On Monday, August 25th, a mortar round went off at a recycling plant in Granite City, Illinois killing two workers and injuring another. The explosion brings to light several issues regarding worker safety within the plant. According to OSHA safety records, Totall Metal Recycling was cited for serious violations in 2011 and 2012 for violations for lead and respiratory protections.
It is standard practice for the plant to recycle inactive mortar rounds. It is unclear where this mortar round came from or if anyone at the plant knew it was live. Currently, there is an OSHA investigator on the scene who is coordinating efforts with the local fire chief and the ATF. Read the full news story here.
As personal injury lawyers we see far too many cases of people who are seriously injured or even killed while on the job. This terrible accident serves as an important reminder about workplace safety and your rights under the law.
The first thing you need to remember is you have the right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work.
As a worker, you have the right to:
- Ask OSHA to inspect your workplace
- Use your rights under the law without retaliation and discrimination
- Receive information and training about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to your workplace. The training must be in a language you can understand.
- Get copies of test results done to find hazards in your workplace
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Get copies of your medical records
An employer MUST follow these safety standards:
- Find and correct safety and health problems.
- Try to eliminate or reduce hazards first by making changes to working conditions rather than just relying on various types of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.)
- Inform employees about hazards through training, labels, alarms, color-coded systems, chemical information sheets and other methods.
- Keep accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Perform tests in the workplace, such as air sampling required by some OSHA standards.
- Provide hearing exams or other medical tests required by OSHA standards.
- Post OSHA citations, injury and illness data, and the OSHA poster in the workplace where workers will see them.
- Notify OSHA within 8 hours of a workplace incident in which there is a death or when three or more workers go to a hospital.
- Not discriminate or retaliate against a worker for using their rights under the law.
Steps To Take If You’ve Been Hurt On The Job:
- Report your injury immediately to your employer or supervisor. Failure to report your injury to your employer within 30 days may jeopardize your ability to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. Notify your employer in writing – include date, time and place of the injury, the nature of the injury and the name and address of the person injured. Keep a copy of the written notice for your records.
- Get medical attention. Your employer is required to provide the medical treatment and care to cure and relieve you of the effects of the injury. This includes all costs for authorized medical treatment, prescriptions, and medical devices. There is no deductible and all costs are paid by your employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance. Missouri law states that the employer has the right to select the treating doctor for any Workers’ Compensation cases. Be aware that if you opt to see a different doctor, the employer and its insurance company may not have to pay your bills.
- Educate yourself regarding additional benefits. In addition to medical benefits, you may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial or permanent total disability benefits. Upon the death of a worker who has suffered a compensable work injury, certain surviving individuals may be entitled to weekly benefits from the employer/insurer, and funeral expenses may be provided.
- Speak to an attorney right away if your Workers’ Compensation benefits are denied or if your benefits are discontinued before you are fully recovered. Workers’ Compensation benefits and the laws surrounding them can be extremely confusing. It is in your best interest to have a knowledgeable attorney to help you navigate the system.
At Casey & Devoti, we know the intricate details of Workers’ Compensation laws in both Missouri and Illinois. We have successfully tried cases for clients whose benefits were denied or cut-off prior to full recovery. We have the expertise and knowledge to stand up to large insurance companies and fight for the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job in Missouri or Illinois, please call us for a free initial consultation at (314) 421-0763.