Safety Risks for Transportation Workers in Massachusetts
OSHA cited the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration for safety and health violations at the Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. This is not the first time citations have been issued for an airport. OSHA issued notices of violations in Boston, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Manchester, Portland, and Bellingham between 2008-2012.
An inspection that started last spring revealed that there were many instances where TSA employees were in danger of having their fingers crushed or amputated while using baggage conveyers to inspect luggage. They also faced electrical hazards because electrical equipment in inspections and checkpoints were being misused and fire hazards as a result of fire extinguishers not being secured and flammable materials being improperly stored.
Hazards were found in baggage conveyors, inspections rooms, checkpoints and break rooms. There were also fall hazards in the form of defective ladders, trip and fall hazards from floor mats that weren’t secured, lack of protective clothing and eyewash for works exposed to corrosive liquids, a poorly marked exit route and overly narrow aisles. OSHA gave the TSA 15 business days to comply, ask for a conference or appeal.
If you work for the TSA or another department of the federal government, you are covered under a federal workers’ compensation system, rather than the state workers’ compensation system. Also excluded from Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation benefits are railroad workers, shipyard and harbor workers and independent contractors, among other workers. However, if you work for a private transportation company in Massachusetts and are injured on the job, you may be covered by the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system.
Some transportation jobs that may be covered are certain taxi cab drivers, trucking companies, private airplanes, limo companies, and charter buses. Private airplane or aircraft carriers should be conscious of the safety hazards outlined in the OSHA citation described above, too. However, taxi drivers who lease their cabs on a fee basis not related to fares collected are exempted from workers’ compensation laws because they are not considered employees.
Regardless of the kind of worker you are, you should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible and find out whether the company carries workers’ compensation insurance. You should also discuss your case with a workers’ compensation attorney who will be able to tell you if you are supposed to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, and can protect your interests during discussions with your employer’s insurer.
Employers who are supposed to be carrying workers’ compensation insurance, but are not, may be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. Criminal penalties include imprisonment for not more than a year and a fine of up to $1500. An employer may also receive a Stop Work order to its business. If an employer knowingly misclassifies employees or otherwise willfully fails to procure workers’ compensation, it can be immediately prevented from bidding or participating in state or municipal funded contracts for three years.
The Department of Industrial Accidents oversees the workers’ compensation system. If an insurer denies your worker’s compensation claim or does not give you all the benefits you think you deserve, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney for help bringing your claim before a judge. Workers’ compensation proceedings can be confusing for claimants unused to legal systems. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can look through all the documents given to you by your employer or its insurer and help you fight for your benefits.
We can help you resolve the legal issues that may arise from a workplace injury, so that you can focus on your recovery. If you are concerned about your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage, ask an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney for assistance. Contact us by calling 800-367-0871 or using our online contact form.