Tag Archives: NIOSH

The Right to a Safe Workplace

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Workplace SafetyUnder federal law, every employee has the right to a safe workplace. If you believe your workplace is dangerous and changes in safety policy are ignored, you can request an inspection from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

Workers’ compensation, which is regulated on a state-by-state level, covers medical bills, lost wages, disability and vocational rehabilitation services for employees injured on the job. If you have any questions regarding these benefits, please contact an experienced lawyer in your area.

If you believe you work in an unsafe work area, here are some tips to be aware of to make sure your workplace is as safe as possible, and you protect yourself from significant injury:

  1.  Know the hazards in your workplace.
  2. While in a seated position, keep your shoulders in line with your hips. Use good form when lifting.
  3. Injuries occur when workers get tired. Take breaks when you’re tired.
  4. Do not skip safety procedures just because it makes the job easier or quicker. Using dangerous machinery is the one of the leading causes of work injuries.
  5. Be aware of where emergency shutoff switches are located.
  6. Report unsafe work areas.
  7. Wear proper safety equipment.

If you are injured due to an unsafe workplace, and you are unsure of the benefits that you are entitled to, contact an experienced attorney in your area.

Senior Care Workers Are Victims of Wage Violations

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I found a recent story from California very troubling. The nation’s largest assisted living company agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle claims for underpayment and mistreatment of the workers who take care of the elderly. Lack of proper overtime pay, lack of mandatory meal and rest periods, and improper payment of mandatory training are examples of the mistreatment. 

The victims were the least-paid workers who did the hardest physical labor, according to the story. These people who bathed, fed, and provided the most hands-on care for our frail, elderly loved ones were denied wages and overtime pay for 7 years, according to the terms of the settlement.

Care for the old, frail and disabled is big business. Nearly 750,000 people are receiving assisted living care, according to the ProPublica article. And the industry is just going to expand, as folks are sicker but have higher expectations for care, while also living longer, according to this article from NPR

Fair treatment of our elders’ caregivers is essential. The wages are low, as most difficult jobs often are. Violating employment rules and statutes for businesses to save money and make larger profits seems particularly offensive for these workers. And they are not often protected from or informed of the hazards of their jobs, many of which can have serious consequences for workers’ health and well being, according to these blog posts from respected colleague Jon Gelman, an attorney in New Jersey: Protecting Healthcare Workers is a Goal of NIOSH and NIOSH Acts To Prevent Lifting Injuries For Home Healthcare Workers.

Congratulations to the workers and their representative who stood up to this very large employer that has around 500 facilities in the United States. It takes courage and tenacity to fight battles like this.

All of us who care about workers need to be aware that these are battle worth fighting. And that these battles can be won.

Let OSHA Do Its Job

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OSHA is being prevented from fulfilling its mission.

Today’s blog post was written by guest author Paul McAndrew, Jr., of the Paul McAndrew Law Firm in Coralville, Iowa. It focuses on some of the unfortunate ways that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has been limited by politicians over the years. He argues, and this law firm agrees, that OSHA needs to protect workers by fulfilling the mission that’s found on its website at www.osha.gov/about.html “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”

In 1970, Congress passed the Occupational Safety & Health Act (the Act), which created the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Among other things, the Act requires every employer to provide a safe workplace. To help employers reach this goal, OSHA promulgated hundreds of rules in the decade after it was created. OSHA’s rulemaking process has, however, slowed to a trickle since then.

While the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health recently identified over 600 toxic chemicals to which workers are exposed, in the last 16 years OSHA has added only two toxic chemicals to its list of regulated chemicals. This is because Congress, Presidents and the courts have hamstrung OSHA. For example, in March 2001 the Bush Administration and a Republican Congress effectively abolished OSHA’s ergonomics rule, a rule the agency had worked on for many years.

These delays and inactions have caused more than 100,000 avoidable workplace injuries and illnesses.

These delays and inactions have caused more than 100,000 avoidable workplace injuries and illnesses. Workers are being injured and killed by known hazardous circumstances and OSHA can’t act.

Congress and the President need to break this logjam – we need to free OSHA to do its job of safeguarding workers.

What’s so dangerous about hotel room cleaning? It turns out, a lot.

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Today’s post comes from guest author Edgar Romano from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano. Lots of potential injuries lurk for hotel housekeepers going about their daily tasks. Mr. Romano has some good advice for all workers to be sure they don’t ignore short-term pains because those issues can come with long-term consequences. And as a hotel guest, I think about leaving my towels by the sink, for example, instead of throwing them on the floor, because that’s one less time a hard-working housekeeper has to bend down to retrieve those items.

Hotel housekeeping may not seem dangerous, but it can be grueling physical labor. A recent study published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported that tasks including dusting, vacuuming, changing linens, making beds, and scrubbing bathrooms may lead to a range of injuries. Some of the most common ones include: Continue reading

NIOSH To Review Underreporting of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by Workers

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underreporting injuryToday’s post comes to us from our colleague Jon L. Gelman of Wayne, New Jersey. We encourage all  workers to report their injuries to the appropriate person within their company, and if the proper reports are not filed, to seek legal representation. We are concerned about workers being discouraged from reporting injuries on the job. Mr. Gelman, one of the nation’s leading commentators on workers’ compensation, points out this is potentially a national problem.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has proposed a project to review the Underreporting of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by Workers.

“In 2008, the Congressional Committee on Education and Labor released the report, “Hidden Tragedy: Underreporting of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses,” indicating “that work-related injuries and illnesses in the United States are chronically and even grossly underreported.” Based in part on the report’s results, Congress allocated funds for NIOSH to conduct a follow-up study using NIOSH’s occupational supplement to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS-Work) to estimate underreporting among individuals who seek care at an emergency department (ED) for an occupational illness, injury, or exposure.

“Objectives for this project are to (1) assess the reporting behavior of workers that are injured, ill, or exposed to a harmful substance at work; (2) characterize the chronic aspects of work-related injuries or illnesses; and (3) estimate the prevalence of work-related chronic injuries and illnesses among United States workers treated in EDs. Particular attention will be paid to self-employed workers, workers with work-related illnesses, and workers with chronic health problems.
“Data collection for the telephone interview survey will be done via a questionnaire containing questions about the respondent’s injury, illness, or exposure that sent them to the ED; the characteristics of the job they were working when they were injured, became ill, or were exposed; their experiences reporting their injury, illness, or exposure to the ED and their employer (if applicable); the presence of an underlying chronic condition that was associated with their ED visit; and the nature of any other work-related chronic conditions they have experienced. The questionnaire was designed to take 30 minutes to complete and includes a brief series of questions to screen out individuals who were not seen in the ED for a work-related injury, illness, or exposure; who are younger than age 20 or older than age 64; who do not speak English or Spanish; or who were working as volunteers or day laborers when the injury, illness, or exposure occurred or was made worse.