Articles Tagged with OSHA

Published on:

Construction Accidents & InjuriesLast month, OSHA proposed fines against a company for a deadly Huntsville-area trench collapse. What happened? The fatal accident occurred at a local construction site along Jeff Road. The worker entered a deep trench to work on some underground utility pipes. The trench then collapsed, suffocating the worker under thousands of pounds of soil.

After investigating this fatal construction accident, OSHA concluded the contractor failed to inspect its trenches and failed to use a proper shield system for preventing cave-ins. In issuing proposed penalties against the Huntsville contractor, OSHA’s area director said the following:

Trenching and excavation is among the most dangerous work in the construction industry. The failure to use required safety equipment and follow procedures in this case turned a preventable hazard into a fatal result. We hope other industry employers comply with the law and take appropriate actions to avoid similar tragedies.

Published on:

Blackwell Law Firm / Alabama Work Comp LawyersA lawsuit filed against Tyson Foods in February over Covid-19 and workplace safety raises some serious issues. According to the lawsuit:

  • Tyson reported the greatest number of COVID-19 cases of any company in the meatpacking industry.
  • Tyson reported twice as many deaths as any other meatpacking company.
Published on:

Protect Alabama Workers From Occupational InjuryA flash of light. A clap of thunder. Lightning strikes a construction worker in Athens. While the worker lived, he is now disabled. He can no longer work or support his family. Can he recover Alabama workers’ compensation benefits for his disabling injury?

This is the issue faced by a recent client of mine. The worker survived only because two co-workers performed CPR until paramedics arrived. His physical injuries and rehabilitation were only part of the nightmare. When hospital personnel contacted the work comp insurance company, the adjuster immediately denied the claim on the basis it was an “act of God.” Think about the worker’s family. They stayed at his bedside for weeks not knowing whether he would live or how they would pay for his care. But, this injury SHOULD have been covered by work comp in this case.

Is lightning a work-related hazard? The short answer is that in the case of this outdoor construction worker struck while helping build the new Athens High School, it was. We were able to get work comp benefits for him. But, it took a fight to get him the workers’ compensation benefits he deserved. In most cases, the answer depends on the job.

Published on:

Huntsville Injury LawyersWith poultry giant Tyson, the safety hits just keep coming! Last week, I wrote about Tyson managers actually gambling on worker safety. That is, managers abandoned their workers in the midst of a pandemic and then gambled on how many would get sick. That’s horrible. You can read my article titled When Management Bets Against Worker Safety on this blog.

The day after I published my latest article, I read about more poultry industry mis-conduct that puts worker lives at risk. According to a new article, Tyson managers actually directed language interpreters to misrepresent safety conditions to the company’s hispanic workers. You can read that article titled Tyson Accused of Misleading Interpreters at Virus-Hit Plant at the Claims Journal website.

Really? When Covid strikes its workforce, management abandons the plant floor. Management stops safety meetings. Management leaves the workers to fend for themselves. Then, management gambles on how many will get sick? Coronavirus has run rampant through poultry plants in Alabama and across the United States.

Published on:

BLACKWELL-LAW-FIRM-ALABAMA-WORKPLACE-SAFETY-LAWYERS-300x300The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced the Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for 2019. What were they?

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements
  2. Hazard Communication
Published on:

Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersWorkers at meat and poultry plants suffer some of the highest rates of occupational injury. In his 1906 book, The Jungle, Upton Sinclair wrote of the occupational dangers within Chicago’s meat processing plants. A hundred years later, food processing plants still function as if human labor and lives are expendable.

Chicago is famous for the meat-packing industry. In Alabama, these plants are typically chicken processing plants. They are places that employ people at low wages and expose them to non-stop processes. You don’t need me to tell you that many of these plants have a shameful history of workplace injuries and deaths. The numerous news stories already tell that history. Too many of these plants view people as cheap and expendable labor. But, that’s NOT how we should value human lives.

Over the last twenty years, I’ve represented numerous workers injured in Alabama poultry plants. Shoulder, arm and hand injuries are rampant. The assembly line moves too fast for any human to work long-term without injury. Yet, it’s more than just rapid assembly line injuries. The lack of safety concern also produces many injuries from falls, forklifts, and heavy lifting without proper equipment.

Published on:

Blackwell Law Firm - Representing Injured Workers Across AlabamaProductivity versus safety. The two should work together. Yet, some companies value only immediate productivity. On many construction sites, immediate productivity trumps safety every single day. Who pays the price when safety is neglected? Workers and their families pay the ultimate price of serious injuries and deaths.

A survey of construction workers showed the majority believed safety took a back seat to immediate productivity. Yet, it should not. The majority of workers also believed their companies did the bare MINIMUM required amount for safety. That is, their companies met the minimum needed to avoid a citation but not the level needed to create a culture of safety. These working men and women understand first-hand the safety issues on construction sites.

Do some companies neglect real safety? Most serious injury and death cases I’ve investigated on construction sites happened because management failed to institute basic safety processes. This is why safety standards established by agencies like OSHA are so important. Without minimum standards, some companies would do nothing at all.

Published on:

sky-78113_1280-300x200Many employers fail to report workplace injuries. The reason is often very simple — These employers do not want to provide workers’ compensation benefits to their injured employees. Sometimes these non-reporting employers simply choose not to complete an accident report. If the injury later turns serious, the lack of a written report can make the injured worker’s claim difficult to prove. I’ve faced these reporting disputes countless times over the years. Although you may have told your supervisor, he or she may conveniently “forget” the conversation in the absence of a written report.

Sometimes these non-reporting employers use their plant first aid department to avoid accident reporting. How? For one Alabama poultry plant, the plant nurse typically labels complaints as some sort of arthritic / degenerative problem rather than a work-related injury. At a local manufacturing plant near Huntsville, the company first aid department often claims the problem is due to a lack of conditioning and does not report the condition as an accident. Since the facility primarily employs workers through a local temp agency, the company can easily let the worker go. I frequently deal with reporting / notice issues in my Alabama workers’ compensation cases.

When it comes to Alabama workers’ compensation claims, I believe accidents are far under-reported. Let’s look outside of the reporting requirement of workers’ compensation. What about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)? OSHA does not record and document all workplace accidents and injuries. Employers are only required to report fatalities and certain very serious injuries to OSHA. Under OSHA, employers must report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours of an incident, and in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of any eye, within 24 hours. Do employers properly report serious events to OSHA? No, they do not. I’ve handled a number of workplace fatality cases where the employer did not report the event to OSHA. I recently represented the family of a worker who collapsed and died after several days of heat stroke symptoms at a plant in northeast Alabama. The facility had no air conditioning and summer temperatures inside the plant often soared over 100 degrees. Despite several days of reports to the plant nurse prior to the death, the facility did not report the event to OSHA.

Published on:

safety-44441_1280-300x150Last year, a flash fire at an Alabama car dealership in Jasper killed one employee and severely injured several others. What caused that fire? Flammable chemicals being stored improperly. After the flash fire, OSHA inspected the dealership and issued several serious citations for improperly storing a flammable chemical in a dangerous location. Plus, OSHA cited the dealership for not even developing a hazard communication program for its dangerous chemicals.

For the families of these dealership employees, no penalty or punishment will ever restore their loved ones. Hopefully, OSHA’s action will spur other local companies to take needed safety steps.

Does your workplace handle chemicals safely? For me, the question is front and center. Why? I’ve spent several days this month in deposition over a Huntsville injury case involving the issue.

Published on:

Blackwell Law Firm - Huntsville Personal Injury AttorneysIs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) failing American workers? Are workplace safety standards actually decreasing? Are more workers suffering personal injury or death due to fewer inspections? These are important questions.

Recently, A Congressman wrote the Secretary of Labor to address his concerns with declining workplace safety. Here are a couple facts about the rising rates of serious injury that concerned the Congressman:

  • Over 5,000 people died from workplace injuries in 2016, a 7% increase from the prior year.
Contact Information