Articles Posted in Workers Compensation

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Local News

13th Street Bridge Construction FallEmergency crews made a harrowing recovery over the 13th Street Bridge Wednesday morning, July 16, 2014, when a construction worker became injured and stranded high above the Chatahoochee River.

WTVM News reports, a Columbus construction worker was struck by a network of chain link metal while working on the side of the 13th Street Bridge, which connects Columbus to Phenix City. The metal, which serves to trap falling debris, came lose and struck the worker, leaving him injured and immobilized over the waters. Supported only by his safety harness and cable, the worker was left dangling beneath the bridge in audible pain for several hours as emergency crews worked to free him. A high-angle rescue team was able to stabilize the victim lowering him in a stokes basked to the river shore and then back up over the bridge.

The victim was transported to the hospital. Thankfully, the battalion chief reports the injuries are non life-threatening.

Our Legal Take

As the victim was working at the time of his accident he is almost certainly entitled to workers compensation benefits per Georgia law. In addition to compensation available under the workers compensation code, the victim may have an additional claim against the bridge inspector and metal sheeting manufacturer, should their negligence have contribute to this accident.

13th Street Bridge Construction AccidentUnfortunately, employers and insurance companies are often most concerned with getting employees back to work quickly rather than their long-term needs and medical care. As such, it is imperative the victim retain an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation and personal injury immediately to ensure their best interests are protected. A thorough inspection of all equipment and structures involved must be performed before any evidence may be removed, damaged or destroyed.

The Murray Law Firm has extensive experience in protecting victims of catastrophic construction accidents, such as this, and we offer our legal expertise, if needed. Anyone seeking further information is encouraged to contact us at 706.494.2800.

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Local News

MFG Chemical Plant Dalton

MFG Chemical Plant, Kimberly Drive, Dalton

A chemical leak at the Dalton MFG Chemical plant left one employee injured Monday, July 7, 2014.

According to the AJC, the accident occurred just after 6:00am at the MFG Chemical, Inc. plant on Kimberly Park Drive in Dalton, GA. An employee was adding a chemical into a plant reactor to produce maleic anhydride when vapors from the chemical reaction escaped before the employee could shut the lid. The worker inhaled the vapor, injuring his respiratory tract. He was airlifted to a burn center in Augusta for treatment.

Maleic anhydride is primarily used to create polyester resins used to manufacture boats, automobiles, trucks, piping, buildings, electrical goods, and other products. The EPA warns, acute inhalation of maleic anhydride may cause injury to the respirator tract, burning of the larynx, reflex cough, lacrimation, headaches, eye irritation, and corneal burns. Additional injuries and medical complications may be sustained from chronic exposure to the substance.

Dalton Fire Chief, Bruce Satterfield, expressed concerns over the repeat occurrences at the MFG Dalton plants. Monday’s chemical leak is the third MFG safety incident to strike the company’s Dalton facilities over the past ten years.

In April 2004, a runaway reaction at the Callahan Road plant released toxic, flammable chemicals into the air, forcing over 200 families to evacuate the area. One worker suffered chemical burns in that incident and over 150 people were treated for chemical exposure. In May 2012, a second runaway reaction at the Callahan Road plant caused a reactor explosion. 40 people were sent to hospitals for decontamination in that incident.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now investigating this latest MFG Chemical plant incident. Federal investigators previously cited MFG Chemical for failure to anticipate the potential chemical hazards of the 2004 runaway reaction and for failing to adequately prepare an emergency response.

The cause of the latest incident and condition of the injured employee have not yet been released.

Our Legal Take

As the employee was working at the time of the accident he is almost certainly entitled to substantial workers’ compensation benefits per Georgia law. Further claims may also be filed should an equipment malfunction have kept the reactor from closing properly or should a third party error have contributed to an unplanned chemical reaction.

Total financial recovery may be in the millions of dollars. A claim of this magnitude would not only ensure the long-term medical needs of the victim, but also call on MFG and other Georgia chemical plants to implement safety procedures and equipment to protect employees from hazardous leaks and chemical reactions. Particularly given MFG Chemical’s previous citations for failing to anticipate chemical hazards, a reevaluation of safety procedures and equipment to protect both employees and the community is crucial.

Unfortunately, insurance companies and employers are often more concerned with returning employees to work quickly than providing victims and their families with the long-term medical care and compensation they deserve. As such, photographs and a thorough inspection of the plant and equipment will need to be retained immediately before any evidence is destroyed. Given the complexity of this case, it is crucial that the victim retain a law firm experienced in both workers’ compensation and personal injury without delay to ensure the best interests of his family are protected.

The Murray Law Firm works tirelessly to protect employees injured in catastrophic work accidents, such as this, and we offer our legal expertise, if needed. Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us at 706.494.2800.

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Following a recent surge in preventable cell tower fatalities and injuries, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is warning cellphone tower owners and contractors to comply with safety standards.

As carriers scramble to upgrade networks with LTE technology, promising cellphone users better wireless speeds, we are once again experiencing a rise in cellphone tower accidents. The surge happened previously when carriers upgraded 3G technology and the pattern promises to continue as technology advances, if tower owners and contract companies don’t make employee safety a priority.

The Wall Street Journal Reports:

The warning in a letter to employers followed a rise last year in fatalities among tower climbers, a job once called the most dangerous in America. The agency said it is concerned about the possibility of future incidents, especially when employees of subcontractors are doing the hazardous work, and warned that companies could face penalties if they don’t do enough to prevent falls.

It also said it would look not only at the contractors that do the work, but also at the larger companies and carriers that order it up.

“It is imperative that the cell tower industry take steps immediately to address this pressing issue,” the agency said in the letter, which was dated Monday and sent Tuesday to about 100 communication-tower employers. “It is your responsibility to prevent workers from being injured or killed while working on communication towers.”

In the past, carriers have said that tower work “isn’t their core business and, while they care about safety, they shouldn’t be held responsible when subcontractors violate safety standards.” Contract companies often place the blame on employees, saying those who violate safety standards “are subject to termination.”

However, these preventable tragedies are not always the result of failure to properly use equipment, but also equipment failures, falling objects, structural collapses and a lack of adequate safety training. Thus, while employees must use provided safety equipment, other parties need to start taking responsibility for the lives and safety of these employees. Cell towers need to be designed with maintenance safety as a priority. Contractors need to properly train employees and enforce these safety standards.

OSHA is now starting to crack down on the entire industry, finally making carriers, tower owners and equipment manufacturers accountable:

In a strategic shift, the November letter encouraged compliance officers to pay special attention to the chain of contractors connected to the site, as well as the wireless carriers that ordered the work. Investigators “should make sure to collect information regarding contract oversight issues, and obtain copies of any relevant contract documents,” the letter said. “Try to identify, as far as possible, not only the name of the company performing the tower work, but the tower owner, carrier, and any other relevant parties in the contracting chain.”

The Murray Law Firm works tirelessly to protect victims and families of catastrophic work accidents, such as this, and is encouraged by OSHA’s recent efforts to make the cellphone industry safer for employees. By holding employers, carriers, tower owners and equipment manufacturers accountable, many lives may be spared. We offer our legal expertise to the employees and families, if needed. Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us toll free at 888.842.1616.