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New York City Worker Injury Blog

Violence Against Health Care Workers on the Rise

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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workplace violence is more likely to occur among employees who handle money in a public setting, delivery drivers, public service workers, law enforcement personnel, those who work alone or in small groups, and healthcare professionals.  Healthcare professionals are four times more likely to be injured because of violent and aggressive behavior by others.  Emergency room workers, psychiatric staff, long-term care and nursing home staff are most vulnerable.

Data on New Jersey Workplace Deaths in 2013

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 101 fatal on-the-job accidents in New Jersey in 2013.  The BLS breaks these numbers down as follows:

  • About 28 percent of these deaths were the result of workplace violence
  • Thirty-seven percent of NJ workplace fatalities involved motor vehicle accidents
  • Around 12 percent of workplace fatalities involved slips, trips and falls  
  • Toxic exposure accounted for about nine percent of workplace fatalities
  • Contact with moving or falling objects represented around 11 percent of NJ workplace deaths

Demographic data

The BLS statistics for New Jersey show that far more men than women die on the job – 96 men and 5 women in 2013.  Older men – those between 45 and 54, are slightly more likely to suffer a workplace fatality than other age groups. 

Executive Order May Improve Workplace Safety

Undocumented construction workers are at greater risk for injury and death because they are generally unwilling to risk deportation by reporting unsafe working conditions. This makes them vulnerable to exploitation by negligent employers who compromise workplace safety in their efforts to cut costs.

The recent executive action by President Obama could change things for some undocumented construction workers in New York City.  Allowing people to remain in the country with work permits, will make workers safer.  They will be able to report unsafe working conditions without fear of deportation; this will make all workers more secure. 

Update on Crane Accident Trial in NYC

The man who owned the crane that was involved in a fatal 2008 accident on the Upper East Side admitted that he never looked at the wreckage after the accident because he is afraid of heights.  Apparently he also does not know what the acronym OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) stands for. 

Worker's Compensation FAQ

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Q.  I filed a worker's compensation claim with my previous employer and am now applying for another job.  Do I need to tell my new employer about the previous claims?

A. No.  And you don't need to tell them about your claim before they hire you, either.

Q. I was injured at work and required medical treatment, but I didn't lose any work days.  Are my medical expenses covered?

A. Yes, if the Worker's Compensation Board agrees that your injury is work-related.

Trenching Accident Kills Construction Worker

A ceiling collapsed in a Staten Island car dealership last Friday, killing a construction worker.  The man was working on demolishing the building’s interior partitions. The dealership’s workers were in an adjoining building when the ceiling collapsed.  Three other construction workers were able to escape when the ceiling fell.

 

Employees Who Report Workplace Safety Violations Protected

Employees who report violations of safety and labor laws are protected under a variety of whistleblower laws. These federal laws are enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and are designed to prevent employers from retaliating against employees.

The Whistleblower Protection Laws cover employees who report any type of workplace safety violations, including those in the airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities industries. 

Work Injuries Common Among Hotel Maids and Housekeepers

Few people think about the housekeepers and maids in New York City hotels. That is reflected by the fact that 31 percent do not leave tips for housekeepers and maids. These workers are often invisible.

Yet, according to an article in USA Today, not only do these workers receive uncertain tips and low wages, on average around $21,800 per year, but they are also exposed to significant on-the-job hazards. For example, those eco-friendly housekeeping options that allow guests to reuse sheets and towels without washing for one or more days and forgo room cleaning, may be good for the environment, but they are hard on housekeepers. A room that is dirtier because it hasn't been cleaned for several is going to be harder to clean and requires the worker to work faster. This makes him or her more subject to injury --  hotel workers don't get any extra time for a room that has not been cleaned for a while. 

OSHA Issues Workplace Safety Instructions for Black Friday

On Black Friday 2008, the day after Thanksgiving, an employee of a Wal Mart store on Long Island was trampled to death as an angry mob broke into the store and trampled the worker. With other employees he had been trying to keep customers out until the official opening time, 5:00 AM, but at 4:55 AM, the crowd broke down the door.

There have been other incidents in the years since, and regulators and lawmakers have tried to require retailers to make things safer for employees as well as frenzied shoppers.  This year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a press release listing tips for retailers trying to protect their workers. Titled Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers, the fact sheet included steps retailers should take to protect workers during major sales events, such as Black Friday.  In addition to issuing the fact sheet, OSHA sent letters to major retailers reminding them of their responsibilities to protect employees. 

Firefighting: Still A Dangerous Job, Despite Improvements

Fighting fires is a very dangerous occupation.  Injury and death can be the result of smoke inhalation, serious burns, falling beams and chemical poisoning, to name but a few of the risks that firefighters face every day. But it turns out that the majority of firefighter deaths are the result of heart attacks and traffic accidents.  And these causes may in turn be caused by sleep disorders, according to a recent study.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that firefighters with sleep disorders were more likely – almost twice as likely – to experience motor vehicle accidents, fall asleep while driving and suffer from cardiovascular disease or diabetes. They were far more likely to be clinically depressed or anxious.

Are sleep problems among firefighters the consequence of the type of work schedules typical among firefighters? They are frequently scheduled for 24 hour shifts, with 48 hours off after each shift worked.  Although it may be possible to rest or sleep during the 24 hour shifts, no firefighter plans on this.