When people think about workers’ comp, they often think of falling off ladders or accidents with machiner. While those cases do exist, you may also qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you have suffered any kind of work-related illness or injury, even if there was no ladder in sight — and even if you weren’t anywhere near a warehouse, factory, or office building.
Recent Massachusetts Case: Removing Asbestos Shingles
Consider this recent case, where the work site was a single-family home. A group of related companies near Boston sent workers to the home to remove asbestos shingles. As you know, asbestos can be dangerous when it’s not handled correctly. And in this case, according to the complaint filed by the state’s Attorney General, workers got hurt because the company violated asbestos safety laws.
What happened? According to the complaint, the companies endangered the workers by exposing them to dangerous asbestos-containing shingles and debris without using legally required safety precautions. Shingles were dropped, and they broke apart. Debris fell onto the ground. Containers containing asbestos-laden shingles and debris were left unsealed and uncovered, and the material was not wetted down, which allowed asbestos fiber to be released into the air.
This wasn’t the only time the companies allegedly broke asbestos safety laws. Two of the four companies involved were also charged with unsafe practices when removing asbestos during the demolition of a local high school.
Why are Massachusetts safety precautions so important?
When tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air, people can breathe them into their lungs. The impact on their health can be disastrous. Over the long term, inhaling asbestos fibers can cause these serious or fatal diseases —
- Asbestosis, which is a non-cancer lung disease for which there is no cure;
- Lung cancer, which has one of the lowest survival rates of any type of cancer; and
- Mesothelioma, which is a form of cancer that may take years to show up.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is concerned about these serious illnesses that can be caused by companies that choose to violate the asbestos safety laws. The Department and the Attorney General’s office have been vigorously enforcing the law. In this case, they reached a settlement with the four related companies. The companies will have to pay a fine of as much as $129,000 to the state.
What to do if you were injured
If you have been injured on the job or have a work-related illness, you deserve compensation from your employer. Unfortunately, many employers oppose their workers’ claims.
How many? Well, more than half of the workers who are injured on the job in Massachusetts will need the help of a workers’ compensation attorney to get all the compensation they are legally entitled to.
Boston attorney John J. Sheehan has many years of experience working on Massachusetts workers’ compensation claims. If you want help with your workers’ compensation claim, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. There is no fee unless we win your case. If you are too injured or ill to come to our office, we can travel to meet you, and we can set up appointments for evenings and weekends.
Image via Flickr by daryl_mitchell