Articles Tagged with OSHA

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Blackwell Law Firm - Protecting Alabama WorkersA few months ago, I wrote an article asking if a boss who intentionally puts workers in danger should face criminal prosecution. You can read my article titled, When The Boss Tries To Kill His Workers! Remember, I’m not talking about negligent injuries. I’m only talking about intentional misconduct.

Now, our firm does not handle criminal cases. We only handle Alabama cases involving serious personal injury. Many of those cases are workers’ compensation claims. Over the years, I’ve seen a tremendous number of accidents and injuries that could have been prevented with a little safety planning from the company.

While most injury cases involve someone who caused an injury by acting negligently or recklessly, a small few involve terrible situations where someone purposely and intentionally chooses to put another person in danger. In the workplace, we should be able to trust our employers to, at least, try and keep us safe!

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Blackwell Law FirmA recent al.com article discussed the jobs with the highest workplace fatality rates. What are the deadliest jobs? While the article discusses current statistics, the overall types of deadly and dangerous work remain similar year-after-year. You can read the article at Jobs With The Highest Fatality Rates In The USHere is the top 10 list:

10.  Farmers, Ranchers, Other Agricultural Workers (20.9 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 207)

9.  Underground Mining Machine Operators (21.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 10)

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Huntsville Personal Injury LawyersSafety. It’s a topic I frequently discuss on this blog. Today’s post goes beyond normal safety or injury talk. Today, I’m discussing employers who knowingly choose to put their employees in a situation where injury or death is likely. We’re not talking companies that are negligent in keeping the workplace safe. We’re talking companies that know a grave danger actually exists in the moment but then put their own employees into that danger anyway. What kind of boss sends his own workers into the face of a known danger where their deaths are likely?

No employer should ever knowingly demand its employees put their lives needlessly at risk. No employer should ever choose to ignore known workplace dangers. But, that’s the story I recently read about a deadly workplace accident in another state.

What happened? A deadly trench collapse killed two workers. What makes that collapse so terrible is that the boss sent workers into the trench knowing it had partially collapsed earlier in the day. He knowingly sent his own workers into a collapsing trench to finish the job.

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Huntsville Workers Compensation AttorneysAccording to the new Amazon CEO, the company’s “injury rates are sometimes misunderstood.” I guess that’s his “spin” on the high numbers. In modern society, “I’m just misunderstood” seems to be the first defense for people who do NOT want accountability for their bad or dangerous decisions!

The Amazon CEO’s letter reminds me of a construction injury case I worked several years ago. I represented a steel worker who suffered disabling injuries in a worksite fall on a Huntsville project. The contractor did nothing for safety — No real safety plan. No real safety meetings. No real safety equipment. At trial, the construction company’s executive claimed his company was safe and my case was just a “misunderstanding” of their safety culture. The executive then bragged from the witness stand about a safety award the company won (and proudly displayed on its website). Here’s the problem with their so-called award — It was a complete spin. They had multiple accidents and even deaths on their worksites. The award only counted project managers. It did not count the workers doing the real (and dangerous) jobs. It was a fake award. If any “misunderstanding” existed, it was because the company was trying to spin its safety failures. Fortunately, the truth came out in our trial. We were able to hold the company accountable for all our client’s personal injuries and damages.

Is safety a real concern or not? Do some companies manipulate the numbers to lie about their safety record? Are these companies simply “misunderstood” as Amazon’s CEO claims? What’s the real truth?

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Worker-Safety-Is-Important-For-Everyone-300x300Last Fall, I wrote about two deadly trench collapses in the Huntsville area. One trench collapse involved a private construction company in Madison. The other involved a City of Huntsville project and public employees. Year-after-year, trench collapses are one of the most frequent causes of construction site wrongful deaths.

Were these two deadly construction accidents treated differently? Yes. After an investigation, OSHA fined the private contractor in Madison for its fatal accident. The City’s public project? That’s a different story. The City was not cited for the dangerous worksite it created. And, it did create one. A 20 foot deep, unprotected trench, is a reckless and dangerous condition. It’s inexcusable for the City to put its workers in such tremendous danger!

Why were the two different sites treated differently? Why do workers employed with private companies get some protection from OSHA while many public workers do not? All workers deserve a safe workplace!

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Huntsville Accident & Injury LawyersI’ve written more posts about the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) than I can count. Most of my OSHA-related articles discuss specific safety hazards or issues that impact my Alabama clients. In some articles, I discuss specific citations at Alabama businesses.

One of my primary complaints — OSHA is undermanned and underfunded. The Agency should protect working men and women. In theory, it does. In reality, it lacks the manpower to conduct needed inspections. Unsafe workplaces across the United States go without inspection until a deadly accident leaves families grieving the loss of a loved one. This lack of manpower and inspections are issues I’ve discussed many times. So, I’ll leave it for today.

Are OSHA inspections and violations public record? Someone recently asked our office this question. Yes, they are accessible. In many prior cases, I’ve obtained OSHA reports or data. Through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, you can find detailed information about violations and other incidents. In prior cases, I’ve found key information from these FOIA requests. I’ve also obtained information from OSHA’s Birmingham area office. But, I’m not writing simply to list the steps in a FOIA request. Nor am I writing to list addresses that are available in a simple Google search. Instead, I want to talk about a couple serious ways OSHA can help your injury case. I also want to discuss a third way OSHA should impact safety through our work comp system. Unfortunately, it does not in Alabama.

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Alabama Workers Compensation AttorneysIn December, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued a huge fine for safety violations at a Dollar General store in Mobile, Alabama. The fine itself is pretty big for any retail store — $321,827. Beyond the fine amount, OSHA issued the following statement:

At the U.S. Department of Labor, the company [Dollar General] is recognized for its long history of violations and repeated failures to protect its workers from on-the-job hazards.

Then, an OSHA officer added the following additional comment:

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Personal Injury Lawyers HuntsvilleThe Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) recently released its Top 10 list of safety violations for 2021. This list includes the most-cited safety issues by OSHA. I always study the list and compare it to prior years.

What do you see when you look at the annual Top 10 safety violation list? If you read the annual list, you will quickly notice the same dangerous violations seem to make the list every year. Some of the safety issues might move up-or-down a couple places. But, the same problems exist every year. And, one violation seems to take the top spot almost every single year.

What is the top safety violation year-after-year? Fall protection! In fact, fall protection has ranked number one for the last 11 straight years. In recent years, I’ve represented numerous workers who suffered disabling personal injuries in worksite falls from heights. I’ve also represented families who lost a loved one in a worksite fall. All of these tragedies had one thing in common — Management could have prevented the serious accident with a few simple safety procedures.

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I recently wrote a post that discussed four of the most common accidents involving worksite trenches. You can read the post by clicking HERE. I wrote my earlier article because of the frequent number of deadly trench-related accidents across Alabama. In just the last couple years, we’ve suffered deadly trench collapses in Huntsville, Madison and Hoover. In addition to those fatal accidents, a Tuscaloosa company lost workers when a trench in Mississippi collapsed.

With a little safety effort, most deadly trench accidents could be prevented. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published standards and a clear fact sheet related to trenches on worksites. Safety professionals are well-aware of the hazards and the easy steps which would prevent disasters.

For detailed information, you can read my prior article. After writing that earlier article, I created the following slideshow on the issue:

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Decatur Work Comp AttorneysYesterday evening, I read that an injured Daikin America worker remains in the intensive care unit at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) more than two months after his exposure to a chemical on the job at Daikan in Decatur. According to reports, three workers were hospitalized following the July 2 accident. One of the three workers has since passed away from his injuries.

Was this chemical exposure an isolated incident? No. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a worker also died in 2019 following an exposure at the same plant.

Think about that! A worker dies following an exposure in 2019. Two years later, three more workers are exposed. Hopefully, we can learn what happened in these exposures. I’m real interested in learning what Daikin did (or did not do) to correct its safety procedures after the first incident!

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