July 1, 2014

OSHA Aims to Reduce Construction Accident Deaths in Maryland

This summer, the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching a construction safety awareness and education campaign in the Mid-Atlantic to prevent construction accident injuries and deaths. OSHA is targeting the top four causes of accidental death in the construction industry: falls, crushing, electrocution and caught-in-between accidents.

OSHA compliance officers and other staff participating in the "Construction Incident Prevention Initiative" will conduct educational outreach with employers in Maryland as well as Delaware, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia. According to the OSHA press release: "The initiative will target health hazards involving silica, lead and hexavalent chromium, and will draw on OSHA's national campaigns to prevent fall hazards at construction sites and heat illness among outdoor workers."

The leading cause of construction accident fatalities in Maryland, along with the rest of the U.S., is falls. Lack of fall protection is the number-one reason OSHA cites employers for safety violations.

Falling from a higher elevation accounts for nearly all fatalities resulting from construction fall accidents. This includes accidents involving ladders, scaffolding, roofs, bridge decking, as well as holes in floors such as skylights.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' preliminary data for 2013 identified 294 fall fatalities out of 796 total fatalities in construction. Of those 294 falls, 284 were falls to a lower level. These types of fall accidents can be prevented when employers and construction workers are trained in proper equipment setup, usage and safety measures.

OSHA reports that in June, "tens of thousands of employers and more than 1 million workers across the country joined OSHA in safety stand-downs to focus on preventing fatalities from falls. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, with hundreds of workers dying each year and thousands more facing serious injuries."

Related Maryland Construction Accident Attorney Articles:

Maryland Construction Worker Safety : OSHA Cites "Fatal Four" Types of Accidents (Dec. 2013)

Maryland Work Safety : Falls the Leading Cause of Construction Accident Deaths (May 2013)


Summer initiative stresses safety in construction throughout the Mid Atlantic
OSHA QuickTakes Newsletter July 1, 2014

US Department of Labor's OSHA announces summer 'Construction Incident Prevention Initiative' in Delaware
OSHA Press Release June 18, 2014

OSHA Stop Falls campaign

December 31, 2013

Maryland Construction Worker Safety : OSHA Cites "Fatal Four" Types of Accidents

The U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released statistics for work-related accidents for 2013 - 2013. As experienced Baltimore County, Maryland construction accident lawyers, we're well aware of the increased risks that come with certain occupations. OSHA's list of the "Fatal Four" types of U.S. construction accidents reflect the types of workplace injury and fatality cases our law firm has handled.

OSHA reports that for calendar year 2012 -- 3,945 worker fatalities occurred in private industry. Of those, 775 worker deaths (close to 20 percent of the total) were in the construction industry. OSHA identified these "Fatal Four" types of construction accidents accounting for the greatest number of worker deaths:

Falls (36%)
Struck by Object (10%)
Electrocutions (9%)
Caught-in/between (2%)

OSHA estimates that 435 U.S. workers' lives could be saved each year if construction workplaces could eliminate these fatal four types of accidents. This is why employer compliance to industry safety regulations is so critical -- here in Maryland and around the country.

Industry safety regulations are only as good as the construction company's success at putting them in place, educating workers, and enforcing them. OSHA is a small federal agency with about 2,200 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers, employed at more than 8 million worksites across the U.S. This means one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers. So the onus is on the owners and managers of Maryland construction companies to make sure their workplaces meet federal safety requirements.

The top five OSHA standards violations in the US for FY2013 were…

Fall protection, construction
Hazard communication standard, general industry
Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
Respiratory protection, general industry
Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry

Industry regulations -- coupled with employer compliance and worker education -- save lives. Worker deaths in the US are down from 38 a day in 1970 to 12 a day in 2012. But we can do better. Those statistics represent 12 hard-working people who said goodbye to their families as they went off to work -- and never made it home again.

Baltimore Workers Compensation attorneys like us work with families and individuals when a workplace accident or death occurs. Prevention goes a long way toward reducing the number of worker injuries and fatalities, here in Maryland and around the country. Have a safe New Year.

Related Maryland Workers' Compensation Lawyer articles:

Maryland Work Safety : Falls the Leading Cause of Construction Accident Deaths (May 2013)

Maryland Workers Rights : Family and Medical Leave Act Turns 20, But Sick Employees Still Fighting an Uphill Battle (March 2013)


OSHA Statistics

May 31, 2013

Maryland Work Safety : Falls the Leading Cause of Construction Accident Deaths

Look around your Baltimore County, Maryland neighborhood. How many roofs are being repaired or replaced? How safe are those construction workers who are up there walking around and balancing on our rooftops, hammering and replacing shingles for long hours in the sun?

Many of the Maryland Workers' Compensation injury cases we handle involve fall accidents. It may be a construction work related fall from a roof, scaffolding, or other elevation. We've also had cases where clients were injured by falling from a large vehicle (e.g., a tractor trailer truck or crane), or by having a fall when they stepped on a slippery or broken surface at a job site.

A recent article posted by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) confirms what we as Baltimore County work injury attorneys encounter working on behalf of injured clients in Maryland: Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. When someone is injured or killed in a construction fall accident in Maryland or any other state, the toll on the family is significant. Not only are wages lost, but life as that family knew it is never the same.

The DOL article also cites Workers Compensation statistics on the impact on our economy when someone gets hurt or killed in a fall accident at work:

Our nation’s largest provider of workers compensation data — the National Council on Compensation Insurance — found that from 2005 to 2007, 38 states reported that falls from elevations cost insured roofers $54 million per year.

With roofing season now in full swing in Maryland and around the country, worker safety should be top of mind -- for both employers and employees. The DOL's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is now kicking off its campaign to prevent falls for the second year in a row. The OSHA Stop Falls campaign is built around three important steps for employers to follow: Plan, Provide, and Train. That is, properly plan for the jobs, provide the right safety equipment, and train all employees in work safety procedures.

We've heard many unfortunate stories of construction workers in Maryland who fell to their deaths -- or were seriously injured -- due to a slip and fall accident that could have been prevented. OSHA provides resource materials for employers written in several languages so that all workers, young and old, new to the job and veterans alike -- have the training and equipment they need to stay safe on the job. Construction workers are some of the hardest-working people out there. They deserve to come home safely after a hard day's work.

Related Maryland Workers Comp Lawyer articles:

Maryland Observes Work Zone Safety Month, as Road Construction Swings into Gear (April 2013)

Maryland Workers Rights : Family and Medical Leave Act Turns 20, But Sick Employees Still Fighting an Uphill Battle (March 2013)


The Cost of Falls and What You Can Do to Stop Them
U.S. Department of Labor blog, May 30, 2013

OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign

May 15, 2012

Preventing Maryland Construction Work Falls and Fatalities : OSHA Launches Fall Prevention Campaign

Falls are the leading causes of accidental death in the construction industry. According to OSHA (the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration), of the total 774 construction accident fatalities in 2010 -- 264 were fall related fatalities (and of those, 255 falls were to a lower level).

Common types of construction worker slip and fall accidents include falls from ladders, roofs, scaffolds, and other elevations, as well as being struck by construction equipment or building materials, resulting in a fall. Falls may also occur when safety equipment such as harnesses or other means of personal fall protection malfunction or fail. Another cause of serious and fatal construction accidents is falling through openings in the floor.

In hopes of preventing injuries and saving lives, OSHA has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) - Construction Sector on a nationwide outreach campaign. The groups aim to raise awareness among employers and workers about common fall hazards in construction, and how falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented.

Maryland construction accident injury lawyers represent individuals who are hurt on the job, as well as families of those loved ones killed in construction work accidents. The basic themes of the agencies' fall prevention awareness campaign involve three steps: Plan (ahead to get the job done safely), Provide (the right equipment), and Train (workers to use the equipment safely).

An interactive map published by NORA reveals the locations and details of construction worker deaths across the U.S. in 2011, including fatalities due to falls that occurred on the job. The map lists two cases where construction workers were killed in falls while working on job sites in Maryland last year:

  • A bridge mechanic in Havre De Grace (Harford County, Md.) was working on the tracks on a Susquehanna railroad bridge when he fell 90 feet to his death in September.

  • Another deadly construction fall occurred in Millington (unclear if in Kent or Queen Anne's County, Md.) in June (no further details).

According to NORA, the purpose of the interactive map is to display the numbers and locations of construction related deaths in the U.S., due to falls and other causes. NORA reports that more than 200 construction workers are killed and over 10,000 are seriously injured by falls in the U.S. each year.

As an experienced Harford County, Maryland Workers' Compensation attorney, I can say that behind every construction accident statistic is the story of a family whose lives were changed in an instant. With the summer months upon us and construction projects in full swing, here's hoping the government's message of recommended safety measures will indeed save lives and prevent injuries from construction fall accidents -- in Maryland and around the country.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Maryland Work Injury and Death Statistics Shed Light on Most Hazardous Occupations (Jan. 10, 2012)


NIOSH, OSHA and CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training Announce National Campaign to Prevent Falls (PDF)
NIOSH Press Release April 26, 2012

OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign

Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction (includes interactive map of U.S. construction accident deaths; drill down into the Maryland map)

July 16, 2010

Maryland Highway Construction Worker Killed in Dump Truck Accident

The Washington Post reported that a construction accident near the Beltway claimed the life of a 27-year-old man from Bryantown, Maryland.

According to Maryland State Police, the traffic accident occurred early on July 15, 2010, on Pennsylvania Ave/Route 4 in Forestville, Maryland, near the Beltway. Reports state that a road construction worker was killed when he was crushed between two dump trucks. The victim was brought to a Prince George's County, Maryland, trauma center, where he died shortly after.

Prince George's County construction accident lawyers are well aware of the hazards to workers in and around highway and road construction zones. Road workers often perform their jobs at night, in narrow sections of the highway, with heavy construction vehicles moving closely alongside laborers on foot.

According to The Center for Construction Research and Training, highway incidents were ranked among the top causes of construction worker death in the U.S. in 2005, with transportation accidents amounting to 28.4% of all deaths from construction injuries. (Source: The Construction Chart Book, The U.S. Construction Industry and Its Workers, Fourth Edition, Dec. 2007.)

This Maryland construction truck accident is being investigated.

Man killed by dump trucks in Md.
The Washington Post July 15, 2010

Related Web Resources

The Center for Construction Research and Training

Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health

June 8, 2010

Maryland Work Injury Update: BLS Issues Revised Fatal Occupational Injuries Report -- Work Related Deaths on the Decline

Last fall, we posted a blog article on the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) preliminary results for its 2008 census of fatal occupational injury rates. The BLS recently released its final numbers, which were slightly higher than originally reported based on identification of new cases of work-related injuries and deaths. The final data offer the following insights regarding worker safety in the U.S.:

o A total of 5,214 work fatalities occurred in the U.S. in 2008 -- the lowest number of work-related deaths since the BLS began conducting its census in 1992. This represents a national fatal work injury rate of 3.7 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.

o Private industry construction accidents causing death have declined (975 deaths in 2008 -- 19% lower than in 2007); and the fatal work injury rate for this sector is down by 10%. However, even with these notable statistical gains -- which translate to lives saved -- construction remains one of the most hazardous forms of work, with a 9.7 fatal work injury rate (per 100,000 FTE workers).

o Fatal work-related highway accidents (including truck accidents) numbered at 1,215 -- 14% lower than in 2007 and the lowest since the census began in '92.

o Work deaths caused by falls amounted to 700 -- 17% lower than in 2007 (though the U.S. Department of Labor is advocating for greater slip, trip and fall prevention in the workplace; look for a future blog article on this issue. Falls from ladders, roofs, scaffolding, and other high elevations are a major cause of brain and spine injury in construction workers).

o One negative note: Workplace suicides were up to 263 cases -- the most ever reported.

Maryland Worker Injury Fatality Rates on the Decline
As fatal occupational injuries have declined across the U.S., Maryland has also seen reductions in work fatalities -- 60 work related deaths occurred in 2008, compared to 82 deaths in 2007 and 105 deaths in 2006. Causes of Maryland work-related deaths include transportation and trucking accidents, falls, contact with objects or equipment, exposure to harmful substances, as well as assaults and other acts of violence.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland work accident lawyer, I have worked with individuals and families who have experienced these types of work-related injuries and fatalities. Often people hurt at work are unsure what to do and whether to file a Maryland Workers Compensation claim along with a possible lawsuit. Which is why it's so important to contact an experienced work injury attorney if you're hurt in course of performing your job in Maryland, or if a family member is killed due to a work accident.

For more on this issue, read my blog post on Maryland Workers' Compensation Liens and Construction Accident Injury: "Can I File a Work Comp Claim AND a Third Party Lawsuit?”


Revisions to the 2008 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) Counts (PDF)
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 22, 2010

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (Current and Revised data)
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fatal Occupational Injuries in Maryland
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Related Web Resources

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (homepage)

April 19, 2010

Trailer Truck Driver Killed in Maryland Accident When Cargo Slips and Falls

An industrial truck driver hauling cargo in Maryland was fatally injured when granite countertop slabs he was unloading from the back of a flatbed truck slipped and fell on him. According to news reports, the fatal industrial truck accident occurred Monday in Hanover, Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reported that the driver, a 41-year-old man from South Carolina, was delivering slabs of granite to a countertop company. As the driver unloaded his cargo, the granite slabs slipped and fell on him, killing him.

Anne Arundel County, Maryland police responded to the truck accident scene and identified the victim. The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Department is reportedly investigating this construction work-related accident.

A Maryland construction accident lawyer may be consulted by workers or their families when injury or death occurs due to a work accident.

Maryland Workers Compensation claims are often part of such construction injury or death cases.

Maryland Construction Accident Fatalities : Labor Statistics
In Maryland, 59 people died in work related accidents in 2008. According to the national Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number-one cause of construction work related deaths in Md. involves transportation -- whether highway transportation and/or hauling freight, such as in this case, or nonhighway transportation, with vehicles moving on a construction site. Construction transportation accidents also include pedestrian accidents where a construction worker is struck and killed by a vehicle on the construction site.

(Source: National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2008, United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Aug. 20, 2009)

South Carolina man identified as victim in Hanover industrial accident
The Baltimore Sun April 13, 2010

Local Truck Driver Killed in Industrial Accident
WLTX.com April 13, 2010

Related Web Resources

Maryland Dept. of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

April 1, 2010

Maryland Workers' Compensation Liens and Construction Accident Injury: "Can I File a Work Comp Claim AND a Third Party Lawsuit?”

Construction work in Maryland often involves long hours, hard labor, modest wages, and job security that's entirely dependent on the season, the market, and the employer. As experienced Baltimore, Maryland Construction accident attorneys, we've represented many clients over the years who were injured while performing their construction jobs. One question we get asked all the time is...

"Can I file a claim under Maryland Workers' Compensation and a lawsuit against the at-fault party (or parties) at the same time?"

The answer is YES. However, as with most things legal, there are many factors to consider.

Maryland Workers Compensation Liens Against Third-Party Recovery
Construction accidents in Maryland may frequently involve Workers Compensation claims and liability lawsuits. In Maryland, if you're a construction worker and you get hurt on the business premises, in the course of your employment, while performing your job -- you can pursue a workers comp case. But what if you believe your injury was caused by a third-party's negligence or recklessness -- be it another contractor, a subcontractor, equipment operator, or some other worker or party involved at the construction site?

If you're a worker injured in a Maryland construction accident, you don't have to choose between filing a Md. Workers Compensation claim and suing the responsible parties for what's called a third-party liability claim. You can do both. Remember, however, if you are awarded a third-party recovery in a construction accident lawsuit, the Workers' Compensation carrier is allowed by law to place a lien against that recovery.

For example, a builder we'll call Joe Mason suffers a neck and spine injury when his pickup truck is rear-ended by another vehicle at the construction site. As a result of this construction truck accident, Joe needs money to pay his medical bills, cover his lost wages, and compensate him for his permanent impairment, so he files a Maryland Workers Comp claim. Joe is awarded $120K in permanent partial disability benefits by his employer's workers comp insurance carrier. At this point, Joe's Maryland injury attorney pursues a lawsuit against the other construction vehicle driver, and Joe receives a third-party recovery settlement of $240K. But, as law would have it, Joe isn't allowed to "double dip."

Under Maryland law, the Workers' Compensation carrier is entitled to a lien against any third-party recovery. So Joe might have to pay the Maryland Workers Compensation carrier some of their monetary outlay back. Special emphasis on some. An experienced Maryland injury attorney can, will and should negotiate with the work comp people to get that lien reduced, so injured construction workers like Joe can benefit from as much compensation for their injuries as possible.

Workers' Compensation liens are just one reason why it's so important to work with an experienced Maryland Workers' Comp lawyer if you're hurt while performing your construction job. This is a very complicated area of the law, and one must proceed with extreme caution in handling such claims. It really is a no-brainer. In a situation like this, the best bet is to focus 100% on getting the treatment you need, feeling better and getting back to full capacity, and let the lawyers handle these complex legal issues.

Related Web Resources

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Construction Safety

January 18, 2010

Construction Worker & Garbage Collector Among 10 Worst Jobs for 2010 (And Maryland -- Stevedores / Dock Workers Made the List, Too)

A career site's list of the best and worst jobs for 2010 reveals something Baltimore County work accident attorneys have known right along: The physically most demanding jobs are also the most dangerous and can lead to serious personal injury, lifelong medical problems, and even death.

Recognizing the risk to life and limb when construction accidents occur, job search site CareerCast.com ranked construction as the no. 8 worst job to pursue this year. The no. 1 worst job was "roustabout," which includes oil rig and pipeline workers, followed by lumber jack and iron worker. The site considered the following factors while conducting research to rank the jobs: Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress and Physical Demands.

Construction Worker made the list due to the physical demands, higher rates of injury, and low median income, though the hiring outlook is "moderate." And Maryland, while our stevedores (dock workers) weren't in the bottom 10 jobs, they weren't far behind -- stevedores ranked 185 out of 200 jobs analyzed, with a hiring outlook of "poor" (besides the challenging work conditions if you can get a job as a dock worker on the Baltimore and Maryland waterfront).

Maryland Workers Comp lawyers know that the most dangerous jobs are also often the least secure -- particularly when workers are injured and unable to support themselves and their families. The Maryland Workers' Compensation insurance system doesn't make it easy for injured workers to file claims. It's a long process, with many places where hurt workers who are inexperienced with the complexities of the insurance system can easily get tripped up and derailed.

That's why we always recommend injured workers of all professions -- construction workers and dock workers, as well as people who work in offices and other environments -- always talk to an experienced Md Work Comp attorney before trying to file a claim on their own.

Oh, and be nice to your taxi driver, mail carrier, and meter reader. Their jobs also ranked in the list's bottom 10.

The Best And Worst Jobs For 2010
Forbes.com Jan. 8, 2010

Related Web Resources


The 10 Worst Jobs of 2010

How We Determined the Top 200 Jobs of 2010

November 9, 2009

Transportation Among Top Causes of Fatal Maryland Work Accidents (but Occupational Death Rates Are Down)

What would you guess are among the most dangerous jobs in Maryland? Construction? Roofing? Electrical work? You'd be right on all those counts, but some of the top causes of fatal occupational injuries in Maryland may come as somewhat of a surprise. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), of the 59 people who lost their lives due to work-related accidents in Maryland in 2008...

> Transportation accidents (which include air, rail, highway transportation including freight trucking accidents, nonhighway transportation, and being struck and killed by a vehicle, e.g., construction site worker pedestrian accidents) accounted for 17 deaths;

> 9 fatalities resulted from Assaults and Violent Acts (including self-inflicted injury);

> 12 were victims of Falls;

> 10 died due to Contact with Objects or Equipment;

> and another 10 perished due to Exposure to Harmful Substances.

Maryland Occupational Injury Death Rates Decline
The good news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is fatal occupational injuries are down across the United States, including significant reductions in Maryland (59 work related deaths occurred in 2008, compared to 82 deaths in 2007 and 105 deaths in 2006).

Total U.S. workplace deaths in 2008 amounted to 5,071 -- down from 5,657 in 2007. Deaths from falls -- a major hazard for construction workers -- were down, as were fatal transportation accidents. Workplace homicides declined, but sadly, workplace suicides went up in 2008. The BLS reports all these numbers are preliminary, and final figures will be made available in April 2010.

As Maryland Work Injury Lawyers, we have seen all these types of work-related injuries and fatalities. Many families are unaware that they may be entitled to Maryland Workers' Compensation benefits even after their family member has died. That is why it is so important to contact an experienced Md workers' compensation attorney to find out what benefits you may be entitled to -- before accepting an offer from the employer or speaking to their attorney or insurance company representative.

United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Aug. 20, 2009

Maryland Division of Labor and Industry
Fatal occupational injuries by industry and event or exposure, Maryland, 2006 (XLS doc)

Related Web Resources

Maryland Division of Labor and Industry Research and Statistics
Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities

October 7, 2009

Deterring Baltimore County Traffic Accidents: Speed Camera Laws Go Into Effect

The Baltimore County City Council passed an act concerning speed cameras designed to thwart motor vehicle accidents and pedestrian accidents that occur in school zones. Bill 61-09 Speed Monitoring Systems, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2009, authorizes county law enforcement, in consult with other agencies, to use and enforce citations issued by speed monitoring systems in school zones.

The bill defines "speed monitoring systems" as "a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors producing recorded images of motor vehicles traveling at speeds at least 12 miles per hour above the posted speed limit." Drivers will be subject to a $40 fine. An amendment to the bill limits the number of cameras to 15. The one councilor who dissented felt that more police -- not speed cams -- was a better way to address the problem.

In addition to the county bill targeting speeders in school zones, a separate state law now allows speed cameras at work zone sites; two have been placed in Baltimore County -- one on I-695 at Charles Street and another on I-95 between I-895 and White Marsh Blvd.

Baltimore County car accident lawyers may provide legal assistance in cases where serious car crashes, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents occur due to drivers speeding through school and work zones -- where people on foot are moving in and out of the roadway.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that school zones as well as construction work sites are particularly hazardous areas when motor vehicles travel too fast. The Council estimates that every year, some 15,000 people perish and hundreds of thousands suffer personal injuries due to motor vehicles speeding in these high foot-traffic areas. Children getting on and off school buses are especially vulnerable, as are road workers and police who direct traffic at work sites.

Two speed cameras will operate in Baltimore County starting today
ExploreBaltimoreCounty.com Oct. 1, 2009

School speed cameras get Balto. County nod
BaltimoreSun.com Sept. 9, 2009

Related Web Resources

Legislative Session 2009, Legislative Day No. 13
Bill No. 61-09 (PDF file)

Safe Speed - Automated Enforcement Program
Baltimore County, Maryland

Baltimore County Police Department: Speed Cameras

September 22, 2009

Maryland Workers Compensation Cases and Injury Due to Occupational Disease

People get hurt at work in the course of performing their jobs, whether it's unloading cargo on the docks at the Port of Baltimore, working on a factory floor, or performing white collar jobs in downtown Baltimore office buildings. As Maryland Workers Comp lawyers who've served the people of Baltimore County and neighboring communities for decades, we've seen a wide spectrum of work-injury cases as a result of everything from heavy lifting to heavy typing.

Fact of the matter is, while certain occupations -- construction, for example -- are more hazardous than others, you don't have to fall off scaffolding or have an accident as such to suffer injury as a result of your work. We can break down types of work related injuries into two broad categories: Accidents and Occupational Disease. We've discussed what to do if you are injured in an accident at work (see our Workers Compensation webpage for more, as well as our Work Comp blog archive). Let's discuss occupational disease here.

Maryland Law & Occupational Disease / Work Related Injuries
The Maryland statute defines "occupational disease" as an "injurious exposure" that occurs in the course of a person's work. Carpal tunnel syndrome -- which has afflicted so many of today's professionals, from secretaries to computer programmers to people who simply need to type a lot as part of their jobs -- is the most well-known type of occupational disease. Other examples include respiratory damage from prolonged chemical exposure or neck/arm/hand problems from operating heavy machinery that causes vibrations, such as a jack hammer -- that can be directly linked by a doctor to the person's work.

A doctor's written testimony is essential to file a successful Workers Comp claim in the State of Maryland. As with accidental injuries that occur on the job, a claim of occupational disease requires undeniable medical proof. A doctor needs to put in writing that Suzy Jones's carpal tunnel syndrome is a direct result of her typing 40 hours a week on a flimsy keyboard for XYZ Corporation. The insurance companies may try to put the blame on some other activity, such as lifting up a small child, knitting, or playing tennis (all of which can cause carpal tunnel syndrome).

This is why it is so important, if you feel you've been hurt at work, to contact a qualified, experienced Maryland Workers' Compensation attorney right away. Getting hurt on the job is bad, but getting turned down for a claim due to inadequate reporting and documentation -- and lack of medical proof -- is even more painful.

Related Web Resources

NIOSH: Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders

OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Ergonomics

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission

July 21, 2009

Baltimore Traffic Accident Prevention: Speed Cameras May Snap Offenders at Schools and Construction Sites

State and city officials are looking at ways to curb Baltimore, Maryland car accidents caused by speeding. In May, Maryland legislators passed a law which allows speed cameras to be posted within one half mile of schools and construction sites. Now the Baltimore City Council has voted an initial thumbs-up to installing speed cameras in those vulnerable places. If the measure passes, the speed cameras could start going up around Baltimore construction sites and schools by October.

Maryland law requires that signs be posted alerting motorists that the speed cameras are in use. Speed cameras snap photos of license plates of motorists going more than 12 miles per hour above the posted speed limit. A $40 ticket would then be sent to the address connected to the vehicle's license plate registration. The hope is the cameras will deter speeding drivers, who can cause fatal Maryland traffic and pedestrian accidents.

Baltimore and Maryland Speeding Fatalities
According to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 216 speeding-related fatalities occurred in Maryland in 2007. There were 47 Baltimore city traffic deaths that same year, and 72 traffic fatalities for all of Baltimore County. (Source: Traffic Safety Facts Maryland, 2003-2007, NHTSA)

A Maryland accident attorney may assist families in car, truck, and motorcycle accident cases where personal injury or death may have occurred due to someone else's reckless or impaired driving. In 2008, the National Safety Council (NSC) announced that it endorses automated enforcement measures to reduce traffic accidents nationwide, including the use of red-light cameras and speed cameras.

The NSC reports that school zones, construction work sites, and railroad crossings are particularly vulnerable when motorists run through red lights and exceed the speed limit. The safety advocacy group estimates that 15,000 people die every year and hundreds of thousands suffer personal injury due to motor vehicles speeding in these areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to raise awareness of speeding as a public safety issue. Many motorists who believe "everyone speeds" don't think they will get a traffic citation if they're only driving 5 or 10 MPH above the posted speed limit.

Baltimore speed-camera measure advances
BaltimoreSun.com July 8, 2009

Speed Cameras' Image Enhanced
Senate Revives Bill to Allow Use of Technology Beyond Montgomery
The Washington Post, April 3, 2009

Related Web Resources

NHTSA: National Forum on Speeding

Wikipedia: Traffic enforcement camera

June 8, 2009

Maryland Workers Compensation: The Top 3 Reasons Employers Tell Injured Workers Not to File (And Why You Shouldn't Listen to Them)

In our work as Maryland Workers Comp attorneys, we hear this all the time: People who are hurt on the job will say, "My employer said that I don't need to file for workers' compensation because we have disability insurance." Or, "They said they would pay me under the table while I take time off to recuperate." Or, "They said they would continue to pay me legitimately (i.e., on the books) while I'm off."

Those are the BIG 3 EXCUSES we hear employers using to discourage injured workers from filing Maryland Workers Comp cases. What happens in those scenarios, inevitably, is the employee gets paid for the time that they're off, but they really get shorted on the two most important things:

1. They don't get compensated for any permanent physical problems they're having.

2. Since they haven't filed a claim, if they have trouble down the road and they need surgery or additional treatment -- they’re likely to be completely out of luck. Because at that point, the employer will never pay for the expense of surgery and follow up treatment and medications, which could be $50,000 or more. Even worse, they may have missed the two (2) year Statute of Limitations, in which case they are in real trouble.

This is something we feel strongly that Maryland injury lawyers need to relay to people:

The real reason you file a work comp case isn't to get paid in the short run, it's to protect yourself in the long run.

Especially nowadays.

Why Workers Comp in Maryland Protects Injured Employees
Back in the day, our parents and grandparents tended to work for the same employer or just a handful of employers for their entire careers. Say you worked for a company and you knew the president, "Old Man Jenkins," since you were a little boy, and he coached you in Little League. You knew that if you were hurt in his shop, he would protect you, even if 10 years later that injury acted up again.

But it's not like that now. People change jobs yearly. And if you're injured at work and you haven't filed a claim and documented it, a doctor cannot make a "causal connection" if your injury flares up in the future and you need surgery or treatment. You're going to lose that work comp case if you've sat on your rights, because there's no way on earth you can link a current problem to a past work injury without proper medical and legal documentation.

In Maryland, you have two years to file a work comp case. Filing and winning are totally different things. Employees who report their injuries right away and document them, and who seek legal counsel from a qualified Workers Comp attorney, are the ones who fare best in the Maryland state system. Don't be afraid of offending or inconveniencing your employer. Your rights come first.

Related Web Resources

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

April 28, 2009

Maryland Construction Accidents: Stricter Crane Regulations May Save Lives

With the goal of reducing Md. construction injuries and deaths, the state has added teeth to what are already among the strictest crane regulations in the country.

New regulations went into effect for Maryland earlier this month following several serious construction crane incidents, such as a fatal Anne Arundel County accident that occurred in April 2008. According to a Baltimore news report, workers in Annapolis Towne Centre were dismantling an end section of a crane when an accident occurred, crushing a construction worker between two sections of the crane 200 feet up. Another worker was injured.

The new regulations will require all construction workers operating cranes as well as those who load and signal them to receive intensive training on the equipment, to avoid serious and possibly fatal Maryland construction accidents. Employers are now required to carry out daily inspections and to keep training records. Maryland Labor and Industry Commissioner Ronald Julius told a local news outlet that state inspectors will be checking on projects where construction cranes are in use.

A Maryland workers compensation lawyer helps workers who've been injured on the job and their families determine whether the accident occurred due to negligence on the part of the employer. Construction is an industry fraught with hazards: Of all industry sectors, construction jobs rank with the most work-related deaths. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one of every five work-related deaths occurs in construction.

Maryland Construction Worker Deaths and Crane Accidents
NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) reports that while construction employs about 6% of the country's workforce, the industry comprises 20% of work-related fatalities. In 2006, the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) department reported 34 deaths in the Maryland construction industry. Federal and state regulations are put in place to keep these hard workers safe on the job. We hope the new Maryland crane regulations will do just that.

Stricter Crane Regulations In Effect
WJZ.com April 7, 2009

Related Web Resources

Maryland Crane Safety Regulations

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

OSHA: Crane, Derrick, and Hoist Safety

March 31, 2009

Maryland Workers Comp Eligibility: Hurt at Work? "Report and Record"

Earlier this month, I talked about how the Maryland Workers Comp system is tilted in the employer's favor, and how important it is for injured workers to take charge of their situations right away. (See "Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer on Maryland Workers Compensation System," March 18, 2009, below.)

My partner and I have handled personal injury cases for injured workers in Maryland for more than two decades. We've seen all kinds of work comp cases, from people who throw their backs out lifting something heavy, to typists who develop carpal tunnel syndrome, to a client who got bit by a mosquito and contracted malaria while on a sales call to a foreign country. We've seen industrial accidents resulting in burns and other serious injuries, and people who suffer shock and psychiatric problems as the result of a traumatic event at work, like a robbery.

Advice for Injured Workers in Maryland
Our experience has literally covered the entire range of possible problems that can occur at work and cause injury. Here are a few tips on what to do right away if you suffer a personal injury at work in Maryland.

1. Report the Injury to Your Supervisor Immediately
Let's say you wrench your back lifting a box at work. TELL YOUR SUPERVISOR IMMEDIATELY that you think you may have injured yourself -- whether you're sure you're hurt or not. You don't have to put it in writing to them or put on a show by flopping around on the floor. Just tell your supervisor. Don't leave the premises to take a break at McDonald's or to try to walk it off. Tell him or her right away.

By law in Maryland, if you tell your boss you think you've been hurt at work, she has to file an "Employer's First Report of Injury" form with the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission -- written documentation that can save your bacon down the road if the insurance company starts to question whether or not your herniated disc was caused by a work injury. If you wait to report your injury, the workers comp insurance carrier could say your injury happened someplace else besides at work. Then you're in for an uphill battle.

2. Record the Details Surrounding Your Injury
If you are physically able, write down the circumstances of your injury -- what you were doing, the environment (including lighting, the condition of the floor and workspace), the equipment you were using -- anything that might come into play if your claim is questioned. Don't let loyalty to your employer prevent you from protecting your own health and well-being. What a lot of people don't understand is you may have the nicest employer in the world. But when you're filing a Workers Comp claim in Maryland, you're dealing with insurance companies, not your employer.

Related Web Resources

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

March 18, 2009

An Introduction to the Maryland Workers Compensation System

Unlike a lot of states, the Maryland Workers' Compensation system is very adversarial. In some states, the hurdle injured workers have to get over to receive compensation is ridiculously low. They basically just need to prove that they were hurt at work -- or anything remotely close to work. If they were injured driving to or home from work, they're covered. Even if they were goofing around and got hurt at work, they're covered. In Maryland, it's different.

Maryland is an “at will” employment state, meaning you can be fired at will by your employer, providing they're not violating any Federal laws against discrimination for age, gender, race, etc. The playing field is not level -- it's tilted in the employer's favor. And that goes for the Maryland Workers Comp system, too.

The bright spot is if you're injured on the job in Maryland, your employer is required by law to carry workers' compensation insurance. Even if they don't have it -- which I've seen a dozen times or so in 20 years of helping injured workers in Maryland -- the Uninsured Employers' Fund will step in and pay. So the good news is if you're hurt at work in Maryland and if you have a compensable claim, your employer has insurance to cover it.

The first high hurdle that you have to face is proving you have a compensable claim.

Hurt at Work in Maryland? Don't Wait to Seek a Lawyer's Advice
An experienced Maryland Workers Comp attorney helps people who are hurt in the line of their work navigate the insurance claims process and receive compensation for their injuries. If you are hurt at work, don’t be shy and don’t feel guilty or bad about it. Call a lawyer and say, “Listen, I’m not even sure that I’m looking at filing a work comp case, but here's what happened. What should I do?” It's important that you at least know where you stand, and exactly what rights you do (and do not) have. Because if you don’t, trust me--the employer is already doing things that they have to do by law that sets a sequence of events into motion that puts you at a disadvantage. It’s a lot like being in a foot race, and allowing your opponent to start ahead of you. Not good.

What you do in the first couple days of getting hurt at work in Maryland will determine whether you are going to have a successful case or not. Please visit my blog again for more on the Maryland Workers' Compensation system and what to do if you are hurt on the job in Maryland.

Related Web Resources

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

February 26, 2009

Will Proposed Labor Law Affect Maryland Workers Comp?

The laws and regulations governing Maryland Workers Comp cases are in place to protect people who are injured at work or in the course of doing their jobs. But what happens if you're employed as an "independent contractor," as are so many plumbers, electricians, carpenters, painters, and other trades people in the construction industry, where serious and fatal accidents can and do happen?

Do you have the same rights to Maryland Workers Compensation benefits if you're injured on the job in Maryland? A bill before Maryland lawmakers is tackling the issue of independent contractors' rights. As the law stands now, employers who classify workers as "independent contractors" are exempt from paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation premiums. So if you're injured on the job and you're classified as an independent contractor -- you're on your own.

According to a report in The Washington Post, state officials believe as many as 20 percent of Maryland's blue-collar workers are wrongly classified as independent contractors. The Maryland Governor is calling on the General Assembly to make it illegal for employers to misclassify workers as independent contractors. Building industry representatives object to the proposed law, which would fine business owners $5,000 for each worker they knowingly misclassified. Repeat offenders would receive additional fines and could be debarred and put out of business.

Aside from the steep fines and penalties, employer objections to the proposed Maryland bill stem from the cost of providing benefits to workers in a recessive housing and building market, where competition to win jobs with the lowest possible bid is fierce. The Post reported that employers who pay workers as independent contractors save up to 30 percent in payroll costs.

If it passes, the Maryland State Labor Commission would enforce the law. An experienced Maryland Workers Compensation attorney can help determine who is responsible if a contractor or subcontractor is hurt in the course of doing their job.

Labor Proposal Targets Builders: Low-Wage Workers' Treatment a Worry
The Washington Post Feb. 9, 2009

Related Web Resources

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation

November 21, 2008

Baltimore Jury Awards Woman $250,000 for Baltimore Beltway Construction Site Pedestrian Accident

A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury awarded a seriously injured woman $250,000 in damages after she was struck by a car while attempting to cross a Baltimore Beltway construction site on foot. The Maryland car accident that resulted in pedestrian Sandra Lee Meade being hit and seriously injured occurred at a construction site near the Baltimore Beltway on Dec. 3, 2003. Meade had parked her car on the southbound side of Westland Boulevard at Circle Drive in Baltimore, Maryland before planning to catch a bus to her job at the IRS. She was hit by a car while illegally crossing the street at a construction zone operated by Pennsylvania based general contractors Dick Corp.

The area where the pedestrian car accident occurred was under construction to widen the outer loop of the Baltimore Beltway, Route 695. Meade was crossing the intersection diagonally to catch a northbound bus when a car traveling south on Westland Boulevard struck her. The Maryland woman sustained lifelong brain and spinal cord injuries, and has been living in a nursing home since this terrible pedestrian car accident occurred. The driver was not named in the lawsuit, as the plaintiff's family felt he was also a victim.

Ms. Meade’s attorney argued at trial that the general contractor failed to keep the area safe for pedestrians, citing poorly placed barriers and confusing line painting. The jury concluded, however, that because the Plaintiff was crossing the street illegally, they could not hold the Dick Corp. liable for any of her injuries.

Fortunately, Ms. Meade's wise attorney had separately negotiated what is known as a "high/low agreement" with counsel for the Defendant. This type of agreement is legally binding in Maryland, and basically states that, no matter what result a Judge or Jury reaches, basic minimums and maximums of insurance coverage will apply. This one legal maneuver, by an experienced attorney, avoided the $ZERO verdict, which the Jury felt compelled to hand down, based upon Maryland's harsh law of contributory negligence.

Meade's original lawsuit sought $8 million in damages. The $250,000 she was awarded -- which her family must use to cover her lifelong medical and nursing home expenses -- represented the "low" end of the settlement. The bottom line here is that Maryland Law, especially the harsh doctrine of contributory negligence, can be brutal. That is why legal representation is so important to people injured in Maryland car and pedestrian accidents.

Woman Struck in Work Zone to Get $250K Maryland Daily Record, Nov. 16, 2008

Related Web Resource