Author Archives: Rod Rehm

Tragic Cannery And Construction Site Deaths Highlight Need For Safety Enforcement

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Today’s post comes from guest author Catherine Stanton, from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano in New York City. Sometimes it is challenging to not wonder why a system or a safety policy was such a big failure that it resulted in the death of a worker. I like what Ms. Stanton wrote in the blog post: “The failure to follow or implement proper safety procedures was a calculated risk, a terrible misstep, or a downright criminal act.” That is one of the many reasons why the blog posts that come from the firm have a general focus on worker safety. Think of safety at work as an act of prevention, because the following quote from Ms. Stanton is also accurate. “According to OSHA rules, employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace.” Have a safe and productive week.

I was horrified when I recently read about a worker for a tuna company who was killed when he was cooked to death at the company’s California canning factory. According to the New York Daily News, the worker, Jose Melena, was performing maintenance in the 35-foot oven when a co-worker failed to notice he was still in the oven and turned it on to begin the steaming process of the tuna. The co-worker assumed Melena had gone to the bathroom. 

While there apparently was an effort to locate the worker, his body was not found until two hours later when the steamer was opened after it completed its cooking cycle. As an attorney, my clinical instinct shifts my focus to the mechanics of the accident and to fault. There are so many unanswered questions.  Why didn’t anyone check the machine before it was turned on? Why wasn’t the machine immediately shut down when they realized the worker was missing? As a person with feelings and emotions, I think of the horror and pain he must have gone through and the loss experienced by his family and friends as a result of his death. It is almost too awful to imagine. 

While this terrible tragedy occurred in 2012, it appears the reason that the story is currently newsworthy is that the managers were only recently charged by prosecutors in the worker’s death for violating Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) rules. Closer to home, more recent and just as unfortunate were the cases of the construction worker in Brooklyn who fell six stories from a scaffold while doing concrete work and a restaurant worker who was killed in Manhattan when a gas explosion destroyed the building he was working in. 

These stories highlight why safety procedures are so important. In some cases, there are no proper safety precautions in place. In others, there are safety measures in place but they may not have been followed. In rarer cases, crimes are committed that result in workplace fatalities. The failure to follow or implement proper safety procedures was a calculated risk, a terrible misstep, or a downright criminal act. In the case of the worker who died when he fell from a scaffold, there has been speculation that he may not have been attached properly to his safety harness. In the tuna factory death, the managers were charged with violating safety regulations; they face fines as well as jail time for their acts. In the gas explosion, there are allegations that the explosion was caused by workers’ illegally tapping into the restaurant gas line to provide heat for upstairs tenants. Prosecutors were trying to determine criminality; whatever the final outcomes, it appears that in these three instances the deaths were preventable. 

According to OSHA rules, employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. They must provide their employees with a workplace free of serious hazards and follow all safety and health standards. They must provide training, keep accurate records, and as of January 1, 2015, notify OSHA within eight hours of a workplace fatality or within 24 hours of any work-related impatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.  

While this may seem like a small step, anything that results in creating higher standards for employers or encouraging them to keep safety a priority is always a good thing. These three examples are only a small percentage of the workplace deaths that occur each year. While not every death is preventable, everyone is entitled to go to work and expect to leave safely at the end of their shifts.  

Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

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 Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , .

The workers’ compensation system is broken — and it’s driving people into poverty

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Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.washingtonpost.com

This article from March is a helpful snapshot of what was an eventful week in the fight for workers’ compensation benefits. As is written below: “Fewer people are getting hurt on the job. But those who do are getting less help.”

I found it striking that the U.S. Department of Labor discovered that not only do low-wage workers have high rates of injury, but also “that injuries can slice 15 percent off a person’s earnings over 10 years after the accident.” So, it’s the people who can afford it the least who are suffering the most.

The concern of people who are really employees being misclassified as independent contractors not entitled to benefits, along with a huge rise in temporary workers, is also troubling.

As a reminder, someone has to pay when people are injured through incidents in the workplace, and if it’s not businesses or their insurance companies through the workers’ compensation system, it’s likely to be taxpayers.

“When a worker ends up unable to work because of an injury, he or she can be covered by Social Security Disability Insurance, a program that has steadily increased in cost over the past two decades. The rise has many demographic factors behind it, but it looks like the abdication of responsibility by employers may have played a role as well.”

In addition to reading the excellent article from The Washington Post that is below, here are some links to blog posts that have discussed some of the issues raised in this article: Examining Workers’ Compensation Costs to Employers; The Effects of Not Working; and Workers’ Compensation “Reforms” by State Have Costs, Too.

There’s a good news/bad news situation for occupational injuries in the United States: Fewer people are getting hurt on the job. But those who do are getting less help.

That’s according to a couple of important new reports out Wednesday on how the system for cleaning up workplace accidents is broken — both because of the changing circumstances of the people who are getting injured, and the disintegration of programs that are supposed to pay for them.

The first comes from the Department of Labor, which aims to tie the 3 million workplace injuries reported per year — the number is actually much higher, because many workers fear raising the issue with their employers — into the ongoing national conversation about inequality. In an overview of research on the topic, the agency finds that low-wage workers (especially Latinos) have disproportionately high injury rates, and that injuries can slice 15 percent off a person’s earnings over 10 years after the accident.

“Income inequality is a very active conversation led by the White House,” David Michaels, director of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, said in an interview. “Injuries are knocking many families out of the middle class, and block many low-wage workers from getting out of poverty. So we think it’s an important component of this conversation.”

There are two main components to the financial implications of a workplace injury. The first is the…

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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.

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Happy Independence Day on Saturday!

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OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - Bursts of red, white and blue fill the night sky July 2 at Offutt’s base lake during the annual fireworks display.  Several family activities took place at the celebration including appearances by a professional magician and a small play given by Prairied Treasure Melodrama. U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger

Photo by Josh Plueger

Have a happy Independence Day on Saturday. The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers will close today at 3:30 p.m. and be closed on Friday, July 3, in observance of the Independence Day holiday. The offices will re-open at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, July 6. The blog post for today features some reminders and links that are good to recall from year to year. Have a safe, fun, and happy celebration, however that takes shape. Thanks also go to those who can’t celebrate with loved ones because they will be working hard on Friday and over the weekend.

The Fourth of July means different things to different folks. Here’s a list of web resources and other commentary to help you have both a safe and fun holiday, with an emphasis on safe. Because it’s possible to still have fun while being safe.

  • This link includes tips on fireworks, grilling, beaches, rip currents and sun protection. I would add that the beach safety tips easily translate to lake or river safety for those of us in the land-locked states of Iowa and Nebraska.
  • This link from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encourages “safety of workers who handle pyrotechnics.” I think this safety focus also applies to volunteers who sell fireworks at non-profit stands.
  • This link explains how the holiday can be challenging “for people with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” because “of high levels of smoke from fireworks.”
  • This link from the @NICoEPage Twitter feed explains that for those who have served in the military or have traumatic brain injuries, holiday events can cause both stress and anxiety.   The Twitter account describes the focus of this effort as follows: “Advancing understanding of complex TBI and psychological health conditions for service members, their families, and the MHS.” … “Healing the Invisible Wounds of War.”

Please also be aware, when working with fireworks, of any local laws that affect when a person can use fireworks and the fireworks that can be used. Do you know what the laws (and penalties) are where you’ll be celebrating the holiday? And who is responsible for the cleanup afterwards?

For example, read this extensive quote, found via the Omaha Police Department Facebook page in 2014:

“So, we’ve mentioned that you can use fireworks between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. until July 4th. Some other fireworks related rules to remember are that fireworks are not allowed in city parks, and you cannot discharge fireworks on a public street. Also, if you are throwing fireworks, take the following information into account.

28-1242. Unlawful throwing of fireworks; penalty.

(1) A person commits the offense of unlawful throwing of fireworks if he or she throws any firework, or any object which explodes upon contact with another object: (a) From or into a motor vehicle; (b) onto any street, highway, or sidewalk; (c) at or near any person; (d) into any building; or (e) into or at any group of persons.

(2) Unlawful throwing of fireworks is a Class III misdemeanor.”

Finally, here’s a reminder to take care when driving on the weekend of the Fourth. It was recently announced that the Nebraska State Patrol is out in full force thanks to a grant. I would anticipate that they will be focusing on such issues as speeding, following too closely, and addressing impaired and distracted driving. As always, take care when driving, whether at work or at play.

“Anyone who observes a reckless driver, or anyone in need of non-emergency roadside assistance should call the Nebraska State Patrol Highway Helpline when safe to do so at *55 from their cellular phone at 800-525-5555 from any landline. Motorists should report emergencies to 911,” according to this article that gave the Nebraska State Patrol announcement.

Again, please have a safe and happy Independence Day!

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.

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What is Workers’ Compensation?

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Pipe_installation_2This is the first installment of a series that will educate workers and their families about injury, disease and death resulting from work. The most basic question is: What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a legal system established in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and for federal employees. Workers’ compensation laws began in the United States in 1912. The laws are different in each state, but the basics of the law are quite similar in all states.

If a worker is injured, contracts a disease or dies as a result of work activities, all of the medical and burial expenses are to be paid by the employer. The employer is also responsible to pay for lost wages, physical disability, and mental disability. Workers’ compensation does not pay for pain and suffering and is generally limited in duration of payments, although some states pay lifetime benefits.

The balance of this series will go through the basic steps of how to obtain workers’ compensation benefit. The goal is to inform, which helps victims of workplace injury, disease or death receive proper compensation.

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 and tagged , .

Nebraska’s Statistics Inform in AFL-CIO Report

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Here’s the third installment in an occasional series about the annual report that the AFL-CIO recently released regarding fatalities at work. Today’s blog post focuses on Nebraska statistics and numbers only, and 2013 was the most recent year for which information was available, with some information coming from OSHA’s 2014 fiscal year. When that is the case, it is noted.

The table “Workplace Safety and Health Statistics by State, 2008-2013” includes Fatality Rates, which is the rate of deaths per 100,000 workers; Injury/Illness Rates, which is the rate of total cases per 100 workers; and Average Penalties from OSHA.

“Fatality Rates” in Nebraska were

  • 2008: 5.7
  • 2009: 6.2
  • 2010: 6.3
  • 2011: 3.9
  • 2012: 5.2
  • 2013 4.0

“Injury/Illness Rates” were

  • 2008: 4.4
  • 2009: 4.1
  • 2010: 4.2
  • 2011: 3.9
  • 2012: 3.9
  • 2013: 3.8

“Average Penalties” were $1,106 in fiscal year 2009; $1,279 in 2010; $2,984 in 2011; $2,835 in 2012; $2,565 in 2013; and $2569 in fiscal year 2014. This includes “averages per serious citation for conditions creating a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm to workers,” according to the report.

The table “Workplace Fatalities by State, 1995-2013” includes the following statistics. Please respect that one death of each yearly total was a real person with loved ones whose lives most likely changed abruptly after his or her death.

  • 1995: 54
  • 1996: 56
  • 1997: 46
  • 1998: 56
  • 1999: 66
  • 2000: 59
  • 2001: 57
  • 2002: 83
  • 2003: 51
  • 2004: 46
  • 2005: 36
  • 2006: 57
  • 2007: 63
  • 2008: 53
  • 2009: 57
  • 2010: 54
  • 2011: 39
  • 2012: 48
  • 2013: 39

The table “Fatal Occupational Injuries by State and Event or Exposure, 2013” included the following information for Nebraska: Total Fatalities, 2013: 39

  • Assaults and Violent Acts: 4
  • Transportation Incidents: 21
  • Fires and Explosions: 0
  • Falls: 4
  • Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments: 1
  • Contact with Objects and Equipment: 9

The table “Number and Rate of Injuries and Illnesses by State for All Industries, Private Industry, State Government and Local Government, 2013” gives no explanation for why the number of injuries/illnesses was not applicable for state government for that year.

“Number of Injuries/Illnesses”

  • All Industries: 29,200
  • Private Industry: 24,700
  • State Government: N/A
  • Local Government: 3,300

“Rate of Injuries/Illnesses” per 100 Workers

  • All Industries: 3.9
  • Private Industry: 3.7
  • State Government: 3.6
  • Local Government: 6.2

The table “Hispanic or Latino Worker Fatalities by State, 1996-2013” … “includes both foreign-born and native-born” people, according to the document.

  • 1996-2001: 0 each year
  • 2002: 9
  • 2003: 3
  • 2004: 4
  • 2005 and 2006: 0
  • 2007: 4
  • 2008: 5
  • 2009: 0
  • 2010: 3
  • 2011: 3
  • 2012: 5
  • 2013: 3

The table “Foreign-Born Worker Fatalities by State, 1996-2013” shows that “the definition of “foreign-born” employed by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries refers simply to workers not born in the United States or U.S. territories and does not convey information on citizenship at birth,” according to the document.

  • 1996-2001: 0
  • 2002: 12
  • 2003: 0
  • 2004: 3
  • 2005 and 2006: 0
  • 2007: 5
  • 2008: 6
  • 2009: 4
  • 2010: 3
  • 2011: 3
  • 2012: 7
  • 2013: 4

Finally, here are links to two previous blog posts written about the AFL-CIO report: Death on the Job Annual Report from AFL-CIO Informative, Useful and ALF-CIO Report: Here are Some of Nebraska’s Numbers and Rankings. Two more blog posts that include statistics from the report on Iowa will also be shared in the near future, as well as a blog post that includes many of the nation’s totals for the categories listed above.

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 Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , .

Poverty And Social Insurance

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Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm in Milwaukee. For many people, “entitlement” is a bad word, but I would argue that is not necessarily the case. A quick Google search shows that the first two definitions aren’t even negative: “the fact of having a right to something” and “the amount to which a person has a right” but the third definition is one that people against investment in social programs cling to: “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” One example of an “entitlement” program not written about below is SNAP: the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. In addition to the obvious benefits of providing food for the needy, SNAP actually keeps up demand for farm products and food, and “every dollar spent on SNAP spurs $1.79 in economic activity,” according to the USDA at this website. And, yes, injured workers and their loved ones often find themselves needing help that SNAP and other social safety nets provide because entitlements that should be found through workers’ compensation fall through. This is especially true when the workers’ compensation system (that has different nuances in each state) fails to provide both needed income and care to injured workers, and the workers and their loved ones suffer, and must turn to other safety nets written about below. I would argue that all are entitled to a safe job and the ability to get compensated and cared for when an injury occurs on the job, and that should be a right, not special treatment.

My business-owning friends harp constantly about “entitlements,” which, they say, cost them money in taxes and premiums. I routinely reply that these programs are a social safety net, the small price we pay to live together relatively peacefully  in a “civilized” nation.

My friend and Iowa workers’ comp colleague Paul Mc Andrew sent me an email that sums up this concept succinctly:

Did you know that in 2013, there were more than 25 million reasons to give thanks for social insurance? According to Census Bureau data released this fall, more than 45 million people in the U.S., or 14.5% of the nation, lived in poverty in 2013. The good news? Three vitally important social insurance programs – Social Security, unemployment insurance (UI), and workers’ compensation – and a related program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), kept the poverty rate from being much higher. Together, these four programs kept more than 25 million people out of poverty.

Workers’ Compensation alone lifted 87,000 people out of poverty in 2013, including:

  • 16,000 children; and
  • 60,000 non-elderly adults; and
  • 11,000 elderly adults aged 65+

−−Elisa Walker, National Academy of Social Insurance

We workers’ comp lawyers can only help one injured workers at a time, but collectively…..

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 Government, Legislation, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , .

Safety, Workers’ Compensation Rights Are Concern in Many States

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Here is another sad round in the endless battle to preserve human rights against bigger profits.

On May 5, the Illinois House of Representatives met as the “committee as a whole” and heard testimony from an injured Oklahoma worker who had been devastated by cost- and benefit-cutting “reforms” similar to measures the governor of Illinois wants to impose on Illinois workers.

The article about this extraordinary event is important. One victim of losing long-held rights to compensation stood before a legislature of another state, educating them on what really happens to injured workers as a result of “reform.”

Fair workers’ compensation benefits are a fundamental human right. Human beings and their loved ones suffer with each takeaway, while CEOs are paid outrageous sums to increase profits. Injured Oklahoman John Coffell described exactly how he and his loved ones were affected.

“Coffell told the legislators that after injuring a disc in his back last summer, his pay dropped dramatically because Oklahoma had reduced the maximum wage-replacement benefits injured workers could receive from $801 a week to $561 a week.

“Almost immediately, he said, his utilities were cut off, his truck was repossessed and his family was evicted from their rental home. Because no relative could accommodate all of them, Coffell sent his three children, aged 5 to 9, to live with grandparents. He and his wife only had enough gas money to see them on weekends. They’ve had to rely on food stamps to get by.”

Because of his state’s workers’ compensation “reform,” Coffell’s children only got to see their parents on weekends.

Others who were affected by workers’ compensations in two different states – Illinois and Indiana – also painted the stark reality of how harsh a system can be at the hearing in Illinois. The contrast was obvious. “Laurie Summers — an Illinois nurse who dislocated her shoulder lifting a patient at a hospital in Indiana — said she had to drain her retirement savings and fight to get surgery.” But “Christine Fuller — who lived in Indiana, but whose father died from falling off a roof on a job in Illinois — said the survivor benefits she received from workers’ comp helped pay the mortgage and put her through college and graduate school.”

This testimony and hearing demonstrates that workers and their allies are gaining strength and finding new ways to fight the never-ending efforts to reduce costs, increase profits, and improve the business climate. These tactics frequently and all-to-often sacrifice workers’ safety and the safety net that is workers’ compensation.

This unusual event also shows that even though workers’ compensation programs are run at the state level, workers’ compensation “reforms” don’t happen in a vacuum. Businesses may tout the alleged advantages they get over other states by pushing these reforms through state legislatures. But a worker like Coffell from Oklahoma pushed back against the Illinois legislation, even though it didn’t directly affect him. He showed the struggle that a worker often has, regardless of the state where he or she was injured, to get workers’ compensation benefits, especially in states focused on “reform.”

“The ProPublica and NPR series has led to bills to raise benefits in Alabama and prevent medical care from being cut off in California. Officials have also warned insurers in California not to abuse the process and have launched an audit of how one insurer handled a claim in which a paraplegic’s home health care was terminated,” according to the recent ProPublica article about the Illinois hearing.

All concerned about the human rights of injured workers must keep working to find better, stronger and more effective ways to protect these human rights. Because a state’s business climate should not be more important than workers’ rights, safety and dignity.

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 Government, Legislation, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , , .

ALF-CIO Report: Here are Some of Nebraska’s Numbers and Rankings

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How did Nebraska fare in the recent AFL-CIO Death on the Job annual report? Generally speaking, better than some but not as well as all the other states.

Here’s some helpful information that quantifies how things are going for working Nebraskans when it comes to safety at work, looking through information from many sources, including the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“When it comes to job safety enforcement and coverage, it is clear OSHA lacks sufficient resources to protect workers adequately. A combination of too few OSHA inspectors and law penalties makes the threat of an OSHA inspection hollow for too many employers,” according to the report.

Staffing levels are stark at federal OSHA. Nebraska is one of 10 states (others include Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia) where “it would take 150 years or more for OSHA to pay a single visit to each workplace,” based on current staffing levels, with the actual number in Nebraska being 163 years. Though at the current level of state and federal OSHA inspectors there is one inspector for every 71,695 workers, Nebraska is one of the states where “the ratio of inspectors to employees is greater than 1 per 100,000 workers.” That means for the 932,768 employees in the state in 2013, there were 9 actual inspectors, leading to a ratio of 1/103,641, according to the table “Number of OSHA Inspectors by State Compared with ILO Benchmark Number of Labor Inspectors.” Note that Nebraska relies on the federal program only, so unlike Iowa, there is no state OSHA program.

Here’s some statistics from the table “Profile of Workplace Safety and Health in the United States.” For Nebraska, there were 39 fatalities in 2013, meaning a rate of 4.0 fatalities per 100,000 workers, ranking the state 31st in the nation for worker fatalities that year.

In addition, there were 24,700 worker injuries or illnesses reported in 2013, resulting in a rate that was 3.8 injuries or illnesses per 100 workers. OSHA’s penalties in fiscal year 2014 averaged $2,569, or 4th in the nation, for “averages per serious citation for conditions creating a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm to workers,” according to the same table cited above.

The table “State-by-State OSHA Fatality Investigations, FY 2014” shows that 12 OSHA fatality investigations were conducted in Nebraska in fiscal year 2014. A total of $268,671 in penalties was proposed, with the average penalty per investigation being $22,389. The median initial penalty proposed by OSHA was $10,800, while the median current penalty is $4,800.

Businesses often negotiate down their penalties with OSHA, and OSHA also tends to decrease or eliminate penalties once there is evidence of the safety issues being fixed. This is because OSHA’s ultimate focus is on workplace safety, not on holding businesses’ accountable for workers’ injuries or deaths.

To get your questions answered about specific Nebraska or Iowa workplace safety concerns, please contact lawyers who are experienced in workers’ compensation law.

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 Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , , , .