Labor Day Gives Chance for Celebration, Reflection

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Labor Day Stamp

Detailed illustration of a 3-cent stamp issued to commemorate Labor Day in 1956. The image comes from a mosaic in the lobby of the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C.

This blog post is from guest author Kit Case, of Causey Law Firm in Seattle. Although the U.S. Department of Labor’s centennial was in 2013, many of the messages in the post below ring loud and true today. I think the Labor Day holiday provides some wonderful opportunities to give thought and reflection to both the meaning of the holiday and looking at how workers are still struggling. So with that focus in mind, I want to challenge readers to think about Labor Day as a little bit more than the end of summer. Truthfully, I realize that many will be at work on Monday, though it is a federal holiday.

For those who have the opportunity to share a meal with loved ones, here’s a link that includes union-made products to enjoy during your cookout.

In addition, the offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers will close on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and will be closed on Monday. Offices will open again at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

I am glad this excellent blog post provides another chance for understanding the historical context of the holiday, along with looking at the perennial argument of how far there still is to go for workers to live the American dream. Have a safe and fun Labor Day with your loved ones or at work.

     The US Department of Labor – which is celebrating its centennial this year – has provided a history of Labor Day, including the inception of the holiday and the traditions that surround it, excerpted below. 

…a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

     The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

     The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

     The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

 Opportunity. Then and now, it’s about opportunity.

     Labor Secretary Tom Perez blogged about the interwoven history of the civil rights movement and the labor movement, their common goals, and the needs we still face today.  Secretary Perez said:

     “…But again, there is still so much more to do … in skills training and education, workplace safety and health, retirement security and job creation. And in particular, we must do more to ensure an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.

     People who work full-time in America should not have to live in poverty – simple as that. Too many jobs don’t pay enough to get by, let alone get ahead. Too many people are finding the rungs on the ladder of opportunity further and further apart. Workers around the country are bravely raising their collective voice and taking action to demand fair wages. We need to hear these voices. They are acting in the proud tradition of the marchers 50 years ago who took action for justice and dignity.”

     We couldn’t agree more. So, as we head out to our family barbeques or other Labor Day activities, we wish to pay tribute to those individual threads – the American Workers – that together create the fabric of our nation.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in History, Holiday and tagged .

Widow Wins Workers’ Compensation for Husband Who Was Worked to Death

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Untold numbers of workers die from heart attack and stroke due to repetitive trauma.

A Pennsylvania court awarded workers’ compensation to the widow of a man who “was literally worked to death,” according to the article at this link. He died from a heart attack after doing heavy physical work 14 hours per day for 20 years.

This is an amazing result and an example of creative lawyering. The heart attack was treated as, and in effect, viewed as a cumulative repetitive trauma or stress. It would be great if more jurisdictions were willing to award benefits based on evidence of prolonged demanding work.

Untold numbers of workers die from heart attack and stroke and are turned away by more stringent legal requirements.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in heart attack, Pennsylvania, repetitive trauma, stroke and tagged , , .

Safety Fines Used to Track States’ Workplace Incidents

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The U.S. Department of Labor Blog recently released a resource that encourages the continued discussion of workers’ compensation and safety in the workplace.

This blog post from the Labor Department features a safety-fine map that tracks “the number of workplace health and safety investigations that have led to high fines.” The tracking starts with January of 2015, and the cases are supposed to be updated weekly. All the states, whether administered through OSHA or an OSHA-approved state plan, are included.

I wish they would provide more context as to how $40,000 was considered the “high penalty” starting point, but they have to start somewhere, and it is an easy-to-understand measure of how a state stacks up within this category. You can also get more information on each specific situation by clicking on the inspection number provided.

As of August 2015, Nebraska had two incidents: Affordable Exteriors of Elkhorn (in March) fined $75,240 and MP Global Products of Norfolk (in January) fined $54,000. Iowa had four incidents: Behr of Mason City (in January) fined $57,150; U.S. Postal Service in Des Moines (in March) fined $49,500; United Sugars in Mason City (in April) fined $68,600; and Sunrise Farms in Harris (in May) fined $227,500.

States that surround Iowa and Nebraska had the following numbers so far: Missouri: 13; Kansas: 7; Colorado: 4; Wyoming, 5; South Dakota, 1; Minnesota, 2; Wisconsin, 14; and Illinois: 38.

Since the information is a statistical snapshot at a moment of time, it may seem arbitrary, but it also shows a continued problem with workplace safety. And these were only the businesses in a handful of states that got caught and were imposed fines greater than $40,000. Just think about the challenges that may exist for workers at businesses that don’t get inspected or aren’t on OSHA’s radar until a worker is injured or killed doing their job.

As we come up to Labor Day, members of the firm will continue to advocate for workers and promote discussion of worker safety, OSHA inspections, and holding businesses accountable for injured workers. Have a safe and productive week

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in fines, Labor Day, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, violations and tagged .

Seattle Employer Fined More Than $215,000 for Serious Safety Violations

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Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case, from Causey Law Firm in Seattle where they advocate for injured workers. Washington state is like Iowa, in that there are 27 states that have OSHA-approved state plans. Nebraska is not one of those states.

Regardless of where you are located, this website, How to File a Complaint with OSHA, can be helpful to workers in many situations. Because there’s a link on the page that explains how to file in each state, this information applies whether your state has an OSHA-approved plan or not. But if you have questions about an issue that is happening in your workplace, please contact an experienced lawyer for help.

A Seattle employer has been cited for multiple serious workplace health violations after a worker became entangled in a rotating shaft while working inside a confined space. In connection with the citation, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) fined Industrial Container Services $215,250 for exposing workers to serious harm or even death. L&I cited the company previously for many of these hazards, but they had not been corrected.

Industrial Container Services refurbishes metal drums and other industrial containers. The company operates a “drum shot-blaster unit,” a 24-foot long tunnel with a series of rotating shafts that move metal drums through as they’re being shot-blasted to remove paint and coatings.

L&I began its investigation in January 2015 after a worker was hospitalized after being injured while working inside a drum shot-blaster. The investigation found that workers were regularly entering the equipment to perform maintenance and repair without the necessary safety precautions.

Working inside a “confined space” area, such as the drum shot-blaster unit, without safety precautions can be deadly to workers and would-be rescuers. Confined space hazards can include suffocation, toxic atmospheres, engulfment, entrapment and other dangerous conditions. These incidents are fully preventable.

When a confined space has hazardous characteristics that could harm workers, it’s considered a “permit-required” confined space. That means employers must control access to the area and use a permit system to prevent unauthorized entry. Anyone working in or around a permit-required confined space must be trained and there must be safety measures and rescue procedures in place.

L&I cited the company for seven “failure to abate” serious violations related to the confined space hazards, and for not ensuring that moving parts were de-energized to prevent workers from becoming caught in machinery. These violations were originally cited in October 2013 and had not been corrected. Each of the violations carries a penalty of $22,750.

L&I also cited the company for four “repeat-serious” violations and four “serious” violations related to confined-space procedures and energy control measures (lockout/tagout), with penalties ranging from $11,700 to $4,550.

As a result of these safety issues, Industrial Container Solutions has been identified as a severe violator and could be subject to increased scrutiny at all its locations nationwide.

The company has appealed the citation. Penalty money paid in connection with a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

For media information or a copy of the citation, contactElaine Fischer, L&I Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.  

 

Photo credit: XcBiker / Foter / CC BY-SA

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Safety and tagged , , .

Workers’ Compensation Basics: Payments to Workers and their Families

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Here’s the next installment in the firm’s series that focuses on the basics of the workers’ compensation system. It gives information on how payments to injured workers and/or their families are handled. 

Workers’ compensation generally pays by the week, although it may be paid bi-weekly or monthly in some circumstances. The amount of the payment is established by state laws or statutes, regulation or court decision. 

Family members are paid in the event of the death of a worker arising from an accident or disease. Family members are occasionally paid for providing home-health care.     

The amounts paid and duration of payment varies from state to state. Generally there is a minimum and a maximum. The maximum is usually two-thirds of the gross wages earned, with a limit that is adjusted from time to time. 

To calculate the amount actually paid, most states use average wages for a specified number of weeks or months before the injury, death or disease. 

Payments are made for temporary inability to work, which is generally labeled temporary total disability. There may be a waiting period before payments begin. The waiting period varies from state to state. 

Payments are also made when a worker is temporarily limited to light duty and working either fewer hours or for a lower rate of pay. These benefits are called temporary partial disability. 

Payments are made for permanent inability to work and, if severe enough, some states pay for the worker’s lifetime. Some states do not pay for less than lifetime. These benefits are called permanent total disability. 

Payments are made for permanent reduction of the ability to work. This benefit is normally labeled permanent partial disability. 

Payments that are made for loss of body parts or limited use of body parts are also labeled permanent partial disability. State law establishes the value of the various body parts. 

Payments are less frequently paid while workers are participating in retraining or vocational rehabilitation. This is not a common benefit. 

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION DOES NOT PAY FOR PAIN AND SUFFERING. 

It is important to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer if you have questions or concerns about any of the information shared here. Please read the previous blog posts in the workers’ compensation basics series by clicking on these links: 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Workers' Comp Basics, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury and tagged , , , , , .

Infographic: Considering the Health Hazards of Shift Work

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As a follow up to the recent blog post on research into shift work, here is an excellent and very informative infographic from Eastern Kentucky University’s program that focuses on occupational safety.

Note that the infographic includes both night shifts and those who have irregular schedules as shift workers, and that 40 percent of U.S. workers work evenings, nights, rotating shifts or weekends.

Though there is usually some sort of compensation, whether more money, or extra paid time off, health complications are numerous, and this blog will continue to bring that research to light as it is discovered.

I find rotating shifts very challenging to consider – if a person completely flips, or even changes by eight hours, their shift every three or four weeks, what does that do to them as a person, and also, what does it do to their loved ones? I realize that not everyone has the luxury of choosing their shifts, but this article from the Washington Post has some fascinating information about how children are affected by shift work. I also appreciate that policy implications are addressed a bit, too. Though it would be an uphill battle to get these protections passed in many places, think of the stability they would add to workers and their loved ones lives.

“In 2015, 10 states and a growing number of municipalities have introduced bills to address unpredictable scheduling, with many including provisions requiring three weeks advance notice, 11 hours of rest between shifts, access to adequate hours, and predictability pay to compensate employees for last-minute schedule changes,” according to the Washington Post.

Rotating shifts are stated as a struggle for 60 percent of shift workers, but they are still “able to do their jobs,” according to the Eastern Kentucky University infographic. However, the infographic also addresses that 20 percent of shift workers “have extreme difficulty with shifts and about half of those are unable to tolerate shift work at all.”

So whether the shift is 4 p.m. to midnight, all night long, or eight or 12 hours, please keep in mind that workers and their loved ones are affected, and employers should do their best to decrease those challenges to both retain workers and increase productivity.


EKU Occupational Safety Program

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , .

Workers’ Compensation Basics: Understanding Social Security Disability Offsets

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This is the next post in the series that looks at the basics of workers’ compensation. If you receive both workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Administration disability benefits, please be aware of the concerns raised here.

The most important thing a worker who is entitled to receive both workers’ compensation and SSA disability benefits can do is report the amount of workers’ compensation benefits to the Social Security Administration, in writing if possible. Failure to do so can result in an overpayment that may not be uncovered until years later and may be thousands of dollars.

However, the reporting of these benefits doesn’t ensure the SSA will make the proper adjustment to your SSA monthly benefit. As such, it’s important to follow up with the SSA once you have reported your benefit amount to ensure they adjust your SSA benefit to account for this. This will help ensure an overpayment is not found years later. Be sure to ask an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer if you have questions.

Please read the previous blog posts in the workers’ compensation basics series by clicking on these links: 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in social security disability, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , .

Benefits: Do You Use What You Get?

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Source – Project: Time Off

As the firm’s research and marketing director, I spend quite a bit of time finding topics for social-media discussions and generally researching on the Internet. One of the sources I’ve listened to for years on my personal time is the Marketplace suite of shows, first on the radio, now with the convenience of podcasts.

They bill themselves as “business and economic news” and frequently cover what I would consider workers’ issues like safety, employment trends, and benefits, usually resulting in very balanced, informative reporting.

As the end-of-summer activities put a focus on children returning to school, many people are wrapping up their vacations for the year. But others don’t take summer vacations, as they are either saving up their time for something else, don’t have the luxury of those kinds of benefits, or just don’t take advantage of the benefits offered.

In today’s blog post, I challenge you to think about how you use any benefits that are available. If you have the luxury of vacation days and sick leave, or just blanket paid-time-off days, do you take those days or not?

There were three recent stories from Marketplace that offered perspective about the specific workplace benefits of vacation and parental leave (parental leave is when a child is born or adopted).

Please consider taking a few minutes to read and/or listen to them:

Although some may say these are idealistic or even untenable situations from a business perspective, I wonder about what workers at these businesses think. Is the reality as rosy as the policy? What kind of a workplace culture can support an idea like unlimited vacation? Is there resentment among the workers about who is gone when? And with great benefits, can workers increase or stand up to the scrutiny of expected productivity and actually get to enjoy those benefits?

I think this quote from the unlimited-vacation story is the most helpful and boils down to folks working hard while they are at work and then recharging while they are away. It also is a results-oriented argument for offering good benefits for workers.

“‘Team members can take time off whenever they need it or whenever they want to,’ says Netta Samroengraja, CFO and chief people officer. ‘We feel like we have a much more motivated work force and they’re absolutely much more productive as well while they’re here.’”

Have a safe and productive day, and take care.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in employment law, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , , , .