanent basis.

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