Employer Drops The Ball on Asbestos Safety

 

In recent testimony in a Welsh courtroom, it was reported that employees of one company had exposure to dangerous asbestos fibers, this after a catalogue of errors by an engineering company and a building firm during a demolition and refurbishment project in Swansea.
 
As Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports, allegations during testimony say that the project suffered from bad mismanagement, untrained staff placed in charge of the operation, and an underpinning of inadequate surveys for the presence of asbestos to go with poor planning throughout.
 
Neath Magistrates' Court heard that Wall Colmonoy Ltd had contracted Oaktree Construction to renovate a building opposite its premises in Pontardawe, Swansea, in December 2010 so it could further its operations.
 
 
Surveys Deemed to be Inadequate
 
The engineering firm had a pair of asbestos management surveys for the site, which, although later found to be inadequate, revealed the presence of asbestos material and highlighted other areas, such as the ceiling voids, which were thought to be harboring asbestos.
 
Even with this knowledge, work got the go-ahead in the building. Trebanos-based Oaktree had been advised by HSE that a separate 'Refurbishment and Demolition Survey' was also necessary before any activity commenced.
 
During the demolition works an asbestos insulation board (AIB) covering a steel column was damaged, and a Wall Colmonoy employee was informed that they should tape a plastic bags around it. Work went on in the building for a number of months with the AIB debris left sitting on the floor until an unannounced visit was undertaken by an HSE inspector.
 
A subsequent HSE investigation reported that Wall Colmonoy failed to appoint a competent Construction, Design and Management coordinator and principal contractor to plan and oversee the construction work. In addition, they ignored advice from its own health and safety manager to notify HSE of the demolition phase of the project, as is required by law.
 
Testimony was put forth that Wall Colmonoy did not provide a proper assessment of the presence of asbestos and its condition in the building prior to work beginning. The surveys they held were poor, as a licensed asbestos removal contractor had warned the information they had at their disposal was inadequate.
 
 
Skills Were Lacking to Address Health and Safety
 
No-one involved in the management of the project had the skills, training or experience to address health and safety issues, including the risk of asbestos exposure, according to information presented to the court. The company reportedly made no efforts to remove or control the risks from the asbestos materials that had been identified in the reports.
 
The HSE investigation also claimed that Oaktree failed to prevent the exposure of its employees to asbestos, and failed to maintain its spread once damage had occurred.
 
The company failed to provide a 'Refurbishment and Demolition Survey' and its own risk assessment was not up to speed because it failed to identify the risks from asbestos.
 
Lastly, Oaktree failed to carry out a structural assessment of the building and did not come forward to its staff with asbestos awareness training, despite a recommendation by the HSE in September 2010.
 
Wall Colomony, of Alloy Industrial Estate, Pontardawe, was fined in total $25,000 and ordered to pay $5,300 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
 
Oaktree Construction (Wales) Ltd, of Pheasant Road, Trebanos, was hit with fines of $12,875 with costs of $3,200 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 16 and 11(1) (a) of the of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Two Companies Expose Workers to Deadly Asbestos, Pay Price

 

Workers Exposed to Deadly Fibers at Mill
Two British companies have been prosecuted after workers were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos fibers at a mill in Bolton.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took legal action against Hazelwise Ltd and RH Property Management Ltd after finding dozens of damaged asbestos boards stacked up at Brownlow Mill during a visit in October of 2010.
 
No Plan to Manage Asbestos
Manchester Crown Court heard that neither company had put a plan in place to manage the asbestos in the mill on Tennyson Street, where several small businesses rent units.
HSE became aware of the issue when a contractor on the site raised concerns that asbestos insulation boards had been stripped out of unoccupied floors at the mill, releasing potentially deadly asbestos fibers into the air.
 
Two Prohibition Notices
Inspectors issued two Prohibition Notices banning the removal of tools and other items from four floors of the mill in case they had become contaminated with asbestos fibers, and preventing access to the floors.
They also found that asbestos was present in other parts of the mill, occupied by tenants, but nothing had been done to protect it and make sure it was safe.
The court was told the letting agent, RH Property Management Ltd, had raised the issue of the lack of an asbestos assessment in 2006 but did not take any further action. The owner of the mill, Hazelwise Ltd, also failed to arrange for an asbestos survey to be carried out.
 
Both Companies Pleaded Guilty
Both companies pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for failing to ensure the health and safety of people at the mill. Hazelwise also admitted a breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 by failing to properly assess the risks from asbestos at the site.
Hazelwise Ltd, of Mauldeth Avenue in Chorlton, was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £8,969 in prosecution costs. RH Property Management Ltd, of Greek Street in Stockport, was fined £15,000 and with costs of £11,011.
 
4,000 People Die Every Year From Asbestos
 
Around 4,000 people reportedly die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibers, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK. 
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


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University Fined for Putting Individuals at Risk of Exposure to Asbestos

Lincoln University in Great Britain has been fined for putting staff, students and contractors at risk of exposure to asbestos.
 
 
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the failings came to light in February of 2010 when a lecturer became trapped in a room after a door lock broke. She enlisted the help of a colleague to release her and once freed, they noticed debris around the door handle. (WCxKit)
 
 
They notified the university's health and safety department which examined the door and others in the area, and discovered most were lined with asbestos insulating board (AIB), and that some were damaged.
 
 
The university notified HSE, which carried out its own investigation. It was found that a number of areas across the university's estate had been subject to asbestos surveys over a number of years and many areas were found to contain asbestos-containing materials or even asbestos debris, yet no remedial action had been taken.
 
 
Lincoln University Higher Education Corporation, of Brayford Pool, Lincoln, pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 at Lincoln Magistrates Court. The university was fined $15,629 and ordered to pay $19,939.77 costs.
 
 
After the hearing at Lincoln Magistrates Court, HSE inspector Edward Walker noted, "Exposure to asbestos fibers is a well-known health hazard that results in approximately 4,000 deaths a year. (WCxKit)
 
 
"The university had an asbestos management plan but had failed to follow it and failed to take appropriate steps to manage the risks associated with asbestos over a number of years, putting staff, students and contractors at risk of potential exposure."
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Compensation Restored for Asbestos Victims in Scotland

Construction union UCATT has warmly welcomed a recent decision by the UK Supreme Court to reject a case brought by the insurance industry to block an Act of the Scottish Parliament, which restores compensation for asbestos victims.
 
 
According to information from UCATT, in 2009 the Scottish Parliament passed the Damages Act, which restored compensation to victims of pleural plaques, a scarring of the lungs caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. The Damages Act overturned a decision of the Law Lords in 2007, that pleural plaques victims should no longer be compensated.(WCxKit)
 
 
George Guy, acting general secretary of UCATT, noted, “This is excellent news as its shows that despite their huge financial resources the insurance industry does not have a free hand in the courts. It also underlines just how outrageous their actions have been as for over two years they have deliberately blocked pleural plaques victims in Scotland from receiving compensation.”
 
 
Although the decision is good news for Scottish pleural plaques victims it will create a postcode lottery, as victims in England and Wales will not receive compensation as the Government has refused to restore compensation. The Executive in Northern Ireland are also committed to restoring compensation to pleural plaques victims.
 
 
Guy added, “This needs to be the first step in winning justice for all asbestos victims regardless of where they live. Every year thousands of people discover that their health has been damaged by asbestos and many sadly die. These deaths and injuries were entirely preventable; companies knew that asbestos was lethal. Everyone whose health has been damaged by asbestos must receive compensation.” (WCxKit)
 
 
Harry Frew, regional secretary for UCATT Scotland, added, “This is an important decision as it will help to ensure justice for pleural plaques victims in Scotland.”
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact

British Columbia Launches New Asbestos Web Site

British Columbia’s WorkSafe announced the launching of HiddenKiller.ca, a comprehensive web site on asbestos-exposure prevention and the first of its kind in Canada.
 
 
The site reflects WorkSafeBC’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the potential deadly effects of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Asbestos ranks as a leading cause of work-related disease and death in British Columbia. The term “hidden killer” refers to the fact that asbestos fibers — which may be released during demolition or renovation — cannot be seen or smelled when inhaled and yet the damage they cause is irreparable.(WCxKit)
 
 
“Too many workers in British Columbia are affected by asbestos exposures each year,” said Minister of Labor, Citizens’ Services and Open Government Stephanie Cadieux. “This new website is a significant step forward in our efforts to educate and help protect B.C. workers from the dangers of this harmful substance, and hopefully one day, we can eliminate asbestos exposures altogether.”
 
 
When asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs, the results can appear decades later and potentially lead to debilitating chronic diseases, such as asbestosis, or a form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure is British Columbia’s number one occupational disease. Of the 143 accepted fatality claims last year, 75 were the result of occupational disease, and the majority of these can be attributed to exposure to asbestos. This trend is expected to continue.
 
 
“We are committed to educating workers, employers, and the general public about the dangers of asbestos,” added Diana Miles, senior vice president, worker and employer services operations, WorkSafeBC. “This site will present one comprehensive source providing key information and resources on asbestos to help in our exposure prevention initiative.”(WCxKit)
 
 
The HiddenKiller.ca website includes information on what asbestos is, where it can be found, and how it should be handled, along with real-life stories about workers and families dealing with the consequences of asbestos exposure, and information about how to file a work-related exposure claim.

 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.


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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Australia Asbestos Innovation Fund Submissions

There has reportedly been a good response to the call for submissions to the Asbestos Innovation Fund which was advertised in all major Australian metropolitan and regional newspapers recently.
 
 
According to information from Comcare, the $1.5 million fund was launched in December 2010 by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs, and Workplace Relations, Sen. Chris Evans.(WCxKit)
 
 
The Asbestos Innovation Fund is seeking research projects, new initiatives, programs that prevent or better manage asbestos exposure or improve treatment for asbestos disease sufferers.
 
 
It provides funding to assist with research, treatment, and education programs or practical initiatives. Applications for the fund are open until Sept 25, 2011.
 
 
Comcare is underwriting this fund as part of its role to improve the management of the Commonwealth’s common law asbestos responsibilities.
 
 
Committee chairman, Comcare’s chief actuary Bruce Watson, said the program is designed to encourage development of practical programs and research that raise awareness of asbestos, improve its management and removal, or improve treatment and support for sufferers and their families.
 
 
He said a wide range of programs may be supported by the fund, including communication and education campaigns, workplace training solutions, skills development programs, and the development of warning and safety systems.
 
 
Watson said the fund could also include safe removal systems, medical research into improved diagnostic, treatment and patient care practices, and approaches to systems of compensation and support.(WCxKit)
 
 
Further information about the Asbestos Innovation Fund, including forms and the application processes, are available on the Comcare Web site at: http://www.comcare.gov.au/.

 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.


Our WC Book:
www.WCManual.com
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Australia Report on Potential Inflammation Caused by Carbon Nanotubes

Safe Work Australia Chair, Tom Phillips, recently announced the release of a research report: Durability of carbon nanotubes and their potential to cause inflammation.
 
 
The structural similarities of some forms of carbon nanotubes with asbestos have raised concerns about possible health effects for humans. This study examined the durability of carbon nanotubes and the tendency to cause lung inflammation, two indicators of potential asbestos-like behavior, if inhaled. (WCxKit)
 
 
Commissioned under the Nanotechnology Work Health and Safety Program and funded by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom (UK) and the UK Institute of Occupational Medicine undertook this experimental research.
 
 
Key findings in the report include:
 
1.      Some types of carbon nanotubes can be durable, but others may also break down in simulated lung fluid.
 
2.      Carbon nanotubes of certain length and aspect ratio can induce asbestos-like responses in mice, confirming previous findings. However, this response may be reduced if the nanotubes are less durable.
 
3.      Tightly agglomerated particle-like bundles of carbon nanotubes did not cause an inflammatory response in mice.
 
4.      Shorter carbon nanotubes or bundles of carbon nanotubes may not be an asbestos-like hazard, but they can still cause an inflammatory response and be hazardous in the lungs.
 
 
This project is an excellent example of Australia and the United Kingdom collaborating to undertake world class work health and safety research," said Phillips.
 
 
These results indicate that durability and hazards of all types of carbon nanotubes are not necessarily the same. However carbon nanotubes should be handled with high levels of caution in the workplace to avoid inhalation."
 
 
Safe Work Australia continues to support research on carbon nanotubes to further the knowledge of work health and safety issues, and has commissioned other work which uses the research findings to protect workers.
 

The research report and further information on the nanotechnology work health and safety program can be found at: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au

 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

OSHA Fines Company 1.2 Million over Asbestos Removal

OSHA has issued penalties of $1,247,400 to AMD Industries Inc. in Cicero, Illinois after five unprotected and untrained workers were allegedly required to conduct asbestos removal exposing them to this cancer-causing material.
 
 
AMD failed in its duty to protect the health and safety of its workers," said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. "Such disregard will not be tolerated by the Labor Department. No one should risk serious illness or death to earn a paycheck." (WCxKit)
 
 
The company was issued 19 willful and eight serious health citations following an OSHA inspection at its facilities in December 2010, in response to a referral from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
 
 
OSHA investigators found that AMD Industries had commissioned a safety audit of its Cicero facility in 2002, which uncovered the presence of asbestos-containing materials on boilers, heating units and connected piping. In November 2010, the company began an asbestos removal project using in-house and untrained workers.
 
 
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency became aware of the work and asked the Illinois Attorney General's Office to proceed with an enforcement action for the improper removal, handling and disposal of asbestos-containing material. An agreed order was entered into by the company to implement a program to remediate the asbestos contamination.
 
 
OSHA issued 15 willful citations, with proposed penalties of $945,000, for the employer's failures to provide the employees engaged in the hazardous work with the proper training, and protective clothing and equipment. Proper protective clothing is required to make sure employees do not carry asbestos fibers outside of the facility and into their cars and homes.
 
 
Additionally, AMD Industries was fined $252,000 for four willful violations for the following alleged failures: to identify or inform workers of the location and quantity of asbestos; to monitor airborne concentrations of asbestos; to use high-efficiency particulate air vacuums and wet methods to control the dust; and to promptly and properly dispose of asbestos-contaminated waste. (WCxKit)
 
 
OSHA also issued eight serious citations, with proposed fines of $50,400, for failing to implement a respirator protection program; failing to use engineering controls and work practices for Class I asbestos work; not conducting asbestos work in regulated areas; and failing to provide hygiene facilities for workers removing the dangerous material.
 
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Misssissippi Worker Wins 322 Million Asbestos Suit

In what attorneys report was the largest ever single-plaintiff asbestos verdict in U.S. history, a Mississippi jury has awarded $322 million to a former oil field employee who reportedly inhaled asbestos dust while mixing drilling mud.
 
 
According to fairwarning.org, Thomas “Tony” Brown Jr., 48, worked in the oil fields from 1979 to the mid 80s as a roughneck on rigs in Mississippi and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. He sued Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., which sold the drilling mud, and Union Carbide Corp., the manufacturer, for causing him to develop asbestosis, a lung disease caused by asbestos exposure. He is now on oxygen daily. (WCxKit)
 
 
The jury award was for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages down the road.
 
 
“Although the asbestos was known to cause cancer and lung disease, Chevron Phillips and Union Carbide continued to market these almost 100 percent pure asbestos products long after they knew the dangers,” Allen Hossley, a lawyer for Brown, told The Wall Street Journal.
 
 
Both Chevron Phillips and Union Carbide said they would appeal the verdict. “The credible medical evidence introduced at trial clearly demonstrates that while Mr. Brown suffers from shortness of breath, such [a] condition is not attributable to asbestos exposure,” a Union Carbide spokesman informed the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. The companies also contended that because Brown was illiterate and could not read the hazard statement on the drilling mud additives, he was not entitled to argue that they had provided inadequate warnings.
 
 
If the verdict is upheld, Brown will be entitled to an amount close to equal to Union Carbide’s yearly net income, which was $459 million in 2010. Union Carbide is a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Co. (WCxKit)
 
 
Asbestos products were used in drilling mud due to the fact asbestos is fire-resistant and a strong bonding agent.
 

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Israel Bans Asbestos Construction Materials as a Known Carcinogen

Israeli officials have said no to any further use of asbestos when it comes to construction in the country.
 
 
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee recently approved the Asbestos Bill. The bill is expected to pass through the rest of the legislative process without trouble and go into effect come August. (WCxKit)
 
 
The bill would make it illegal to use asbestos in any form in Israel and would mandate the removal of present asbestos over the next decade, given asbestos fibers are a known carcinogenic.
 

A part of the bill
deals specifically with the western Galilee, where the Eitanit factory produced asbestos for decades until its closing in 1997, and where fibers were used as part of construction in everything from homes to playgrounds. The company will pay half of the 300 million Israeli New Shekel expense for cleaning up the area.
 
 
Once the law becomes effective, violators can face fines up to 800,000 Israeli New Shekel, according to the criminal code.
 
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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