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Scranton Workers' Comp And SSD Law Blog

Fulfilling OSHA's standards for laboratory safety

Laboratory workers in Pennsylvania, as elsewhere, run the risk of being exposed to carcinogens and other toxins, but they can be protected under OSHA's Laboratory standard. Employers must do their part, though, in fulfilling these standards. It all starts with designating someone as a chemical hygiene officer and having that person develop and implement a chemical hygiene plan.

The plan should make the standard operating procedures clear when it comes to handling hazardous chemicals. It should detail the engineering controls and specific practices that are to be used to minimize exposure. It must include a section about personal protective equipment as well. Other special protections, such as decontamination and waste handling procedures, may also be needed.

3 Steps to take immediately after a workplace injury

When a workplace accident leads to a serious injury for you, your whole life can change. Luckily, workers’ compensation allows most workers to seek the benefits they need in order to recover from their injuries and move on from the accident.

However, in order to get compensation for your injuries, there are a few crucial steps you need to take.

Potential new rule could impact SSD hearings and appeals

When Pennsylvania residents are suffering from disabling conditions, Social Security disability benefits can be a great help. The rules for hearings and appeals are an understated key to a case. New rules have been proposed that may impact SSD applicants, administrative law judges and the appeals process.

Comments from the administrative law judges, or ALJs, say the new proposals could violate the law. The new rules were posted for comments by the Social Security Administration. Its proponents say that letting appeals judges take some cases ALJs normally hear would speed reviews over SSD eligibility. The ALJs believe that this will hinder their independence, it is unnecessary, and it could be against the law.

Medical vocation allowance could grant disability for depression

In some cases, depression can prevent a Pennsylvania resident from functioning and supporting themselves. Those suffering from the extreme effects of this mental health problem could potentially qualify for Social Security disability benefits. A disability examiner will want to see documented symptoms that fit the agency's impairment listing criteria. Fulfilling this requirement is extremely challenging for many applicants, but the medical vocation allowance part of the disability examination could result in approval because it takes into account a person's ability to perform a job.

The impairment listing that guides depression evaluations focuses primarily on if there are ongoing episodes of decompensation when the applicant cannot maintain normal activities. If decompensation does not occur all of the time, it must at least be recurrent. An applicant incapacitated by small changes in the environment that overwhelm mental function might also demonstrate sufficient disability. Overall, a depression that prevents someone from functioning outside of a supportive environment could meet the criteria.

A personalized injury reduction device for warehouse workers

The one place where many people lack control is at work. Warehouse safety managers and supervisors in Pennsylvania and around the country are traditionally the ones who provide information on the best way to perform a potentially dangerous job. Thanks to new technology, though, the responsibility is being shared with the workers themselves.

One company has designed wearable technology that is placed on the back of a worker's shirt. Every time the worker shifts positions or bends over, the device will detect it and then calculate it in order to determine if the movement could be potentially dangerous to the worker. If so, the device will start to vibrate and beep in order to warn the worker. When the shift is over, workers can look at the log and see a breakdown of the movements they made.

How employers must confront the rise in work-related deaths

In 2017, there were 5,147 work-related fatalities in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. In 2018, that number saw a 2% increase, having been determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to be 5,250. The BLS published some other statistics that interest workers in a wide range of industries, and the findings have garnered the interest of the National Safety Council.

According to the BLS, 40% of all workplace incidents in 2018 were transportation incidents. More sales workers and truck drivers were killed than workers in any other profession. The year 2018 also experienced an 11% hike in work-related suicides and a 12% increase in workers dying from alcohol consumption or unintentional drug overdoses.

What can I do if my workers’ compensation claim is denied?

It may have come as a shock that your employer’s insurance carrier denied your worker’s compensation claim. Because you were injured while working, you expected to qualify for worker’s compensation benefits. Bills may have quickly piled up as you have been recovering from your injury at home, and you may worry that you may not be able to pay them on your own.

Your situation was probably stressful enough before, when you trusted that the workers’ compensation system would give you the benefits you deserve. Now, you may feel discouraged. However, there is still hope.

Warehouse worker fatalities double in just 2 years

Warehouse work in Pennsylvania and around the country is becoming far more dangerous. Figures from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reveal that the number of warehouse workers killed in on-the-job accidents doubled between 2015 and 2017, and injuries in warehouses are now as common as they are in the agricultural sector. Industry insiders believe the rise in warehouse injuries and deaths is partly due to the deployment of autonomous equipment like robots and driverless forklift trucks.

Another problem is the pressure warehouse workers are put under to perform sorting and packing tasks quickly. Retailers like Amazon sell thousands of products every minute, and production is often prioritized over safety in their fulfillment centers. Workplace safety experts say that this kind of thinking is flawed, and they point out that the time saved by ignoring minor safety issues pales in comparison to the time and money that is lost when a worker is injured or killed.

Understanding joint tenancy arrangements

Those who own property with a spouse or another person may be able to title the property in a way that potentially avoids going through probate. Pennsylvania residents and others may achieve this goal by creating joint tenancy with right of survivorship. This means that when one owner dies, another will automatically inherit his or her share of the property. Generally speaking, such rights can only be granted if all owners have an equal share of the asset.

Furthermore, these rights must be conveyed by all owners at the same time and with the same document. Finally, all owners must have the ability to enjoy or possess the property when joint tenancy with right of survivorship is granted. It is important to note that a property may need to go through probate after the final joint owner of the property has passed on.

Basic criteria necessary for Social Security Disability benefits

A variety of circumstances, such as a terrible injury, progressive disease or debilitating mental health condition, could qualify someone in Pennsylvania for Social Security Disability benefits. Almost all severe physical or mental conditions that significantly limit people's ability to engage in normal daily activities could meet the standards to award SSD benefits.

The duration of the disabling condition matters. An individual must have suffered disability for at least 12 months or expect it to continue for at least 12 months. During this 12-month period, an adult must experience disability that prevents or limits working. For children to qualify, they must lose the ability to engage in activities normal for their age.

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Scranton, PA 18503

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