Articles Posted in Jones Act

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The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal recently addressed an appeal in a maritime injury dispute following an accident that injured a welder working on a floating mat for a construction project. The injured plaintiff in this case was awarded over three million dollars, and liability was imposed upon his employer.  At issue on appeal was whether the court properly found he had seaman status under the Jones Act, and whether the award of general damages was an abuse of discretion.barge

Ernest Lee Guidry, the plaintiff, worked as a welder for Tanner Services, LLC, the defendant, for over two years.  Mr. Guidry had been assigned a project in Grand Isle and was working in the marine division for this particular project.  Three barges and two tugboats were used as “floating docks” for a crane and to prepare for welding.

Mr. Guidry spent most of his time on the floating mat, which was a large piece of wood that was much like a raft in the water.  A vibrating hammer fell and struck Mr. Guidry while he was welding piles on the floating mat. He endured multiple injuries and underwent several surgeries after the accident, including a crushed foot, the amputation of four fingers, herniated discs, a concussion, post-traumatic stress, and total and permanent disability.

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Many of my Louisiana Workers Compensation, Longshore & Harborworker and Defense Base Act clients injure their back or neck on the job. Often they have back or neck pain that their treating physician wants to treat with epidural steroid injections.

According to a recent April 23, 2014 warning put out by the Food and Drug Administration, these injections inserted into the spine may cause serious negative consequences, including loss of vision stroke, paralysis and even death. A number of the adverse effects have occurred within 48 hours of the injection. The FDA has not approved injections for back and neck pain. Speak with your healthcare provider if you want to switch to an alternative form of treatment.

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Daylight Savings Time, the practice of temporarily advancing clocks during the summertime so that evenings have more daylight and mornings have less, has been observed since 1895. The practice is the source of much annual anticipation for individuals eager to benefit from longer days and more day lit hours.

A study from the American Psychological Association, however, suggests “springing forward” from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time may have some unintended consequences such as disrupted sleep patterns and an increased risk for workplace injury.

According to the study’s authors, the hour of sleep lost when Americans set their clocks an hour ahead each spring results in higher rates of workplace accidents caused by sleep loss. The study analyzed accident and time use data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Bureau of Labor Statistics, concluding that the average person sleeps about 40 minutes less the Sunday night of the time switch resulting in approximately 3.6 more work injuries the following Monday in hazardous occupations such as mining and construction.

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If you were hurt on the job and are collecting wage loss benefits, company detectives may be stalking you to try to prove you are malingering. For about $300, Private Investigators (PIs) may mount a Global Position System (GPS) to the underside of your car and follow you throughout the day from their laptop computer. Some GPS devices are powered by the car’s battery and typically placed under the dashboard while other devices are equipped with their own batteries to enable inconspicuous placement on the vehicle’s body. PIs use the GPS device to see if you are working and not reporting your wages or if you are participating in physical activities beyond your work restrictions.

Using a GPS in this fashion may have potential criminal stalking and civil privacy implications. For example, California and Texas ban the use of GPS trackers without consent with exceptions for law enforcement and car owners. If you find one of these devices on your vehicle, immediately contact your local police department.

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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement ( BOEMRE) has completed its investigation into the fire that broke out on an offshore oil platform 100 miles off the Louisiana coast in September of 2010. The fire forced the 13 platform workers to jump in to the water and await Coast Guard rescue. The fire aboard the Mariner Energy Vermillion 380-A platform occurred just months after the April 2010 BP oil spill, offering a chilling reminder of the importance of strict safety standards in the offshore oil industry. The official investigation report cites a combination of factors, including crucial equipment failure, corroded equipment, and a fire water pump that could not be used due to generator failure, as causes for the incident.

“The report underscores the need for offshore operators to maintain their equipment consistent with existing standards, to protect the safety of personnel working onboard and to protect the environment,” BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich stated.

According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, noncompliance citations may be issued to Mariner Energy Inc. Mariner Energy, which has recently been taken over by Apache Corporation, may also face civil charges related to the September fire.

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Many Louisiana work injures occur on the highway and the Louisiana State Police are making crash reports available online to injured workers. To obtain a report you will be asked to enter the first and last name of the driver/pedestrian involved in the crash, the parish where the crash occurred and the date of the incident. Parish Sheriff and Local Police Department Accident Report Contact Information is also available online.

For assistance with your job injury, contact a Louisiana Workers Compensaion Lawyer and Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer concering any potential Third Party Claim or Louisiana Uninsured Motorist Claim.

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Working in a noisy environment may be more than annoying-it may be bad for your heart. According to a study released this month by researchers at The University of British Columbia and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, individuals working in noisy environments are at have a higher prevalence of chest pain, heart attacks, heart disease and high blood pressure due to psychological stress acquired by exposure to loud noise at the work place.

A team of researchers analyzed data on over 6, 300 employed individuals 20 years and older who participated in the U.S National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004. As part of the U.S National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, participants underwent physical exams and answered questions about their occupational and general health. University of British Columbia researchers then divided the study participants by type of workplace: generally quiet work environments and persistently noisy workplaces. “Persistent noise” did not include loud music or talking but was defined as unwanted industrial noise such as the noise commonly found in mining and manufacturing industries. More than 20 percent of the approximately 6,300 individuals had been exposed to over 8 months of workplace noise. Even after taking into consideration the high rates of heart disease risks factors such as tobacco use and obesity among the mostly middle-aged male individuals working in a loud environment, researchers still found that workers exposed to industrial noise were about twice as likely to have serious heart problems than individuals working in quieter environments. According to study results, individuals exposed to loud noise at work were about twice as likely to have above normal diastolic blood pressure, a biomarker linked to hypertension and cardiac problems. Among those who worked in a noisy environment, men under age fifty and men who smoked were at a higher risk of coronary disease and heart attack.

Because the study relied on self-reported diagnosis data and did not consider other occupational factors associated with cardiovascular disease such as air pollution, further studies are needed before the connection between noise and cardiovascular illness is proven. Despite conclusive causal evidence of the connection, the scientific community is interested in the results of the study and eager to explore the possible connection further.

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The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, NHTSA AND OSHA have set forth a 10-Step Program of what an employer can do to improve traffic safety. They include:

  • Senior Management Commitment & Employee Involvement
  • Written Policies and Procedures
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J Lincoln, PhD, D Lucas, MS, Alaska Pacific Regional Office, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report in a July 16, 2010 report that:

  • Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States;
  • Of the 504 U.S. commercial fishing deaths, the majority occurred after a vessel disaster (261 deaths, 52%) or a fall overboard (155 deaths, 31%). By region, 133 (26%) deaths occurred off the coast of Alaska, 124 (25%) in the Northeast, 116 (23%) in the Gulf of Mexico, 83 (16%) off the West Coast, and 41 (8%) in the Mid- and South Atlantic.
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As some 34,000 workers labor to contain the oozing oil surging in to the Gulf of Mexico, concerns over the potential health effects of the BP oil spill have mounted.

In a U.S Institute of Medicine panel led last week by Linda McCauley, dean of Emory University’s School of Nursing, McCauley expressed concern for the health of the clean-up workers and called for increased transparency from BP regarding safety precautions.

In the months following the April 20th spill, efforts to coordinate resources and organize health monitoring have been slow and reminiscent of post 9/11 efforts to access and monitor the health of emergency responders.