Articles Posted in Georgia Work Accidents

Workplace accidents occur every day in Georgia. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) monitors working conditions throughout the United States and investigates accidents in the workplace. If OSHA discovers uncorrected violations, the employer may be subject to citations and penalties. OSHA’s mission is to improve working conditions for all workers in the United States in order to reduce workplace injuries.

Wall of TiresGeorgia Goodyear Plant Faces Federal Workplace Law Violations

According to one news source, a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Georgia was cited for around $70,000 for failing to follow federal workplace safety laws and creating a risk of Georgia workplace accidents. OSHA recently cited the plant for seven citations after an inspection of its plant in Social Circle, Georgia. The OSHA area office director stated that the organization found “multiple safety deficiencies that put employees at risk of serious injury or death.”

Some of the citations included failing to provide proper protective gear for workers using hot metal presses, leaking equipment on the production floor, and hazards from unguarded machines. A Goodyear spokeswoman stated that the company cooperated with OSHA and that it is following the process to respond to citations.

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According to the most recent government statistics, there were over 82,000 Georgia workplace injuries last year. That means that almost 2.7 out of every 100 Georgia employees suffer a work injury each year. This figure is roughly in line with the national rate of workplace injuries, which is 2.9 injuries per 100 workers.

FactoryThe most dangerous workplaces are those that rely heavily on physical labor or require workers to use dangerous machinery. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the jobs that have the highest rate of injury are in the construction, manufacturing, and transportation industries. Interestingly, the education industry also reported a high incident rate of workplace injuries.

As a general matter, employers have a duty to ensure a safe workplace. That being said, not every harm can be remedied, and injuries will occur at work. In such cases, the Georgia workers’ compensation program offers a straightforward way for injured workers to obtain compensation for their injuries. In addition, approved applicants will also be provided with ongoing weekly benefits until they are able to return to work. In some cases, workers’ compensation benefits can continue for decades.

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In some Georgia workers’ compensation cases, the consequences of the workplace injury are tragic. In the event of the death of a worker, the worker’s family is generally entitled to death benefits under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act to ease the financial burden on the family. These benefits normally include burial expenses, as well as weekly ongoing compensation for the employee’s dependents.

Movie CameraUnder current law, for a compensable work injury, the employer must pay the reasonable expenses of the employee’s burial, up to $7,500. In addition, the worker’s dependents are entitled to weekly compensation of two-thirds of the worker’s weekly income, up to a maximum of $575 per week. Dependents normally include the worker’s spouse, children, and dependent stepchildren.

However, employers often dispute that a claim is compensable to avoid paying death benefits under the Act. The employer may claim that the worker was not an actual employee or that the injury did not take place on the job. A person claiming benefits must show that the death resulted instantly from an accident arising out of and in the course of employment, or that during a period of disability caused by an accident, the worker died as a result.

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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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