(c) 2014 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Senator Boxer calls US chemical facility safety “outrageous” and “unacceptable”

Today's post is shared from

As last week’s Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing made abundantly clear, communities throughout the United States are at ongoing risk from potentially disastrous incidents involving hazardous chemicals. A new Congressional Research Service report released concurrently by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), details how thousands of facilities across the country that store and use hazardous chemicals are located in communities, putting millions of Americans at risk. Yet this list of facilities, Senator Markey’s office points out, may not be complete. The report analyzes US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data on locations where at least one of 140 different extremely hazardous materials are stored. But this EPA list does not include the highly explosive substance ammonium nitrate – the chemical involved in the April 2013 West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people and injured approximately 200.

What has happened – or more precisely, not happened – since that incident was the focus of the December 11th Senate hearing. The hearing, convened jointly with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was held to review progress made in implementing President Obama’s Executive Order 13650 issued in August 2013 in the wake of the West, Texas disaster.

“In the 602 days since the West, Texas tragedy there have been 355 chemical...
[Click here to see the rest of this post]

Close Down All Second Injury Funds?

Today's post is shared from

Employers get little to no relief from state workers compensation second injury funds.  Many state second injury laws are weak, ill defined, are hard to penetrate, and may lack proper funding. Rules and regulations make it hard for a claim to be  acceptance by a second injury fund.

Funding programs for second injury funds vary greatly. Some are funded from insurance carrier premium assessments.  Others are funded from state budgets and legislative action.  Most funding programs may fail to meet the fund exposures or liabilities.  This means that even if a claim is accepted by a fund, the employer may not be able to recover their expended funds. The employer has to handle and pay the claim before seeking reimbursement from the second injury fund.

Second Injury Funds and rules became prevalent after World War II as a program to induce employers to hire handicapped veterans.   By then workers compensation law, legal precedent, and regulation had clearly established that the employer took the employee as is.  This meant any employee with an underlying pathology or disability, who sustained a compensable injury which aggravated or increased the overall heath or disability costs had to be borne by the employer.
The second injury fund program gave the employer relief from the expense of the aggravation or increased disability. The fund would take over the claim handling and cost after certain set periods of time...
[Click here to see the rest of this post]

Cancer from asbestos caused by more than one cell mutation

Today's post is shared from

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the mesothelium -- the protective lining that covers the internal organs, such as the lungs, the heart and the abdominal cavity. It is estimated that malignant mesothelioma affects up to 3,200 people in the USA each year, most of whom die within a year of diagnosis. The primary cause of this cancer is exposure to asbestos, which used to be used in building construction. The inhalation of asbestos fibers causes inflammation that can cause mutations in cells even after 30-50 years of dormancy.

Most cancers are thought to be monoclonal, where all the cells in a tumor can be traced back to a mutation in a single cell. Researchers from University of Hawaii Cancer Center set out to investigate whether this was the case with malignant mesothelioma, or if it was polyclonal in which the tumor is the result of the growth of two or more mutant distinct cells.

During early development of the female embryo one of the two X chromosomes becomes inactivated and this inactivation is passed on to all subsequent cells. By tracing this inactivated X using a process called HUMARA assay it is possible to determine whether or not a cancer is monoclonal.

In this study, 16 samples from 14 tumor biopsies from women with mesothelioma had a HUMARA assay performed on them. These were compared to control DNA samples from a healthy male and female, and a known monoclonal cell line. The samples provided insight into the origin of...
[Click here to see the rest of this post]


Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

From the E.R. to the Courtroom: How Nonprofit Hospitals Are Seizing Patients’ Wages

Northwest Financial Services first sued Keith and Katie Herie when they couldn't afford the $14,000 bill for Katie's emergency appendectomy. Since 2006, the Heries have had almost $20,000 taken from their wages to repay medical bills and still owe at least $26,000, with interest mounting. (Steve Hebert for ProPublica)
This story was co-published with NPR and is shared from

On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Missouri, lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of brick and glass. Music from a player piano greets visitors at the main entrance, and inside, the bright hallways seem endless. Long known as Heartland Regional Medical Center, the nonprofit hospital and its system of clinics recently rebranded. Now they're called Mosaic Life Care, because, their promotional materials say: "We offer much more than health care. We offer life care."

Two miles away, at the rear of a low-slung building is a key piece of Mosaic—Heartland's very own for-profit debt collection agency.

When patients receive care at Heartland and don't or can't pay, their bills often end up here at Northwest Financial Services. And if those patients don't meet Northwest's demands, their debts can make another, final stop: the Buchanan County Courthouse.

From 2009 through 2013, Northwest filed more than 11,000 lawsuits. When it secured a judgment, as it typically did, Northwest was entitled to seize a hefty portion of a debtor's paycheck. During those years, the company garnished the pay of about 6,000...
[Click here to see the rest of this post]

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Injured North Providence school custodian wins workers’ comp lawsuit against town

Today's post is shared from

A North Providence school custodian recently won a workers’ compensation lawsuit against the town.

Joseph J. Adamczyk, who worked at Wayland Elementary School, in North Providence, injured his right shoulder on Aug. 21, 2013 while lifting a chest-high recycling bin filled with old books and being hit by the bin, court documents read. By mid-November of that year, he could no longer work.

Prior to that, he earned an average weekly paycheck of $683.26.

A physician later determined Adamczyk had an anterior/inferior labral tear. He had surgery for the injury in September 2014.

Judge Dianne M. Connor ruled on Dec. 12 that the town pay Adamczyk workers’ compensation benefits — partially disabled for some months and fully for other months –from November 2013 and continuing.

The judge also ordered the town reimburse the Rhode Island Temporary Disability Insurance Fund; pay Adamczyk for his medical treatment, rehabilitation costs, wages he may have earned from another employer while he was injured, and various court costs.
[Click here to see the rest of this post]

Ebola Guidelines for the Workers’ Comp Industry

Today's post is shared rom

The guidelines, “Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses: Ebola and Marburg,” go beyond clinical directives provided by WHO, the CDC or Official Disability Guidelines to provide the much-needed guidance employers and carriers need from a workers’ compensation perspective. “GENEX developed the guidelines at the requests of both internal and external providers and nurse case managers looking for workers’ comp-specific treatment protocols to treat Ebola,” said Dr. Maury Guzick, GENEX branch manager and physician advisor.

“In the workers’ comp field, there are significant risks to health care workers, emergency responders, laboratory and airline staff, among others,” said Guzick. “These workers are more likely to come into contact with an infected person or their bodily fluids. With so many workers at risk, it’s critical that guidelines are developed and made available to help treat infected workers and prevent the spread of diseases such as Ebola and Marburg throughout the U.S. workforce."

Ebola and Marburg are rare RNA filoviruses that cause severe hemorrhagic fever. The viruses are highly contagious, but only through direct contact with an infected person. After the Ebola infection invades the body, it replicates quickly causing vomiting, diarrhea and rash, and can also lead to both external and internal bleeding. As the virus spreads, it can lead to...
[Click here to see the rest of this post]

Outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis Among Responders to a Rollover of a Truck Carrying Calves — Kansas, April 2013

Today's [post is shared from

In April 2013, the Thomas County Health Department notified the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Response section (KDHE) of two cases of cryptosporidiosis among emergency responders to a tractor-trailer rollover. The truck was carrying approximately 350 preweaned Holstein calves. An outbreak investigation was led by KDHE with assistance from the county health department; six cases of cryptosporidiosis were identified among the 15 emergency responders. No additional primary cases with this exposure or secondary cases were identified. Disease was associated with carrying calves (relative risk [RR] = 3.0) and contact with fecal matter (RR = 4.5). The calves were aged <10 days and reportedly suffered from scours (diarrheal disease), which is often caused by Cryptosporidium spp. (1), a chlorine-tolerant protozoan parasite. Because of the age of the calves and the conditions at the rollover scene, a high potential existed for fecal contamination and subsequent transmission of Cryptosporidium. This outbreak is the first report of both law enforcement and volunteer emergency responders contracting cryptosporidiosis, with transmission of Cryptosporidium attributed solely to direct contact with animals and their feces. Human illness resulting from contact with animals during an emergency response might be minimized if 1) all responders are aware of the potential for zoonotic transmission, 2) education is provided on proper animal...
[Click here to see the rest of this post]


Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.