Articles Posted in Workers Compensation

PA doctors are in a bind right now. Suppose a patient thinks he or she is ill because of fracking health hazards. In fracking, chemicals enter the water table and the air, causing severe pollution. In order to attempt to treat the condition, a doctor must have access to what chemicals are involved. It makes sense, right?

While it makes sense to the doctors, the community at large, and to the patients suffering, it doesn’t make sense to the natural gas companies because their argument against doctors’ knowing the chemicals means knowing proprietary, competitive secrets.

The so called gag rule is written vaguely and doctors fear being sued for not knowing whom to tell and whom not to tell. And, what if the doctor published an article or did a study on a chemical’s symptoms and treatment? Would that be telling corporate secrets?

The answer to this question depends on what you do for work. If you were work in various places and lack a fixed office then workers comp may cover you if you are in an auto accident on the way to work. For example, if you are a salesperson calling on a customer or a consultant en route to a client then you may be eligible for workers compensation if you are hurt.

However, if you work a more “traditional” job where you have a fixed and regular place of work and you are traveling to that store, factory, or office then workers comp likely won’t apply to your case. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t recover for your injuries. You may still be able to recover for your accident injuries if someone else’s negligence caused you harm.

If you are in doubt about whether workers comp covers your accident or if you have questions about how to protect your legal rights then it is important to consult with an experienced Pennsylvania car accident lawyer before signing anything or making any decisions regarding a potential recovery.

According to WPXI.com, a workplace explosion accident occurred at a copper plant in Leetsdale, PA on Tuesday morning, January 11. Three workers were injured.

At about 9:30 a.m., an explosion occurred at the Hussey Copper plant on Washington Street. The blast caused a small fire that was immediately extinguished. Leetsdale Police Chief James Santucci reports the three workers were in a blast furnace area and the explosion was caused when water spilled beneath ingots during the copper-making process. The explosion was minor; however, two of the victims were taken to a local hospital via ambulance for treatment of their injuries. One victim sustained burns and the other a head injury because of the accident. The third person injured was the most critical and was airlifted to a different hospital with burns on roughly 25 percent of his body, with burns to his face, legs, and arms.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 there were 173 workers who lost their lives in explosion and fire accidents while on the job. On average, another 5,000 employees are injured in workplace explosion and fire accidents every year. Injuries sustained in these accidents can be severe, and can include but are not limited to:

A Pennsylvania man from Baden was killed when he fell 30 feet down an underground shaft where he was working at a sewage treatment plant in Sewickley, an Associated Press article reported. The man had radioed for help after becoming faint and tried to climb out of the shaft, but fell. Three workers who tried to help the man were hospitalized after they were overtaken by fumes. At the time of the article’s release, it was unclear whether the deceased man’s cause of death was due to toxic fumes or the fall.

Although officials are not sure what type of gas it was that the workers inhaled, emergency crews found a small amount of methane in the area. The plant is owned by the borough of Sewickley and is in the process of getting a $5 million upgrade to the area that the deceased man was working on.

Workplace accidents in Pennsylvania can occur in any profession, but are more common in occupations that require employees to work at high altitudes, around heavy machinery or where there are chemicals or other environmental toxins present. Unfortunately, serious injuries and, in some cases, wrongful death can be the end result of these types of on the job accidents.

Work has resumed at two Pennsylvania natural gas wells owned by Houston-based EOG Resources, Inc. after the company resolved a blowout at a third natural gas well nearby. Based on an Associated Press report, inspectors from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection examined the two wells but did not find any safety or environmental violations. Several other wells owned by EOG Resources remain closed.

The Department of Environmental Protection ordered work to stop at all three wells after an accident occurred at one well located on the grounds of the Punxsutawney Hunt Club in Clearfield County. On June 3, this well suffered a “blowout,” discharging natural gas and brine into the surrounding air for sixteen hours before workers managed to cap the well. Although the well did not catch fire and no one was injured, EOG Resources was ordered to close down operations until all three of its wells could be inspected.

The blowout consisted of both natural gas and a mixture of sand, water, and chemicals, which are inserted into a well to bring the gas to the surface. These chemicals are dangerous to humans and can kill fish and other wildlife if they are discharged into waterways. The Department of Environmental Protection is also taking water samples from nearby creeks to determine whether the well’s discharge has damaged local waterways, but so far no contamination has been found.

Employees have a right to a safe workplace, even before an injury or accident occurs. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) gives workers the right to a safe workplace. Employees may review safety guidelines and report unsafe conditions either to their employer or to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) itself. Employees may also inform OSHA if they have been discriminated against or harassed at work because they pointed out an unsafe condition.

OSHA complaints can be filed online, on paper, or by calling your regional OSHA office. OSHA recommends calling the regional office if a workplace hazard is creating an emergency or is immediately life-threatening. It may also be wise to call 911 or your local emergency number in this situation as well.

Before reporting a hazard to OSHA, first report it to your employer. Your employer may be able to correct the hazard without delay. Employees can, however, contact OSHA at any time “if they believe there is a violation of a safety or health standard, or if there is any danger that threatens physical harm, or if an ‘imminent danger’ exists.” You can also contact OSHA either before or after a workplace accident occurs.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported recently that a county clerk who received $21,600 in workers’ compensation payments after a PA slip and fall accident at work has had his claim voided by a judge. The clerk, who blamed water on the marble floor of the office building for the slip and fall, suffered knee and hip injuries. He entered into a $25,000 settlement agreement with the county freeholders.

The judge, however, voided the agreement because the county freeholders had voted to enter the settlement privately, in violation of the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act. The case has led the court to look more closely into previous decisions made by the county freeholders, who, according to some citizens, have been making secret decisions later ratified at public meetings for some time. The county freeholders’ behavior is under investigation, as it appears to violate the Open Public Meetings Act. Under the Act, citizens have a right to know what decisions local government makes about workers’ compensation payments, as those payments are made out of collected taxes.

The county clerk who was injured in the slip and fall accident had surgery for his injuries, but says he missed only “a day or two” of work and did not need crutches or a cane when he returned.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported recently that a volunteer diver at Adventure Aquarium was bitten in the ankle by a tiger shark. The diver accidentally bumped the shark while climbing on the platform that leads into the shark’s tank. The shark retaliated by nipping the diver in the ankle. The diver was treated at the scene and later at a local hospital, receiving several stitches for the bite. He has recovered and has since returned to the aquarium.

The aquarium’s director described the shark bite as a “workplace incident” that is not uncommon in aquariums with captive sharks. He said the bite did not concern the aquarium staff because it was not a random, unprovoked bite. Rather, it was the shark’s response to being jostled by the diver.

Tiger sharks are a favorite in aquariums for their size and ferocious-looking teeth. Tiger sharks can grow to be ten feet in length and weigh several hundred pounds, with rows of large, jagged teeth. Despite their appearance, however, tiger sharks are not known as a deadly species. Only 29 attacks by tiger sharks on humans have been documented, and only two of those attacks were fatal.

Even unusual workplace accidents generally entitle the injured employee to Central Pennsylvania workers’ compensation for their injuries. A third party, such as a contractor, sub-contractor, or a manufacturer of a defective product whose negligence results in an employee’s injury may be held liable for damages which the employee may receive in addition to workers’ comp.
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Some lines of work are just inherently more dangerous than others. Construction sites are always dangerous, but depending on what is being built, the danger can certainly vary. As exemplified by a recent 620-megawatt gas-fired power plant explosion in central Connecticut, the severity of construction site accidents can be great, and can often result in significant personal injury or even workplace wrongful death.

A recent CNN.com article talks about an accident that took the lives of five people and injured at least 12 more. Reportedly, a Middletown power plant that is currently under construction was the site of a gas explosion. Officials from Kleen Power Plant explained that workers were purging a natural gas pipeline when the explosion occurred, but offered little explanation as to what caused the incident to occur in the first place. It is estimated that 50-60 workers may have been at the site at the time of the explosion, and urban search-and-rescue teams were sent in to comb the rubble in an attempt to find accident victims. Middlesex Hospital received 11 accident victims from the explosion, and injuries ranged from minor to more severe, with some patients sustaining broken bones and blunt trauma.
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The structures we work and live in are built to be safe. However, during the construction process, when materials are haphazardly strewn about and a building’s frame is exposed, building sites are some of the most dangerous places individuals can be employed at. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of construction site owners and foremen to provide their employees with work environments that are as safe as they possibly can be.

The single most prevalent type of accident on a construction site centers around slip and fall incidents. According to an orlandosentinel.com news article, a construction worker was recently injured after he fell from the second floor of the physical science building at the University of Central Florida. The injured construction worker sustained head injuries and was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center for treatment. Reportedly, the building is under construction.
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