PA Firm Fined $129,000 for Exposing Workers to High Lead Levels

The U.S. Department of Labors Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined a Pittsburgh-area firm $129,900 for exposing workers to dangerously high levels of lead, among other violations, in its work repainting the George Wade Bridge in Harrisburg.
Canonsburg-based Panthera Painting Co. Inc. has 15 days to fix the violations, ask for an informal conference with the agency's area director or fight the citations, OSHA officials said. OSHA began inspecting the site in September after it was alerted to the hazards during another inspection involving the projects general contractor, officials said. (WCxKit)
The company was fined $42,000 for failing to monitor lead levels on a quarterly basis. Twenty-nine other violations totaling $87,300 include exposing workers to lead levels, electrical hazards and having deficiencies in the companys lead protection program, OSHA officials said.
In addition, the company was cited for five less serious violations with penalties totaling $600 for not properly recording injuries and illnesses and not inspecting fire extinguishers
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 for more information. 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

Average Weekly Wages Included Tank of Gas Per Week

Average Weekly Wage Includes Value of Housing.  A South Carolina appellate court ruled that an injured worker's average weekly wage included the fair rental value of a residence provided free of charge to him by his parents, who were dominant shareholders in the company that employed the worker. Evidence indicated that the worker moved from Minnesota to South Carolina in exchange for $30,000 per year, a tank of gas per week, and use of a home owned by his parents as a free living arrangement. See Larson's Workers Compensation Law[See Bazen v. Badger R. Bazen Company, 2010 S.C. App. LEXIS 73; Ch. 93.

In Graves v. Workers Comp
. Appeal Bd. (Phila. Hous. Auth.), 983 A.2d 241 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2009), the court found substantial evidence supported findings that a police officer did not sustain a compensable injury while in the course and scope of his employment. The officers own testimony was that he was off-duty, had gone to the tavern where a private party was taking place, and he was shot following an altercation that took place both inside and outside the bar.See
Larson's Workers Compensation Law Ch. 8.[1][a] n2 (Digest)] (WCxKit)

Injuries Sustained While Retrieving Pay Found Compensable.
In Phelps v. Dispatch Printing Co., 2010 Ohio 2423, 2010 Ohio App. LEXIS 1987 (June 1, 2010), the court affirmed an award of benefits where an employer had a policy that allowed an employee to receive his or her pay in person and the employee, a journeyman/pressman, was on the employer's premises retrieving his check when he fell and sustained injuries. See Larson's Workers Compensation Law  Ch. 26

In La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries v. Thomas, 2010 Ohio LEXIS 1673 (July 13, 2010), the Supreme Court of Ohio recently held, in a case of first impression, determining a loss-of-vision award, a claimant's uncorrected post-injury vision may be compared to his corrected vision prior to the accidental injury. It found unpersuasive the employer's argument that fairness dictated uncorrected vision should be judged both before and after the injury. Larson's Workers Compensation Law  Ch. 86.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis. All rights reserved. This material is excerpted from Larson’s Workers Compensation Law and has been reprinted with permission.
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

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

ABCs of Pennsylvania Workers Compensation

In Pennsylvania, workers compensation insurance is compulsory. You must have workers compensation insurance, if you have one employee, with very few exceptions (coverage for one domestic servant is voluntary and there are some narrow agricultural exceptions).   Waivers are not permitted. Workers compensation insurance can be purchased from a private insurance carrier, the employer may self insure, and workers compensation coverage can be obtained through the state fund.
Claim Reporting:
The employee must report the injury to the employer within 120 days of the accident, illness or disease. If the employee reports the injury within 21 days of the accident, the indemnity benefits are payable from the date of the accident, if they apply. If the injury is report 22 days to 120 days after it occurred, the indemnity benefits are payable from the date the injury is reported. The employer must report the accident to the Bureau of Workers' Compensation within 21 days to avoid sanctions. (WCxKit)
Medical Benefits:
Medical expenses including doctor visits, surgical expenses, hospital expenses, prescriptions, mileage expenses, orthopedic devices and durable medical equipment are all covered by Pennsylvania workers compensation coverage. There are no time limits and no monetary limits. A medical fee schedule based on 113% of the 1994 Medicare rates (and adjusted each year since 1994 by the State) is utilized to control the cost of medical care.
The initial choice of a medical provider is controlled by the employer. The employer provides a panel of at least six designated health care providers of which no more than four can be in a coordinated care organization and no fewer than three must be physicians. To utilize the panel, the employer has to have the employee sign a Rights and Duty form at the time of hire acknowledging the employee must chose from the designated panel if an injury occurs. After 90 days the employee is free to choose his own medical provider, but must notify the employer within 5 days of the first visit to the new physician. If the employer does not have the Rights and Duty form or does not have a panel of designated health care providers, the employee can choose his own medical provider immediately.
The workers compensation insurance company is limited to requesting two independent medical examinations (IME) of an injured employee each year. If the injured employee does not attend the IME, the insurance company can petition for a suspension of benefits.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits:
The employee's total income over the 52 weeks prior to the injury is used to calculate the average weekly wage. Total income includes overtime pay, vacation pay, bonuses and commissions in addition to the weekly wage. TTD is to two-thirds of the average weekly wage if the average weekly wage is over $633.76 (in 2010, adjusted annually by the State). The TTD benefit can not exceed $845.00 in 2010 (the maximum is adjusted annually by the State). If the average weekly wage in 2010 is between $469.44 and $633.75, the employee will receive a weekly TTD benefit of $422.50.   If the average weekly wage in 2010 is below $469.43, the employee receives 90% of the average weekly wage. (While the State government may have humanitarian intentions in paying the lower income workers 90% of their gross pay, it provides a huge disincentive to return to work when the employee is receiving as much, or more, from work comp then they received before the accident in their net take home pay.)   The state minimum weekly benefit is $50.00.
The first 7 days of disability (the waiting period) is not paid to the injured employee unless the employee is disabled for more than 14 days. TTD benefits can be paid for the employees lifetime, or to the employees return to work, or to the resolution of the claim through a Compromise & Release Agreement, or to the termination of the benefits by Bureau of Workers' Compensation Judge, or to the modification of benefits to temporary partial.
Return to Work:
To the credit of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, which oversees workers compensation, they have a model Return to Work program that they actively promote. Their recommended return to work program can be viewed at:
The Return to Work program recommended by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry promotes the buy-in of the employee, the employer, the medical providers, the unions and the workers' compensation insurer by explaining how the Return to Work program benefits all parties.
Our website also has a tremendous amount of information that will benefit the Pennsylvania employer with the creation or management of a Return to Work program. For more information on Pennsylvania Return to Work, please go to:
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits:
TPD is limited to two situations – 1) when the employee is returned to work at a lower rate of pay due to the injury, or 2) when the employee is working reduced hours due to the injury. The employee receives two-thirds of the difference between what he was earning before the injury and what he earns after the injury. TPD is limited to 500 weeks.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits:
PPD benefits are paid when the employee sustains a permanent loss of function, or scarring and disfigurement of the face and/or neck as the result of a work related injury. Specific loss benefits for body parts are payable based on a stated number of weeks listed in Section 306 of the workers' compensation statute.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits:
While TTD can go on for a life time in Pennsylvania, and TPD can go on for 500 weeks, there are no statutory permanent total disability benefits in Pennsylvania.
Death Benefits:
The simple part – there is a $3,000 burial benefit. The complex part – the weekly benefit is a percentage of the average weekly wage (AWW), not to exceed the statewide average weekly wage (as published annually by the State). Dependent children are eligible for weekly benefits until age 18 or age 23 if they are a full time student. If there are no dependent children, the surviving spouse receives 51% of the AWW. If there is one child, the surviving spouse receives 60% of the AWW. If there are two or more dependent children, the surviving spouse receives 66 & 2/3% of the AWW. If there is no surviving spouse, but dependent children, there is a graduated scale with 32% of the AWW for one child, and up to 66 & 2/3% for six or more children, with the benefits being paid to the guardian(s). If the surviving spouse remarries, the surviving spouse is no longer entitled to the death benefits, but the dependent children are. There are also guidelines for paying death benefits to parents and dependent siblings when there is no surviving spouse or dependent children.
Vocational Rehabilitation:
All that is required for a modification or suspension of benefits is the performance of a labor market survey by a vocational expert to prove the employee's earning capacity. (WCxKit)
Lump sum settlements are allowed. Compromise and Release Agreements are used to resolve future medical exposure, future indemnity exposure or both. If the parties agree, a structured settlement may be used to pay the claim.   All settlements are subject to the requirements of Medicare.


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.
Contact: or 860-553-6604.

Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

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.

©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact

Employee Backs Into CoWorker’s Car as Employee Snoozes While Waiting To Start Work

How Would You Decide:  If you fall asleep in your car and are injured, who do you sue?

Here’s what Tom Robinson, J.D., writer for Lexis Nexis Workers Comp Law Center reports.

Worker Injured in Company Parking Lot While Snoozing in Car May Not Proceed Against Co-Worker for Alleged Negligence

Here’s What Happened

Kulik was employed  by Sears and began each work shift at 6:00 a.m.  He drove his vehicle to work one day and arrived half an hour before his shift began.  He took a “cat nap” in his car while waiting for the shift to begin.  As Kulik slept and waited, his car was struck from behind by another vehicle driven by a co-worker.  Kulik filed a  negligence action against the co-worker and Kulik’s spouse also sued to recover for loss of consortium. 

The defendant  contended Kulik’s civil action was barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act.  The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of defendant.  Kulik and his wife appealed. 

Here’s What The Court Decided:

In Kulik v. Mash, 2009 PA Super 188, 2009 Pa. Super. LEXIS 3285 (Sept. 16, 2009), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania agreed with defendant that the personal injury cause of action (as well as the derivative consortium claim) was barred by exclusivity.  Observing that the injury occurred within the employer’s parking lot, the court stated the general rule that even though not actually engaged in the employer’s work, an employee will be considered to have suffered an injury in the course of employment if the injury occurred on the employer’s premises at a reasonable time before or after the work period. 

The court held  that the 30-minute interval before Kulik’s shift was to begin was a reasonable interval of time, that once an employee was on the employer’s premises, actually getting to or leaving the employee’s work station was a necessary part of that employee’s employment, and thus, definitively furthered the employer’s interest.  The court stressed that just because Kulik arrived early, perhaps because traffic was not as bad as expected, and he took advantage of his early arrival to take a cat nap, it did not mean he was “off on some enterprise of his own before going to work.”  Kulik did nothing extraordinary before heading into work.  (workersxzcompxzkit)

 According to the court,  “[t]he vicissitudes of traffic should not make the difference as to whether or not there is a bar.”   The court refused to accept defendant’s argument that in other cases where the tort action had been barred by exclusivity, the employee had actually been moving toward the employee’s work station at the time of injury, whereas here, Kulik had been stationary.  That was too fine a line to be drawn, said the court.  The court reiterated the normal rule: a person on the employer’s premises a reasonable period of time before or after work is considered to be within the course of employment.

See generally  Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 13.01, 13.04, 111.03.
Tom Robinson, J.D. is the primary upkeep writer for Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis) and Larson’s Workers’ Compensation, Desk Edition (LexisNexis). He is a contributing writer for California Compensation Cases (LexisNexis) and Benefits Review Board – Longshore Reporter(LexisNexis), and is a contributing author to New York Workers’ Compensation Handbook(LexisNexis). Robinson is an authority in the area of workers’ compensation and we are happy to have him as a Guest Contributor to Workers’ Comp Kit Blog. Tom can be reached at:

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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 workman’s comp issues.





©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact








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