Articles Posted in Workers Compensation

“Is it hot enough for you?” Folks jokingly use that rather tepid greeting when temperatures rise to uncomfortable levels. However heat stroke is no laughing matter. Vast parts of the U.S. have experienced record-breaking heat this summer, with some states seeing temps soar and stay above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Baltimore, Maryland and entire the Mid-Atlantic region have not escaped the brutal heat, as we’ve sweated under a heat advisory for much of the summer.

People who work outside in Maryland performing manual labor jobs at are greater risk for suffering heat stroke and heat-related illnesses, which can lead to death. This includes people who work in the construction industry as well as farm workers in Maryland.

With these hard-working people and their employers in mind, the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced a national campaign aimed at preventing worker injury and death from heat-related illness. The Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers aims to educate business owners, managers, and employees to learn who is at risk, the signs of heat illness, and how to respond if a worker is in distress.

Maryland lawmakers have moved forward with legislation that seeks to privatize the state-run Workers’ Compensation fund. S.B. 745 seeks to require the Maryland Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund (IWIF) to restructure into a private workers’ compensation insurance fund, to be known as the Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Co.

The bill was introduced to the Maryland State Senate on Feb. 3 by State Senator Thomas M. Middleton and is co-sponsored by State Senators Katherine Klausmeier and Delores G. Kelley. The bill passed with amendments in the Maryland State Senate in mid-March, and has moved to its first reading in the House (House Bill 1017).

Since 1914, the IWIF has been the Maryland workers’ compensation insurer of last resort — meaning it has written policies for employers who couldn’t otherwise find suitable insurance in the private marketplace. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the IWIF has been Maryland’s largest workers’ comp insurer — providing insurance for some 21,000 Maryland businesses (more than 20 percent). That amounted to about $170 million in policies written in 2011.

A Towson, Maryland rehabilitation center has been sued by the United States Department of Labor for allegedly mishandling employees’ retirement contributions. According to a news release, the U.S. Labor Dept. has filed a lawsuit against Towson Rehabilitation Center LLC and its CEO for failure to remit employees’ retirement contributions to the company’s 401K plan.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Baltimore, seeks to restore all plan losses and “permanently bar the defendants from serving in a fiduciary capacity to any employee benefit plan…” covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

A case such as this suggests an alleged breakdown in trust between the employer and employees–in this case, with workers’ retirement contributions at stake. Trust can also break down when someone is injured at work, and the employer may not always do what is in the best interest of the injured employee.

Which are the most dangerous occupations in Maryland? What types of fatal work-related accidents occur most frequently? As we look ahead to 2012, it’s worth looking to the recent past to consider Maryland workplace safety, accidents that happen on the job, and trends.

The answers may be found in the most recent Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) survey results, which are available to the public (see link below). Some highlights from the 2008 Maryland Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries…

> Nonfatal work related injuries and illnesses in Maryland declined in 2008, numbering at 75,000. Maryland is statistically one of the safer states in which to work in the U.S., with a “TRC” (total recordable case) incidence rate that’s 12 percent below the national average. (Md.’s TRC rate was, for 2008, 3.7 injuries and illnesses per 100 equivalent full-time workers.)

What would happen to you and your family if you were hurt on the job and temporarily or permanently disabled? For construction workers, electricians, machinists, farmers, truck drivers, and others in high-risk occupations, surviving a Maryland work accident can be just the start of an uphill battle. Keeping up with day-to-day medical and living expenses, while recovering from a work-related accident, can be an enormous struggle for injured Md. workers and their families.

Harford County, Md. work comp injury lawyers know families may struggle just to get by in the wake of a work related accident. This is why we work hard to relieve injured Maryland workers and their families of the burden of dealing with their Maryland Workers’ Compensation claims and well as related legal claims and lawsuits.

How much money can a Maryland injured worker expect to receive when filing a Workers’ Comp claim on their own? The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission posted its Workers’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for the New Year. Let’s take a look at a few numbers and consider what that could mean for injured Md. workers and their families.

Did you know that in the U.S., an average of 12 people die on the job every day? As an experienced Baltimore County work injury lawyer will tell you — no one heads off to work in Maryland not expecting to make it home for dinner that night.

But for people in dangerous jobs, including shipyard workers, commercial truck drivers, farm and agricultural workers, and those in the construction fields, serious and fatal work accidents can and do happen in Maryland.

New Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that the U.S. as a whole showed little change in the overall number of workers killed on the job last year as compared to 2009. Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries show that in 2010, an estimated 4,547 workers died from work-related injuries, down from 4,551 fatal work injuries in 2009. Some improvements…

“Whistleblower.” The name itself conjures up images straight out of a Hollywood thriller. Many movies have been made over the years about the plight of whistleblowers — brave souls who try to expose corporate corruption, greed, and danger in the workplace — usually at their own peril. Memorable movies about whistleblowers include Silkwood (nuclear power plant dangers), The Insider (tobacco and smoking health risks), and Erin Brockovich (toxic waste dumping).

Some of these movies are based on the real-life stories of whistleblowers and the consequences they suffered from those who’d silence them. Whistleblowers are indeed real working people who speak out against their employers and bring problematic situations to light. Their grievances may center on workplace safety violations, illegal workplace practices, and poor working conditions.

As the experienced Baltimore, Maryland workers’ compensation lawyers at Butschky & Butschky, LLC know — it can be very tough to speak out against one’s employer. This is especially true in this struggling economy, where working people are happy to have any job at all. However standards for workplace safety in Maryland and around the country are required, not optional. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) wants to ensure that workers who have concerns about their workplace safety may raise those concerns without fear of reprisal from their employers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act)…

This month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated regulations protecting shipyard workers from work-related injuries. The new ruling reflects advancements in maritime industry technologies and practices. OSHA reports that its employment standards for shipyard workers had not been significantly updated since 1972.

As we can attest, Maryland waterfront work is dangerous business. There are many ways that Baltimore’s hard-working longshoremen can get hurt or killed, including slip and fall injuries, crane and forklift accidents, being hit by falling cargo, and drowning. The amended OSHA standards for waterfront workers in Baltimore, Md., and ports around the country address the following safety concerns:

  • Adequate lighting for work spaces

Getting in an auto accident while on the job in Maryland can be the worst of both worlds.

As if a car or truck accident isn’t stressful enough, when a traffic crash occurs while you’re on the road for a Maryland employer — it’s easy to feel pulled in multiple directions at once. There’s the hassle of dealing with insurance companies, auto body shops, doctors, and lawyers. Throw in a company car or even your own car used for business, and then bring your employer (and all that potential drama) into the mix, and it’s no wonder accident victims get quickly overwhelmed.

Let’s say you’re driving to a sales call at a company in Baltimore City. All of a sudden, BAM! You are sideswiped at a downtown Baltimore intersection. The knee-jerk reaction if you’re involved in a work traffic accident is to call the boss immediately. Makes sense, right? Wrong!

In Maryland, work-related injuries make the news from time to time, particularly when a serious construction accident or accident on the loading docks of the Baltimore waterfront occurs. Slip and fall accidents from roofs and scaffolding, and crane, forklift, truck and other construction vehicle accidents are all hazards that come with the job in the construction and longshoreman trades.

As Baltimore work accident injury attorneys, we’ve assisted many hard-working individuals in Maryland who’ve been injured on the job. But one type of workplace injury we hear less about — which can have serious, lifelong consequences — is eye injury. The National Safety Council reports that eye injuries in the workplace are on the rise. According to advocacy group Prevent Blindness America, some 2,000 people sustain eye injuries at work every day.

The organization is offering free tools to employers to help raise awareness of eye safety and eye health among employees (see link below). Prevent Blindness America cites the most common causes of workplace eye injuries are flying objects (e.g., pieces of metal or glass), tools, particles, chemicals, and harmful radiation. Of the 2,000 people who sustain eye injury at work yearly, some 10 to 20 percent will suffer temporary or permanent vision loss. Computer related eye strain is another common form of eye injury in the workplace.

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