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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tips for Disabled Persons to Prepare for a Hurricane

President Barack Obama receives an update on the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Pete Souza
Disabled persons have special needs and special actions are required to help disabled individuals in advance of of a hurricane. 

For the millions of Americans who have physical, medical, or other disabilities, emergencies such as hurricanes, floods and tornadoes present a real challenge. The same challenge also applies to the elderly and other special needs populations.

"Individuals with special needs are in the best position to plan for their own safety when disaster strikes, because they know their own personal needs and limitations," said Sandy Coachman, director of the Austin Transitional Recovery Office operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "However, their unique needs may require more detailed planning and involve neighbors, friends, family, co-workers and personal care attendants."

While preparing their own plan, family members with relatives in nursing facilities also may want to contact the facility's administrator to see what its emergency plans are and to make sure the facility has the family's communication plan and contact numbers in case of an evacuation, according to Coachman.

For those who have special needs and live alone, FEMA suggests the following four steps to prepare for hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30:

Get informed
Find out about special assistance that may be available in your community through your local emergency management coordinator or local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Make a plan
Decide what you will be able to do for yourself and what assistance you may need before, during and after a disaster. This will be based on the disaster type you might encounter and your capabilities. Consider your needs for daily living, getting around after a disaster or evacuating to a safer area.
Organize a network of assistance that includes care attendants, neighbors, friends, relatives and co-workers at home, school, workplace, volunteer site and any other places where you spend a lot of time. The members of your network should know your capabilities and needs and be able to provide help within minutes. It may be important to depend on more than one person at each location where you regularly spend time since people work different shifts, take vacations and are not always available.

Assemble a kit
A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items you would probably need to stay safe and comfortable during and after a disaster. They should be stored in a portable container as close to an exit door as possible. Special needs items should be considered as well, such as extra batteries for hearing aids and wheelchairs; food and water for companion animals; essential medicines, a list of current prescriptions and medications, and your medical history; and type and model numbers of medical devices you need.

Service animals may become confused, panicked, frightened or disoriented immediately before, during and after a disaster. Keep them confined or securely leashed or harnessed. A leash (or harness) in your kit is an important item for managing a nervous or upset animal.

If you have been disabled due to a work-related accident or exposure, be sure keep contact information for: your employer's workers' compensation insurance company, names and address of your treating physicians, and your attoney's contact information with you.

Maintain your plan and kit
Discuss the plan with your care attendant and the people in your network. Review the plan every six months and periodically quiz your assistants about what to do. Ensure that they know how to operate any medical equipment you need. Rotate food and water supplies.

Keep appropriate licenses for your service animal updated and keep them with you in the event you choose to use an emergency public shelter.
For over 3 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.

Read more about Hurricane Safety for Workers and the Disabled

Oct 25, 2012
The NJ Office of Emergency Management and the National Hurricane Center are closely monitoring Hurricane Sandy ("frankenstorm") as it has the potential to become an historic storm as it moves up the Eastern seaboard ...
Aug 04, 2012
Workers' Compensation insurance provides benefits if an employee is injured because of because of a hurricane. Preparing for a hurricane is important, and that should include reporting work related injuries to your employer ...
Aug 30, 2011
Hurricane relief volunteers are entitled to workers compensation benefits for injuries and illnesses that occurred as a result of their participation in relief efforts. In order to claim those benefits injured volunteers need to make ...
Aug 24, 2011
The recent earthquake in the northeast US highlights that workers become aware of what to do in case a hurricane strikes. Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually ...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

From Hand to Mouth - Workers Need To Be Concerned About Chemical Safety

The inadvertent and dermal conceptual model

A recently published a paper about the inadvertent ingestion of chemicals at work from contact between the mouth and contaminated hands or objects highlights how dangerous exposure could occur at work.  The inadvertent ingestion is a potentially significant source of occupational exposure and there needs to be a greater focus on assessment of risks from hand-to-moth contacts and more done to control such risks.

"The latest research is part of a project to develop a predictive model to estimate inadvertent ingestion exposure. To better understand this route of exposure we developed  a new integrated conceptual model for dermal and inadvertent ingestion. It consists of eight compartments (source, air, surface contaminant layer, outer clothing contaminant layer, inner clothing contaminant layer, hands and arms layer, perioral layer, and oral cavity) and nine mass transport processes (emission, deposition, resuspension or evaporation, transfer, removal, redistribution, decontamination, penetration and/or permeation, and swallowing) that describe event-based movement of substances between compartments (e.g. emission, deposition, etc.). We plan to use the conceptual model to guide the development of predictive exposure models for both the dermal and the inadvertent ingestion pathways."

Gorman Ng M, Semple S, W Cherrie J, et al. The Relationship Between Inadvertent Ingestion and Dermal Exposure Pathways: A New Integrated Conceptual Model and a Database of Dermal and Oral Transfer Efficiencies. Ann Occup Hyg Published Online First: 23 July 2012. doi:10.1093/annhyg/mes041

Cherrie JW, Semple S, Christopher Y, et al. How important is inadvertent ingestion of hazardous substances at work?Ann Occup Hyg 2006;50:693–704.
For over 3 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.

Read more about "Chemical Exposures:
Dec 18, 2009
Chemical Exposure in Iraq Claims Soldier. The death of an Indian National Guard member has been alleged to have been caused by a chemical exposure at an Iraq worksite. The terminal cancer of Lt. Colonel Jim Gentry, age ...
Mar 26, 2011
Chemical exposures continue to impact health and result in an enormous burden on human life. Over 4.9 million deaths world-wide and 86 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years were attributed to environmental exposure and...
Oct 05, 2012
The extent and nature of potential health effects depend on many factors, including the level and length of exposure to the pollution. From the 1940s to 1980, what is now referred to as the Scientific Chemical Processing site ...
Jul 10, 2010
A lawsuit was filed alleging that a former chemical operator at Hoffman-LaRoche in Nutley, New Jersey was exposed to asbestos fiber and died of mesothelioma. The lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court asserts that he...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Night Work and an Increase Risk of Cancer

Men who work at night maybe at an increase risk of certain types of cancers reports a recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

"Results suggest that night work may increase cancer risk at several sites among men."

Click Here to Read  Night Work and the Risk of Cancer Among Men , Am J Epidemiol (2012) 176(9): 760-763

For over 3 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.

When Is The Child of an Infertile Woman a Dependent

The child of an infertile woman has yet another hurtle of proof to establish dependency status in a workers' compensation as the NJ Supreme Court decided that a formal adoption is necessary for an infertile woman to be designated as the legal mother of her husband’s biological child born to a gestational carrier.

Statutory dependency status in workers' compensation is confirmed by law to designated individuals. Those who are not specifically enumerated by the Workers' Compensation Act, ie. a non-biological child, may be considered a dependent after formally establishing dependency status. N.J.S.A. 34:15-13. Legal adopt will confer statutory status.

"Absent adoption, the Act does not recognize an infertile wife as the legal mother of her husband’s biological child born to a gestational carrier. The Act does not violate the right to equal protection under Article I, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution because the distinctions drawn between an infertile husband and an infertile wife are grounded in actual reproductive and biological differences, which the Legislature may consider in defining alternative means of creating parenthood. "
IN THE MATTER OF THE PARENTAGE OF A CHILD BY T.J.S. AND A.L.S., h/w (Decided October 24, 2012 (NJ 2012).

Also read The Jurist "New Jersey Supreme Court upholds surrogacy law"

Read more about "dependency benefits"
Jun 09, 2008
The NJ Supreme Court Declares Dependency Benefit Increases are Not to Be Retroactively Applied. The NJ Supreme Court reversed a ruling of the Appellate Division and declared the Legislature's 2004 amendment to the ...
Apr 20, 2009
Court Awards Dependency Benefits to Police Officer Who Committed Suicide. The dependents of a deceased police officer will receive benefits as a result of the officer's work-related suicide related to stress. Wilde v Township ...
Mar 21, 2012
The US Supreme Court, in a matter that may have widespread impact on workers' compensation dependency benefits, heard oral arguments in Astrue v Capato concerning whether a child conceived after the death of a ...
Oct 01, 2010
The decision may have a sweeping national impact on workers' compensation dependency claims, as they are also separate and distinct actions against an employer. Bradley v, Sebelius, 621 F. 3d 1330, 2010 WL 3769132 ...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Safety Tips for Workers Preparing For Hurricane Sandy

The NJ Office of Emergency Management and the National Hurricane Center are closely monitoring Hurricane Sandy ("frankenstorm") as it has the potential to become an historic storm as it moves up the Eastern seaboard and will merge  and embed with a developing
classic Northeastern rain and wind storm. Over 50 Million people will be impacted. A State of Emergency has now been declared in NJNY and MD.

A storm surge of 12 feet, historic proportions, has been predicted for NJ & NY. 

A wide spread power loss has been predicted. NJ  has issued an immediate warning concerning power generator safety and back-feeding of electric current through the use of generators. At a press conference Governor Christie warned the residents of NJ to be cautious  and observe safety measures. He said "If it looks stupid, the it is stupid," and don't do it. Additionally, a High Wind Warnings have been issued for Northeastern NJ, NY and CT.

NYC Bowling Green Station Entrance in Flood Prep
MTA New York City Transit preparations for Hurricane Sandy.

Photo: MTA New York City Transit / Leonard WigginsMayor Bloomberg held a press conference late Friday afternoon explaining what precautions the government was taking and what safety measures needed to be followed to protect life and property. He said, “....whenever we’re faced with a tough situation, history shows New Yorkers always show courage, compassion, and presence of mind. We did that 14 months ago, during Hurricane Irene, and I’m completely confident we will do that again now."
 Home Depot stores in NJ have run out of batteris (C-D cells) and local food store are experiencing a run on bread, water and canner goods as the preparation pace continues.
LIRR Workers Prepare The Track for the Hurricane

Workers' Compensation insurance provides benefits if an employee is injured because of because of a hurricane. Preparing for a hurricane is important, and that should include reporting work related injuries to your employer and/or insurance company.

While NIOSH has alerted all of us to the dangers of a hurricane, "....Storm and flood cleanup activities can be hazardous. Workers and volunteers involved with flood cleanup should be aware of the potential dangers involved, and the proper safety precautions. Work-related hazards that could be encountered include: electrical hazards, Carbon Monoxide, musculoskeletal hazards, heat stress, motor vehicles, hazardous materials, fire, confined spaces and falls." 

Should a worker suffer any injuries then they should seek medical care at once, and report the incident to their employer. Prepare ahead and take your employer's contact information and workers' compensation insurance information with you so you are prepared to provide to authorities and your employer the facts to process your claim without delay.

For over 3 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.

Related articles

Hexavalent Chromium Cleanup Progressing With Building Demolition in Garfield NJ

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has demolished the E.C. Electroplating building at the Garfield Ground Water Contamination Superfund site in Garfield, New Jersey. Areas underneath the building, located at 125 Clark Street, are contaminated with hexavalent chromium that is reaching the basements of some area residences and businesses through the ground water. The EPA continues to assess and, if needed, clean up nearby basements. The demolition of the building will allow the EPA to remove contaminated soil that is a likely source of chromium contamination in the ground water.

Hexavalent chromium is extremely toxic, may cause cancer and nervous system damage. Prior to the demolition of the structure, the EPA met with community members and local officials to keep them informed, coordinate activities and ensure public safety.

“The EPA has safely taken down the former E.C. Electroplating building, an important step in the agency’s work to protect the health of the Garfield community,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Our next step is to assess the best way to address the chromium contaminated soil that is underneath the structure.

The EPA’s sampling had shown that the parts of the E.C. Electroplating building above the foundation slab were not contaminated with hexavalent chromium, but two basements and the soil under the structure were contaminated. The structure had to be demolished to access the contaminated soil underneath. The industrial materials and building debris left at the E.C. Electroplating site have been removed and disposed of at facilities licensed to receive the waste. Over 600 cubic yards of debris and over 325 drums of hazardous waste were removed from the site. The demolition work began on October 12, 2012 and was completed on October 22, 2012.

Throughout the demolition work, the EPA followed strict work procedures to protect public health. Dust was controlled and the air was monitored to ensure that contamination was not getting into the community during the demolition. Air monitoring data showed that there have been no hazardous levels of hexavalent chromium, total chromium, lead or cadmium.

As part of its longer-term work, the EPA has established a network of ground water monitoring wells to determine the extent of chromium contamination in the ground water. This in-depth investigation is ongoing and will allow the EPA to develop a proposed plan for the cleanup of chromium-contaminated ground water.

For a complete history of the EPA’s work at the Garfield Ground Water Contamination Superfund site please visit:
For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered work related accident and injuries.

Read more about "Chromium Contamination"
Aug 09, 2012
The building, located at 125 Clark Street, is contaminated with hexavalent chromium that is reaching the basements of some area residences and businesses through the ground water. Hexavalent chromium is extremely toxic, ...
Oct 03, 2009
Chromium exposure has been associated with lung cancer. Breathing high levels of hexavalent chromium can irritate or damage the nose, throat, and lungs. Irritation or damage to the eyes and skin can occur if hexavalent ...
Jun 09, 2009
Soldiers Exposed to Chromium in Iraq File Suit. Soldiers who have been exposed to hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen, have filed suit against a government contractor. The present and former soldiers have brought a claims ...
Nov 23, 2010
EPA announced the release of the Toxicological Review of Hexavalent Chromium in the September 30, 2010, Federal Register. This draft assessment is provided for public viewing and comment. Public comments received on ...

Employee Termination Because of Facebook Comment Does Not End Workers' Compensation Benefits

An employee who was terminated because of comments made about her employer on Facebook has been allowed continuation of workers' compensation benefits.

"Lawful termination, like fraud, cuts through everything; but the reasons for
firing here are murky. And whether it's a legal termination or not isn't a
question for this forum as workers' compensation courts are not in the business
of determining whether a firing was appropriate. What is important here is
that termination from employment in and of itself does not end entitlement to
supplemental earnings benefits as set forth in the [Palmer v. Schooner ] case.
In the case at hand, [Ms. Miller] returned to work in a light duty status. She
worked for a short period of time until her termination on October 14, 2010.
She was terminated for violating a hospital policy by posting a comment on Facebook. 
Pursuant to Ms. Salutillo's comments in the [CSPH] employee memorandum,
[Ms. Miller's] employment was terminated based on failure to uphold standards of
behavior. After her termination, [Ms. Miller's] treating physician took her
off work for a short period of time, but ultimately opined she could work light


--- So.3d ----, 2012 WL 5238000 (La.App. 3 Cir.), 2012-370 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/24/12)

Read More about Social Media and Workers' Compensation

Jul 03, 2012
An injured worker was denied benefits when an Arkansas Court admitted into evidence Facebook pictures that were posted on line showing him drinking and partying. The worker had alleged that as a result of a hernia, ...
Apr 13, 2012
Facebook's new announcement today creates even a greater problem for workers' compensation claimants. Providing even greater historical information about an unsophisticated Facebook user puts even more information, ...
May 07, 2012
The announcement of Facebook to allow for the public listing of organ donors of it social media site, albiet with good intentions, raises concerns about the privacy of workers' compensation claims as the organs could become ...
Sep 15, 2010
Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have now become informational sources that workers' compensation lawyers are now utilizing for evidentiary purposes. The question that remains unanswered is how information ...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Doctors, Patients and Opioid Abuse

Getting to the real reasons why doctors prescribe opioids to opioid abusers is an apparent challenge to the essence of the nation's workers' compensation system. In a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine it is revealed that doctors continue to prescribe opioids to abusers because of "...Recent changes in medicine's philosophy of pain treatment, cultural trends in Americans' attitudes toward suffering, and financial disincentives for treating addiction ..."

Until the workers' compensation medical delivery program furnishes treatment delivery in an effective and efficient manner the challenge of drug addiction will tragically continue.

More about drug addiction
Jul 27, 2012
Pharmaceutical reform has been a major topic of interest and reform efforts nationally in the workers' compensation arena. More particularly the alledged abuse of opioids have received particular attention. Several physicians ...
May 24, 2012
A recent Texas case holding an employer liable holding an employed liable for a fatal opioid overdose arising out of work-related event highlights again that, the workers' compensation medical delivery system just isn't ...
Jan 28, 2012
Nursing Home Abuse: Drugging of Patients. Many seriously injured workers end up living in nursing homes for convenience and care. Workers compensation act usual pay for nursing home care, but do they really know what ...
Oct 28, 2009
The Wall Street Journal reports today about a claim against pharmacies as a result of customer drug abuse. In the State of Nevada a case is pending that may confer liability upon a drugstore for the consequences of an ...

Minimal Light Duty Doesn't Limit Temporary Disability Benefits

A NJ Compensation Court ruled that an employer was unable to limit the payment of temporary disability benefits based an mere limited light duty.

Petitioner filed a motion in which he requested supplemental temporary disability benefits. Respondent objected and argued that, because the petitioner was returned to only minimal light duty work, his temporary disability benefits should be limited by the amount earned in such light duty capacity (rather than an amount based upon regular wages. The judge disagreed as he found that allowing a respondent to provide only minimal light duty work and thereby reduce a petitioner's temporary disability benefits would defeat the purpose of the temporary disability provisions of the workers' compensation statutes. Petitioner's motion was granted. 

"As stated earlier, temporary disability is intended to provide Petitioner with an amount which the legislature has determined to be sufficient for his living expenses while temporarily disabled.  Light duty, on the other hand, provides the injured worker an opportunity to transition back to his or her regular job by performing less strenuous duties for his/her employer until such time as he or she is able to perform his or her regular tasks.  The emphasis here is the benefit of the program to the employee.  We cannot lose sight of the fact that this is workers’ compensation.  Respondent’s position here would turn this aspect of the program into virtually an employer’s compensation, since an employer in Respondent’s situation will benefit financially the longer Petitioner remains on light duty status."

Soto v. Herr's Foods, Inc.
11-18325, decided September 7, 2012 by the Honorable Emille Cox, J.W.C.