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More Construction Workers Taking the Fall for Lax Workplace Rules

Sometimes it’s expensive for companies to keep their workers safe, but frankly, that’s just the cost of doing business.

Problems arise, and workers are injured or killed, when companies don’t follow laws that are aimed at protecting workers and when companies don’t spend the money to provide improved protections for workers.

This tragic situation was just covered extensively in a Sept. 28 story in The Wall Street Journal, which described ongoing battles in the roofing industry between companies that don’t want to step to ensure employee safety and victims who are being maimed or killed due to roof falls from building in the workplace.

A fallen construction worker lay injured on the ground at a worksite. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/BartCo

The story described how one worker, 64-year-old Jose Olvera, fell eight feet from the roof of a one-story home in Hereford, Ariz., earlier this year and died because he wasn’t wearing a harness or other system that could have stopped his fall. Olvera, an experienced roofer, died on the scene from a head injury, the report said.

“Many contractors say such protection is too expensive or can create new problems,” according to the story. “But other contractors say such protection can saves lives. With a growing number of residential construction workers dying from fatal falls in recent years, the federal government has started requiring fall protection even for one- and two-story buildings as part of an initiative to address problems on residential construction sites.”

At the same time, though, “many contractors and officials in seven states, including Arizona, have refused to comply, setting off a fight between the federal and state governments,” the story reported.

In August, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration “took the unprecedented step of formally proposing to take over construction workplace safety in Arizona because it said the state doesn’t require proper fall protection,” the Journal reported.

Arizona’s state workplace enforcement agency believes that the state’s requirements are adequate, a spokesperson told the Journal. “Contractors have long argued that measures such as training and monitoring of workers constitute appropriate fall protection.”

But that’s just not right.

On-the-job deaths among residential construction workers totaled 190 in 2013, according to  the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That marked a 23 percent increase from 2011, when 154 workers were killed in such incidents. Fatalities in commercial, municipal and industrial construction went up comparatively by 4 percent during the same period, according to the story.

The problem is that even though residential contractors generally work at lower heights than workers in commercial construction, they tend to be killed in falls more often because their employers typically provide fewer safety protections, the story reported.

That has to change.

Yes, protections aren’t necessarily cheap. Harnesses with retractable ropes can cost up to $300 per worker and can be complicated to use while working, the story said. That can add up to a lot of money depending on how many workers a roofing company employs.

The human cost when such devices are not used, however, is far, far greater if roofers or other construction workers die from falls that could have and should have been prevented at work sites across the United States.

These tragedies underscore the consequences that occur every day across the United States in busy construction sites when profit and indifference replace worker safety.  Too often, workers are hurt when companies fail to take the proper precautions for worker safety all in the name of saving time or money.

Workers who are seriously injured on the job should immediately talk with a competent, professional and compassionate attorney about their case to protect themselves and preserve their legal rights. You have a myriad of legal options, including filing for Workers’ Compensation or filing a lawsuit to recover damages if your case warrants additional legal action.

The best way to review your legal strategy is to know your legal options from the start so that you can make the best choices for you and your family.

In the meantime, in the workplace, you can be you own best advocate. If you or someone you love is asked to do something in a workplace that appears to be dangerous or life-threatening, then you need to thoroughly and completely discuss it with the person asking you to perform the dangerous task. You need to be sure that all safety procedures are being followed to the letter and that you are minimizing any and all risks to yourself and others.

And if you still have concerns, then you need to discuss them immediately with others in the workplace until you get a satisfactory reply regarding safety and proper procedures.

If you or someone you love is suffers a workplace injury, you certainly know that a serious work-related accident can be deadly or debilitating for the rest of your life, affecting your personal mobility, earning potential and your livelihood. That’s not something that you want to take lightly.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or someone you love is ever seriously injured in a worksite, workplace or construction accident anywhere in the United States. At MyPhillyLawyer, you can consult with a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney to explore all of your legal rights.

We represent the families of victims who are killed in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Philadelphia Building Collapse Tragedy: Lessons Learned

As a decrepit building next door was being demolished as part of a renovation project, a Salvation Army thrift store on Market Street in Center City Philadelphia collapsed, trapping dozens of innocent victims under bricks, girders, wood and other heavy building materials.

That disaster on June 5, 2013 has changed the lives of dozens of families.

Six people inside the Salvation Army thrift store were killed by the falling materials, according to a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Fourteen other people were seriously injured. Some victims were just shopping on a beautiful June day. Others were just working at their jobs inside the store.

Broken bricks from a demolished building lay in a pile at an unknown construction site in this stock image. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/

At least six lawsuits have already been filed by victims in the wake of the tragedy.

What could be most disturbing so far are reports that the operator of the heavy equipment used to conduct the demolition had marijuana in his system when the incident occurred. The excavator operator has since been charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deaths inside the thrift shop, according to a story in The Philadelphia Daily News.

There are certainly more details that are coming to light.

An analysis of the tragedy by reporter Joseph DiStefano in The Philadelphia Inquirer on June 12 detailed how the incident “points to deeper city shortcomings,” including inadequate site inspections, inadequate permits and paperwork for such activities and other potential problems.

“In the Market Street collapse, there are plenty of people who will be pointing out, in the weeks and months ahead, that they warned City Hall something like this would happen,” DiStefano wrote. “The Wild West off-campus construction rush near Temple University, the expediter system that can speed job permits to raw would-be contractors, the financial contributions to political campaigns that can give City Council members an incentive to tolerate dangerous conditions – maybe some of these loose straps will get tightened a bit” in the aftermath of the tragedy.

But in the meantime, he wrote, “Here’s the lessons for ordinary citizens: If you see a wall you have reason to believe may be threatening to fall on civilians – sure, call City Hall – but don’t stop there. Go to the people most closely concerned. Try telling the store manager: “There’s knuckleheads at work next door. . . . You’d better shut down and get everyone out.”

Actually, that’s great advice.

It’s the same kind of thing that attorneys do on behalf of their clients – asking questions, raising hackles, taking action, seeking remedies, going after the truth and forcing results.

The building collapse is now being investigated by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) as well as by the city and city District Attorney Seth Williams. City Council is planning to hold a series of hearings on the disaster this summer.

Adding to the tragedy, a city building inspector who had inspected the work site where the demolition was being done was found dead June 12 in an apparent suicide, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The man’s death also adds an air of new mystery to the whole incident.

The six people who lost their lives that day, and the 14 others who were injured, did nothing to deserve such a horrible fate. They simply went to work or went shopping in a store where they had reasonable expectations of being safe and secure while they were there on the premises.

For the victims of such a disaster, and for their families, what they need now is help finding out what happened in that construction site that day, why it happened and what someone is going to do about it to help them and pay their damage claims.

That’s where a competent, qualified, tenacious and skilled legal team can help in such cases.

If you or someone you love is ever injured in a serious accident, it can be debilitating for the rest of your life, affecting your personal mobility, earning potential and your livelihood. That’s not something that you want to take lightly.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or someone you love is ever seriously injured in any kind of accident anywhere in the United States. At MyPhillyLawyer, you can consult with a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney to explore all of your legal rights.

We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Hurt on the Job: $3.75 Million Settlement to Woman Injured By Tractor-Trailer at Work

In her job as a security guard at the Penn Terminals port in Eddystone in Delaware County, Susan Sawyer’s job was to make sure that tractor-trailers traveling through the facility matched the records for incoming and outgoing freight.

But one day in August 2008, a tractor-trailer driver operating his vehicle in the terminal was distracted as he used a cell phone and drove with his dog on his lap while he was exiting the port’s entrance gate. As a result, his truck accidentally drove over Sawyer’s foot and ankle, causing severe injuries, according to a story in The Legal Intelligencer.

The truck driver “began to pull away while Sawyer was still verifying his tractor trailer’s information, and the rear truck tires drove over Sawyer’s foot and ankle,” the story reported. The truck belonged to Crete Carrier Corp.

A construction worker is injured on the job in this file photo. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/BartCo

The case was heard in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where a $3.75 million settlement was reached in the case in June, according to The Intelligencer. The woman’s injuries “included fractures in her foot and ankle bones, stripping of the skin from her leg to her toes, and depression.”

The incident is just one of the many accidents that occur in workplaces across the United States every year, according to government statistics.

There were 3.06 million nonfatal workplace injuries in private industry in 2010, the last full year in which complete statistics are available, according to statistics from the U. S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those cases involved 933,200 missed work days, 370,130 cases involving sprains, strains and soft tissue tears, 185,270 cases involving back injuries and 208,470 cases involving falls, according to the statistics.

For workers hurt on the job, the legal fight for compensatory damages to cover your injuries and pain and suffering starts with knowing your rights and have the best legal representation.

If you are hurt in your workplace, you have legal rights to ensure that you get proper medical treatment and are compensated for your wages in the event you are unable to work.

The AFL-CIO labor union has several tips for injured workers:

*Notify your supervisor, the personnel department and your union steward, the AFL-CIO advises.

*Get the medical treatment you need. You may be required to see a doctor selected by your employer. If you are injured on the job, your employer’s insurance company is obligated to pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment.

*If your employer has written an incident report, get a copy of it for your records. You may need this information if you seek Workers’ Compensation benefits.

*You also may be entitled to temporary or permanent disability benefits or vocational rehabilitation benefits. If you file a claim for benefits and it is rejected, you may appeal the ruling, even to the courts. Experts recommend seeking legal advice.

*The U.S. Department of Labor advises that private-sector and state and local government workers injured on the job should contact their state workers’ compensation board. The department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs also has specific information for federal workers, coal mine workers and longshore and harbor workers.

OSHA has several tips for injured workers as well:

*Report any injuries or workplace accident incidents immediately.

*Get medical help quickly to prevent more serious injuries. Don’t ignore pains and other warning signs from your body. If you have been injured, you have a right to speedy and complete treatment.

*Document everything and keep good records about the incidents that led to your injuries.

If you are seriously injured at work, you should immediately talk with a competent, professional and compassionate attorney about your case. You have a myriad of legal options, including filing for Workers’ Compensation or filing a lawsuit to recover damages if your case warrants additional legal action.

The best way to review your legal strategy is to know your legal options from the start so that you can make the best choices for you and your family.

In the meantime, in the workplace, you can be you own best advocate. If you or someone you love is asked to do something in a workplace that appears to be dangerous or life-threatening, then you need to thoroughly and completely discuss it with the person asking you to perform the dangerous task.

You need to be sure that all safety procedures are being followed to the letter and that you are minimizing any and all risks to yourself and others.

And if you still have concerns, then you need to discuss them immediately with others in the workplace until you get a satisfactory reply regarding safety and proper procedures.

If such a situation puts your job in jeopardy, or if you are injured on the job due to unsafe conditions, then you should contact a qualified attorney who can fight for you and your rights.  The skilled attorneys and legal staff here at MyPhillyLawyer are here to help you in such a case.

You have the right to remain safe in your workplace. Be sure that you protect those rights for you and your family.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Injured During Job Interview, Fall Victim Receives $8.25 Million Settlement

Across the U.S., falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) in the U.S. Department of Labor. About 150 to 200 workers are killed each year and another 100,000 are injured in falls at construction sites, the agency says.

Not all such injuries actually occur when a worker is on a job, however.

Recently, an $8.75 million settlement was reached in the case of a  42-year-old man who was severely injured when he fell three stories to the ground during a job interview as an electrical lineman.

The victim, Jeffrey Adams, suffered a broken neck, back and hip and suffered severe brain damage after falling 35 feet to the ground while climbing a wooden utility pole as part of the job interview, according to a story in The Legal Intelligencer.

A construction worker is being treated by medical personnel after being injured in a construction accident in this file photo. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/sturti

Adams was participating in the interview for a job with Metropolitan Edison Co. and was instructed to climb a wooden pole as part of his skills evaluation when the accident occurred.

“At about 35 feet, Adams, who was not attached to the pole with a retractable lifeline as required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, was instructed to remove his safety belt, according to the plaintiffs’ pretrial memorandum,” the story reported. “When he did, he fell to the ground and broke his neck and back, shattered his left hip and suffered a traumatic brain injury.”

In their arguments in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, Adams’ attorneys pointed out that the specific pole he was told to climb was worn and defective and didn’t have the required retractable safety line, while other available test poles were so equipped.

The company and its parent company, FirstEnergy, argued in response that since Adams signed a release before climbing the pole, that they were not liable for his injuries.

OSHA has a full range of safety standards and rules to protect construction and other workers from serious injuries due to dangerous falls.

The OSHA rules detail “what an employer must do to provide fall protection for employees, such as identifying and evaluating fall hazards and providing specific training,” as well as what equipment is provided.

The standards include rules for self-retracting lifelines and lanyards that were involved in the Met-Ed case. The devices are designed to automatically limit free fall distance for workers who are performing duties in dangerous conditions, according to the rules. Had such a device been in place, Adams injuries might not have occurred, according to the facts of the case.

Those kinds of details are facts that your legal team needs to know as they pursue your case and fight for you in court.

That’s why it’s critical to have legal representation from attorneys who are skilled in construction accident cases, workplace cases and a wide variety of personal injury cases.

Electrical line work is a dangerous job, but it needn’t be one where workers have to be concerned each day that they’ll make it home in one piece. Employers and their supervisors must be sure to be vigilant about worker and workplace safety and ensure that corners are never cut when it comes to keeping workers safe.

If you or someone you love is employed in the construction industry and is ever seriously injured in a worksite accident, be sure to consult with a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney to explore all of your legal rights. If you need us, the attorneys and legal team here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to help you, consult with you and to fight for you.

A serious construction-related accident can be debilitating for the rest of your life, affecting your mobility, earning potential and your livelihood. That’s not something that you want to take lightly.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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How a 2010 Mining Disaster That Killed 29 Miners Has Implications on Workplace Safety Everywhere

If you are seriously injured on the job, it can have devastating effects on your family, your future health and your livelihood.

Workplace injuries can happen anywhere, from factory floors to trucking fleets to maritime shipping injuries, to offices and even in retail stores and malls.

So what do you do if you are hurt while at work?

Get immediate medical treatment and talk to a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney who will listen to your case and be your advocate to fight for your legal rights and financial future.

Workplace accident reports are part of the critical documentation that is gathered as part of your injury case. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/alexskopje

On-the-job injuries can range from back injuries to limb amputations, paralysis, falls, bone breaks and even death. Finding an attorney who knows about severe injuries and who can best represent your case is one of the most important steps you can take in fighting your legal battle regarding your ongoing health.

Such was the case in the horrific 2010 coal mining accident in the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, where 29 miners were killed and at least seven others were seriously injured in the worst mining disaster in the U.S. in some 40 years.

Earlier this week, a former security officer for the mining company, Hughie Elbert Stover, 60, was sentenced to three years in prison “for lying to investigators and trying to destroy documents” related to the incident, according to a story in The Charleston (W.V.) Gazette. Investigators determined that company officials failed to properly maintain procedures and equipment that was meant to keep mine workers safe deep in the earth, according to the story.

“Criminal prosecutions in workplace safety cases are relatively rare, and jail sentences following mine safety convictions — especially multi-year ones — are even more unusual, government records show,” the paper reported.

But in this case, the crimes were clear and well-documented, according to prosecutors. “Stover is the second person convicted in what government officials have described as a massive and widespread criminal probe of Upper Big Branch and of potential criminal violations at other Massey [Energy Co.] operations,” the paper reported.

According to the investigation, mining company managers would give prior notice of impending government safety inspections so that safety problems could be temporarily fixed before inspectors arrived, the story reported.

In January, the final case settlements were reached between the mining company and the families of the miners who were killed or injured in the mine explosion at Upper Big Branch, according to a story in USA Today. Most of the families sued for wrongful death damages after the accident, according to the story. The amount of the settlements was not released by any of the parties. The settlements were being paid by Alpha Natural Resources, a Virginia company that bought the former Massey Energy Co. last June. The Alpha purchase included the mine and the lawsuits that had been filed after the accident, the story reported.

The surviving families of the dead miners were each offered $3 million settlements shortly after the accident, but most refused and chose to file wrongful death lawsuits, the story reported.

The company also reached a $210 million settlement late last year with the U.S. Department of Justice in the case, including $46.5 million in restitution to the families and some of the survivors of the accident, the story reported.

The investigations into the blast ultimately found that “Massey allowed highly explosive methane gas and coal dust to accumulate at Upper Big Branch, and that worn and broken cutting equipment created the spark that ignited the fuel,” USA Today reported. “Broken and clogged water sprayers allowed a mere flare-up to turn into an inferno that ripped through miles of underground tunnels and killed men instantly.”

The tragedy that took 29 lives at the Upper Big Branch Mine could have been avoided had the company not gambled with the lives of its employees that day. That is often the case in many incidents of workplace injuries, no matter where people are doing their jobs.

Yes, most of us are not involved in mining accidents deep in the earth, but this case is indicative of what happens when employers stop caring about the health, safety and well-being of their employees and their families.

And that’s why it’s important to know your legal rights and the responsibilities of your employer for your safety in the workplace. To find out about those rights, it’s best to talk to a lawyer.

If you or someone you love is seriously injured on the job, be sure to get the best legal advice and help that you can find.

Talk to a legal team that has your best interests at heart and that cares about you as a client and as a person who has been seriously injured who needs help.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer handle workplace injury and personal injury cases every day with compassion, caring, professionalism and decades of legal experience.

If you are hurt, call us and set up a free initial consultation. We are here to serve you in any way we can to ensure that your rights are upheld and that your future is made secure while your injuries heal.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Construction Accidents and Injuries: What To Do If You Are Hurt On The Job

A steel floor beam collapsed as construction workers were pouring concrete on top of it at a Cincinnati work site last month, leaving some 13 workers injured, according to a story on Cincinnati.com.

These kinds of construction accidents happen all the time, often causing serious, life-changing injuries for workers and their families. Construction is a dangerous occupation, from working with heavy equipment to working at high heights or even in trenches and excavated work sites. Machinery breaks, beams can collapse, concrete can fail – the list of potential accidents is almost limitless.

A construction worker is injured on the job in this file photo. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/BartCo

A construction worker is injured on the job in this file photo. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/BartCo

That’s where work site safety and vigilant oversight come into play and can make the difference between a safe work site and a deficient one.

In Cincinnati, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the city of Cincinnati are continuing their investigations into why the steel beam supporting a section of the second floor collapsed last month at the still-under-construction Horseshoe Casino there.

There were almost 3.1 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported among private industry in 2010 – the last year that full statistics are available – according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That means there were 3.5 workplace injury cases per 100 full-time workers in 2010, which is down slightly from 3.6 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2009, the agency reported.

In 2010, “more than 4,500 U.S. workers died from occupational injuries,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For construction workers in the U.S., the fatality statistics are grim, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) inside the CDC. “In 2009, there were 816 fatal on-the-job injuries to construction workers – more than in any other single industry sector and nearly one out of every five work-related deaths in the U.S. that year (19 percent),” the CDC reported.

If you are hurt on the job in the construction field, you have legal rights that protect you to ensure that you get proper medical treatment and are compensated for your wages in the event you are unable to work.

The AFL-CIO labor union has several tips for injured workers:

*Notify your supervisor, the personnel department and your union steward, the AFL-CIO advises.

*Get the medical treatment you need. You may be required to see a doctor selected by your employer. If you are injured on the job, your employer’s insurance company is obligated to pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment.

*If your employer has written an incident report, get a copy of it for your records. You may need this information if you seek Workers’ Compensation benefits.

*You also may be entitled to temporary or permanent disability benefits or vocational rehabilitation benefits. If you file a claim for benefits and it is rejected, you may appeal the ruling, even to the courts. Experts recommend seeking legal advice.

*The U.S. Department of Labor advises that private-sector and state and local government workers injured on the job should contact their state workers’ compensation board. The department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs also has specific information for federal workers, coal mine workers and longshore and harbor workers.

OSHA has several tips for injured workers as well:

*Report any injuries or workplace accident incidents immediately.

*Get medical help quickly to prevent more serious injuries. Don’t ignore pains and other warning signs from your body. If you have been injured, you have a right to speedy and complete treatment.

*Document everything and keep good records about the incidents that led to your injuries.

If you are seriously injured at work, you should immediately talk with a competent, professional and compassionate attorney about your case. You have a myriad of legal options, including filing for Workers’ Compensation or filing a lawsuit to recover damages if your case warrants additional legal action.

The best way to review your legal strategy is to know your legal options from the start so that you can make the best choices for you and your family.

In the meantime, in the workplace, you can be you own best advocate. If you or someone you love is asked to do something in a workplace that appears to be dangerous or life-threatening, then you need to thoroughly and completely discuss it with the person asking you to perform the dangerous task.

You need to be sure that all safety procedures are being followed to the letter and that you are minimizing any and all risks to yourself and others.

And if you still have concerns, then you need to discuss them immediately with others in the workplace until you get a satisfactory reply regarding safety and proper procedures.

If such a situation puts your job in jeopardy, or if you are injured on the job due to unsafe conditions, then you should contact a qualified attorney who can fight for you and your rights.  The skilled attorneys and legal staff here at MyPhillyLawyer are here to help you in such a case.

You have the right to remain safe in your workplace. Be sure that you protect those rights for you and your family.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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