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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Former Asbestos School Owner Sentenced to Prison Time

The former owner of the country’s largest asbestos abatement training school has been sentenced to prison after having fled the United States after her trial in 2008.
 
 
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton sentenced Albania Deleon to 87 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. She was ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and several hundred thousand dollars to AIM Mutual Insurance Company. (WCxKit)
 
 
In 2008, Deleon was convicted of charges including selling training certificates to thousands of illegal aliens who had not taken the mandatory course. She allegedly placed these unqualified people in temporary positions as certified asbestos abatement workers in public buildings.
 
 
From approximately 2001 to 2006, Deleon owned and operated Environmental Compliance Training (ECT), a certified asbestos training school located in Methuen, Mass. ECT normally offered training courses on a weekly basis at its Methuen offices, however, many of the recipients of the certificates never took the required course.
 
 
Instead, with Deleon’s knowledge and approval, ECT’s office employees issued certificates of course completion to thousands of individuals who did not take the course. These individuals filed the certificates with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety in order to be authorized to work in the asbestos removal industry. Many of the recipients were illegal aliens who wished to skip the four-daylong course so that they would not forego a week’s pay.
 
 
Since ECT’s training course records were subject to inspection, Deleon sought to cover up ECT’s practice of issuing certificates to untrained applicants by having the applicants sign final examination answer sheets that already had been completed and graded, which she maintained in ECT’s files. Based on the evidence at trial and information supplied by the Division of Occupation Safety, ECT issued training certificates to more than 2,000 untrained individuals.
 
 
Deleon is the fifth environmental criminal captured since the EPA fugitive website was launched in December 2008. (WCxKit)
 
 
Today’s sentence marks the final chapter in bringing Albania Deleon to justice,” said EPA’s Cynthia Giles. “Committing environmental crimes to make a profit that put workers and our communities at risk [carries] serious consequences.”
 
 
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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British Building Contractor Fined for Working without Asbestos License

A building contractor from South East London is fined for running a construction site exposing workers to asbestos-containing materials, according to a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Fadil Adil, of Coniston Road, Bromley, was prosecuted by HSE for the way work was carried out on a construction site he was in charge of on Bromley High Street. The project involved the demolition of a building housing a restaurant on the ground floor and flats above. Asbestos insulating boards in the restaurant's ceiling broke up during the demolition overseen by Adil. Three workmen demolished the building using sledgehammers and hand-operated breakers exposing them to asbestos fibers.

  

The HSE investigation found the defendant without a license to work with asbestos, nor was he trained in construction management. At no point did the defendant carry out an asbestos survey, nor did he provide any guidance to the workmen regarding the presence of asbestos. HSE Inspector Ian Seabrook noted, "Sadly, this kind of incident is all too familiar because the defendant's actions meant that his colleagues were more than likely exposed to asbestos fibers. The dangers of asbestos are well known; it is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK with around 1,000 tradesmen dying each year from asbestos-related diseases.  (WCxKit)

 

"Anyone working with these sorts of materials has to commission an asbestos survey to ascertain the level of work needed and then have asbestos removed in a controlled manner by a licensed contractor." (WCxKit)

 

At the City of London Magistrates' Court, Adil pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. He was fined £19,300 ($30,000) and ordered to pay costs of £7,654 ($12,000).

 

 
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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Massachusetts Employer Fined for Improper Removal and Disposal of Asbestos

A Methuen, Massachusetts-based developer has been ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and serve probation after pleading guilty for the improper removal and disposal of asbestos for work performed on a multi-family residence in Lawrence, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced recently.
 
 
Robert A. Norcross, 51, pleaded guilty in Essex Superior Court to three charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act: failure to file a notice of asbestos removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), improper removal of asbestos-containing material, and improper disposal of asbestos waste.  The asbestos containing material was pipe insulation in a multi-family residential property in Lawrence owned in trust by Norcross. (WCxKit)
 
 
After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge John T. Lu sentenced Norcross to 18 months’ probation.  Under the terms of probation, and an administrative consent order with Mass DEP, Norcross must pay a fine of $20,000, with $10,000 suspended during the period of probation.  Norcross is also required to participate in asbestos training and have all of his properties inspected and properly abated of asbestos containing materials.
 
 
Asbestos is a hazardous material that must be reported, removed, and disposed of properly to ensure the health and safety of the public at large,” AG Coakley said.  “The defendant ordered unlicensed workers to remove and dispose of asbestos containing materials without taking the proper precautions, putting people at risk.”
 
 
The Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force received information that Norcross had ordered the improper removal of asbestos containing insulation from one of his residential properties.  Norcross engaged workers in the removal process without the required notification to MassDEP.  Further investigation revealed that the insulation had been removed by untrained workers in an area of the property used by tenants to wash laundry.
 
 
The workers failed to do the work in a properly contained space to prevent the release of asbestos fibers within the building, and did not adhere to air filtering or other protective measures while removing the asbestos containing materials.  Pursuant to Mass DEP regulations, the removal of asbestos must be performed by a licensed contractor with notification as to when the removal will occur and requires certain methods and standards for the safe removal, storage, and disposal of the asbestos throughout the abatement process.
 
 
After the illegal removal process had occurred, one of the workers transported bags of the asbestos debris to an unlicensed facility in New Hampshire for disposal. (WCxKit)
 
 
A grand jury returned indictments against Norcross and he  was arraigned in Essex Superior Court at which time he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance.  Norcross pleaded guilty recently and was sentenced.
 

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.

British Firm Cited for Continuing to Expose Workers to Asbestos

A British firm continued to expose workers to dangerous asbestos-containing materials despite advice from the local council, according to a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
 
 
HSE issued a prohibition notice banning entry to two warehouses run by local storage firm, Rotherham Bonding Company, Ltd, were employees removed from danger.(WCxKit)
 
 
Rotherham Magistrates' Court heard the council bought the warehouses in Oldgate Lane from Fosters of Thrybergh, Ltd., and arranged for a professional asbestos survey before demolishing them. In the meantime Rotherham Bonding Company, which ran the warehouses, was using staff from its sister company, Fosters of Thrybergh, to empty them of their stock of wine and spirits.
 
 
The court heard Rotherham Council's surveyor spotted large amounts of damaged asbestos-containing materials on the floors where forklift trucks were operating. He advised employees and the council of his findings. The council notified both Rotherham Bonding Company and Fosters of Thrybergh about the presence of asbestos but nothing was done and work was allowed to continue.
 
 
HSE was informed and visited the site. It immediately issued the Prohibition Notice preventing entry into the buildings and later took samples which showed white and brown asbestos were present. As a result a full survey was carried out and 18 of 20 samples were found to contain significant concentrations of asbestos(WCxKit)
 
 
Fosters of Thrybergh, Ltd, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £5,500 ($9,000) with £6,250 ($10,000) toward costs.

 
 
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.


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©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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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 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.

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