(c) 2018 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Transportation Injuries Continue to Dominate Workplace Fatalities

Workplace injuries involving transportation continue to be major contributing factors to fatalities in the United States. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported preliminary data for 2011 reflecting that transportation incidents were involved in 41% of fatalities at work.

Click here to read more on this topic from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More about the fatalities and workplace

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

US Supreme Court Looks at Intoxication Proof Issues

The US Supreme Court has granted certiorari in a case that will have critical imposrtance to proof of intoxication defense in many workers' compensation claims. (Missouri v. McNeely) The issue is whether a law enforcement officer may obtain a nonconsensual and warrantless blood sample from a drunk driver under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement based upon the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream.

Blood samples taken warrantlessly  are notoriously utilized by the defense to establish bood levels of alcohol in the defense of workers' compensation injuries.  Many workers' compensation statutes provide for defense of intoxication to work related accidents. Some states require intoxication to be the sole and proximate cause of the work related accident in order to defeat the claim.

US Supreme Court Docket
No. 11-1425
Missouri, Petitioner
Tyler G. McNeely

Docketed: May 25, 2012
Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Missouri

Case Nos.: (SC 91850)
Decision Date: January 17, 2012
Rehearing Denied: March 6, 2012

~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings and Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
May 22 2012 Petition for a writ of certiorari filed. (Response due June 25, 2012)
Jun 8 2012 Order extending time to file response to petition to and including July 25, 2012.
Jul 25 2012 Brief of respondent Tyler G. McNeely in opposition filed.
Aug 8 2012 DISTRIBUTED for Conference of September 24, 2012.
Aug 14 2012 Reply of petitioner Missouri filed. (Distributed)
Sep 25 2012 Petition GRANTED.

~~Name~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   ~~~~~~~Address~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  ~~Phone~~~
Attorneys for Petitioner:
John N. Koester Jr.Cape Girardeau County, Missouri 100 Court Street(573)-243-2430
    Counsel of Record100 Court Street
Suite 204
Jackson, MO  63755
Party name: Missouri
Attorneys for Respondent:
Steven R. ShapiroAmerican Civil Liberties Union Foundation(212) 549-2500
    Counsel of Record125 Broad Street
New York, NY  10004
Party name: Tyler G. McNeely

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sleeping On The Job - New Strategies for Sleeping

Everyone agrees that sleep is import and the that the lack of it causes an increase in accidents on the job. The puzzling question is whether it is the quality of sleep that counts and not the quantity, and whether an individual requires a straight block of eigh hours or rather smaller "blocks" of sleep to accomplish the rest one needs to be alert on the job.

Today David K. Randall, a senior reporter at Reuters and author of "Dreamland: The Stange Science of Sleep," writes in the NY Times that employers who allow their employees to nap o the job maybe achieving healthy benefits through higher quality of sleep.

"No one argues that sleep is not essential. But freeing ourselves from needlessly rigid and quite possibly outdated ideas about what constitutes a good night’s sleep might help put many of us to rest, in a healthy and productive, if not eight-hour long, block."

Click here to read "Rethinking Sleep" (

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If a sleep disorder can be identified and documented, that condition maybe determined to be a pre-exisiting medical condition. Apart from the third party liability that could be imposed upon an employer for identification and...

Friday, September 21, 2012

OSHA cites Jersey City, NJ, company for workplace safety and health hazards at Kearny warehouse

Forklift injuries produce serious workers' compensation claims, so it is no surprise that the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration  (OSHA) is acutely concerned about forklift safety rule violations.

OSHA has cited Continental Terminals Inc., based in Jersey City, with 18 alleged safety and health violations at the company's warehouse in Kearney. OSHA initiated an inspection upon receiving a complaint. Proposed fines total $162,400.

Citations carrying $98,000 in penalties have been issued for two willful violations that involve permitting employees to ride on the forks of forklifts and a failure to provide fall protection on platforms. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Fifteen serious violations include locked or sealed emergency exit doors, improperly labeled doors, the improper storage of liquid propane tanks, unsanitary restrooms, unsafe material storage, unauthorized personnel being allowed to ride on powered industrial trucks, powered industrial trucks left unattended with a load raised and the engine running, not taking power industrial trucks out of service when in need of repair, permitting employees to operate a compactor without guards or an interlock in place and exposing employees to live electrical parts. The violations also include failing to implement a hazard communication program, provide training or material safety data sheets to employees handling hazardous chemicals, have a continual and effective hearing conservation program for employees exposed to noise at 85 decibels or greater as a time-weighted average, have a noise monitoring program for employees exposed to 85 decibels or greater, have an audiometric testing program for employees exposed to noise and provide auxiliary directional lighting on powered industrial trucks for areas where the general lighting was less than two lumens per square foot. The citations carry $64,400 in penalties.

One other-than-serious violation is failing to provide Appendix D of the respiratory protection standard to employees who voluntarily wear filtering face piece respirators. This citation does not carry a penalty.

"These violations reflect the company's lax attitude toward workplace safety and health," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office. "Without the proper safeguards in place, employees are vulnerable to accidents that can cause injuries and even death."

The citations can be viewed at:* and*.

Continental Terminals, with 10 employees at its Kearny warehouse, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Parsippany office at 973-263-1003. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Read more about forklift safety issues
Sep 13, 2011
In addition, the company did not ensure that a forklift and electrical equipment, such as a light fixture, switches and a motor, were approved for use in Class 1 hazardous locations where flammable gases or vapors are present.
Jun 21, 2012
... include failing to perform a personal protective equipment hazard assessment; provide an eyewash station for workers exposed to corrosive chemicals; provide fire extinguisher training; provide training for forklift operators; ...
Jan 24, 2010
An attorney for an injured worker quickly requested that a potentially defective forklift be preserved, but did not hastily have an expert conduct a physical inspection. Ciapinski v Crown Equipment Corp., 2010 WL 183903 (N.J. ...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Long Hours Linked To Health Problems And Lower Productivity

Guest Post by Deborah Kohl 
of the Massachusetts Bar

Many people are surprised to learn that mental disability claims due to workplace stress are compensable by workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, claims like these are on the rise as people work longer hours and feel the pressure of an increasingly competitive working environment. Recent studies on mental health and the workplace have led researchers to discover that, over time, conditions such as extended working hours and long periods of solitary work can lead to decreased productivity, anxiety, and even major depression.
Employers can create conditions that are more supportive of mental health by taking simple steps like allowing workers to take breaks where socializing is permitted.
While it may seem initially counter-intuitive, studies show that in the long run, policies like these can lead to a more productive workplace. Here are a few tips workers can use to stay mentally healthy at work:
  • Form friendships in the workplace. A positive relationship with even a single colleague can make a big difference in combating loneliness and depression. A friend at your office could provide an ear when you really need to release some steam or just take a mental break from an intense task.
  • That said, make a distinction between work and leisure, and make time for social activities outside the workplace. If at all possible, don’t skip holiday breaks. Take your vacation time; getting away from work for a few days at a time often revitalizes, and gives you a better perspective on things.
  • Take care of your health by getting enough sleep and exercise. Sleep is your brain’s downtime. Research shows that during sleep, your brain uses the opportunity to process thoughts and information that it receives during your waking hours—which is why you often think better and more clearly after a good night’s rest. Meanwhile, regular exercise helps you produce and release hormones that improve your sense of well-being, plus it boosts  blood supply to the brain and other important organs.
Attorney Deborah G. Koh has focused her professional energies on workers’ compensation and disability law in Massachusetts through her over 30 years in practice. She is an active lecturer and author in the field, and has held several prestigious leadership positions, including serving as president of the Workers Injury and Law Advocacy Group. She is perennial listed in the publication Best Lawyers In America. Photo Credit: Ambro /
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Mental Health Conditions New onset or aggravation of pre-existing conditions for which clinical findings suggest onset is related to WTC exposure/injury: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Major Depressive Disorder ...
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A link between job security and mental health problems is also revealed in the survey. Employers planning to make redundancies in the next six months are significantly more likely to report an increase in mental health ...

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Jersey's Next Step: Adopt A Medical Fee Schedule

As the NJ Senate Labor Committee gets ready to hold hearings this week on medical billing in New Jersey, lingering in the background is when and how a medical fee schedule will ultimately be implemented.   David DePaolo, President & CEO of,  makes the case today on why New Jersey has to take the next step now and adopt a medical fee schedule for workers' compensation claims.

"New Jersey could take a lesson from other, bigger, states that have already dealt with this issue. Texas long ago adopted not only a medical fee schedule, but an out of court, nearly binding medical bill dispute resolution process separate and apart from the claimant's case in chief."

Click here to read: New Jersey, Balance Billing and Fee Schedules

Monday, September 17, 2012

Governor Brown to Sign Workers' Compensation Legislation Tomorrow

Governor Brown to Sign Workers' Compensation Legislation Tomorrow 9-17-2012
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. will be joined by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Speaker John Perez and business and labor leaders tomorrow in San Diego and Burbank, where he will give remarks and sign legislation to implement historic reforms to workers' compensation in California.

San Diego
When: Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.
Where: Diego & Son Printing Inc., 2104 National Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113

**Note: This event is open to credentialed media. Media attending should be on-site by 9:00 a.m.

Also read:
Brown to sign Calif. workers' compensation fixes (CBS)

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Worker-less Work: The Robots Are Coming

Jobs are no longer safe and secure and this is leading to temporary position where greater burdens and risks are placed upon the worker. As technology increases and more robots are placed into the workforce,  human labor is valued less and workers have become disposable commodities a recent report in Hazards reveals.

“The majority of the world’s workforce is informal and is in an extremely precarious position,” the 2008 report of a World Health Organisation (WHO) commission on social determinants of health observed. It noted: “The global dominance of precarious work, with its associated insecurities, has contributed significantly to poor health and health inequities.”

Click here to read Trashed! Deadly depression as precarious work becomes the norm

Canada Concedes Asbestos is Dangerous-Now It Needs to Ban Asbestos Entirely

Canada's Industry Minister announced yesterday that the country would finally concede to international pressure and label asbestos that it exports as a health hazard. Now Canada, and the United States, need to take the next step and impose a universal ban against the use and sale of asbestos products.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and causally related to mesothelioma and lung cancer. For decades asbestos was mined and exported from the Province of Quebec.

Click here to read Ottawa does U-turn on asbestos mining (Globe & Mail)

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Sep 04, 2012
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Child Labor

"John Howell, an Indianapolis newsboy..."Photo by Lewis Hine, 1908 Aug.
The US Library of Congress has just posted digital images o child labor that are in it s collection. Workers' Compensation benefits are but one instance that enforce penalties when child labor laws are not followed.