OSHA Fine West Virginia Oil Gas Company $61K for Repeat Violations

 
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Cairo-based Jay-Bee Oil & Gas, Inc., for 10 repeat, three serious and four other-than-serious workplace safety violations, following a Feb. 4 inspection at a gas well drilling site in Salem, W.V. Proposed penalties total $73,150.
 
 
According to OSHA, a congressional referral initiated the gas and oil well drilling company inspection. Jay-Bee Oil & Gas corporate offices are located in Union, N.J.(WCxKit)
 
 
"This company's failure to correct previously cited violations means that it continues to place workers in harm's way," said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA's Charleston Area Office. "It is vital that the company address these hazards to protect its employees."
 
 
The repeat violations, which carry penalties of $61,600, involve tripping hazards; lack of guardrails or barricades around pits; lack of guarding on open-sided floors and platforms; lack of stair railings on open sides of stairways; failing to provide first-aid training to employees; failing to provide eye wash stations for employees handling corrosive materials; not properly mounted portable fire extinguishers; failing to provide portable fire extinguisher training to employees; not properly training powered industrial truck operators; and not properly training employees handling and exposed to hazardous materials.
 
 
The company was cited for the same violations in 2010 at the Salem site. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
 
 
The serious violations, with penalties of $10,780, include fall hazards, not properly labeling containers of hazardous materials, material safety data sheets not readily accessible, and the employer's failure to provide and ensure the use of flame-retardant clothing. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.(WCxKit)
 
 
The other-than-serious violations, with penalties of $770, were cited for improper certification of OSHA's form 300 for workplace injuries and illnesses. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

 
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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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.

Mine Safety Agency Issues Withdrawal Orders at Kentucky Mine

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued 10 withdrawal orders at Bledsoe Coal Corp.'s Abner Branch Rider Mine; just one month after the Leslie County, Ky., operation received a notice of a pattern of violations. These orders mark an unprecedented use by the agency of an enforcement action under Section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.
 
 
Under Section 104(e) of the Mine Act, a mining operation on a POV is subject to a withdrawal order each time MSHA issues a significant and substantial, known as an S&S, violation.open-ended The order remains in place until the violation is abated. An operator can be removed from POV status only after undergoing a complete inspection without receiving an S&S violation. (WCxKit)
 
 
"I've said time and again that MSHA will use all the tools at its disposal to prevent accidents, illnesses and injuries in the nation's mines," said Joseph Main, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "Mine operators must be held accountable, and we will make sure that those who persistently violate safety and health laws are subject to this enforcement action."
 
 
The 10 withdrawal orders include two issued on May 3 because the mine roof was not adequately supported to prevent a potential roof fall. To terminate the order, the mine operator scaled the loose draw rock and installed cap blocks and wedges over the bearing plates to support the mine roof. Two miners were withdrawn from the mine until the conditions were corrected.
 
 
Of the remaining orders, three were issued on May 10 for inadequate ventilation controls and inadequate roof, rib and face support, causing the withdrawal of more than 30 miners working over three shifts. Inspectors found that ventilation controls between the secondary escape way and the belt entry had become damaged and difficult to open.
 
 
The order related to inadequate ventilation controls was terminated the following day when the operator installed a pressure relief slider in the personnel door and made modifications to enable the doors to easily open. Inspectors found large slabs of material measuring approximately 5 feet in height, 12 feet in length and 4 to 8 inches in thickness, as well as the presence of a crack 2 to 4 inches behind the rib material. open-ended. The order related to inadequate rib support was terminated the following day when the unsafe ribs were wrapped with banding material and 1- by 6- inch boards.
 
 
The New West Virginia Mining Co.'s Apache Mine in McDowell County, W.Va., also received a POV notice; however, the mining operation is currentli idle.
 
 
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.

Volunteer Fire Departments Receive Coverage Under State Operated Insurance Program

West Virginia – State volunteer fire departments will receive broad form insurance coverage through the Board of Risk and Insurance Management (BRIM) effective September 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, according to a press release from Governor Joe Manchin's office.
“I am grateful BRIM has stepped in to provide insurance coverage, and peace of mind, for our VFDs,” Manchin said in a statement. “In addition, the BRIM coverage will provide the Volunteer Fire Department Workers Compensation Task Force much needed time to further study all aspects of the workers compensation challenge affecting volunteer firefighters.” (WCxKit)
Prior to BRIM's action, 281 volunteer departments in the state were en route to losing broad form coverage, which now is provided by Brickstreet set to expire June 1, 2010, but was extended to September 1, 2010. There are 426 fully volunteer fire departments in the state.
 “The 60-day extension from BrickStreet, while generous, did not allow us time to find a permanent solution,” Manchin continued. “BRIM’s action is a temporary solution that will allow VFDs to receive continual broad form coverage while providing ample time for the task force to fully study the issues and find a permanent solution.” (WCxKit)
Earlier in July, Manchin temporarily obtained relief for VFDs from workers compensation premium increases from BrickStreet. The BRIM coverage will give the stakeholders time to find a permanent solution to the problem, he added.
  \ 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.  Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com  or 860-553-6604.  
 
Work Comp Calculator:  http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

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
 Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

WEST VIRGINIA WC 101 Answering Basic Workers Comp Questions

Workers Compensation Laws change frequently. This is only a summary; a complete copy of the most up-to-date version can be found at: www.WorkCompResearch.com an excellent service.

Every state has it's own unique laws and rules covering workers' compensation and how its handled.  Here are answers about West Virginia law from the law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl, authorities on workers' compensation. 1.  How long does an injured employee have to file a claim? An employee can file a claim up to six months following the date of injury.  However, if the injury is an occupational disease, such as hearing loss or black lung, the employee can file up to three years after the date he or she was last exposed to the condition causing the disease, or three years after he or she was diagnosed with the disease, whichever comes later. 2.  What kinds of injuries qualify for workers' compensation benefits? In order to be  compensable, an injury must be received in the course of and resulting from the employee's employment.  Generally, this does not include injuries sustained going to and coming from work, injuries sustained before or after working hours, injuries that are entirely mental without some physical component, or injuries caused by the employee being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 3.  What types of benefits are available to an employee who files a workers' compensation claim? An employee is eligible to receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits if the injury prevents him or her from returning to his or her pre-injury position of employment.  The amount of the TTD benefits is calculated as a percentage of the employee's wages, with a maximum and a minimum amount. An employee can receive TTD benefits for up to 104 weeks.  Otherwise, TTD benefits cease when a claimant reaches maximum medical improvement.  (This means the employee's condition has improved as much as it can.  The employee may not have returned to 100% of his or her pre-injury health status, but his or her condition is as good as it is going to get.) If the employee's  injury results in some type of permanent disability, he or she may be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.  PPD benefits are also calculated as a percentage of the employee's wages, with a maximum and a minimum amount, and are awarded based on the percentage of residual whole person impairment recommended by a physician. If the injury  renders the employee unable to engage in substantial gainful activity, he or she may be eligible for permanent total disability benefits.  These benefits, which are calculated in a manner similar to the TTD and PPD benefits, continue until the employee reaches age 70.   (workersxzcompxzkit) Dependents  of employees receiving PTD benefits are also eligible for benefits at the time of the employees' death, or who died as the result of a workplace injury or exposure. About the authors Denise D. Klug is a partner in the Litigation Department of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP. Denise represents companies in the chemical, hospital, steel, trucking and numerous other industries in Ohio and W. Virginia. Denise counsels clients on violations of specific safety requirements, State Fund issues, premium discounts and establishing Drug Free Work Place Programs. She can be reached at denise.klug@dinslaw.com or 304-230-1700. Aimee M. Stern is a member of the Litigation Department of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP with an emphasis on toxic torts, medical malpractice and workers' compensation. She can be reached at aimee.stern@dinslaw.com or 304-230-1603. Thank you to Dinsmore & Shohl, a law firm that has been helping me reduce claims for over 20 years.

Try Our FREE Tools WC Best Practices Quick Check: http://www.workerscompkit.com/intro/ WC Calculator: www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/calculator.php TD Calculator: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary.

©2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

2 Million Dollars Awarded to Worker with Wrist Injury in Workers Compensation Retaliatory Discrimination Case

Attorneys Denise Klug and Aimee Stern, noted authorities on workers’ compensation in West Virginia, offer insight into a important new West Virginia case which is employer-unfriendly.

1. In Peters v. Rivers Edge Mining, Inc.,  the Court upheld a jury verdict awarding nearly $2 million in damages to a plaintiff who alleged workers’ compensation discrimination.

2. The plaintiff, George Peters, was employed as a coal miner by Rivers Edge, when he injured his wrist at work. Mr. Peters filed a workers’ compensation claim, and was taken off work by his physician for approximately two months.

3. Three days after  Mr. Peters was released to return to work, his workers’ compensation case manager received an email from a representative of Rivers Edge, indicating Rivers Edge would place Mr. Peters in its transitional work program, due to his continuing physical restrictions, and he was to contact Mr. Peters regarding his return to work.

4. In his Rivers Edge personnel file, Mr. Peters provided as his contact number the phone number for his mother’s house, where he did not live. Accordingly, the Rivers Edge representative was unable to speak to Mr. Peters until two days later. At that time, Mr. Peters was informed he could return to work at Rivers Edge. However, the parties disputed when Mr. Peters was required to report to work.

5. Rivers Edge claimed Mr. Peters reported for work one day late, thus violating the “2-day rule” of the collective bargaining agreement, providing an employee who is absent from work for two consecutive days without approval, other than for a proven sickness, may be discharged. Rivers Edge terminated Mr. Peters’ employment for violation of the 2-day rule.

6. Mr. Peters’ union filed a grievance on his behalf to challenge the discharge. The grievance was arbitrated, and the arbitrator decided that Rivers Edge demonstrated just cause for terminating Mr. Peters’ employment.

7. Mr. Peters filed a lawsuit, alleging his termination violated the West Virginia statutory provision prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who applied for worker’s compensation benefits. The jury found Mr. Peters’ termination did constitute worker’s compensation discrimination, and awarded him almost $885,107 in compensatory and $1 million in punitive damages.

8. Rivers Edge appealed  to the Supreme Court. The Court affirmed the jury’s verdict, and in so doing, made the following “employer-unfriendly” rulings:
    a. The fact the arbitrator found Rivers Edge’s termination of Mr. Peters was proper under the collective bargaining act did not necessarily mean Mr. Peters could not prove his termination constituted workers’ compensation discrimination.
    b. The jury’s award of $513,410 for front pay was proper because reinstatement or front pay is available as damages to a plaintiff alleging workers’ compensation discrimination.
    c. The $1 million in punitive damages awarded by the jury was affirmed. As support for its decision that punitive damages were warranted, the Court cited the following: Rivers Edge had been “suspicious” of the validity of Mr. Peters’ workers’ compensation claim; it had placed him under surveillance when his doctor did not approve his return to work; once his return to work had been approved, Rivers Edge continued its surveillance of him rather than responding to his attempts to return to work; and although Rivers Edge had known of Mr. Peters’ ability to return to work for six days, it gave him only five hours notice that he was required to return to work. (workersxzcompxzkit)

9. Obviously, this decision will cause concern to many West Virginia employers who think if their termination of an employee is approved in arbitration, they are safe from a lawsuit; however, under this decision, they are not. In addition, the Court condemned the employer for being “suspicious” of the claim and for placing the employee under surveillance, a common practice among employers.

Possibly the best way for employers to protect themselves from a result like the one in Peters v. Rivers Edge is to make sure to conduct surveillance only when there is a reason to believe an employee is engaging in activities inconsistent with his or her claimed injury, and to be sure to thoroughly document the non-discriminatory reasons for every employment decision made with respect to an employee who has filed a workers’ compensation claim.

About the authors
Denise D. Klug is a partner in the Litigation Department of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP. Denise represents companies in the chemical, hospital, steel, trucking and numerous other industries in Ohio and W. Virginia. Denise counsels clients on violations of specific safety requirements, State Fund issues, premium discounts and establishing Drug Free Work Place Programs. She can be reached at denise.klug@dinslaw.com or 304-230-1700.
Aimee M. Stern is a member of the Litigation Department of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP with an emphasis on toxic torts, medical malpractice and workers’ compensation. She can be reached at aimee.stern@dinslaw.com or 304-230-1603.


Reduce Your Workers Comp: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/
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All state laws vary.

©2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Tips For West Virginia Employers Regarding Offering Modified Duty to Workers Compensation Claimants

When offering modified duty to a workers in West Virginia, Attorneys Denise Klug and Aimee Stern, authorities on the subject from the highly regarded law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl, have counseled employers’ on workers’ compensation matters for many years. Attorneys Klug and Stern offer the following pointers on developing a modified duty job offer letter in West Virginia.

 

1-The employer should have a specific,  written policy governing the modified duty program. At a minimum, this policy should explain whether the modified duty assignment is temporary, the duration of the assignment, the eligibility criteria for participation, and the duties and responsibilities of the claimant and the employer. The policy should also clearly state that it is not intended to deprive a claimant from seeking recourse under any applicable federal or state law.

 

2-It is recommended that employers  keep up-to-date job descriptions, including physical demand guidelines, for all positions. This will help the employer, the claimant, and the claimant’s physician make prompt, informed decisions about modified duty possibilities.

 

3-Obviously, a claimant must be released  to return to modified duty by his treating physician before modified duty can be offered.

 

4-The employer should obtain a clear description  of the claimant’s physical capabilities. The description should identify what the claimant can do, as well as, what the claimant cannot do.

 

5-A detailed job description which includes  the claimant’s physical restrictions should be developed.

 

6-It is a good practice to submit  the modified duty offer to the claimant’s physician, prior to making the offer to the claimant, for the physician’s approval.

 

7-Modified duty can be part-time  or full-time, and can be at reduced wages.

 

8-The employer will determine  the value of the claimant’s modified duty tasks and pay him or her accordingly. The claimant may be eligible for temporary partial rehabilitation benefit, in an amount equal to 70% of the difference between the claimant’s pre-injury and modified duty wages.

 

9-Once a claimant is assigned  to a light duty position, the employer should monitor the claimant’s progress regularly. It is important to make sure that the claimant, his or her supervisor, and his or her coworkers are all abiding by the physical restrictions placed on the claimant.

 

10-There is no mandatory time  limit for modified duty.

 

Note: Employers should be aware that the 2008 amendments to the W. Va. Worker’s Compensation Act require the Insurance Commissioner to propose rules addressing a claimant’s trial return to work following a compensable injury. These rules have not yet been promulgated; however, when they are, employers will need to be aware of any changes the rules make to this area of the law.

 

About the authors
Denise D. Klug is a partner in the Litigation Department of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP. Denise represents companies in the chemical, hospital, steel, trucking and numerous other industries in Ohio and W. Virginia. Denise counsels clients on violations of specific safety requirements, State Fund issues, premium discounts and establishing Drug Free Work Place Programs. She can be reached at denise.klug@dinslaw.com or 304-230-1700.

Aimee M. Stern is a member of the Litigation Department of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP with an emphasis on toxic torts, medical malpractice and workers’ compensation. She can be reached at aimee.stern@dinslaw.com or 304-230-1603.

WC Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/calculator.php
TD Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel or other professionals before implementing any cost containment programs.

©2008 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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