December 30, 2013

OSHA Moving Forward with Standards to Improve Chemical Facility Safety

Following a devastating explosion of a fertilizer plant that caused fifteen deaths in 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) intends to change the regulations related to chemical facility safety and security. Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know that OSHA had not investigated the West Texas plant where the explosion took place since 1985, at which time the plant was fined $30 for violations found by the agency after the inspection. When the Administration conducted an investigation into the fertilizer plant after the deadly explosion in 2013, it found rule violations that prompted 24 citations. The total proposed OSHA fines for the fertilizer plant's citations was set at $118,300. chemicals-506057-m.jpg

Unfortunately, OSHA's citations after the fact are not able to bring back the 15 people who lose their lives, nor can the citations restore the health of the more than 300 people who were injured in the fertilizer blast. The new regulations on chemical facility safety and security, if they move forward, could potentially help to save lives in the future but only if employers obey the new rules and do all they are supposed to in order to keep workers and the public safe.

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December 23, 2013

Workers' Compensation for Georgia's Independent Contractors

The state of Georgia established the system of workers' compensation to provide benefits to employees for medical treatment and wages while they recover from an on-the-job injury.
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A key element of successfully arguing for these benefits, however, is proving that you are an employee. For those who work as independent contractors, this is more complicated than you might think - but it's not impossible, despite the fact that Georgia's workers' compensation law doesn't technically cover independent contractors.

However, many independent contractors are wrongly classified by the employer in the first place. That is, just because a company labels a worker as an independent contractor, using a form 1099 for withholding taxes, does not necessarily mean that the person would not be considered an employee under state law.

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December 19, 2013

Traveling Employees And Georgia Workers' Compensation

Thousands of workers are seriously injured annually in motor vehicle accidents. As a result, there are often questions that arise with regard to whether that worker is entitled to workers' compensation coverage or whether he or she would be better served pursuing a personal injury claim under general negligence law.
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The answer often depends on whether the employee was actually working at the time of the crash or whether he was traveling to or from work. And, in fact, a third-party liability claim may allow an attorney to both pursue a workers' comp claim and a personal injury lawsuit for negligence against parties other than an employer.

Georgia case law, and specifically the 1968 decision in Corbin v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, holds that injuries sustained by a worker who is coming from or traveling to his job are not compensable under the state's workers' compensation program. In the Corbin case, the employee was leaving the work site to go home when he was injured in a crash on an access road owned by the city. The employee had been working on a city project at the time. However, the court determined that because the worker was on his way home, the injury did not happen in the course of his employment and so his claim was denied.

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December 12, 2013

Establishing Source of Georgia Work Injuries

One of the greatest challenges for Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys is establishing for the court the origin of a client's illness or injuries. armphoto.jpg

In some instances, this is very straightforward, as the condition arose from a single, often traumatic, incident, such as a crash or a fall.

Other times, however, a worker's condition has the possibility of arising from more than one source, leaving the door open for employers to argue that it did not occur as a result or in the course of one's employment. Given that this is a key point that must be proven in order to secure a claim, it's not one that ailing workers can expect to dance around.

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November 30, 2013

Georgia Workers' Compensation & a Look at Top Work Accident Causes for 2012

When a workplace injury or death occurs, the incident must be reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Based on this data, statistics are compiled on workplace injuries as well as on workers' compensation claims in order to get an overall picture of how safe (or unsafe) workplaces are for employees.

Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know statistics just released for last year show the 2012 rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses that necessitated days away from work decreased slightly as compared to the prior year. In 2012, 112 workers out of every 10,000 full-time workers suffered an injury or an illness on the job that caused him or her to miss work. This was down from 117 per 10,000 workers in 2011. hospital-1385736-m.jpg

The decrease was good news; however, the data also shows that the slight reduction in days-away-from work injuries was not necessarily a sign that workplaces were getting safer overall. In certain industries, the rate of days-away-from work injuries actually increased. Not only that, but the median days away from work that an injured worker actually took in 2012 increased as compared with 2011.

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November 30, 2013

OSHA Looks Ahead to 2014 Worker Safety Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets guidelines for worker safety and establishes rules that employers are supposed to follow. While OSHA is understaffed and conducts far fewer inspections of unsafe workplaces than it should, the agency does establish new guidelines and regulations on a regular basis that are designed to improve working conditions. woman-writing-in-the-agenda-1182879-m.jpg

OSHA has recently announced the agency's 2014 regulatory agenda and the Administration will be changing the rules on a number of important issues. Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers urge employers to be aware of changing workplace safety regulations and to make the necessary adjustments so they are not considered in violation.

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November 27, 2013

Amid Overall Decline, Certain Types of Workplace Injury Risks Increase

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the 2012 data on occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work. Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know the news wasn't great for workers despite the decline in the rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illnesses cases requiring days away from work that occurred from 2011 to 2012. council-1124775-m.jpg

The rate of injuries or illnesses requiring days away from work decreased but the median number of days that an injured or ill worker took off increased in 2012 by a full day. This could suggest that the injuries that were occurring were more serious in 2012. Trends also suggest that certain types of workplace injury risks are increasing. Employers need to be aware of the top risks that workers face and need to take affirmative steps to try to reduce some of the biggest dangers on the job.

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November 20, 2013

Dangerous Working Conditions for Temps in Georgia

Since the start of the recession in 2008, companies have been increasingly relying on the services of temporary employees, often in warehouses, factories and construction sites.
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Nearly 3 million workers are employed by temp agencies, which are placing these workers in positions that put them at greater risk of an on-the-job injury, as compared to permanent employees.

A recent investigation by news journalism non-profit ProPublica found that temps were about 50 percent more likely than non-temps to be hurt on the job in Florida and California. In Minnesota, they were 72 percent more likely to be injured, 66 percent more likely in Oregon and 36 percent more likely in Massachusetts.

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October 29, 2013

Protecting Georgia's Younger Workers

Currently, about 80 percent of all students are employed during some portion of their high school career. According to the Georgia Department of Labor, child labor laws are created so that these young workers have enough tome to pursue their education and so that they're workplaces are safe. The state's child labor laws were written back in 1878. The federal laws were not enacted until 1938.
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When there are differences in the state and the federal child labor laws, the law that is more stringent is used.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers understand that there are many fields in which these young workers (under the age of 16) are not allowed to participate, including factory, mill, laundry, manufacturing establishments or any occupation that has been designated hazardous. They also face serious hour restrictions so that they can remain focused on their studies. They are prohibited from working between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. They are also not permitted to work in any gainful occupation during the hours when public or private schools are in session unless said minor has completed senior high school or has been excused from attendance in school by a county or independent school system board of education in accordance with the general policies and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education.

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October 18, 2013

Georgia Power Company Cited After Workplace Explosion

Georgia Power Company's Plant Bowen was recently cited by officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with more than 15 serious safety violations after a generator explosion. It happened back in April during a maintenance shutdown at the plant in Cartersville. All of these safety violations come with fines totaling close to $120,000.
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"It is a fundamental responsibility of employers to ensure a safe workplace," said Christi Griffin, director of OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or otherwise harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The OSH Act created OSHA, which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA also provides information, training and assistance to workers. If you feel like your safety is being compromised on the job, you have the legal right to speak up and raise those concerns. Your voice may prevent a serious work tragedy.

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October 10, 2013

Workers Have Many Reasons for Failing to Report On-the-Job Injuries & Safety Problems

If there is a safety violation on the job or if someone gets hurt at work, an employer could be cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the employee could make a workers' compensation claim to obtain payment of medical bills and other benefits. 1088940_2_annual_reports__3.jpg

Our Atlanta, workers' compensation lawyers know that it is a good thing when employees report unsafe workplace conditions to their employers, as these conditions can then be corrected. When a worker reports a workplace injury, in alerts an employer to the fact that something has gone wrong and caused harm. Additionally, the employee can get treatment for the injury before something worse happens that is more costly to treat and that causes permanent disability.

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October 4, 2013

Atlanta Work Accidents: Employee Safety in Emergency Situations

Workplace safety is important at all times and employers should do everything possible to create a working environment where the risk of injury is minimized. Sometimes, however, an emergency situation will occur. Whether the emergency is caused by a weather disaster, a security risk or an act of violence, such as threats from a gunmen, employees need to be prepared to respond in a way that maximizes safety for all. ambulance-1334532-m.jpg

Our Atlanta, workers' compensation lawyers know that employers are in the best position to train workers to respond to an emergency. Entrepreneur has provided seven tips to help ensure that the risk of harm is minimized and employers should be aware of this advice and put it into action.

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September 30, 2013

Workplace Eye Safety Advice For Employers and Employees

Every year, an estimated 2.5 million annual eye injuries throughout the United States result in $1.2 billion in medical costs and lost productivity. Reducing the number of eye injuries is fundamentally important, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared October home eye safety awareness month in order to alert the public to risks to their eyes that exist in the home. boys-green-eye-1405557-m.jpg

Since around 2,000 workers daily sustain eye injuries on the job, our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers believe that October is also a good time for both employers and employees to review eye safety tips that can help avoid disaster during working hours.

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September 22, 2013

National Farm Safety and Health Week - A Reminder of Risk of Georgia Ag Accidents

There were close to 500 people who were killed on the job in the agriculture sector in 2012. That's a current fatality rate of more than 21 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers -- the highest fatality rate of any sector. In addition to these fatalities, there were more than 48,000 injuries recorded throughout the year in this industry in 2011 (which is the last year these statistics are available).
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To help to keep these workers safe, officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched "Working Together for Safety in Agriculture - National Farm Safety and Health Week". This week-long campaign is used to help to shine light on the importance of safe work environments for these employees.

There are plenty of opportunities for a work accident in Atlanta, especially in the agricultural field. These workers face serious risks for accidents while working with farm equipment, working in confined spaces and various other dangers. And that's exactly why this week-long safety campaign has been running every year since 1944. The risks are very real in September and October as farmers prepare to work the harvest.

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September 15, 2013

Construction Accidents Up, Despite Nationwide Decline in Work Accidents

According to newly-released statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), officials estimate that there were close to 4,500 people who were killed in work-related incidents in 2012. While that's down from roughly 4,700 in 2011, some sectors, including construction, have begun to see an increase as the economy improves.
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Throughout the year, the state of Georgia saw close to 100 workplace fatalities. Although a decrease from the year before, many of these accidents were still preventable. Of the preliminary results of 2012, close to 20 were killed by workplace violence, nearly 25 in transportation accidents, 3 in fires or explosions, close to 20 in falls, slips or trips, 6 in exposure to harmful materials and another 10 resulting from contact with objects or equipment.

Our Atlanta workers compensation lawyers understand that there were increases in the number of workplace fatalities in various industries. The private construction sector was one of the most prominent, with an increase of about 5 percent from less than 740 in 2011 to about 780 in 2012. These numbers increase much more than the number of total hours worked did however, and this increase is the very first after five years of declines.

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