Posts Tagged ‘work injuries’

Top 10 backbreaking jobs

Thursday, December 16th, 2004

According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), back pain is one the most common work-related injuries in the United States, accounting annually for approximately one-quarter of all lost or unproductive workdays. What do ACA members consider to be the most backbreaking jobs? Heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers top the list, followed by construction workers, landscapers, police officers, farmers, shingle roofers, firefighters/EMTs, delivery drivers, nursing home workers, and auto mechanics.
Off the job activities can also exacerbate back pain. Spine-Health suggests that the holidays can add stress that can worsen chronic back pain. They offer some pointers to those suffering from back pain on how to get through the holiday season.
More information
MedlinePlus: back pain
Mayo Clinic: back pain
Preventing back pain at home and work
Lifting Guidelines and RTW
Study shows active recovery fosters return to work

Compensability: deviation from employment and “personal comfort” doctrine

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

Recently, Florida appellate courts issued rulings on two cases on issues related to deviation from employment and personal comfort. Essentially, these are nooks and crannies having to do with the issue of compensability. Injuries are compensable if they arise out of and in the course of employment. Sounds simple? Not so: Thousands of court challenges have occurred interpreting those few seemingly simple words. Is a worker covered while driving home from work? Is a worker covered while they take a break or go to lunch? Is a worker covered while running a personal errand during a business trip? Is a worker covered when injured at the company picnic? The answer to all these questions would be “maybe.” Specific circumstances would dictate a yes or a no.

In the first Florida case, Galaida v. Autozone, Inc. 29 Fla. L. Weekly D2160d (Fla. 1st DCA Sept. 27, 2004), a worker was denied benefits for an injury sustained while on a smoke break in the company parking lot. Autozone allows employees to take smoke breaks, and the employee went to his car to get his cigarettes. When he opened the car door, his gun fell out of the car, discharged, and shot him in the foot. The claim for the resulting injury was denied not because it occurred during a break – that is an acceptable deviation for personal comfort – but because the employer had a policy against possessing firearms on company premises, and therefore, this incident was deemed a serious deviation from the course of employment.The employee subsequently appealed the denial based on the doctrine of “personal comfort.” The Appeals court upheld the denial, stating that:

The personal comfort doctrine incorporates a foreseeability element to the cause of injury. Thus, in Holly Hill Fruit Products 473 So. 2d 829, 830-1 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985), an employee who was injured while crossing a street to purchase cigarettes was held to have sustained a compensable injury because the ‘trip was a foreseeable and non-prohibited refreshment break activity, and employer’s authority over claimant was not significantly dissipated during the course of the trip.’ Similarly, in B & B Cash Grocery Stores v. Wortman, 431 So. 2d 171, 174 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983), an employee injured while attending to his personal comfort by washing off in a river was held to have sustained a compensable injury because ‘diving into the Alafia River was a momentary deviation without obvious danger, was impliedly tolerated, and was reasonably foreseeable.’

Being exposed to a firearm, however, is not a foreseeable consequence of an authorized cigarette break, especially when the possession of a firearm is strictly prohibited by the employer.

Modern Day Slavery

Thursday, April 22nd, 2004

“Slavery is not just the shameful stuff of history books – not in Florida”

“For nine months, The Palm Beach Post explored the roots of modern-day slavery. Reporters and photographers traveled to destitute Mexican villages, crossed the desert with a smuggler, rode across the U.S. with illegal immigrants, found new claims of slavery, uncovered rampant Social Security fraud, and found that Florida’s famous orange juice comes with hidden costs.”

This series is stunning. That gross human rights and labor abuses occur in this country is not a surprise; that they thrive on such a scale and with such complicity from an entire industry, and with a nod and a wink from state authorities — well, color me naive, but that’s the shocker.
The text and photos speak for themselves. Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

“They slip across the Mexican border at great peril, cross the country in the dark hollows of vans, stay silent as they are “bought” and “sold” in fruit groves and rest stops dotting the American landscape.

A destitute minority in a wealthy, well-fed society, they are packed like prisoners into unfit housing, ferried to work in unsafe vehicles and compelled to labor long hours — under fake names and numbers — for substandard wages.

Enslaved by debt from the very moment they arrive, they contribute mightily to Florida’s $62 billion agricultural industry, yet they earn little in return.
In the worst cases, they are threatened, beaten and locked up in their dingy quarters to prevent their escape.

This is the state of the harvest in 2003.

“The richest, most powerful people in the state are benefiting from this,” says Rob Williams, director of the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project, a legal advocacy group in Florida. “They don’t want it to change.”