The most common causes of worker injuries and fatalities in Ohio

worker injuriesWorkplace accidents and injuries are an unfortunate reality in the modern workplace. Even more unfortunate is the fact that every year in the United States, thousands of workers die in work-related accidents.

Although any worker can suffer an on-the-job injury, there are certain industries that see more incidents. Continue reading “The most common causes of worker injuries and fatalities in Ohio”

When to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

When an individual gets injured on the job, many questions may come to mind:

  • Do I need a workers’ compensation attorney?
  • Can I handle this on my own?
  • At what point should I hire an attorney?

Continue reading “When to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney”

Ohio law expands to allow firefighters to collect working wage loss for cancer

firefighterAmendments to Michael Louis Palumbo, Jr. Act go into effect

As of Sept. 29, an Ohio law honoring a local hero has been expanded to allow firefighters diagnosed with cancer to collect compensation for working wage loss. Continue reading “Ohio law expands to allow firefighters to collect working wage loss for cancer”

What can employees do about dangerous work conditions?

A Cleveland-area manufacturer was recently hit with nearly $90,000 in proposed penalties after being cited for a variety of dangerous work conditions. Fifteen serious violations, one repeat violation and one other-than-serious violation were issued following inspections earlier this year. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration cited fall hazards, slippery work surfaces, lack of proper machine guarding and electrical safety hazards, among other violations.Dangerous Work Conditions

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4,800 fatal work-related injuries occurred in 2014. Nearly 3 million nonfatal injuries or illnesses were reported in private industry workplaces throughout the same year. Employers are required by OSHA to eliminate known dangers in their facilities, provide employees with proper protective equipment and teach workers about hazards they may encounter.

Dangerous work conditions commonly investigated by OSHA include:

Fall Hazards

Falls from elevated platforms and work stations or into holes in facility floors are among the most common causes of death and serious injury in the workplace. Employers are required to use guard rails, toe-boards and any other means necessary to prevent workers from suffering these injuries.

Eye & Face Hazards

According to OSHA, thousands of employees are blinded each year by preventable workplace injuries. These incidents are often caused by chemical, environmental and mechanical hazards that could have been addressed with proper eye and face protection. Related expenses, such as worker compensation and medical bills, total around $300 million each year.

Respiratory Hazards

OSHA Respiratory Protection Standards require approximately 5 million employees to wear respirators in their workplace. Dust, smoke and vapors are among the threats to the respiratory health of these workers. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses could be prevented if all employers and employees followed OSHA’s guidelines.

How do I file a complaint or request an inspection of my workplace?

If you believe there are serious health or safety hazards in your workplace, or feel your employer is not following OSHA standards to prevent dangerous work conditions, filing a complaint could prevent injuries or even save a life. OSHA keeps all complaint information confidential, and it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for exercising their right to a safe workplace.

Three Ways to File an OSHA Complaint

  • Download and fill out an OSHA complaint form. Fax or mail the form to your OSHA Regional or Area Office.

NOTE: Written complaints are more likely to result in onsite inspections.

If you have questions about health and safety in your workplace, email OSHA.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious workplace injury, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO for a free case review or fill out an online contact form

Elk & Elk Attorneys to Present at NBI Seminar

Elk & Elk Attorneys to Present at NBI Seminar

In the field of personal injury law, it is essential for attorneys and other legal professionals to possess a basic understanding of the human anatomy, types of injuries and common treatment options. An upcoming National Business Institute live seminar featuring presentations from three Elk & Elk attorneys will cover these topics.

Elk & Elk at NBI Seminar

NBI’s “Anatomy and Physiology 101 for Attorneys” will take place on Thursday, June 25, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland Downtown. The seminar has been approved by the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education for 6.0 CLE credit hours, and registration is $349 (includes book).

Click here to register.

The course is designed for legal professionals who handle cases related to personal injuries, insurance, workers’ compensation and/or disability, and will offer helpful insight into the medical aspects of common cases.

Attorneys Matthew J. Carty, Michael L. Eisner and R. Craig McLaughlin of Elk & Elk will present the following topics:

Matthew J. Carty

   Head Injuries: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Michael L. Eisner (presenting with Mary Hahn)

   Shoulder Injuries: 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

R. Craig McLaughlin (presenting with Lisamarie Pietragallo)

   Hand and Wrist Injuries: 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

My boss isn’t covered by Workers’ Comp. What happens if I get hurt at work?

Ohio attorney Gary Cowan discusses what to do if you’re injured at work but your employer isn’t covered by Workers’ Compensation.


With most employers, you have access to insurance if you’re injured on the job through a program called Workers’ Compensation.

Workers’ Compensation, or “Workers’ Comp,” is a fund that provides medical attention and treatment to employees after a job-related injury. So, what happens if you don’t have worker’s compensation available to you? Do you have any options to help pay for the harm you suffered?

No Workers’ Comp? – Three things you should know about bringing a lawsuit after a job-related injury

  1. The first thing your attorney will do is to determine whether your employer was at fault for the accident. Remember, even if your employer is not covered by Workers’ Compensation, you may still be awarded money due to their carelessness. An experienced personal injury attorney will question potential witnesses or even co-workers during an interview called a deposition to ascertain the cause of the accident and establish who was at fault.
  2. The next step will be to combat any claims made by the employer. Typically, a company will claim you were negligent in some part of your job and caused your own injury. To build a successful case, your attorney will need to prove your injury occurred due to someone else’s carelessness, rather than your own actions.
  3. Finally, your attorney will look for a way to resolve your case and bring you the compensation you deserve. Whether the fault lies with your employer, a third party or even a co-worker, a knowledgeable lawyer will research all possible methods of recovery through each insurance company and the various policies. By exploring all options, your attorney can help you recover costs related to your injuries – such as medical bills, lost wages and other expenses that you’ve incurred, including any future medical care you may need.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Gary Cowan

OSHA: Is Your Boss Keeping You Safe?

SafetyThe Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) was enacted by Congress in 1970. It governs workplace safety in both the private sector and the United States federal government. The Act’s main goal is to ensure that employers maintain a safe working environment for their employees. A personal injury attorney can help you file an OSHA claim if you are injured in a workplace accident or exposed to unsafe working conditions.

One of the most important parts of OSHA is the general duty clause. This clause imposes three duties upon employers:

  1. Maintain conditions and/or utilize practices that are reasonably necessary to protect employees on the job.
  2. Be familiar with the safety standards applicable to their business establishments.
  3. Regulate and promote employee use of the appropriate safety equipment.

If you think your employer has breached one of these 3 duties, and you were injured on the job, you should schedule a consultation with an injury attorney.

OSHA also created the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which ensures that employers nationwide comply with the provisions set forth in OSHA. This involves creating and enacting workplace safety regulations, inspecting workplaces and employers to ensure that they comply with those regulations, and imposing sanctions on employers who violate OSHA provisions.

An average of 13 Americans are killed on the job every single day of the year. In addition, tens of thousands die every year from workplace disease and nearly 4 million workers each year are seriously injured on the job. A personal injury attorney can represent employees who have been injured or become ill while working. The process generally involves filing a claim through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and resolving that claim through settlement negotiations or a trial.

Whistleblower Claims

Employees who report violations of various workplace safety laws are protected from employer retaliation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Persons filing whistleblower claims, usually receive about 15-25 percent of any recovered damages, but that amount may be higher or lower depending on specific circumstances.

The statute of limitations on such claims can be as little as 30 days. Therefore, in order to preserve your claim, it is important to contact a qualified attorney and file a claim with OSHA as soon as possible.

Ohio Companies top OSHA Penalty List

An average of 13 Americans are killed on the job every single day of the year. In addition, tens of thousands die every year from workplace disease and nearly 4 million workers each year are seriously injured on the job. OSHA’s top 10 offenders in 2013 include five Ohio companies (in red.) The failure of companies to adhere to safe work practices puts workers at risk – in some cases fatally.

  1. Republic Steel (Canton, OH) – $1.14 million This steel mill is no stranger to OSHA violations. Despite numerous citations related to fall hazards in the past, workers still face dangerous conditions. The company was issued citations for 15 willful violations and 8 serious violations.

    Republic Steel has a long history of OSHA violations and disregard for employee safety and health. It is unacceptable that Republic Steel has not taken more effective steps to improve safety. – DAVID MICHAELS, OSHA ADMINISTRATOR

  2. Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container (Hubbard, OH) – $589, 000 Responding to a complaint, OSHA discovered the company was still allowing workers to operate dangerous slitter machines without guards in place – despite previous citations on the same equipment. The company was issued numerous citations, including six willful, egregious violations for continuing to expose machine operators to serious amputation hazards.
  3. Dover Chemical (Dover, OH) – $545,000 The paraffin and additive manufacturer has been cited for 47 health and safety violations after an unexpected release of hazardous materials led to the temporary shutdown of the company’s plant and an adjacent highway.
  4. Vordonia Contracting and Supplies Corp./Alma Realty Corp., Masonry Services Inc. and North Eastern Precast LLC (Valley Stream, NY) – $465,410 These contractors were issued two willful violation citations for allowing employees and crane operators to work in close proximity to power lines, and one serious violation for failure to mark power lines with warning signs.
  5. Panthera Painting Inc. (Slatington, Harrisburg and Slatedale, PA) – $459,844 OSHA issued citations for 14 willful violations  and 11 serious violations that included failure to protect workers from lead exposure and failure to provide fall protection.
  6. Highway Technologies Inc. (Menomonie, WI) – $448,000 A worker died after his equipment came into contact with overhead power lines. The company received citations for 6 willful violations and 4 serious violations for failing to protect its workers from serious electrocution hazards.
  7. Mahle Engine Components USA (McConnelsville, OH) – $369,000 Six safety repeat violations were issued for failure to mount and identify fire extinguishers, train workers on recognizing electrical hazards and ground pins from electrical equipment. Two health repeat violations were issued related to lead exposure. Additionally, 18 serious violations were issued for lack of machine guarding, improper storage of acetylene and oxygen cylinders, electrical hazards, and struck-by hazards, among others.
  8. Twin Pines Construction Inc. (Plymouth and Reading, MA) – $336,200 A worker suffered serious injuries after wooden roof truss collapsed. Citations for four willful, two repeat and four serious violations were issued for hazards including trusses not adequately braced during installation, fall hazards, impalement and “struck-bys.”

    Falls remain the No. 1 killer in construction work. Employers who deliberately and repeatedly fail to supply and ensure the use of effective fall protection safeguards are repeatedly gambling with their workers’ lives.” – MARTHE KENT, OSHA REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR IN NEW ENGLAND

  9. Environmental Enterprises Inc. (Cincinnati, OH) – $325,710 One worker was killed and another seriously burned in a fire at the waste treatment facility. Citations for four willful violations, serious safety violations, and seven serious health violations were issued for improper hazardous waste handling procedures, inadequate employee training, and improper storage of flammable liquids and lack of a hazard communication program, among others.
  10. Hagel Metal Fabrication Inc. (East Peoria, IL) – $317,000 A worker was fatally crushed by an automated laser-cutting machine. Citations for four willful violations and eight serious violations were issued for improper machine safeguards, unguarded flooring and platforms, failure to inspect powered industrial trucks, and a lack of training, among others.

Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. In Ohio, claims for workplace injuries are usually filed with the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. However, in some cases, an employee may also file an additional claim in civil court. Such cases, known as Employer Intentional Torts, are very complex and require a skilled employment law attorney.

Source: OSHA’s Top 10: Present and past” by Kyle W. Morrison, Safety & Health, November 25, 2013

Note: This list of OSHA’s top monetary penalties in fiscal year 2013 is comprised of penalties stemming from a single incident or related incidents in which one or more companies allegedly failed to adhere to safe work practices. These fines represent proposed penalties issued by OSHA between Oct. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2013; dollar amounts may be reduced as part of a settlement agreement or litigation.


Ohio factory cited for safety violations

Republic Steel has been cited for 2 dozen safety violations and is facing federal penalties in excess of $1.1 million. Fifteen willful violations were discovered at the company’s steel manufacturing plant in Canton, Ohio.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected the plant after receiving a formal complaint from the United Steelworks Union which alleged inadequate fall protection and other unsafe practices. OSHA determined that two workers had been seriously injured in due to falls in the past year.

Slag_runoff_Republic_SteelOSHA cited Republic Steel for several safety issues, including: tripping hazards and lack of protective equipment. The company also failed to provide fall protection for employees working at substantial heights – where agency officials found damaged and missing guardrails. In some instances, workers were exposed to falls above the slag pit, which is filled with molten metal. More than half of the violations were deemed “willful,” meaning they were committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law or indifference to employee safety.

This isn’t Republic’s first brush with OSHA. Just last year, the company reached a settlement at its Lorain, Ohio plant, promising to fix similar safety violations.

“Republic Steel has a long history of OSHA violations and disregard for employee safety and health,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health. He called it “unacceptable” that the company has not taken more effective steps to improve safety at the Canton plant, particularly in light of the 2012 settlement.”

Republic Steel has been in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program since 2011 for committing willful violations, repeat violations, and failing to fix hazards after being cited. As a corporate entity, Republic Steel has been inspected 79 times resulting in the issuance of six willful, 15 repeat, 145 serious and 70 other-than-serious final order citations.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. For more information, contact our experienced workplace injury attorneys by calling 1-800-ELK-OHIO (1-800-355-6446) or complete our free, no-obligation online form.



Republic Steel Faces $1.1M in Fines for Violations” by Sam Hananel (AP), ABC News, August 13, 2013.