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Kansas City Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Teachers claim moldy classrooms causing work-related illness

Every so often, there will be media reports concerning the harm that mold spores can cause to one's health when they are present in a home or workplace. Unfortunately, the warnings are often ignored as being overblown or irrelevant when it comes to seeking the cause of a work-related illness. However, dangerous mold spores may be present in many Missouri workplaces without the employees realizing what could be causing their symptoms.

Recently, one school district reported that it has seen an increase in the numbers of teachers and other employees who have sought benefits from their workers' compensation program. Out of an estimated 175 teachers at one school, approximately 40 of them have been out due to mold exposure. Though many of the affected teachers are out for less than 30 days, the absences are causing many parents to feel that their children's education is suffering.

OSHA prevented from protecting workers on small farms

A 1976 government bill was passed that effectively prevents the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from protecting the well-being of an estimated 1.2 million workers. Though nearly 93 percent of the farms in this country meet the definition of a small farming operation, this OSHA exemption has resulted in an estimated 330 deaths over a six-year span. It is possible that Missouri workers employed by a small farm could face dangerous conditions.

OSHA officials would not have been called to investigate the cause of those fatal accidents. The federal agency is also prevented from conducting safety inspections or providing information to farmers that could prevent a serious accident from occurring. The 1976 provision was inserted as a way of preserving the rights of the individual farmer who employs 10 or fewer non-family workers. Unfortunately, this concession to lessen government interference has lead to often dangerous working conditions.

Cargill taking strides to reduce chances of workplace injury

One of the largest privately owned companies in the world has likely seen its share of injured workers due to its vast holdings around the country. However, it recently announced that it was taking strides to improve the safety of its employees, particularly those who work in its meat processing facilities. Missouri workers who do suffer from a workplace injury will often seek assistance from the state's workers' compensation program.

According to statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor, an estimated 1,360 workers suffered injuries while working with cattle. Due to the large size and unpredictable nature of these animals, several of these incidents were fatal. An operations manager with Cargill Meat Solutions recently spoke about how new technology may prevent many of these accidents by keeping workers from harm's way. The company took notice of robots that were being utilized in the security sector that could be converted for use with cattle.

Workers injured; 1 missing after serious industrial accident

Working in an industrial environment requires close attention to details and set protocols in order to reduce the risks of an injury befalling the workers. Unfortunately, even the most conscientious employees can become victims of a serious industrial accident. These types of accidents can leave Missouri workers with life-changing injuries.

Recently, several employees of a hazardous waste facility were injured in a powerful explosion in one of the buildings. According to a company official, the explosion caused major structural damage to the building as well as removed the outer shell. Three workers were transported for treatment of undisclosed injuries. A fourth employee has remained unaccounted for in the aftermath of the incident.

OSHA finds federal agency in violation of safety regulations

Many workers seek coveted employment with government offices -- whether local or federal -- in order to obtain benefits and job security. However, regardless of the workplace, all employers are required to follow the safety and health regulations that fall under the purview of OSHA. Missouri workers who believe that an injury or illness was caused by unsafe working conditions are entitled to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits.

Earlier this year, investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that officials with the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development Division, violated several safety regulations when it conducted an abatement for lead paint within its offices located in its headquarters. Employees arrived at work to find that their offices were being cleared of lead paint contamination. According to the findings of OSHA inspectors, office officials did not notify staff that the work was scheduled to begin. Many employees continued to work in the vicinity during the abatement process.

Construction worker killed after apparent equipment failure

The construction industry is rife with the possibility of serious harm befalling workers. No matter the amount of experience one has, or the safety precautions that are in place, no one is immune to the danger of being seriously injured in an accident. Every Missouri construction worker likely takes this risk into consideration when heading to their job sites every day.

Recently, a construction worker suffered a serious accident while working on a site located on the grounds of a public school. According to officials, the man was employed with a local company and delivering pipe to the work site. He was apparently operating a crane mounted to a boom truck at the time that the incident occurred. The preliminary report states that the 55-year-old was outside of the cab of the truck when an equipment malfunction occurred.

Government denies claims of occupational disease for some workers

Workers employed in high-risks fields are often aware that their health and safety could be in jeopardy. Regardless, many workers find that in order to provide for their families, they must often work in environments that pose a danger of contracting an occupational disease. Whenever a Missouri worker feels that his or her employment caused a serious or life-threatening illness, he or she is entitled to seek benefits from the workers' compensation program.

One employer seems to have unusually high numbers of employees who have been sickened or even died. The government took steps in 2000 to purportedly ensure that employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the country's largest nuclear weapons factory, and other nuclear sites were guaranteed access to benefits from workers' compensation for work-related illnesses; however, many claims were denied. Whistleblowers have claimed that they faced termination or other reprisals for reporting radiation exposure problems. The widow of one worker reported numerous exposures to radiation during his approximately 18 years of employment.

Employees may have options over concerns for workplace safety

There are federal regulations to ensure that workers are provided with a safe working environment. While the majority of companies take measures to comply with those regulations, there are some employees who may face needless hazards on the job. Provided certain conditions exist, Missouri workers may have the right to refuse to work if they have serious concerns over workplace safety.

According to the guidelines provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workers are entitled to a workplace free from unnecessary dangers. If an employee fears that he or she faces a significant risk of a serious injury or death, OSHA states that workers may rightfully refuse to work until the conditions are corrected. However, before workers can take that step, they are first required to inform their employer of their concerns if possible. If the employer refuses to take corrective actions, then the employee may refuse to work provided that he or she is doing so for valid concerns.  

Tragic accident on the job kills inmate on work release

Having a trade or a profession that one excels at can often make the difference when one is working to make a positive change in life. Sadly, when one works in the construction field, the possibility of a serious accident on the job can have tragic consequences. There are many Missouri families who have been forever changed when these accidents have taken the life of a loved one.

Recently, a man who was working to turn his life in a better direction earned the opportunity to be a part of a work release program. He had been sentenced to serve time after a previous drunk driving conviction and subsequent parole violation. He was working for a construction company that was one of the approximately 40 businesses that are contracted with the sheriff's department to allow inmates a chance at gainful employment. 

Women face more risks to health and safety when working on farms

The majority of literature and outreach programs to protect agricultural workers is geared toward men. However, it is estimated that approximately 31 percent of agricultural workers are women. Due to Missouri's heavy farming industry, residents may benefit from learning more about protecting the health and safety of these workers, especially female employees.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has extensive listings of the factors that can pose harm to the well-being of farm workers. Among these are the exposure to pesticides, potential chronic and acute lung infections, pregnancy-related risks, injuries posed by livestock, and the accumulated effects of repetitive motions. Along with the hazards posed by these working conditions, the often-isolated locations of these farms may make access to health care more difficult.

Kelly Law Office, P.C. • 134 N. Water St. • Liberty, MO 64068
Map and Directions • Phone: 816-760-2174 • Fax: 816-760-2001

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