Category Archives: Uncategorized

Countertop Workers Face Silicosis Risk from Engineered Stone Countertops

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Engineered stone countertops, a popular fixture in today’s homes, pose a health risk to workers who cut and finish them. The danger stems from the material the countertops are made from, processed quartz, which contains silica levels up to 90 percent. Silica is linked to a debilitating and potentially deadly lung disease known as silicosis, as well as lung cancer and kidney disease.

While the countertops do not pose a risk to consumers in their homes, they do pose a risk to the workers who cut and finish them before they are installed. When the countertops are cut, silica particles are released into the air, which when breathed in by the workers can start processes leading to silicosis. Manufacturers of the engineered stone countertops assert that worker hazards can be reduced through the use of protective respirators and equipment designed to trap silica dust. Despite this assertion, many safety precautions taken by employers are often inadequate.

The first documented case of silicosis among countertop workers in the United States was reported two years ago. In countries such as Israel and Spain, where engineered stone products gained their popularity, many more countertop workers have been diagnosed with silicosis and have had to undergo lung transplants. The danger of silicosis in the construction industry led OSHA to recently issue new rules requiring construction workers’ silica exposure to be reduced by 80 percent beginning on June 23, 2017.

Injured Workers Suffer As ‘Reforms’ Limit Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from

Dennis Whedbee, 52, lost half of his left arm in a drilling accident in North Dakota in September 2012. Several years later he's still fighting with North Dakota's insurance agency to get the help he needs.Dennis Whedbee, 52, lost half of his left arm in a drilling accident in North Dakota in September 2012. Several years later he’s still fighting with North Dakota’s insurance agency to get the help he needs.

Dennis Whedbee, 52, lost half of his left arm in a drilling accident in North Dakota in September 2012. Several years later he’s still fighting with North Dakota’s insurance agency to get the help he needs. Jeff Swensen for ProPublica hide caption

itoggle caption Jeff Swensen for ProPublica

Dennis Whedbee, 52, lost half of his left arm in a drilling accident in North Dakota in September 2012. Several years later he's still fighting with North Dakota's insurance agency to get the help he needs.
Dennis Whedbee, 52, lost half of his left arm in a drilling accident in North Dakota in September 2012. Several years later he’s still fighting with North Dakota’s insurance agency to get the help he needs.

Jeff Swensen for ProPublica

Dennis Whedbee’s crew was rushing to prepare an oil well for pumping on the Sweet Grass Woman lease site, a speck of dusty plains rich with crude in Mandaree, N.D.

It was getting late that September afternoon in 2012. Whedbee, a 50-year-old derrick hand, was helping another worker remove a pipe fitting on top of the well when it suddenly blew.

Oil and sludge pressurized at more than 700 pounds per square inch tore into Whedbee’s body, ripping his left arm off just below the elbow. Co-workers jury-rigged a tourniquet from a sweatshirt and a ratchet strap to stanch his bleeding and got his wife on the phone.

"Babe," he said, "tell everyone I love them."

It was exactly the sort of accident that workers’ compensation was designed…

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The Dangers of Working with Vibrating Tools

Today’s post comes from guest author Anthony L. Lucas, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Vibration White Finger (VWF) or “Dead Finger,” now known as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), is a chronic, progressive disorder caused by regular and prolonged use of vibrating hand tools that can progress to loss of effective hand function and necrosis of the fingers. In its advanced stages, the obvious symptom is finger blanching (losing color). Other symptoms include numbness, pain, and tingling in the fingers, as well as a weakened grip.

It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of the estimated 2 million U.S. workers exposed to hand-arm vibration will develop HAVS. Some common industries and the tools associated with HAVS are listed below:

  • Agriculture & Forestry – Chainsaws
  • Automotive – Impact Wrenches, Riveting Guns
  • Construction – Jackhammers
  • Foundries – Chippers, Grinders
  • Metal Working – Buffers, Sanders
  • Mining – Jack-Leg Drills, Stoper Drills

The time between a worker’s first exposure to hand-arm vibration to the development of HAVS symptoms can range from a few months to several years. Prevention is critical because while the early stages of HAVS are usually reversible if vibration exposure is reduced or eliminated, treatment is usually ineffective after the fingers blanch. 

The Security of Metadata in Workers’ Compensation Claims

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from

Confidentiality is a crucial element in workers’ compensation matters and the removal of metadata in electronically transmitted documents are a critcal factor in the process of maintaining the level of security embraced by the system. Metadata is all hidden data in a PDF file, including text, metadata, annotations, form fields, attachments, and bookmarks.

"….Metadata is loosely defined as "data about data." More specifically, the term refers to the embedded stratum of data in electronics file that may include such information as who authored a document, when it was created, what software was used, any comments embedded within the content, and even a record of changes made to the document.

"While metadata is often harmless, it can potentially include sensitive, confidential, or privileged information. As such, it presents a serious concern for attorneys charged with maintaining confidentiality — both their own and their clients. Professional responsibility committees at several bar associations around the country have weighed in on attorneys’ ethical responsibilities regarding metadata, but the opinions vary significantly. Source: The American Bar Association
The NJ Supreme Court announced yesterday, in an Administrative Determination, that all documents in electronic format should be "scrubbed" of metadata.

"The Court addressed an important ethical question raised by New Jersey practitioners in the context of their contemporary…

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Kids’ Chance is a Family That Changes Lives

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from

This is a great article about Kids Chance. I’m one of the founding members of Kids Chance of WI, providing scholarships to children of severely injured parents in Wisconsin.

I spent last Friday and Saturday in Little Rock, Arkansas, attending the annual convention of Kids’ Chance, an organization that provides scholarships and secondary education opportunities for children who have had a parent seriously injured or killed on the job. The group that gathers for this event each year are primarily volunteers from the 33 state Kids’ Chance chapters and 3 affiliate organizations, along with representatives of the national organization and interested parties. This is my second time attending. There is one thing you learn very quickly at a Kids’ Chance event; Kids’ Chance is family, and it is a family that is changing lives.

This is a grassroots, volunteer organization, a group whose members work vociferously towards a successful end goal – "More money for more kids". In its almost 30 year history, Kids’ Chance has issued well over 5,000 scholarships totaling around $16 Million. Just as impressively, the group has doubled in size over the last 4 years, growing From 19 states to the current 36. Two of the country’s most populated states, Florida and Texas, just formed chapters, and simply by population size they should have significant impact on those numbers in coming years.

If you spent a day with the KC veterans from around the nation you would quickly understand my assessment of them as “family”. They are passionate volunteers joined by a common cause. They refer to their scholarship recipients as their “kids”. And…

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Workers’ Compensation Reforms by State

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from

Scary stuff for injured workers in Wisconsin around out country…

Over the past decade, states across the country have been unwinding a century-old compact with America’s workers: A guarantee that if you are injured on the job, your employer will pay your medical bills and enough of your wages to help you get by. In all, 33 states have passed laws that reduce benefits, create hurdles to getting medical care or make it more difficult to qualify for workers’ comp." Related Story »

Ever filed for workers’ comp? Help ProPublica investigate.


Over the past 10 months, ProPublica has analyzed reams of insurance industry data, studied arcane state laws, and interviewed hundreds of workers, businesses, attorneys, policymakers, doctors and insurance experts. Journalists obtained often confidential medical and court records and reported on the ground in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

To track the impact of the reforms nationwide for this graphic, ProPublica assigned a starting value for each state by combining a ranking of average statutory benefits conducted by Actuarial & Technical Solutions of Bohemia, N.Y., and a report from the U.S. Department of Labor that monitored how many recommendations of a 1972 presidential commission on workers’ comp that each state was following. ProPublica then analyzed state reform laws, using data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance Annual Statistical Bulletin, which rates the effects of legislation on benefit payments. In addition, ProPublica…

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Paid Family Leave and $15 Minimum Wage Coming to New York

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from

New York has enacted legislation that, over the next several years, will phase in 12 weeks of paid family leave for all employees, as well as a $15 minimum wage in New York City and other parts of New York State.


The paid family leave provisions were enacted as an amendment to the temporary disability provisions of New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law. New York’s temporary disability law provides partial wage replacement during an absence due to an employee’s own (non-work-related) medical condition. Paid family leave complements temporary disability by providing partial wage replacement when an employee is absent from work to care for a family member.

Just like temporary disability in New York, paid family leave is an insurance-style program that will be funded entirely through a nominal weekly payroll deduction. Employers will not be required to fund paid family leave.

Benefit Amount and Length of Leave

Both the benefit amount and maximum length of paid family leave will gradually increase between 2018 and 2021. Beginning January 1, 2018, an eligible employee may take up to 8 weeks of paid family leave within any 52-week calendar period and will receive 50% of his or her average weekly wage or 50% of the state average weekly wage, whichever is lower. On January 1, 2019, it increases to 10 weeks of leave and 55% of the employee’s average weekly wage, not to exceed 55% of the state average weekly wage. On January 1, 2020, it…

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FL Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument on Constitutionality of Workers’ Compensation

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 Daniel Stahl v Hialeah Hospital, et al., SC15-725 statewide – starts about 9:00 a.m.

Mr. Stahl, a nurse who was injured while working at Hialeah Hospital, filed a claim for benefits under Florida’s workers’ compensation law but was denied the benefits he believed were appropriate. He challenged the constitutionality of the law, pointing to its failure to provide benefits for workers who are permanently and partially disabled from on-the-job injuries. The First District Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the workers’ comp law and this appeal followed.

Video Portal: Florida Supreme Court Online Video Portal

Florida Supreme Court DocketCase DocketCase Number: SC15-725 – Active DANIEL STAHL vs. HIALEAH HOSPITAL, ET AL.Lower Tribunal Case(s): 1D14-3077, 04-022489

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