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Columbus Injured Worker Legal Blog

Trench collapses threaten workers with injury or death

Ohio workers who build sewers or work on other jobs that require them to remain below the surrounding grade for many hours are constantly threatened by collapse of the soil and rock around them. In three separate incidents involving Ohio construction companies, the failure to provide adequate precautions against such workplace accidents have resulted in one death, one serious injury and a citation for violating the regulation that requires the use of cribs, shoring and other safety measures to prevent trenches from collapsing.

In an accident in June 2016, a worker was buried as he was digging soil out of a 12-foot trench. He was buried by thousands of pounds of sand and rocks, and he was dead when rescuers recovered his body several hours later. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company $274,359 for violations of anti-cave-in regulations. A second incident occurred on Nov. 19, 2016, when a worker installing sewer lines was buried by an estimated 14,000 pounds of dirt in the collapse of an eight-foot trench. Co-workers responded immediately and were able to dig the man out before he suffocated. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where his condition was not disclosed.

Obtaining Workers' Compensation benefits for occupational disease

Many workers in Ohio have contracted illnesses that were caused by the conditions under which they worked. Such illnesses are referred to as "occupational diseases." A person who has contracted an occupational disease that was caused by work-related conditions may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

A medical diagnosis must confirm the existence of the disease and the causal connection between the disease and one or more work-related conditions. Also, the conditions of the individual's employment that caused the disease must create a greater chance of a worker contracting the disease than the chance faced by the general public. Among the possible causes of occupational disease are:

  • Gases, dust or fumes;
  • Toxic Substances;
  • Chemicals;
  • Extreme changes in noises, temperature and pressure;
  • Vibration, a radioactive ray, constant use that results in pressure or a physical movement that constitutes constant repetition;
  • Infectious organisms;
  • Radiation.

Ohio bakery fined for failing to remove safety hazard

To the average Ohioan, bakeries do not seem especially hazardous places to work. This perception may be changed by charges leveled at an Ohio wholesale bakery by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an employee suffered a severe workplace injury.

The incident occurred on May 16, 2016 at the Klosterman Baking Company in Cincinnati. OSHA investigated the accident and found that a worker was using an air wand to remove bread crumbs from a bread wrapping machine; the machinery moved, causing the worker to lose his right arm below the elbow. On July 7, 2016, OSHA found that the bakery company had failed to correct the hazard that caused the injury and that workers were still exposed to serious injury. The employer was faulted for failing to cut off electricity to the machine while it was being cleaned. After the accident, the company did not alter its safety procedures and continued to permit employees to clean the machine while it was capable of operating and causing serious injury.

3 Myths about Social Security Disability benefits

Individuals who are injured or disabled and unable to work may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. But the process of obtaining benefits is not always easy.

There are many myths and misconceptions about Social Security Disability benefits. Let's take a look at three of them.

OSHA fines auto parts manufacturer for multiple safety violations

Workplace injuries often result from the failure of employers to install and use appropriate safety mechanisms. In a recent case in Ohio, the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration fined Milark Industries, Inc., an auto parts manufacturer, $536,249 for a series of safety violations that the agency discovered after an extended investigation of numerous workplace accidents.

OSHA opened the investigation in May 2016 after receiving complaints of safety violations. The agency reviewed the company's injury logs from facilities at Baird Parkway and Rupp Road in Mansfield. The agency concluded that the company committed the following acts:

  • failed to lock out robotic welding cells and tube bender when not in use
  • bypassed safety interlocks on various machines in order to maintain the production rated
  • failed to use safety devices while conducting maintenance activities
  • failed to train workers in safety measures intended to prevent machinery operation during service and maintenance procedures

Do Ohio workers compensation benefits include rehabilitation?

Many people in Ohio who have suffered work-related injuries would like to be able to return to work, and they naturally wonder if they can receive vocational rehabilitation as part of the workers' compensation benefits. In this blog, we will summarize the conditions that must be satisfied in order to obtain rehabilitation services for a workplace injury.

Regulations promulgated by the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation state that "vocational rehabilitation is the process of restoring the vocational functioning of a worker who experiences an industrial injury or occupational disease." The worker must voluntarily agree to participate in the rehabilitation program. Also, rehabilitation services must be focused on allowing the injured worker to return to work and not on medical management of the injury or illness.

How does workers' compensation law define "injury"?

In prior posts, we have explained that any person working in Ohio who suffers an injury related to their employment is eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In this post, we will explore the precise definition of "injury" including what kinds of conditions are included in the definition and what kinds of conditions are excluded.

Ohio's workers' compensation statute relies on the common definition of the word "injury," that is, damage to the body. The injury must be accidental in both its character and its result. Certain conditions are explicitly excluded from the definition of injury. Psychiatric conditions are not considered to be an injury unless they arose from or were caused by a work-related injury. An emotional injury caused by sexual conduct that was coerced by threat of physical harm is also considered to be an injury for purposes of workers' compensation. Other excluded conditions are the natural deterioration of tissue and organ or other part of the body and any condition that existed before the injury in question, unless the injury substantially aggravated the pre-existing condition.

Opioid use more heavily regulated for injured Ohio workers

For those suffering from a workplace injury, there can be severe pain associated with the incident. It can often be too debilitating for a person to enjoy everyday activities, let alone be able to work after workplace injury. Work injuries can happen in multiple ways and in different injuries. What many have in common is that oftentimes injured workers have to rely on opioid pain relievers in order to manage their pain.

Of course with opioid use comes the risk of long-term dependency. To counter-act this, the Ohio's Bureau of Workers' Compensation is limiting who and how the workers' comp prescriptions can be filled. With this limitation, injured workers may find it difficult to fill prescription for pain medications necessary to get through the day. However, the intention behind regulation is pure in that it is encouraging healthy use of opioid prescriptions.

A summary of Ohio workers' compensation benefits

In our last post, we provided an overview of the essential provisions of Ohio's workers' compensation law. In this post, we will provide a summary of the kinds of benefits that may be paid if a claim for workers' compensation is successful.

The type and amount of benefits that are paid depends upon three factors: the nature of the injury, the extent (percent of disability) of the injury and whether the injury is permanent. Virtually all injured workers will receive a "temporary total" benefit if they are totally disabled, even for a short period of time. A "scheduled loss" award is paid to workers who lose a limb or suffer blindness or loss of hearing. These awards are based upon the worker's medical condition prior to treatment or rehabilitation. A worker whose injury permanently causes the partial loss of use of a limb will receive a "percentage of permanent partial award" based upon the severity of the permanent injury. A worker who is rendered totally and permanently disabled by his or her injury will receive a lifetime benefit based upon the extent of the loss of earning capacity. (A worker who is permanently and totally disabled may also be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits).

Can My Boss Fire Me For Filing A Workers' Comp Claim?

If you are ever injured at work, you may worry about upsetting your boss and losing your job if you decide to seek workers' comp benefits. Thankfully, this is not something you need to fear in Ohio.

In fact, Ohio law expressly states that an employer cannot fire, demote, reassign or take any form of punitive action against you simply because you have filed a workers' comp claim or testified in a workers' compensation proceeding. Furthermore, if your employer violates this anti-retaliation law, you may be entitled to seek:

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Philip J. Fulton Law OfficeRepresenting Victims Of Workplace Injuries And Disability

89 East Nationwide Boulevard
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Columbus, OH 43215

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