Articles Posted in Hazardous Chemicals

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Arkansas issued a written opinion highlighting the importance of ensuring that workers’ compensation claims are timely filed. In the case, Hendrix v. Alcoa, the court dismissed a widow’s wrongful death claim against her deceased husband’s former employer, based on the fact that a workers’ compensation claim was the sole remedy for her loss. However, since her husband had failed to filed his workers’ compensation claim in a timely manner, the widow will not receive any compensation for the loss of her husband.

The Facts of the Case

Mr. Hendrix worked for Alcoa for nearly 30 years, retiring in 1995. During his employment, Hendrix was exposed to asbestos. Seventeen years after his retirement, in 2012, he was diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer. Later that year, he filed a workers’ compensation claim, seeking benefits for what he claimed to be a work-related diagnosis. However, a judge dismissed Hendrix’s claim because it was filed after the statute outlining the amount of time a worker had to file a case had expired. Specifically, in Arkansas, an injured worker has two years to file a claim from the date of last exposure. Hendrix did not appeal the decision.

In the following year, Hendrix died. His wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alcoa, claiming that the company was responsible for her husband’s diagnosis and subsequent death.

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Federal government safety investigators have blasted the administrators and managers of a Rockmart, Georgia feed mill operation that was the site of a fatal workplace explosion in February. OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) asserted that the plant was in violation of a number of simple safety standards that, if followed, would have likely prevented the explosion that killed one worker and seriously injured five others. 

According local news reports, federal inspectors investigating the work accident site, some 50 miles west of Atlanta, ascertained that it was an excessive accumulation of grain dust located in the hammer mill area of the mill that ignited and soon thereafter exploded. So significant was the damage to the feed mill’s interior and exterior, the building had to be shuttered. A 25-year-old male worker was killed.

OSHA launched its own investigation soon after the incident and issued dozens of citations – 23 in all – to the owner, JCG Farms, and its parent company, Koch Foods Inc. There was also a citation issued to the electrical services company that worked with the feed mill.

A global floor mat manufacturer has been fined more than $50,000 after a worker was seriously injured while working in the company’s Calhoun plant, about an hour north of Atlanta.

According to a news release by the U.S. Department of Labor, the 42-year-old maintenance worker experienced enormous pain and had to undergo surgery and the placement of a shunt inside his hand after the incident. Reports are the worker had his left hand injected with fluid from a hydraulic line that was leaking. He had been performing maintenance on a machine at the time of the incident.

He was rushed to the hospital, where he was admitted and had to undergo surgery. A shunt was placed to drain the fluid and bring down the extensive swelling. While the Occupational Safety & Health Administration was investigating the incident, investigators learned of at least nine major safety violations at the company. Continue reading

A woman who became ill as a result of exposure to toxic heavy metals while working to restore furniture for a large chain store was recently awarded compensation for necessary treatments at her doctor’s office.

In Moore v. K-Mart Corp., the West Virginia Supreme Court took the unusual step of declaring a law invalid for its direct contravention to the underlying purpose of state workers’ compensation benefits law.

The primary issue was not whether the illness was work-related. No one disputed it. The issue was not the extent of injury. All agreed it was severe. In fact, no one even argued the treatment she was receiving wasn’t medically necessary or reasonable. The core of the dispute was the place in which she was receiving this particular type of treatment.
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If you have been injured in the course of your employment, generally the only compensation you can receive will come from your workers’ compensation insurance. However, there are third-party liability exceptions. One of the most common examples is third-party toxic tort lawsuits against manufacturers who produced products containing asbestos.Throughout the 20th Century, asbestos was in everything from floor tiles to insulation to piping. While many workers were unaware of it, those manufacturers knew how dangerous the asbestos was and yet failed to warn companies and their workers of those dangers.

Because of the latent nature of asbestos-related diseases, which typically don’t manifest until several decades after exposure, we are only just now seeing the effect on workers today – many of whom might already be retired. Although the statute of limitations would generally bar claims filed so long after the injury occurred, time is often tolled in asbestos cases out of consideration for the fact the worker was unaware he or she was injured until decades after exposure. Because of the complex nature of occupational cancer cases, it’s important to consult with an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible to explore all options.
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Three workers suffered serious injuries following a Georgia chemical plant blast at a facility in Valdosta. The facility is responsible for processing and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

The incident came just two weeks after President Barack Obama called for sweeping chemical plant safety reforms in the form of tighter federal regulation.

Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys understand the call for change was prompted by the disastrous chemical plant explosion at a Texas fertilizer facility, which resulted in 15 deaths.
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Eagle United Truck Wash LLC was recently cited with 14 health and safety violations for failing to minimize the risks of work-related injuries at one of the company’s stops, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The violations were observed by area officials at the company’s Flying J Truck Stop in Jackson. The proposed penalties accompanying these violations total nearly $58,000. The inspection was the result of a complaint filed with the Administration.Two of the violations were the same kinds of violations cited back in 2007, which included failing to provide eye protection for employees who were using various corrosives, including aluminum brightener. The second repeat violation was issued for failing to provide workers with an emergency eye wash station.

Our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers understand that employers have a responsibility to help protect employees on the job. To help in this protection, protective equipment and preventative measures must be executed and work-related hazards must be corrected when identified. When a company fails to offer these measures and fails to correct dangers to help to make work sites safe and to protect workers, work-related injuries and even death can result. That’s why OSHA is here, to help make sure that companies are doing their best to provide safe work places for employees across the nation. When an injury results because of negligent care, compensation may be provided to the injured.

The inspection of the Jackson facility also landed Eagle United Truck Wash LLC with an additional repeat violation, this one just like the one that it received back in 2009 for letting workers perform maintenance on dangerous equipment without the proper energy control program in place.

The company was also cited with seven serious safety violations, issued as a result of the most recent inspection. These violations included failing to identify permit-required confined spaces when workers were inside tanks, for failing to make sure there was hazard communication training to employees, for failing to cover and minimize exposure to dangerous and corrosive chemicals, for exposing employees to slip hazards, for large holes in the wash bay grates, for various tripping hazards, for various electrical problems, among other issues.

Lastly, the company was cited for neglecting to cover wiring on the wall on the heater and boiler and for neglecting to create and enact a respirator protection program. Neither of these two violations came with any monetary fines, but they are to be corrected to help to ensure worker safety. These were both violations pertaining to dangers that would most likely not cause serious physical harm or death but were ultimately still a threat to workers.

“The very same chemicals that do a great job cleaning metal can be dangerous to workers if used without the proper protections,” said William Fulcher, with OSHA’s Area Office.
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K.M. Davis Contracting Co. Inc. of Marietta was recently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to take the appropriate measures to help reduce the risks of work-related injuries in Georgia. In total, the company faces proposed fines of nearly $55,000. The company was observed disregarding OSHA’s workplace safety standards.The violation was discovered by officials after OSHA inspected the site back in August. The work site inspection was conducted as a part of OSHA’s national emphasis program on trenching and excavations. The company was contracted by the city of Marietta to put in fire hydrants and install nearly 3,000 feet of water lines along North Cobb Parkway.

Our Atlanta workers compensation attorneys understand that trench-related work accidents can be some of the most catastrophic of any industry. For this reason, there are a number of standards that trenching and excavating companies must meet to help ensure the safety of its employees. K.M. Davis Contracting Co. Inc. was busted for violating these national standards.

In the violation discovered by OSHA, employees were allowed to work in a trench that was nearly 10 feet deep that didn’t have cave-in protection. This violation was categorized as a willful violation, meaning that the employer knew about it or should have known about it and disregarded the law.

In other words, the management was aware of the potential hazards to employees in the trench, but flagrantly ignored those hazards.

Under the current standards laid out by OSHA, employers are required to make sure all excavation and trenching projects which are done at a level of 5 feet or deeper be protected against cave-ins or collapses.

According to the Trenching and Excavating page on OSHA’s website, excavating and trenching is easily one of the most dangerous and hazardous of construction operations. The safety standards were recently revised to help to make it easier for employers to understand and to protect workers in this field.

The top danger for workers in trenching and excavating projects is collapse. To help reduce the risks of a cave-in or a collapse, employers are required to conduct an analysis on the soil to figure out shoring, benching and sloping.

It’s also important to keep an eye on the placement of heavy machinery, work materials and work-related traffic near the work site. Employers and employees also want to be cautious of natural gases and various electrical hazards stemming from power lines located underground.

K.M. Davis Contracting Co. Inc. can either pay the proposed penalties, request a conference with the area director or contest the investigation’s findings. Regardless, they have 15 business days to do so.
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There are 17 new videos released recently by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to help to educate workers about the proper way to use respirators on the job. Educating yourself on the use of these devices can help to reduce the risk of a work-related injury in Georgia and elsewhere.There are nine videos in English and eight videos in Spanish. Our Atlanta workers compensation attorneys encourage you to view these videos if you work in the construction industry. Some of the topics discussed in these videos are fit-testing, training, use and detecting counterfeit respirators. They’re even available with closed captioning.

There’s even a page on the Safety and Health topics page regarding Respiratory Protection on OSHA’s website. This page offers the information on the hazards associated with these industries, various training materials and details on the Respiratory Protection Standard.

Every year, there are about 5 million employees who have to wear respirators on the job. These workers occupy nearly 1.5 million work areas in the country. These respirators are used to protect employees against insufficient oxygen levels, gases, mists, smoke, harmful dusts, sprays and vapors. Some of these work environment hazards can potentially cause lung impairment, cancer, a number of other diseases and even death.

Employers are required to comply with OSHA’s respiratory Protection Standard. Officials believe that this standard helps to reduce the risk of hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries and illnesses every year.

Respirators are specially designed to provide clean and filtered air to workers. The respirators work by filtering out the dangerous particles from the air that a worker might inhale.

Employees who have beards should be careful when using a respirator. If there is any chance your facial hair could somehow break the seal and allow unfiltered air into your lungs, there’s a problem. Beards and sideburns can cause outside air to make it to the employee before being filtered correctly, increasing the injury risk.

If you’re required to wear a respirator on the job, trim your facial hair so that it doesn’t interfere with the seal.

You also want to make sure your mask isn’t loose. You want a tight-fitting face mask to ensure outside air is making its way in.

Employees are urged to review the new videos and material that was recently released by OSHA. This information can help you stay safe on the job and avoid any unnecessary injuries or death. If you feel that there’s a problem with work safety at your job, speak up! Point out hazards you observe to help to reduce the risks of an accident.
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Potential work accidents in Georgia are catching the eyes of officials with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Recently, there were two Georgia companies, Coleman Natural Foods and NuTech Powder Coaters LLC, that were inspected, cited and fined for a number of alleged serious work hazards and failing to properly protect employees on the job.Our Georgia workers compensation lawyers would first like to address the findings from the Coleman Natural Foods inspection. This company was given eight violations at its plant in Braselton. These citations came with proposed fines totaling more than $142,000. This inspection was initiated after OSHA received a complaint regard the company’s safety hazards in July.

Oftentimes, inspections are conducted after OSHA catches wind of an irresponsible employer who fails to keep the work place safe for all employees. These types of reported tips can be provided to officials from concerned workers. If you feel that your safety is at jeopardy on the job, you are urged to report your concerns to your regional OSHA office.

Coleman Natural Foods Citations:

-Neglecting to install machine guards on equipment in which employees could be injured by moving parts.

-Failing to seal off electrical enclosures to help to avoid any type of corrosion.

-Failing to offer adequate strain relief on electrical components.

-Not providing an ammonia detector to sniff out gas unsafe amounts of gas that has been released into in the air.

-Not providing the proper training to employees who work among hazardous materials.

-Not fixing hydraulic fluid leaks that were started by slippery floors.

-Machine guards were not provided.

-The fire extinguishers on the premise were not regularly inspected.

The second inspection of unsafe Georgia workplaces was of the Newnan facility of NuTech Powder Coaters LLC. This company was issued 20 citations by OSHA for failing to keep work places safe for all employees. These various citations came with a combined proposed fine of more than $55,000. The inspection in which OSHA officials discovered these violations happened after a previous inspection in August.

NuTech Powder Coaters LLC Citations:

-Neglecting to ensure employees were provided with and using the proper protective clothing for working in dangerous conditions.

-Failing to provide workers with the proper eyewash/shower unit for those who had been exposed to corrosive materials.

-Neglecting to create and implement a confined space program.

-Failing to post permit-required confined space signage.

-Letting powder coating material to gather.

-Exposing employees to electronic, fall and other combustible dust hazards.

-Failing to create a respiratory protection program.

“Companies of all sizes must take their responsibilities seriously when it comes to workers’ safety and health, and implement controls that ensure all employees are protected from hazards,” said Andre Richards, director of OSHA.
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