Posts Tagged ‘workplace injury’

Workplace Injury … Good News/Bad News

By Gary E. Adams

Friday, February 14th, 2014

The good news is America’s workplaces are safer now than ever. Injuries in 2012 were at an all-time low and fatalities were the second lowest on record, according to the 2014 State of Safety report from the National Safety Council. “Through collaborative education and outreach efforts, and effective law enforcement, these numbers indicate that we are absolutely moving in the right direction,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.

That being said, there were still 4,383 fatal work injuries in 2012, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, and nearly 3 million injuries. Employers, employees, health and safety professionals and government officials must continue working together to keep workplace safety top of mind.

10 Safety Tips for Employees

Here are 10 tips to help employees create a safer work environment for themselves and others:

  1. Be aware. Know the hazards particular to your workplace.
  2. Learn good posture. While at your desk, keep your shoulders in line with your hips. And use good form when lifting.
  3. Take regular breaks. Many work-related injuries occur when a worker is  tired. Schedule tough tasks when refreshed.
  4. Don’t take shortcuts. Skipping proper procedures when using dangerous tools and machinery is the leading cause of workplace injuries.
  5. Keep emergency exits clear. And make it easy to reach emergency shutoffs.
  6. Report unsafe conditions to your supervisor. Don’t be shy if you see a workplace hazard. Your supervisors are legally obligated to ensure your safety.
  7. Use mechanical aids whenever possible. Don’t carry something heavy when you could use a wheelbarrow, conveyor belt, forklift or other aid.
  8. Stay sober. About 3 percent of workplace fatalities occur due to alcohol and drug use.
  9. Reduce stress. Stress can make it hard to concentrate.
  10. Wear proper safety equipment. Earplugs, hard hats, safety goggles, gloves, etc., greatly reduce the risk of workplace injury.

Click here for complete details. The National Safety Council also offers 25 steps to a safer office. And here are seven safety tips for employers

New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act Creates Second Injury Fund

By Bruce P. Miller

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act creates an entity called the Second Injury Fund.  All employers in the State of New   Jersey are required to pay into this fund through their Workers’ Compensation policy premium.  The Fund is administered by the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey.  The Fund comes into play in those cases in which an injured worker has been rendered totally and permanently disabled.

The purpose of the Fund is to pay such workers in the following circumstance.  It has to be established that the injured worker will never be able to work again, in any capacity or in any form of employment.  That disability must be the result of two things: injuries or illness sustained as a result of employment and injuries or illness that occurred prior to the work-related accident or illness.

The historic purpose of the Fund has been to encourage the hiring of workers who sustained and suffered from various injuries or illnesses prior to their employment by relieving the employer of the responsibility to pay for disability that had nothing to do with and preceded that worker’s employment.

An example of such disability is the following.  A worker suffers a severe injury as a result of an accident during the course of employment; however, that injury, in and of itself, does not render the worker unable to return to work.  The work-related disability is of a partial nature.  However, if the worker had suffered pre-existing health issues that, in combination with the work-related injury, render that worker 100% permanently and totally disabled, the Second Injury Fund is responsible to pay for the pre-existing disability and the employer is responsible to pay for that disability which arose as a result of the work-related accident.

Another illustration of Second Injury Fund liability is the following.  An individual, as a child, is playing with a BB gun and is accidentally shot in one eye, resulting in blindness in that eye.  That person continues to live his/her life and has a working career.  One day, while working, an accident occurs on the job in which something strikes the other eye causing blindness in that eye.  The combination of the two injuries, pre-existing and work-related, result in total blindness and thus total permanent disability.  In that situation, the employer is responsible to pay 50% total permanent disability for the work-related blindness and the remaining 50% is paid by the Second Injury Fund for the childhood blindness.

Total and permanent disability benefits are paid for the rest of the worker’s life.

As a practical matter, workers often tend to forget or minimize pre-existing health problems because their focus is often entirely on the work-related injury.  However, as illustrated above, an individual’s pre-existing health issues are quite important in a claim for total permanent disability benefits.  It is our practice to inquire closely of an individual who is making a claim for total permanent disability about that person’s entire health history, including childhood injuries, injuries arising out of any motor vehicle accidents throughout that person’s life as well as diseases for which that individual suffers and may see a family physician for treatment, such as diabetes, hypertension, hearing loss, heart problems, breathing issues and psychological problems.  It has to be shown that if such problems exist, they continue to impact the person’s life and that person’s ability to return to work.

Included among a worker’s pre-existing health history are any work-related injuries sustained throughout that person’s life, whether or not a Workers’ Compensation award was obtained.

Total permanent disability entitles a worker to receive 70% of salary up to a set maximum rate.  The maximum rate in 2013 is $826.00 per week.  These benefits are paid to a totally disabled individual for life, assuming that person does not recover to the point of being able to return to work.

When preparing a Workers’ Compensation case in which a claim for total permanent disability benefits is made, it is very important that a complete medical and health history be presented.  This often requires obtaining and reviewing health records one may have respecting previous illnesses and injuries.  The input of family members and friends who are able to remember injuries and illnesses in the past that the worker may have forgotten is extremely important and helpful.

First World Trade Center scientific and medical review of cancer risks from 9/11 exposure released

By Gary E. Adams

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today issued the First Periodic Review of Scientific and Medical Evidence Related to Cancer for the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program. This first periodic review provides a summary of the current scientific and medical findings in the peer-reviewed literature about exposures resulting from the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and cancer studies.

“Although a determination cannot be made to propose a rule to add cancer, or a type of cancer, to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions at this time, it is important to point out that the current absence of published scientific and medical findings demonstrating a causal association between the exposures resulting from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the occurrence of cancer in responders and survivors does not indicate evidence of the absence of a causal association” said WTC Administrator John Howard, M.D. “As new research and findings are released, we will continue to do periodic reviews of cancer for the World Trade Center Health Program.”

Since research into cancer and WTC exposures is ongoing, it is expected that a second periodic review will be conducted in early to mid-2012.

The issuance of this periodic review fulfills the provision under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 that the World Trade Center Program Administrator conduct this first review of the scientific and medical evidence. This first review discusses criteria that have been used previously to assist in weighing the scientific evidence to determine if a causal association exists between exposure and cancer. The review also summarizes input from the public and provides updates from researchers about ongoing or planned cancer studies.