Monthly Archives: March 2012

hotel-room-cleaning

The Dangers Of Hotel Room Cleaning

hotel room cleaning

Exposure to harsh chemicals and repeated bending can take its toll.

Today’s post is the second part of a post from our colleague Edgar Romano at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP in New York.

As we shared with you last week, hotel housekeeping may not seem dangerous, but it can be grueling physical labor.

A recent study published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported that tasks including dusting, vacuuming, changing linens, making beds, and scrubbing bathrooms may lead to a range of injuries. Some of the most common ones include:

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Hotel Workers Have The Highest Rate Of Workplace Injury In The Service Industry

Hotel room cleaning is a job that comes with risks

Today’s post comes to us from our colleague Edgar Romano at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP in New York.

Hotels can be a dangerous place to work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, of all service industry workers, hotel workers have the highest rate of injury at 5%. The average for all service industries is only about 3.4%.

Hotel room cleaners have significantly higher injury rates than other hotel workers, with nearly 8% experiencing Continue reading

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The 11 Most Life-Threatening Jobs on the Planet

Today’s post comes to us from our colleagues at insurancequotes.org.

The danger workers face on the job is not always compensated by higher pay. Life-threatening jobs can be mind-numbingly simple, easily performed by unskilled workers or children, or as physically and mentally demanding as one can imagine. Cable television shows like Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers give some sense of the dangers faced by workers in the sea fishing and truck driving industries respectively, while films like Workingman’s Death (2005) document examples of dangerous, and almost pointlessly unproductive manual labor. Below are 11 life-threatening jobs ranging from the banal to the bizarre.

Photo by Nate Robert, licensed through Creative Commons.

  1. Street Sweeper (Rwanda)The most humble of jobs can be the most dangerous. On the streets of Kigali province, in the country of Rwanda, women dressed in blue work from dawn to dusk sweeping the roads and highways. Drivers, going several miles per hour, zoom past, their cars missing the street-sweeping women by just inches. The women wear no reflective clothing, and there are no cautionary signs or pylons alerting drivers of the presence of these women on the road. In a country with 30% unemployment, street sweeping, which pays approximately $3 a day, is a sought-after job.
  2. King Crab Fisherman (Alaska, United States)
    More dramatic than street sweeping, crab fishing in the Bering Sea is one of the world’s most dangerous professions. The fishing takes place night and day in rough waters that constantly and violently rock the boats, sending high waves crashing over the decks. Fishermen can slip on the soaked deck, get hit by flying objects, or fall overboard into freezing water. In the 1990s, the Alaskan fishing industry experienced 400 deaths per 100,000 employees. That number has increased since.
  3. Sulfur Miner (East Java, Indonesia)Java’s sulfur miners gather chunks of yellow sulfur located next to a steaming, acidic volcano crater lake. The men hold their breaths and run into the clouds of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, gases that burn the eyes and throat, and grab as much sulfur as they can carry before returning to relative safety away from the lake. The miners gag, choke, and spit before repeating the process again and again. The sulfur they gather is used to bleach sugar, make matches, and vulcanize rubber. The miners are paid $10 to $15 a day, with some extra income coming from posing for photographs taken by curious tourists well away from the poisonous gas. Gloves and gas masks are unaffordable luxury items.
  4. Police Office (Kabul, Afghanistan)
    As recently as December 2011, police officers and police stations in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan, have been targeted by the Taliban soldiers and suicide bombers. CBS News reports that every day, five out of 10 Kabul police officers die on the job. Lack of training and high-tech tools, as well as government-level corruption and an economy based on the heroin trade, prevent Kabul’s police force from performing their job with any degree of safety or effectiveness.
  5. E-Waste Recycler (Guiyu, China)
    Old discarded electronics, including laptops, home entertainment systems, and smart phones, are exported to Guiyu’s electronic waste sites to be gathered and broken down, by hand, for scrap metal by thousands of low-paid workers and their children. The electronics release toxic metals and chemicals into the workers and the environment, poisoning families and their environment. The amount of e-waste on the planet is increasing at an alarming rate, mostly in developing countries, with illegal exporting and dumping contributing to the glut of toxic electronics.
  6. Truck Driver (United States)
    Driving a truck is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that truck drivers are “more likely to die in a work-related accident than the average worker,” Continue reading
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Distracted Driving: Federal Guidelines Proposed for Automakers

Today’s post is by my colleague Jon Gelman of New Jersey.

The NTHSA proposal for automatic device disabling could potentially prevent a lot of accidents caused by distracted driving.

After years of accidents in the workplace caused by the use of mobile devices in vehicles, the Federal Government today proposed universal guidelines to encourage automobile manufacturers to electronically disable these devices when a vehicle is in operation.  The enforcement of this safety-first proposal may establish a legal standard to universally bar the use of such devices in vehicles and encourage employees to have a safer working environment.

See: U.S. Department of Transportation Proposes ‘Distraction’ Guidelines for Automakers
“Issued by the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the guidelines would establish specific recommended criteria for electronic devices installed in vehicles at the time they are manufactured that require visual or manual operation by drivers. The announcement of the guidelines comes just days after President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request, which includes $330 million over six years for distracted driving programs that increase awareness of the issue and encourage stakeholders to take action. “

 

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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What Every Employee Should Know: Preparing For The Defense Independent Medical Examination (IME)

Prepping for your IME is important. Follow these guidelines to get ready.

After your work injury your employer has a right to make you go to what is called an “Independent Medical Examination” or “IME.” The IME is, basically, an examination by a doctor chosen by your employer who will take your statement of what happened and perform a physical examination. How you conduct yourself during the IME can help or hurt your case. I strongly recommend that all injured workers follow the recommendations below in preparing for an IME.

Before going to the IME, spend an hour or two writing down the history of your injury, including:

  • your current complaints based on the injury,
  • what things cause your injury to be aggravated,
  • and what care and treatment you have been given for your injury.

You will have only a limited amount of time to describe these things to the IME doctor. Therefore, you should take your written statement to the IME and hand a copy of it to the doctor. It is important that you have a well-organized statement. Then make sure what you say to the IME doctor is in keeping with your written statement. Save the written statement and give a copy of it to your attorney. He or she will be able to use the statement if the things you say in it do not end up in the IME doctor’s record.

You will probably be asked to describe your pain. Since pain is subjective, it is often difficult to describe. You might find it easiest to describe activities that worsen your pain. You should have a list of everyday activities that increase your pain. Be as truthful, accurate, and complete as possible.

Even if your care before the IME is poor, I recommend against complaining bitterly about that care. Instead focus on just describing the facts. If true, tell the IME doctor how the care so far has not worked and yet the company doctor continues giving you that same useless care; or how the company doctor spends more time communicating with the company representative than with you. Recall and apply that old admonition from “Dragnet”—“just the facts, sir, just the facts.”

After the IME, your attorney will be interested in knowing exactly what went on in the examination. Thus, after the IME, take at least one-half hour to write down as much as you can remember of the following:

  • what the doctor said,
  • what you answered,
  • what the doctor did,
  • and what if anything was dictated into a recorder,
  • the time that you arrived at the office (be as accurate as possible),
  • the time that you were placed in the examining room,
  • when the doctor entered the room,
  • and when the doctor left the room.

It may be important to have an exact record of the time the doctor spent with you in the examination room.

You need to spend some time to prepare for the IME. By following the guidelines set forth above, you will provide a truthful, accurate, and complete statement of your condition. Hopefully, the IME doctor will then provide your and your employer’s attorneys with similar findings, diagnosis, and recommendations for treatment. Of course, you should spend some time talking to your attorney before any IME. Good luck!

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Learning Ladder Safety could Save you from a Painful Injury

Today’s post is by my colleague Leonard Jernigan of North Carolina.

The proper use of ladders may seem like something better left to common sense, but it really isn’t. Employers explicitly need to teach workers how to use ladders safely.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that “falls from portable ladders are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries.” A few weeks ago a gentleman came to see me who had orthopeadic surgical wires and metal bars sticking out of his arm (for those who are not too sensitive, click here to see the photo)

He had fallen from a ladder about 15 feet and landed squarely on his hands and broke both arms.  No one was holding the base of the ladder and the ladder was more than 15 years old. Wires and metal bars were now holding his bones in place, and workers’ compensation benefits were holding him financially in place. However, since he was only making $11 dollars an hour his weekly compensation benefits were small. As you probably know, the Workers’ Compensation Act does not provide money for pain and suffering, or lost income from other jobs (think about the man who takes on two jobs to maintain a higher standard of living for his family; if he is hurt while working at one job, he is only paid for the income loss at that job, not both).

The employer has a duty to train and teach its employees how to use a ladder. Many employees (particularly young ones) have no idea how dangerous ladders can be: they assume the ladder will hold the load and will be secure when placed in position, and that it is free of defects, no matter how old. OSHA has a list of  safety considerations and these tips can be found at the Department of Labor’s web page (click here for a PDF version).

Click through for a graphic video of a ladder accident published by prevent-it.ca, a website run by the Province of Ontario (Canada)’s Ministry of Labor. Be warned that this mock-up video is a public service announcement intended to teach safety. It is scary and not for the faint of heart.

The next time you pull out a ladder at work or at home, think about these warnings and use proper safety techniques to avoid injury.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Death by Overwork: Is It Compensable?

Dangerously long working hours are a problem around the world.

Today we have a guest post from my colleague Jon Gelman of New Jersey.

Since the 1960s there has been serious social concern over health problems due to long working hours in Japan. Around that time the term Karoshi, or “death from over work,” became known.

Recent national statistics show that more than 6 million people worked for 60 h or more per week during years 2000 and 2004. Approximately three hundred cases of brain and heart diseases were recognized as labour accidents resulting from overwork (Karoshi) by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) between 2002 and 2005. Consequently, the MHLW has been working to establish a more appropriate compensation system for Karoshi, as well as preventive measures for overwork related health problems.

In 2001, the MHLW set the standards for clearly recognizing Karoshi in association with the amount of overtime working hours. These standards Continue reading

work-injury

The 12 Things You Must Do If You Are Hurt At Work

What to do if you are hurt at workInjured workers call me all the time asking me what they need to do to make sure they protect their legal rights.  If you are hurt on the job, whether it is due to an acute traumatic injury (like cutting yourself on a saw), cumulative-trauma injury (like carpal-tunnel syndrome) or some other job-related injury, there are several basic things you should do. If you do not do any of the things on the list below, you may lose your rights under Iowa’s workers’ compensation law.

Although there may be rare exceptions to this list,  following it will leave you reasonably secure that your rights are protected:

  1. Report the injury. By “injury,” I mean almost any condition including but not limited to (a) an acute traumatic injury, (b) a cumulative-trauma injury, or (c) a disease or a hearing loss. You should report the injury to your supervisor or company nurse (for clarity we’ll just call these people your Supervisor from here on out), making clear your injury was caused by work. Under Iowa law, you need to make the report within 90 days of the date of your injury.
  2. Make sure your Supervisor prepares a company accident report.  If your Supervisor won’t prepare the report, Continue reading