Category Archives: Workplace Injury

April 28: Celebrate Workers’ Memorial Day and World Day for Safety and Health at Work

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Workers’ Memorial Day and World Day for Safety and Health at Work is set for April 28 this year. The history of Mary “Mother Jones,” whose name graces a progressive magazine, is noteworthy. She fought tirelessly to improve worker safety, and events such as Workers’ Memorial Day are part of her legacy. 

A recent article from John Speigelhoff and Dale Moerke, a pair of Minnesota labor leaders, shares some of her history and calls attention to Workers’ Memorial Day.

I agree with the authors’ closing thoughts, quoted below, and encourage all of our readers to remember and observe Workers’ Memorial Day in some way. I also encourage all worker advocates and activists to keep up the hard work and dedication, because the efforts to limit and outright take away worker protections seem to be like the coming and going of the tide. It never ends.

“On April 28, 2015, take a moment to reflect upon those who have come before us and tirelessly championed the cause of a safer workplace, oftentimes being beaten and imprisoned for their advocacy. Every worker deserves to come home safe to their family. It is only when we remember our history, view ourselves (workers) as having a common bond and demand better working conditions will we prevent tragedy.  Observing Workers’ Memorial Day is the first step.”

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 AFL-CIO, Legislation, Memorial Day, OSHA, worker rights, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , .

Is Your Job Causing Asthma or Making It Worse?

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The spring allergy season that also causes asthma concerns is upon us, and this is especially evident in the Great Plains, where the wind blows dust and pollen throughout most days. 

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that 16 percent of American adults had asthma that was either caused or aggravated by conditions at work. According to the National Institutes of Health, workers who are regularly exposed to chemicals and dust, such as millers, bakers, woodworkers and farm workers, are most vulnerable to work-related asthma. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that adults lose 14 million work days per year because of asthma. 

In terms of Nebraska, this means that approximately 134,400 days of work are missed in Nebraska due to work-related asthma. In Iowa, that number is closer to 224,000 days of work that are missed because of work-related asthma. This is an estimate of missed days nationwide in proportion to the population of the states. 

Workers should make sure their employers are providing safety equipment that protects against respiratory injury. Employees should make sure they are carrying inhalers in the workplace if they have been prescribed them by a doctor for asthma. 

But if a worker suspects their work is causing breathing problems or making pre-existing asthma worse, they should report that as a workers’ compensation injury and seek treatment with a specialist in treating breathing conditions. Medical bills for treating asthma should be covered like any other work injury, and any lost time because of work-related asthma should entitle an employee to temporary disability for lost time and permanent disability for permanent breathing problems. 

Work-related asthma would also be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and under similar state laws. Further, an employee has protection against retaliation under most states’ laws, including Nebraska and Iowa, as well as under federal law, for reporting work conditions that cause asthma and/or from claiming workers’ compensation benefits for work-related asthma.

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 , , , , .

Safety, Health a Struggle at Wal-Mart, Nation’s Biggest Employer

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is the nation’s largest employer, according to USA Today. Including Sam’s Club, 2.2 million people worldwide work there, and more than 1.3 million work for the company in the United States.

Being the nation’s largest employer also should mean being responsible for employees’ health and safety. Sadly, that’s not really the case.

Charlene Obernauer, executive director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) recently wrote this blog post for HuffPost Business.

Her framework starts with OSHA’s citation of $7,000 when security guard Jdimytai Damour died after being trampled on Black Friday almost 7 years ago. Earlier in March, after spending more than $1 million fighting the fine, “Wal-Mart decided to withdraw their appeal and pay up, not because they admitted wrongdoing, but because of a desire to put the matter to rest,” according to Obernauer’s article.

She goes on to list examples of health and safety violations by “Wal-Mart-affiliated warehouse distributors” and Wal-Mart stores themselves.  This included the following scenario:

“The company was also cited several serious violations for not immediately providing employees with adequate personal protective equipment and never offering a Hepatitis B shot after they cleaned up blood on the job, along with a number of other violations of OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen standard.”

In addition, the firm’s blog has previously featured posts that include Wal-Mart’s attitude toward injured workers on transitional duty and paying workers so little that they need public benefits.

I agree with Obernauer’s final paragraph completely.

“While finally agreeing to stop appealing a $7,000 fine after a worker died on Wal-Mart’s watch is a step in the right direction, it is a puny step down a prolonged path towards creating healthier, safer and more just jobs at Wal-Mart. They have a long way to go.”

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 , , , , .

Workers’ Compensation Covers Truckers’ Injuries from Falling Asleep at Wheel

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASleep disorders are a significant health problem for truck drivers.  Trucker injuries resulting from falling asleep at the wheel can be compensated by workers’ compensation, as shown in this recent article from the LexisNexis Legal Newsroom.

Former FMSCA administrator Anne Ferro put it this way in remarks she made at the 2010 Sleep Apnea and Trucking Conference in Baltimore.

“I count fatigue among those high risk behaviors and sleep apnea is a condition that contributes to fatigue. This is a highly sensitive subject which is why this meeting is so important. The challenge here is to focus on sleep apnea as a serious medical condition and identify affordable screening and treatments that work in the truck driving environment.

“In many cases, truck drivers experience poor health because of the challenges associated with their job and lifestyle.

“According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy for a driver is less than 61 years – is 16 years younger than the average American. That is simply not acceptable.

“From our own estimates, almost three out of 10 truck drivers currently suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. And we know from our research that drivers with severe sleep apnea are known to be at a much, much greater risk of being involved in a severe crash.

“Fatigue is estimated to be an associated factor in 13 percent of all truck crashes annually and 28 percent of single vehicle truck crashes, based on the Large Truck Crash Causation Study.”

As has been written on the firm’s blog before, “sleep is essential for health and well-being. And not getting enough sleep is a compensable condition.”

In a guest blog post a few years ago, respected lawyer Jon Gelman of New Jersey shared information from the National Sleep Foundation and CDC. In addition to falling asleep when a person was planning to stay awake, people who don’t sleep enough are at “increased risk of motor vehicle accidents; increase in body mass index – a greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation; increased risk of diabetes and heart problems; increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse; and decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information.”

Please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer with questions about specifics in yours or a loved one’s case. In addition, please work to get both the quantity and quality of sleep that is needed to be safe and healthy.

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 Business Travel, Driving, Health, mental health, Night Shift Work, Safety, truck driver, Trucking, Work Injury, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury and tagged , , , .

Workers’ Compensation Covers Fast-Food Workers, Too

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All employees of fast-food restaurants, including part-time workers, students and retirees, are covered by ‪workers’ compensation laws. Frequently, fast-food employees are not aware of these rights or are afraid to make claims, despite recurring injuries in these workplaces. These workplaces are dangerous, and recent efforts by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may result in a safer environment.

In fact, McDonald’s workers in 19 cities have requested OSHA inspections, “alleging they’ve been injured because of a lack of training and protective equipment,” according to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune.

“Scott Allen, an OSHA spokesman, said the agency is investigating some McDonald’s in several states. ‘We do investigate all complaints and take every complaint seriously,’ Allen said.”

Meanwhile, McDonald’s, in the statement quoted below, essentially discounted the complaints as disgruntled workers and activists who are focused on the brand and want to make sure the media is covering the activists’ concerns.

“McDonald’s and its independent franchisees are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees in the 14,000 McDonald’s Brand U.S. restaurants. We will review these allegations. It is important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage.”

I would note that as much as we in the general public like to blame the media (or the messenger), respected publications like the Chicago Tribune usually realize when a story is fluff and when it is a legitimate concern. I believe, like the Tribune coverage would show, that this situation falls into the legitimate concern category.

A total of 28 complaints, nine against corporate-owned restaurants and 19 against franchisees’ locations, were submitted to OSHA, according to information from the campaign called Fight for $15.

“Complaints include one from a New Orleans worker who cited lack of training and equipment for burns suffered while filtering grease, according to documents provided by the campaign. The campaign also alleges that a Philadelphia worker who was badly burned when reaching for a cookie tray was told by a manager to use mayonnaise to treat the burn.

“Workers said understaffing and pressure to work faster resulted in injuries. Those injuries, they added, were not properly treated.”

According to another article on the McDonald’s investigation, other unconventional methods of treatment were also suggested, in addition to the mayo mentioned above.

“Some workers have even claimed that after suffering workplace injury, they were told to treat it with condiments like mustard and mayonnaise rather than using medical ointment.”

Hot oil causes burns; slick floors cause slips and falls; and lifting and moving large boxes cause strains and joint damage. Remember: fast-food workers are covered under workers’ compensation.

I recently saw a press release of a product that could help alleviate some of the danger around hot oil. “The main thing FryerGate prevents is the unintended events that cause injuries such as body parts or foreign objects from entering the boiling oil,” according to the release.

“The Executive Director of The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), Mary Vogel, stated in a press conference (recently) that over 79 percent, or 2.8 million fast food workers, had been burned in the past year based on a ‘first-ever national survey of fast food workers about health and safety on the job.’ The survey, conducted by Hart Research, states that 54 percent of those burn incidents take place at fryers, which equates to over 1.5 million fryer-related burns. Fifty-eight percent have been burned multiple times.”

If this product lives up to its claims and improves safety for fast-food workers who work in challenging, hurried conditions, this would definitely be a good thing. However, it doesn’t solve the many other issues and claims McDonald’s has against it through the Fight for $15 labor group. Regardless, the OSHA investigation will be an interesting situation to follow. I will continue to do so, and encourage you to do the same.

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 , , .

OSHA: Nebraska Company Cited 7 Times in 10 Years

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If it feels like OSHA and a construction/roofing company in Nebraska was just on the blog after an investigation, that’s because it was.

Except today’s blog post is actually about another company with a similar situation but many different details, and fortunately, it appears that this particular investigation did not involve any workers getting hurt or dying.

Unfortunately, it appears that this company struggles greatly with keeping its workers safe. As OSHA said in its news release talking about Affordable Exteriors in Omaha, this is apparently the seventh time in 10 years that the company has been cited for failing to provide fall protection to roofers. In addition, according to the news release, the “company has failed to address previously issued OSHA citations and pay penalties.”

The construction company was last cited in December 2014 after a June investigation, according to this news release from OSHA, and not only fined $140,000, but also placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

In the most recent news release, an investigation by OSHA’s Omaha Area Office was done in October 2014 because of the Local Emphasis Program for falls. “Falls remain the leading cause of death in this industry,” according to the news release. “About half of America’s 1.6 million construction employees work in residential construction.”

During the investigation on a home being built in Elkhorn, “five employees were observed to be working more than 12 feet off the ground without adequate fall protection,” according to an article on WOWT.com out of Omaha. Proposed penalties are $75,240, based on two willful violations, one repeat violation, and three serious violations.

“OSHA cited two willful violations for exposing workers to fall hazards because the company failed to provide fall protection and train workers on the use of and requirement for fall protection equipment,” according to WOWT.com.

The repeat violation was “for not securing elevated platforms to the rough terrain forklift on the site.” Repeat violations occur if a company “was cited for a similar violation in the past five years.” Affordable Exteriors was cited in May 2013 at an Omaha job site for this violation, according to the WOWT.com article.

Finally, the serious violations were “exposing workers to falls from unprotected sides and edges, improper use of ladders and not training workers on ladder safety.”

The investigation prompted Bonita Winingham, OSHA’s area director in Omaha, to make the following comment via news release.

“With everything we know about how to work safely, it’s troubling to see how many workers are still injured every year in the construction trades, and particularly from falls,” Winingham said. “By refusing to correct these dangerous problems, Affordable Exteriors continues to expose employees to serious – and preventable – physical harm, and this is unacceptable.”

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 , , , , , , .

NPR: Brain Affects Pain

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Brain_powerPain and chronic pain is a topic that many of our clients experience as a reality every day. This fairly recent National Public Radio report gives more details about what some of the research shows in reference to the brain and pain.

Although the headline in the original article is a flop, as people are often wrongly told “it’s all in your head,” the brain is a really important part of how the body feels, understands, and reacts to pain.

There are some potential lessons to be applied to injured workers, clients with personal-injury cases, and others who are associated with our law firm. However, as is the case with all research, be sure to speak with both your lawyer and medical professionals who know about your situation before making changes to a treatment plan.

“Our perception of pain is shaped by brain circuits that are constantly filtering the information coming from our sensory nerves, says David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book ‘Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind,’” according to the NPR article.

But sometimes those filters work differently than expected, such as when Complex Regional Pain Syndrome affects a client, an issue written about on this blog by firm partner Todd Bennett.

“The brain also determines the emotion we attach to each painful experience, Linden says. That’s possible, he explains, because the brain uses two different systems to process pain information coming from our nerve endings.

“One system determines the pain’s location, intensity and characteristics: stabbing, aching, burning, etc.

“‘And then,’ Linden says, ‘there is a completely separate system for the emotional aspect of pain — the part that makes us go, “Ow! This is terrible.” ’

“Linden says positive emotions — like feeling calm and safe and connected to others — can minimize pain. But negative emotions tend to have the opposite effect,” according to the NPR article.

A study that associate Jon Rehm recently referenced showed how the context of being appreciated at work made a difference to certified nursing assistants who were injured at work.

“… Higher-paid CNAs were injured less frequently than lower-paid CNAs. The study indicated that organizational factors really drove injury rates among CNAs. In other words, in settings where CNAs are truly valued, paid fairly and trained, the injury rates are lower. But if CNAs are treated as low-wage, high-turnover cogs in a machine, then injury rates are higher,” according to his blog post.

Finally, according to the NPR article, there is some evidence that because of how the brain interacts within different parts of itself, “that at least some people can teach their brains how to filter out things like chronic pain, perhaps through meditation,” said Stephanie Jones, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Brown University.

If you have questions about how this information can apply to your situation, please contact an experienced lawyer.

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 Disabilities, Disability, Health, mental health, Workplace Injury and tagged , , , , , , .

Norfolk, Nebraska, Manufacturer Cited by OSHA with 15 Safety Violations

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Today’s blog post is information that comes from a news release at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Here’s a link to the original news release.

I found this release from earlier in the month interesting because it happened in Nebraska, which is one of the states where the firm’s attorneys are licensed. Also, when I did an internet search on the topic, the only two things that appeared were short mentions in a newspaper article and on a radio station’s website, and I think topics such as this one should get more coverage than that. Finally, I noticed this situation in particular because the investigation was the result of “a formal complaint from an employee alleging unsafe working conditions,” according to the news release.

OSHA proposed penalties of $54,000 after the inspection last August netted 11 serious violations, including various amputation hazards, fire hazards, and fall hazards. The amputation hazards included the business failing “to adequately guard operating parts of machinery,” according to the news release. The company also did not “protect workers from fire, deflagration and explosion hazards because equipment was not approved for hazardous locations,” in addition to the failure of establishing a fire brigade, according to the news release. Also, unguarded stairs and platforms exposed “workers to fall hazards of up to 12 feet.” Finally, four other violations were discovered.

If you have questions about a safety concern at your job, it would be a good idea to contact an experienced attorney and also file a complaint with OSHA at this website. Take care, and be safe.

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 , , , , .