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Massachusetts construction accident may spark OSHA investigation

Employees injured on the job here in Massachusetts have certain rights under the law. Workers' compensation will cover their medical bills and even some of their lost wages while they recover. While accidents can happen on any job site, some are more dangerous than others and expose workers to serious risks on a daily basis.

One worker in a city east of Worcester was recently digging a hole in a city sidewalk using a Bobcat with a hoe attached. At one point, the mechanical digging arm became pinned against a nearby dump truck, and the Bobcat driver's legs were forced into a wedge between the loader and the dump truck. The worker, a man in his early fifties, was trapped in this position for almost 20 minutes.

Eventually city firefighters responded to the scene and were able to hoist the heavy equipment up, allowing the trapped driver to escape. Fortunately, he did not suffer life-threatening injuries. He was taken for treatment to Massachusetts General Hospital. The accident is being investigated and OSHA has been notified.

What, readers may ask, does it mean when OSHA is notified after an accident like this? OSHA rules will apply to any construction site and they require, among other things, that employers keep the site free of recognized hazards and that they keep workers informed of the regulations in effect for their protection. Employees may request an OSHA investigation if they feel that safety regulations are being violated, and they are entitled to have an authorized representative in attendance throughout such an inspection.

OSHA regulations are intended to help protect workers' safety on the job, particularly in industries like construction where employees' proximity to heavy machinery can expose them to crush injuries, neck and back injuries and even fatal accidents. Workers who suffer injuries like these have the right to workers' compensation benefits and may wish to seek legal advice, particularly if they encounter or anticipate any resistance to their claims.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Chelsea firefighters extricate injured worker from excavator," Catalina Gaitan, May 22, 2014

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