Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

If you are an active catch-and-release angler for Maryland striped bass, you may be aware of the cautions that the state’s Department of Natural Resources issue regarding the pastime. While lauding the conscientiousness of the practice, the DNR notes that “any capture event is stressful.” And so, officials urge, “careful and quick” revival and return of the fish to the water, especially in summer.

What might surprise some readers is that the same fundamental rules apply when the subject on the end of the line is a construction worker who has fallen from some significant height.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, employers who have people operating above certain heights must keep those workers safe by one of several methods. One option is a special safety harness combined with training of all workers on its proper use.

After going through the trouble of filing a workers’ compensation claim, your claim may be denied for any number of reasons. It can be a stressful, frustrating process but you have the right to appeal.

Workers’ compensation claims are often denied for simple mistakes on forms or because the employer denies fault over certain details included in your report. It may be difficult, but even after a rejection you can still appeal the decision.

Reasons for denial

Employees and independent contractors are treated differently under the law-and entitled to very different rights and benefits. An independent contractor is not eligible for workers’ compensation, overtime pay, paid time off or employer-subsidized healthcare. Therefore, hiring independent contractors instead of employees can represent significant financial advantages for an employer.

Often times, employers will try to claim that an employee is actually a contractor-in order to avoid paying for such benefits. However, simply labeling a worker as an “independent contractor” is inadequate to classify them as such. Even filing a 1099 form for a worker does not automatically make them a contractor.

The following are the core criteria used to determine a worker’s true classification:

A recent study has found that the opioid epidemic is greatly affecting Maryland employees who are receiving workers’ compensation. Nearly one third of Maryland employees who were prescribed opioids while out on workers’ compensation filled the prescription more than 90 days from the date of injury. The study sites that 90 days of opioid use is the definition of persistent use.

What the study found was that certain workers were more likely to become a persistent user of their prescribed opioid.

Who is most at risk?

A workplace injury can deeply impact a person. Given this, Maryland’s workers’ comp system can be very important for people in the state who have been hurt while working. Under this system, people who have suffered a qualifying work injury can be entitled to benefits which can help with recovering from an injury and coping with its effects.

What types of benefits can workers get in relation to workers’ comp claims here in Maryland? Four of the main types benefits are:

  • Medical benefits: A work injury can leave a worker with a variety of medical needs. Under the workers’ comp system, injured workers can receive benefits covering the expenses of the services needed to meet these needs. This can include coverage of things such as treatments, surgeries, medicine, medical devices, hospital services and nursing services.

Annapolis is home of the U.S. Naval Academy. The entire Washington, D.C., region is a hub for the defense contracting industry. The deliverables those companies provide to U.S. activities around the world run the gamut from general services, supplies, construction and private security. According to some recent data, the number of U.S. contract employees in Afghanistan is more than double the number of regular military troops.

It should surprise any reader to learn that this population of individuals faces unique on-the-job risks. Being in a war zone has a way of doing that. And, just like any employee of nearly any company in the United States, there is a federal law that requires employers with workers on overseas U.S. military bases to provide worker’s compensation insurance to them. It’s the Defense Base Act (DBA) and it’s an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

What DBA covers

Thousands of Maryland employees head to work every morning with thoughts of the end of the day already in their minds. Little thought may be given to the duties needed to be performed while on the job, as the task is usually something that is completed on an almost daily basis. Sometimes the employees become complacent, and other times, employers fail to provide their workers with what they need to complete the job safely. When an employee is injured or killed while performing work-related tasks, workers’ compensation is a benefit that many will utilize to help see their family through the financial rough patch that will most likely follow the incident.

A power company in another state was issued a “willful” violation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after five employees lost their lives while performing maintenance at a power plant. The men were instructed to unclog a slag pool, which is created as a byproduct that resembles lava and reaches comparable temperatures. According to OSHA, the particular tank the men were to unclog had been blocked for at least 13 hours. Protocol details that the unit should have been shut off after 6 to 8 hours of a clog or issue.

The team assembled and attempted to drain and release the clog using high-pressure water hoses. Before they could complete the task, the clog at the top of the tank burst, raining down hot slag on the men, burning them instantly. Plant procedure dictates that the broiler was to be turned off before maintenance, but OSHA learned that the broiler was actually functioning at full capacity.

Defending and protecting the innocent and upholding the law is a serious job that puts the life of a law enforcement officer at risk on a daily basis. Maryland police officers understand the risk and continue to provide countless services to the community. Should a deputy become injured or die in the line of duty, workers’ compensation, pension plans and state and federal government benefit programs offer payouts to surviving families.

A 43-year-old Baltimore police officer was fatally shot while investigating a triple homicide. The initial conclusion was that the incident occurred after a violent struggle with an unknown suspect, but some are questioning whether this may have actually been a suicide. It appears that the weapon used in the crime was the officer’s own service revolver. The chief medical examiner has ruled the officer’s death as a homicide, but is continuing to be updated on findings.

Surviving families of officers that have fallen in the line of duty are entitled to a $350,000 payout through the U.S. Department of Justice, pension agreements and workers’ compensation. However, if an officer is found to have contributed to or caused his or her death, all benefits may be reduced or denied entirely. If benefits are denied, the burden of proof lies with the surviving family to establish the death was not the result of the officer own intentional actions.

Most companies have in place guidelines and procedures to help ensure employees remain safe at work. Laws in Maryland and all other states dictate that employers maintain a certain level of training and perform periodic equipment inspections to help avoid on-the-job injuries. Nevertheless, accidents can and still do occur. To protect Maryland workers, the workers’ compensation insurance program is in place to help victims of on-the-job injuries financially with coverage of medical bills and lost income while recuperating.

An assistant plant manager fell victim to a workplace accident after becoming locked inside a 300-foot kiln. The machine is designed to use extreme heat on clay pots. The 42-year-old father of three became trapped inside while servicing the kiln and the machine engaged. He was found the following morning. The coroners report listed environmental asphyxiation as the cause of death.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the pottery plant company with six willful violations and 21 serious violations. A look back into previous investigations have shown that the company had been cited for similar violations in the past. The company and OSHA reached a settlement of $545,160 and the plant has since rectified the listed safety violations.

Safety in the Maryland workplace has improved dramatically, especially since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was set in place. Across the nation, employers have implemented new safety standards and training procedures according to the guidelines set forth by OSHA to help ensure the workplace is safe for their employees. Should an employee become injured while on the job, the workers’ compensation program is available to provide funds to help employees get back on their feet.

One of the largest utility providers in another state is under investigation as OSHA begins to probe multiple separate incidents that have injured and killed many workers. One incident occurred in May when anhydrous ammonia leaked and sent four employees to the hospital for treatment. The ammonia, which can burn skin and cause death by suffocation was blamed on a pipe that had too much pressure.

According to reports, the company has been cited in this case for not having the proper emergency response plan in place to protect the employees should an incident like this occur. The employees present during the gas leak were not wearing the required protective gear and masks. After this, another incident happened that resulted in employee deaths, which is still under investigation. An incident extremely similar in nature that injured three workers was experienced by the same company in 1997. Safety procedures and trainings were discussed, but shortly abandoned because of cost.

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