COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Posted in recent news

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Despite thriving online sales, Amazon.com Inc. has not had a smooth adjustment to COVID-19 and its effects. As its employees struggle to remain healthy and safe, Amazon has been criticized by multiple organizations.  A great example of this points to a local warehouse, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun conducting an investigation into the handling of workers’ conditions at an Amazon, Inc. facility near Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

The Hazleton warehouse, which is often referred to as AVP1, has made national news for its willingness to raise concerns with working conditions.  The primary complaint coming out of the facility is a lack of preparedness to handle the virus. The grievances included workers’ access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), an inability to maintain social distancing guidelines, access to hand sanitizer, along with other disinfectants, and a lack of time allotted to be able to wash their hands.  Amazon, Inc. has strict production quotas, which have been lifted since news of the allegations surfaced.  In the first week of April, fear of infection grew so large, that employees were instructed not to touch shipments to or from AVP1 for 24 hours.

AVP1 is one of 10 such facilities like it in the United States, and one of many Amazon, Inc. facilities dealing with outbreaks of confirmed COVID-19 cases.  In Staten Island, NY, workers made national headlines by staging multiple protests in the last 30 days.  Amazon, Inc. has disputed many claims made by its employees, and has fired one of the employees that orchestrated the Staten Island protest that sparked a work stoppage.

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During this time of crisis, it’s extremely important to understand that COVID-19, if contracted during your course of work, qualifies as a Workers’ Compensation illness.  In other words, if you end up getting the disease, because of a coworker, client, or anyone else you come in contact with during the course of your work day, you may be eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits because of it.  As the information regarding the disease, and how it relates to Workers’ Compensation benefits grows, the demand will too.

Workers’ Compensation is one of our state’s greatest achievements.  It allows injured workers to receive benefits despite missing time from work.  However, in order to receive these benefits, the cause of your missed time must be work-related. This is the biggest challenge in proving any occupational illness as a workers’ compensation injury, because it can be difficult to prove that you got the virus at work and not from someone outside of work. If you were directly exposed at work to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and you have bene effectively socially isolating yourself outside of work, you may have a good case.

Why is it important that you are aware of these protections?  As the disease spreads, the likelihood of getting it increases.  If you are considered essential, you will be forced to leave isolation and put yourself at risk for the greater good of our country.  We are so thankful for your sacrifices and continued dedication, but also recognize the risks that come with it.  With growing cases will come growing demand for Workers’ Compensation benefits due to increased exposure.  If you experience COVID-19 symptoms we recommend you immediately contact a medical professional.  If you are forced to miss time from work because of these symptoms, or any other injury/illness, you should immediately contact a Workers’ Compensation attorney.

Quad Graphics, a company with facilities all over the world, will be closing its Humboldt Industrial Park location on June 1, 2018.  The closing of the Hazleton area plant will lead to around 165 people being out of work.  Employees were made aware of the closing at a meeting on March 23rd.

Quad Graphics acquired the Hazleton facility as part of its purchase of World Color Press in July 2010.  Quad Graphics specializes in producing printed phonebooks and directories.  Many employees anticipated this closure with the decline of the printing industry.  With so much information available in digital form the need for printed phone books and directories has become outdated and almost obsolete.

After the Friday meeting, alerting them of the closure, employees were sent home for safety reasons.  Officials did not want employees continuing to work dealing with the news that they would be losing their jobs in a few months. Officials with the company said these 165 workers will not be offered a position at Quad Graphic’s other facilities.  According to the press release, full-time employees represented by the union are part of a collective bargaining agreement that provides severance pay.  All other employees will receive separation benefits that include pay, extension of healthcare and assistance with career outplacement.

Federal investigators have charged a Williamsport bridge contractor in a trench collapse in 2015 that led to the death of one of its employees.  The employee was killed when he was crushed by dirt at a jobsite near Millville in Columbia County, PA.

Susquehanna Supply Company was charged Tuesday with violating an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirement that resulted in the death.  Among those OSHA guidelines was a requirement that trenches have an adequate protective system, such as sloped walls.

osha citationsOn July 7, 2015, while rehabilitating a bridge over Little Fishing Creek, the employee entered a trench to remove additional soil. The trench was approximately 12 ft. deep. The company’s site-specific safety program addressed the applicable OSHA regulations. However, they had not implemented a protective system in the trench. One of the trench’s dirt walls collapsed, burying the employee up to his chest and crushing him against the bridge’s concrete support. The collapse killed the employee almost instantly.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in a news release that it has issued a “serious citation” to Stalwart Films LLC. OSHA said it proposed the maximum allowable fine of $12,675 for “failure to provide adequate protection from fall hazards” while filming the popular television show, “The Walking Dead.”

John Bernecker, the 33 year old stuntman, died last summer from injuries suffered in a 20 foot fall on the set in Georgia.

The citation read that “the employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which was free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm in that employees were exposed to a fall hazard.”  The citation also gave some feasible and acceptable means of reducing the fall hazard including reducing the fall distance, using a freefall catch system, and providing and requiring the use of appropriate personal protective equipment.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration will investigate the death of an Amazon employee that occurred Tuesday September 19th at an Amazon warehouse in Cumberland County.

Cumberland County Coroner Charles Hall says 28-year-old Devan Shoemaker was killed when he was run over by a truck at the facility.  Shoemaker was trying to help a truck driver hook up a trailer to his rig when he was accidentally run over.  He was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:15pm.

According to OSHA spokeswoman Joanna Hawkins, the agency has up to 6 months to complete its investigation of the fatal incident.

Phoenix LogoEmployee exposure to and lack of protection from highly flammable and potentially fatal chemicals has caused the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to cite and fine a Connecticut chemical manufacturer.

Phoenix Products Co. violated 15 requirements of workplace safety regarding chemicals and will be charged with a $61,600 fine.

The company produces both swimming pool chemicals as well as chemicals found in nail polish remover. Their processes deal with highly combustible substances such as acetone and isopropyl alcohol 99 percent that could easily put workers’ lives in danger. For this reason, OSHA has a required process safety management program that Phoenix Products Co. failed to provide.

Roof SafetyA Massachusetts roofing contractor is facing major fines for yet again placing its employees in potential life-threatening working environments.

The guilty party, A S General Construction Inc., has had repeated offenses of failing to provide their workers with both the fall protection and proper safety training that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires.

This time, the company had employees working on an unguarded roof 26 feet from the ground, connected only by an incorrectly crafted ladder-jack scaffold.

OSHA and Industrial Truck Association WorkersThrough a renewed alliance with the Industrial Truck Association, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is working to minimize the amount of injuries and deaths related to powered industrial trucks. The renewed alliance is for another five years, and the primary topics of interest over this time will include tip-over and struck-by dangers.

For those employees who work with these trucks, the alliance will serve to provide more efficient resources and training so that potential life threatening dangers can be more readily recognized and accidents can be prevented.

Other OSHA promotions that will be pushed through this alliance include preventing falls, heat illness, and supporting a “culture of safety.” This culture includes preventing workers from being crushed under fallen equipment such as forklifts.

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19-year-old Mason Cox was killed after being pulled into a wood chipper in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.

Reports say Cox was trying to kick a tree branch that he was loading into the chipper when his leg got caught in the tree branch.

Cox had just recently been hired by Crawford’s Tree and Stump Grinding Service and the accident occurred on his first day on the job.