We would like to take time this Memorial Day to remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. “Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer,” according to history.com.
Since next Monday is a national holiday, we hope people take some time to both think about and celebrate the freedom of the sacrifices that they and their loved ones have made. Many people spend this holiday with family and friends, and some of these gatherings contemplate the more somber, traditional meaning of the day. Others have to work on Memorial Day and don’t really get a holiday. And other folks are navigating the roadways on one of the few holidays they get from their employer a year. Meanwhile, many truckers are on a schedule with loads and focused on safety with the increased traffic on the weekend that’s the unofficial start of summer. I urge all to be safe on roads, around grills, swimming pools, and in whatever celebration is planned. Please also look into the Memorial Day celebrations that the majority of communities have planned with veterans’ organizations for the day. Regardless of what you end up doing, please take some time today to remember fallen soldiers, explain to your children, and remind your friends, family and loved ones the true meaning of the holiday.
As mentioned above, Monday is also the symbolic beginning of summer, so we hope that everyone is enjoying their time off and being safe. For your information, below is a list of grilling safety tips adopted from a guide published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
Gas Grill Safety Tips
Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders, or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner.
Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can’t move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.
Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.
Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer’s instructions, if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the liquid petroleum (LP) gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don’t attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.
Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.
Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See an LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions that accompany the grill.
Store LP containers upright, and never near a grill or indoors or in a hot car or car trunk.
Do not store or use gasoline or other flammable liquids near the grill.
Charcoal Grill Safety Tips
Charcoal produces carbon monoxide (CO) when it is burned. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments. Each year about 30 people die and 100 are injured as a result of CO fumes from charcoal grills and hibachis used inside.
To reduce these CO poisonings:
Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.
Today’s blog post comes from Charlie Domer of Domer Law in Milwaukee. He writes about a recent CBS news article that is “based primarily on a report from a major worker’s compensation insurance company (Travelers) … .”
Because workers’ compensation injuries are more underreported than not, the frequency and number of injuries (and true cost to workers and society in general) is probably higher than even every seven seconds. Our lawyers, legal assistants and nurse case manager deal with insurance adjusters, their lawyers and frequent denials of claims and coverage every day. That’s one of the many reasons that I encourage people who have been injured on the job to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, instead of trying to navigate the system alone, during an already-stressful time. As is written below, if an injury is disputed and medical help is delayed, it is important to find a lawyer who can be an advocate for the injured worker.
According to a recent article by CBS news, on average a worker is hurt in our country every sevenseconds!The article, based primarily on a report from a major worker’s compensation insurance company (Travelers), reveals that injuries happen in all professions and to all ages and types of workers.
WIth this volume of injuries across all industries, disputes are bound to occur over the existence of the injury, the extent of a worker’s disability, and whether permanent limitations are necessary. Disputes also are endemic in a system primarily involving for-profit insurance companies (as well as rising medical costs).
The key is that every seven seconds a work injury happens–meaning every seven seconds a claim could be denied and attorney involvement required.
Some occupational diseases can be challenging when it comes to workers’ compensation coverage. So if you have concerns about either an occupational disease or an injury that happened at work, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Vibration White Finger (VWF) or “Dead Finger,” now known as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), is a chronic, progressive disorder caused by regular and prolonged use of vibrating hand tools that can progress to loss of effective hand function and necrosis of the fingers. In its advanced stages, the obvious symptom is finger blanching (losing color). Other symptoms include numbness, pain, and tingling in the fingers, as well as a weakened grip.
It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of the estimated 2 million U.S. workers exposed to hand-arm vibration will develop HAVS. Some common industries and the tools associated with HAVS are listed below:
Agriculture & Forestry – Chainsaws
Automotive – Impact Wrenches, Riveting Guns
Construction – Jackhammers
Foundries – Chippers, Grinders
Metal Working – Buffers, Sanders
Mining – Jack-Leg Drills, Stoper Drills
The time between a worker’s first exposure to hand-arm vibration to the development of HAVS symptoms can range from a few months to several years. Prevention is critical because while the early stages of HAVS are usually reversible if vibration exposure is reduced or eliminated, treatment is usually ineffective after the fingers blanch.
Workers’ compensation laws are under constant attack by “reformers” from industry, insurance and self-insureds. NCCI is the National Council on Compensation Insurance, a group that participates in many aspects of workers’ compensation, including setting premiums. The NCCI recently released presentations regarding big issues in workers’ compensation, including information about prescription drug cost-control (listed first below) and an insurance industry financial review (listed last below). These presentations were part of the NCCI’s 2016 Annual Issues Symposium.
These presentations are interesting. I recommend reviewing them for a snapshot of our current workers’ compensation system in America. The financial review link (“Shape of Things to Come … ” above) shows high net income for the insurance industry. Is the constant pressure to “reform” workers’ compensation law fair and reasonable? Is maximizing profit for the insurance industry more important than fair compensation of worker injury and death?
When you think about your job, what are the words that come to mind? How do you describe your job and how it makes you feel?
The notion of stress means many different things in different contexts. Sustaining a work-related injury and navigating through a state’s workers’ compensation system is one kind of stress that our employees help clients with every day. As you can see below, another kind of stress has to do with job fit, and that “can lead to poor health and even injury.”
“Job stress refers to the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker,” according to the article. “One form of stress under investigation at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is job strain, which occurs when high job demands combine with low job control.”
There are good links to different research abstracts that were featured in this article, so I’d encourage people to consider each one.
When it comes to job stress and job strain, I hope that employers consider how they can make such occupations as truck driving and nursing less challenging for workers. In addition, I hope that workers can, within the limits of their job descriptions and work schedules, digest the information and think about how to reduce job stress and job strain to both prevent injury and increase overall health.
Have a safe, productive week. Please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer for specific questions, whether you or a loved one has been injured at work, regardless of how the injury occurred.
Many have heard the cliché that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is especially true when it comes to workplace safety.
Following up on last week’s Workers’ Memorial Day commemoration, this week is National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. The lawyers here are prepared to help injured workers and their loved ones because of their experience in workers’ compensation and other issues related to workers and personal injury. But is frustrating to realize that all too often, incidents that result in workers’ injuries on the job could and should have been prevented.
With a goal of reaching 5 million workers, or over half of the country’s construction workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s voluntary event this year “focuses on ‘Fall Hazards’ and reinforcing the importance of ‘Fall Prevention,’” according to the National Safety Stand Down website.
“Falls continue to be the construction industry’s leading cause of death; each year, hundreds of workers die and thousands more suffer catastrophic, debilitating injuries. Despite these chilling statistics, the absence of proper fall protection remains the violation cited most frequently by federal safety inspectors,” according to this news release from the U.S. Labor Department.
Both of the pages linked to above include good resources for employers and workers to explore and consider for their workplaces to bring greater safety awareness to construction zones, regardless of what’s being built.
“Our nation and our economy should not be built on the backs of fallen and injured workers,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the Labor Department’s news release. “The National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls is an opportunity to reach millions of workers and bring employers, unions and other organizations together to show their commitment to safety and to ensure construction workers end their shift safe, healthy and ready to return home.”
Please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer if you have questions about a specific situation that you or a loved ones has encountered. Have a safe and productive month.
“The insurance-defense-industrial-complex has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise,” as was noted on Aleksy Belcher Law Firm’s Facebook page earlier last week (Aleksy Belcher is a workers’ compensation plaintiff’s firm based in Chicago).
The Wall Street Journal article linked above talks about the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue that Exam Works posted last year and also its purpose.
“It said it serves more than 6,000 clients globally, including property and casualty insurance carriers, law firms, third-party claim administrators and government agencies, helping them manage costs and enhance their risk-management and compliance processes,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
What this means for injured workers and their loved ones is that the big business and added bureaucracy of “cost-containment” may translate to even more profit at the expense of injured workers, going into the private-equity company’s pockets if the sale goes through.
The way IME companies are seen as potential profit centers for private-equity firms is one of the many reasons that if an IME – Independent Medical Exam – or DME – Defense Medical Exam – is ordered for an injured worker, that injured worker should seek the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Workers’ compensation lawyers advocate for injured workers and help them understand the workers’ compensation process, including IMEs, so the playing field of the workers’ compensation process might be a little more even. That way, cost containment, though not as profitable for private-equity firms, can give way to injured workers getting the medical treatment and compensation that they need to move on with their lives.
Today, April 28, 2016, is Workers’ Memorial Day. Every year, Nebraska honors workers who lost their lives on the job and their families with a ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol building, 1445 K St., in Lincoln. The ceremony begins at 7 tonight.
When I am in town, I attend. I am always angered, saddened, moved and ultimately encouraged after each ceremony. All of the deaths were preventable with more attention to safety. The pain and distress of the families is hard to see. The words and musical performances are heartfelt and genuine. The crowd, regardless of the weather, seems to be growing, which shows more concern for worker safety and workers’ compensation.
Come to the Capitol this year. Honor the departed workers and their families. Keep caring about workers and the laws that protect and compensate them. We have to remain vigilant and involved. I hope to see more new faces this year.