Articles Posted in Worker’s Compensation

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iStock_000001983354XSmall.jpgAs an Atlanta trial and work-related injury lawyer, I stay very current on cases in the Georgia courts. This is because it is vitally important that I am up-to-date on the rulings of our courts that could impact the areas of my law practice or my clients.

Earlier this week, the Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion in Scott v. Shaw Industries. The case is interesting because it deals with a procedural issue that is always important in litigation, whether a party has complied with the statute of limitations in filing a case in our court system. In Scott, the Georgia Supreme court ruled on a technical issue and determined that the Court of Appeals properly held that affirmation of an award to an injured worker by an administrative law judge and by the superior court was improper.

The original injury to the worker took place in 1996. She was seriously injured by a carpet roller while serving in her job as a carpet inspector. She was put on a temporary total disability and continued to have physical problems and symptoms related to the injury.

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Truck9.jpgLast month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a proposal to revise the federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulation for commercial truck drivers. This proposal is timely, since a court settlement agreement requires FMCSA to publish a new, final HOS rule by July 26 of this year.

The HOS regulations would retain their “34-hour restart” provision, which lets drivers restart the clock on their weekly 60 or 70 hours after taking 34 consecutive hours off-duty, under this proposal. The difference with this new proposal is the restart period would have to include two consecutive off-duty periods from midnight to 6:00 a.m., and drivers would be allowed to use this restart only once during a seven-day period.

The HOS proposal also mandates that commercial truckers complete all driving within a 14-hour workday, and that they complete all on-duty work-related activities within 13 hours to allow at least an hour break during their workday. What hasn’t been decided yet is whether drivers should be limited to 10 or 11 hours of daily driving time. FMCSA currently favors a 10-hour limit, and so do I.

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Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Alpharetta’s AP Specialty Metals for safety violations, including failure to install machine guards to prevent employees from being caught up in machinery. The reason, as you may have guessed, was that an employee was caught up in machinery earlier this year and crushed to death.

In response to this tragedy, OSHA investigated the company for safety violations and found 13 in all. The failure to install machine guards mentioned above was deemed “willful” (with intentional knowing and/or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements), the most egregious level of safety violation that can be found by OSHA. Of the remaining 12 violations, 10 were deemed “serious” (with substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result), and two others were deemed “other-than-serious” (directlyk related to job safety and health, but unlikely to cause death or serious physical harm).

Violations included: failure to implement an energy control program to protect workers from unexpected release of energy or start-up of machinery; presence of fall hazards; lack of training on use of industrial trucks; exposing workers to flying debris; exposing workers to unguarded chains and sprockets; misuse of compressed air for cleaning; use of damaged parts on electrical equipment; use of flexible cords as a substitute for fixed wiring; dispensing flammable liquid from an ungrounded drum; failure to post an annual summary of injuries and illnesses at the facility; and failure to keep OSHA logs for 2006 and 2007.

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