Category Archives: Uncategorized

San Antonio driver says he didn’t know immigrants were in truck

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.cnn.com

A federal complaint shed light on the ordeal. One man from Mexico, who crossed the border through Laredo, Texas, said he and his brother traveled for a day before they climbed into the tractor-trailer; another man said he spent nearly 11 days at a Laredo "stash house" with about two dozen others before their journey on the semi.

"This most recent example is an example of human smuggling where individuals were brought into the United States in violation of immigration law," Jack Staton, acting assistant director for intelligence for Homeland Security Investigations at ICE, told reporters on Monday.

When police came to investigate the semi, an officer found "multiple people standing and laying at and around the rear of the trailer," according to a criminal complaint against Bradley.

"Bradley advised the officer that the trailer he was hauling had been sold and he was transporting the trailer from Schaller, Iowa, to Brownsville, Texas," on the border with Mexico, the federal criminal complaint says. Bradley said he was delivering the truck to its new owner in Brownsville at his boss’ request, but that he was not given a time frame nor a delivery address, the complaint said.

Bradley later told authorities he was traveling to San Antonio from Laredo, Texas, after getting the tractor-trailer washed and detailed, the complaint said. After the wash at the Laredo truck stop, Bradley said he drove to the "old truck stop," which was…

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OSHA’s Campaign to Keep Workers Safe in the Heat

Today’s post was shared by US Dept. of Labor and comes from www.osha.gov

Image of construction workers
Image of construction workers

#WaterRestShade Tweets

Our Heat Illness Prevention campaign, launched in 2011, educates employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat. Through training sessions, outreach events, informational sessions, publications, social media messaging and media appearances, millions of workers and employers have learned how to protect workers from heat. Our safety message comes down to three key words: Water. Rest. Shade.

Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in extreme heat or humid conditions. More than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but workers in every field are susceptible. There are a range of heat illnesses and they can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition.

Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program.

  • Provide workers with water, rest and shade.
  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
  • Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.
  • Monitor workers for signs of illness.

OSHA’s Occupational Exposure to Heat page explains what employers can do to keep workers safe and what workers need to know -…

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Opt-Out Act in Oklahoma… and Beyond?!

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from www.workerscompensation.com

Oklahoma City, OK (WorkersCompensation.com) – In September of 2016, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the 2013 revision to the state’s workers’ compensation laws contained the Opt-Out Act, which violated the Oklahoma Constitution. Under this Act, an employer could opt out of participating in the Oklahoma workers’ compensation system and instead establish an employee benefit plan, which would be governed by federal law under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

In the case of Vasquez v. Dillards, the claimant, Jonnie Vasquez, alleged an injury to her shoulder that occurred as a result of lifting boxes in the Dillard’s store where she worked. Dillard’s initially provided benefits but then stopped because it alleged she had a pre-existing condition. The claim was slated to go to a hearing before the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission, and that’s where the Opt-Out Act became important.

Dillard’s argued that the claim should be heard in federal court as it has jurisdiction over ERISA matters. The federal court in Oklahoma disagreed and sent the case back to the Commission, which held that the Opt-Out Act violated the state constitution in part because it provided for different remedies (federal court vs. state employment commission) for claims.

Dillard’s appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which agreed with the Commission’s conclusion and held that the Opt-Out Act “creates…

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Made by a robot…driven by a computer

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

The workers’ compensation scheme is being challenged to potential extinction by the workplace in which it was created decades ago. Stressed by economic challenges that have been fueled by globalization and technology, workers’ compensation benefit programs are now being dismantled by historic reforms that attack the core philosophical principles of its very existence.

The evolving dynamic of the world’s automobile industry provides a focus on the new economy where goods are made by robots and operated by a computer.

“Nobody knows how the world is going to look” in the coming years, said Mr. Harms, a bearded 41-year-old dressed in a gray cardigan over a crisply pressed white shirt. “The biggest skill you have to have is the ability to change.” “I am convinced that we are going to see more change in the next 10 or 15 years than we have seen in the last 100 years,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, a member of the BMW management board, said in a telephone interview. “The big question is always, Do we car manufacturers learn to become tech companies more quickly than a tech company learns to be an automotive player?”

Click here to read the entire article. German Automakers Step Up to Silicon Valley Challenge (NY Times)

For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

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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 www.npr.org

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 workers-compensation.blogspot.com

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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