Articles Posted in Georgia Work Accidents

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The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act is meant to provide compensation to individuals who are injured on the job. The benefits provided through the Act are meant to help injured individuals return to work, but, if an individual dies as a result of the accident, the benefits are also provided to help the individual’s dependents ease the burden of their financial loss. In the event of an employee’s death due to a work injury on or after July 1, 2016, dependents are entitled to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage or a maximum of $575 per week. Qualifying dependents are the employee’s spouse, children, and dependent stepchildren.

Director's ClapperA death is generally compensable if the injury triggered, activated, or aggravated a disease or dormant condition that contributed to the employee’s death. The employee has the burden of proving that the death resulted from an accident arising out of and in the course of the employee’s employment. In general, an employee’s dependents are entitled to reasonable expenses for the employee’s last sickness, burial expenses, and weekly dependency benefits.

Stuntman Dies After Work Injury

A stuntman on the show The Walking Dead recently died after he was injured in an accident on set. According to one news source, the stuntman hit his head on a concrete floor after he fell about 30 feet. He was brought to a hospital in Atlanta after the accident, but he died a few days later. The stuntman had worked on other shows and movies, and his death was the first stuntman death in 17 years. The show had been filming its eighth season and had filmed many episodes in metro Atlanta.

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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are a leading cause of workplace deaths. Falls represent 39% of all construction workplace deaths and account for around 350 deaths in construction jobs per year.

ScaffoldingOSHA requires employers to set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling and injuring themselves. Employers are required to provide fall protection for overhead platforms, for elevated work stations, and near holes in floors and walls. Fall protection must be provided for elevations of four feet or higher in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in construction workplaces, and eight feet in long-shoring operations. Employers must also provide fall protection if employees are working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of height.

Georgia Woman Falls to Death in Lowndes County

A 28-year-old woman recently fell to her death as she was working on a billboard in Lowndes County, Georgia. According to one news source, the young woman had been doing routine maintenance on the billboard on Interstate 75 when she fell. An OSHA spokesperson said that her death was still under investigation.

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Earlier this month, the Court of Appeals of Georgia issued a written opinion in a workers’ compensation case brought by a man who was injured while he was grocery shopping on his personal time. The injured employee claimed that he was a “continuous employee” because his job required that he stay in a hotel away from his home. Ultimately, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision that the injured worker was not a continuous employee.

Wet Floor SignThe Facts of the Case

The injured worker was employed by a plumbing company based in Augusta, Georgia. Since the employee did not have a residence in Augusta, the employer provided the employee with a hotel room. While the employee only worked Monday through Friday, the employer allowed the employee to stay in the room over the weekend because the employee was having car trouble and found it financially burdensome to travel back home over the weekends.

One Sunday, the employee was grocery shopping when he tripped and fell, injuring his ankle. The employee was not working that day, and he was not on call. The employee filed a claim for workers’ compensation, claiming that he was a continuous employee.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued a written opinion in a workers’ compensation case brought by a man who was injured on the job while descending from a cell phone tower. The court was tasked with determining whether the employee was prevented from obtaining workers’ compensation benefits because his injury allegedly was caused when he disregarded a known safety rule. Ultimately, the court determined that “willful misconduct” can, but does not necessarily, prevent workers’ compensation eligibility, and it remanded the case for further fact-finding.

Power LinesThe Facts of the Case

The worker in the case was an employee of a telecom company. The worker’s job required that he climb cell phone towers. It was company policy for workers to climb down the towers when their job was complete. However, the worker decided to use a controlled descent instead, against company policy and his co-worker’s advice.

During the controlled descent, the plaintiff fell and was seriously injured. He filed for workers’ compensation benefits for the period of time while he was recovering. However, the employer contested the worker’s eligibility, and an administrative law judge determined that his “willful misconduct” prevented him from obtaining benefits.

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The Georgia workers’ compensation program is designed to provide temporary benefits to injured workers while they recover from an on-the-job injury. In theory, the program works well for both employees – who do not have to about proving who was at fault for their injury – and employers – who are able to limit their own costs by purchasing a workers’ compensation insurance policy.

BleachersMost Georgia employers who have three or more employees are required to obtain a workers’ compensation policy. However, some employers are able to self-insure if they obtain prior approval. Many school districts across the state have chosen to self-insure rather than obtain coverage from an outside insurance company. Self-insured employers are essentially able to handle workers’ compensation claims as they see fit. A recent news article discusses the benefits and drawbacks to this self-insurance system for Georgia school district employees who are injured on the job.

Weekly Benefits Versus Lump-Sum Disbursement

The article details the account of a 50-year-old employee of DeKalb School District who was injured when a student pushed her down a set of bleachers almost two decades ago. After her accident, the woman suffered a serious injury to her spine and has since required a spinal implant. She still suffers constant back pain and only has the use of her left leg.

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Earlier this month, a tragic accident took the life of a veteran sheriff’s deputy in Augusta, Georgia. According to one local news report covering the accident, the sheriff’s deputy was responding to an alarm that was sent out from a local sperm bank for a nitrogen leak. Evidently, the deputy arrived on the scene before the fire department or hazmat team and entered the location.

SteamBy the time the hazmat team arrived about 30 minutes later, rescuers discovered the deputy’s body lying on the floor. A female employee of the sperm bank was also unconscious. Rescuers removed the two and transported them to the hospital, but sadly the sheriff’s deputy was pronounced dead a short time later. The cause of death was listed as inhaling an unknown chemical substance. Two other deputies were also taken to the hospital, and they are expected to recover.

Following the tragic news of the accident, Georgia’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration opened an investigation into the chemical leak. The investigation is ongoing, and no results have yet been made public.

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Last year, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a workers’ compensation case that shows how strictly the state’s statutes of limitations will be enforced against injured workers who do not file a timely claim. In the recent case, the state’s high court determined that an intermediate appellate court improperly held that the injured worker’s claim for benefits was not time-barred by the two-year statute of limitations. As a result of the most recent ruling, the injured worker will not be entitled to the benefits he once enjoyed.

Factory ExteriorThe Facts of the Case

W.B. was an employee in a wood-processing plant. In 1993, W.B. fell through a floor while on the job, and his leg landed in a moving auger. W.B.’s leg had to be immediately amputated below the knee.

Initially, W.B. was approved for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. After he recovered, he was fit with a prosthetic leg and was able to return to work. Because of his previous injuries, upon his return to work, he took on a supervisory position that was less physically demanding. During this time, his TTD benefits were replaced by permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. His last PPD payment was issued in 1998.

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Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it was recommending that a Gainesville, Georgia recycling plant be fined upwards of $100,000 for several alleged serious safety violations. According to a recent news report documenting OSHA’s decision to levy the fines, the violations involved apparent amputation hazards, fire hazards, and a failure to implement a noise-reduction monitoring policy.

Recycling PlantIn all, OSHA noted 21 alleged serious errors and another three other-than-serious violations. Apparently, several dangerous machines did not have the required guards to prevent a worker’s hand or arm from getting caught up in the machine and potentially amputated. Additionally, the employer allegedly failed to provide all employees with personal protective clothing.

An OSHA representative told reporters that these alleged violations are “preventable by taking basic safety precautions.” However, the company’s alleged failure to meet these basic requirements increased the likelihood of a serious or fatal workplace injury.

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Workplace accidents are not limited to just a few industries. While most people think of workplace accidents occurring on construction sites and in other inherently dangerous occupations, the reality is that workplace accidents happen across the board. In fact, according to a recent article by the Associated Press, workplace accidents occurring on TV and movie sets are fairly common and grossly unreported.

Video CameraThe article discusses several accidents that occurred on TV and movie sets across the country in recent years, including a 2014 accident that claimed the life of a young woman working as a camera assistant here in Georgia. Evidently, the woman was working on the set of “Midnight Rider,” a bio-pic about the rock-n-roll legend Gregg Allman, when the set supervisor failed to obtain the necessary permits to film on active train tracks. As a result, the county did not let the railroad company know about the project, and a train came crashing through the set, killing the young woman.

This is hardly the only workplace accident in the TV and movie industry. In fact, OSHA estimates that over the past two decades, 43 people have died on various sets, and another 150 have suffered lifelong injuries, such as amputation. However, the article notes that several well-known accidents – such as the shooting death of Brandon Lee during the filming of the movie “The Crow” – have been left out of the statistics.

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Earlier this year, a 61-year-old hotel worker froze to death after she became trapped in a walk-in freezer while on the job. According to one national news source, the Atlanta woman walked into the freezer toward the end of her shift and never walked out. Her husband called her manager the next day after she didn’t come home, and her body was discovered in the walk-in freezer.

ThermostatAfter the woman’s death, the hotel performed a number of tests on the freezer door and reported that it was functioning properly. However, a follow-up inspection conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicated that the release button inside the freezer malfunctioned. The report explains that on the day of the test, an employee entered the walk-in freezer and was unable to exit without the assistance of another employee. The medical examiner listed the woman’s cause of death as undetermined, with the added notation “found in freezer, malfunctioning exit release button.”

Since this incident, OSHA has issued a $12,500 fine and cited the employer for a “serious violation.” OSHA recommended that the hotel come up with a voluntary plan to prevent similar accidents in the future, with the understanding that there will be subsequent on-site inspections.

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