Seattle Tunnel Project Injuries Result in $700,000 in Claims

Story first published by the Associated Press, via KING5.com.

Records show injuries suffered by workers on Seattle’s downtown tunnel project last year resulted in about $700,000 in workers’ compensation claims. The contractor was cited and fined twice in 2015 for safety violations.

A review of worker safety records by The Associated Press shows workers sustained injuries like an amputated foot, a fractured hand and a fingertip crushed so badly it had to be surgically removed.

Sixty of those injured workers filed workers’ comp claims in 2015. Since 2012, 185 workers have filed injury claims that are expected to top $2.5 million, according to data from the state.

Laura Newborn, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, says the tunnel contractor logged more than 1.2 million hours of work in 2015. She says most of the workers’ compensation claims were for injuries that didn’t result in time away from work.

Photo credit: WSDOT via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


CNBC: If you’re sitting at your desk, GET UP NOW!

Causey Law Firm has taken small steps to implement ergonomic planning in our office.  We have one Varidesk sit/stand desktop conversion in use, like the one shown in the video, as well as a fully convertible sit/stand desk and adjustable-height rolling cart in our file room.  Several people use a FitBit or similar device to encourage and track movement throughout the day. It’s not easy to integrate motion into a desk job, but it can really help!  Take a look at this great piece from CNBC for inspiration:

If you’re reading this article at your desk and you’re sitting, get up. It is one of the best things you can do for your health. If you don’t want to stand, then do something active while you’re sitting. Millions of workers are choosing to do both, thanks to a slew of new office products that are gaining traction — and dollars — fast.

“This is no longer just a one off, it’s a product category,” said Thompson Research Group’s Kathryn Thompson, an analyst who covers the office furniture industry. “Fitness equipment is a critical part of the new office, and it’s really a critical part of the office of the future.”

The “healthy office segment” is the fastest growing sub-sector of the $10 billion office furniture industry, and Thompson estimates it could grow to one-third of the industry in the next three to five years. Workers and employers alike are demanding it. 

“Good health makes good economic sense,” Thompson said.

Attention to workplace fitness really ramped up in just the last few years, after the Mayo Clinic published a study on the detrimental effects of sitting for long periods of time. Mayo’s Dr. James Levine is credited with coining the term “sitting is the new smoking.” He is also inventor of a treadmill desk.

Read the rest of the article here…



WA Workplace Deaths Fall to Near-Historic Low in 2015

Workplace deaths in Washington declined to a near-historic low in 2015, according to a new Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) report.

Last year there were 58 work-related deaths in the state — 18 fewer than in 2014. 

L&I data shows only 2011 and 2013 had fewer work-related deaths reported (53 and 54, respectively). Workplace deaths in Washington have declined by about 3.5 percent a year since 2006, when 90 were recorded.

“The decline in these numbers means more people avoided serious workplace incidents and were able to go home safe and healthy,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “We’re working closely with businesses and workers in our state to improve safety, and this trend shows we’re making progress. That’s encouraging, but there’s more to do.”

L&I workplace safety efforts include offering workshops and training throughout the state, providing free safety and health consultationsand improving outreach to Spanish-speaking workers.

There were fewer fatalities in 2015 involving motor vehicles and machines. In addition, there were no natural catastrophes like the 2014 Oso landslide, which accounted for five deaths. However, in 2015, three U.S. Forest Service wildland firefighters died when their fire engine crashed.

Falls continue to be a leading cause of work-related deaths, accounting for 25 percent (15) of the fatal incidents last year. That’s five more than the 10-year average and the highest number of fall-related deaths since 2006. One-third of fatal falls were from ladders. Even a fall from a ladder just six to ten feet high can be fatal. Six of the nine construction deaths in 2015 were fall related: two were roofers, two were carpenters, one was a plumber and one was a glass installer.

Farm workers, loggers and other workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector accounted for 15 of the fatalities in 2015. That’s two less than in 2014; however, there has been an average annual increase in the number of deaths in this sector since 2006.

The data comes from the just released 2015 Washington State Work-Related Fatalities Report.  The report includes information on work-related deaths in 2015 that were due to a traumatic incident that same year. It’s based on preliminary information analyzed by theFatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program. FACE is part of L&I’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program.

Washington is one of seven states funded by the national FACE research program to identify and study fatal workplace injuries. In recent years, our state has had among the lowest worker fatality rates in the country; the latest data shows that trend is continuing.

“L&I and businesses can use the information in this report to find even better ways to improve safety and health at work and prevent workplace fatalities,” said SHARP Research Director Dr. David Bonauto. “Our hope is that the report will encourage an ongoing discussion of safety and health at every worksite in our state.”

L&I has several resources on its website to help employers and workers address a wide variety of safety hazards. The agency also has safety consultants available to visit worksites for assistance with workplace hazards. Visit http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety for more information.

Photo credit: memo.elfakharany via Foter.com /CC BY-NC-ND


NPR: Coffee Workers’ Concerns Brew Over Chemical’s Link To Lung Disease

Heard on Morning Edition, April 15, 2016.

Step into Mike Moon’s Madison, Wis., coffee roasting plant and the aroma of beans — from Brazil to Laos — immediately washes over you.

Moon says he aims to run an efficient and safe plant — and that starts the minute beans spill out of the roaster. He points to a cooling can that is “designed to draw air from the room over the beans and exhausts that air out of the facility. So it is really grabbing a lot of all of the gases coming off the coffee,” he explains.

Why are these gases so worrisome? Because they contain a chemical called diacetyl — a natural byproduct of the coffee roasting process that, in large concentrations, can infiltrate the lungs and cause a severe form of lung disease.

You might remember hearing about diacetyl several years ago, when a synthetic version of the chemical, which is used to give a buttery flavor to certain snack foods, was implicated in causing severe lung problems among workers at a microwave popcorn facility.

Now it looks like that chemical could affect the coffee world as well. People at home grinding or brewing up a pot need not worry, but the chemical could pose a danger to people working in commercial coffee roasting plants.

Read the rest of the story here…


Photo credit: Nic Taylor Photography viaFoter.com / CC BY-NC-ND



2016 Seattle Maritime 101 Events – Celebrating our Five-star Working Waterfront

Don’t miss the boat at Seattle’s largest maritime industry celebration presented by Vigor Industrial and sponsored by the Seattle Propeller Club and the Port of Seattle.

Join the fun activities at the 2016 Vigor Seattle Maritime Festival event series. These free, family-oriented events are designed to showcase and celebrate the maritime industry and the men and women who make everything on the waterfront happen. Shipping, fishing, boatbuilding and repair are all happening in our backyard. Come participate and learn.

Special events, public tours and other activities are planned during April and May with the highlight being the Vigor Seattle Maritime Festival from May 12-14, with the Harbor Open House on the Downtown Waterfront on Saturday, May 14. The full schedule can be found here.

April 16
Duwamish Alive! Restoration and Cleanup, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Join us as we celebrate Seattle’s only river by working to restore the Duwamish! Volunteers can sign up: www.duwamishalive.org

April 22-26
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Comes to Seattle

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which benefits Unicef, is the world’s longest ocean adventure, spanning 40,000 nautical miles. The race consists of 12 teams competing against each other. Don’t miss the free open-boat tours at Bell Harbor Marina. Sponsored by Visit Seattle and the Seattle Sports Commission, in partnership with the Port of Seattle and the Seattle Historic Waterfront Association. Details at www.clipperraceseattle2016.org

May 6
Fishermen’s Terminal Walking Tour, 10 -11 a.m.

The Port of Seattle offers a free walking tour of Fishermen’s Terminal. Limited to 40 people. Reservations required. RSVP: portregistration@portseattle.org.

May 9
18th Annual Maritime Career Day, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Georgetown Campus of South Seattle Community College, 6737 Corson Avenue South

Come meet with representatives from more than 35 businesses, maritime organizations and training schools! Enjoy cool demonstrations and industry displays. Career day is primarily targeted toward middle school and older students, as well as adults interested in a new job or career. Maritime Career Day is sponsored by Harley Marine Service with Compass Courses. For further information: info@seattlemaritime101.com.

May 12
Stories of the Sea, 7 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Highliner Public House, Fishermen’s Terminal, 3909 18th Avenue West

Maritime Poetry and Music Slam!!! Share your story of the sea, be it true or imagined. Event limited to 15 performers. To register: info@SeattleMartime101.com. Register to perform or just come and enjoy the fun!

May 13
Shilshole Bay Marina Walking Tour, 10 – 11 a.m.

Take an insider’s walking tour of Shilshole Bay Marina. Limited to 40 people. Registration required. Specify Shilshole Bay Marina Tour. RSVP: portregistration@portseattle.org

May 14
Vigor Seattle Maritime Festival Harbor Open House, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Pier 66 and Downtown Waterfront

Three free harbor tours, Waterfront Chowder Cook-Off, vessel open house at Bell Street Pier, Vigor Welding Booth, government and military displays, face painting, survival suit demonstrations, Center for Wooden Boats kids’ boat building, and other activities.

The free harbor tours are presented by the Port of Seattle. Learn about the Working Waterfront as we cruise Elliott Bay. Board the vessel at Pier 66 one-half hour prior to each departure for a 1 hour tour. Departures are 11:30am, 1pm and 2:30pm. There is a limit of 200 guests for each tour. Limit of four tickets per adult. Details here.

 Photo credit: …-Wink-… via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


Space Needle Construction Photos Released

Seattle Times staff reporter  Erik Lacitis writes that a previously undisplayed collection of 2,400 photos documenting the building of the Space Needle is now available to the public. Just go to the Seattle Public Library’sGeorge Gulacsik Space Needle Photograph Collection to view them.  An exhibit at the Space Needle itself includes photos from the collection and other material about building the structure. It’s included in tickets to the observation deck. The collection includes the early drawings of the Space Needle as it went through various artistic renditions.

Despite the danger, there were no bad mishaps during the building of the Space Needle and it received a state award for no days lost to injury.

Gulacsik, who died in 2010, was a graphic artist and industrial photographer contracted by John Graham & Co., architects for the project. Week in and week out, Gulacsik would take the legendary Leica DRP 35-mm camera he owned and drive to where the Space Needle was being built.

He began taking his historic pictures in April 1961 as the giant 30-foot-deep hole for the foundation was being dug. He ended in January 1962 as the workers spray-painted “Galaxy Gold” on the roof, getting it ready for the Seattle World’s Fair that would open three months later.

Read Lacitis’s full article for a close look at the working conditions and workers’ stories of the building of the Space Needle.


Port of Bellingham Ordered to Pay Injured Ferry Worker

Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Carter writes that the Port of Bellingham has been ordered to pay $16M in damages to an Alaska Ferries employee injured in 2012.

The verdict was returned Friday, April 1st, after a nine-day trial before U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman. Jim Jacobsen, one of the attorneys representing the employee, Shannon Adamson, and her husband, Nicholas, of Juneau, said the eight-member jury deliberated about five hours before deciding the case.

The jury found the port negligent for failing to fix a control panel that operated the passenger gangway ramp at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, even though evidence at the trial showed the port knew the panel was faulty and officials there knew of a previous, similar accident in 2008.

The Bellingham Herald’s Samantha Wohlfeil reported in September of 2014 that the Port of Bellingham Commission had settled a dispute over insurance coverage and was then able to go forward with repairs to the passenger ramp – two years after the accident that injured Ms. Adamson.



Comment Period: New Surgical Knee Guideline for WA State

A new Surgical Knee Guideline for WA State Workers’ Compensation claims has been proposed.  It is an in-depth, step-by-step, breakdown of the criteria for authorization of treatment.  The proposed guidelines are subject to public comment.  The window for comment is now open through 5:00pm on Monday, April 11, 2016.  The public may comment by mail, fax, or email.  Details for comment. 

The Department’s Industrial Insurance Medical Advisory Committee and its Surgical Knee Guideline Subcommittee developed this treatment guideline as a best practice standard for surgical treatment of certain knee conditions. Providers who are in the department’s Medical Provider Network are required to follow this guideline as it applies to the treatment they provide to injured workers.  

A draft of the Surgical Knee Guideline will be presented to the Industrial Insurance Medical Advisory Committee in an open public meeting on April 28, 2016 (see the L&I website for meeting details). The department’s response to all public comments will be available, and there will be time on the agenda for public testimony.


Back Injuries in Nursing – One Nifty Idea to Avoid Them

The American Nursing Association’s Handle with Care campaign seeks to educate, advocate, and facilitate change from traditional practices of manual patient handling to emerging, technology-oriented methods. The campaign seeks to highlight how safe patient handling produces benefits to patients and the nursing workforce.  The ANA’s Handle with Care Fact Sheet provides the following thought-provoking data:

A Profession at Risk

  • Compared to other occupations, nursing personnel are among the highest at risk for musculoskeletal disorders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists RNs sixth in a list of at-risk occupations for strains and sprains that included nursing personnel, with nurses aides, orderlies and attendants (first); truck drivers (second); laborers (third); stock handlers and baggers (seventh); and construction workers (eighth).
  • Additional estimates for the year 2000 show that the incidence rate for back injuries involving lost work days was 181.6 per 10,000 full-time workers in nursing homes and 90.1 per 10,000 full-time workers in hospitals, whereas incidence rates were 98.4 for truck drivers, 70.0 for construction workers, 56.3 for miners, and 47.1 for agriculture workers.
  • Lower back injuries are also the most costly musculoskeletal disorder affecting workers. Studies of back-related workers compensation claims reveal that nursing personnel have the highest claim rates of any occupation or industry.
  • Research on the impact of musculoskeletal injuries among nurses:
    • 52 percent complain of chronic back pain;
    • 12 percent of nurses “leaving for good” because of back pain as main contributory factor;
    • 20% transferred to a different unit, position, or employment because of lower back pain, 12 percent considering leaving profession;
    • 38 percent suffered occupational-related back pain severe enough to require leave from work; and
    • 6 percent, 8 percent, and 11 percent of RNs reported even changing jobs for neck, shoulder and back problems, respectively.

One Possible Tool

The website idées créatives posted this elegant video of an automatic bed that could allow for patient repositioning and assist with moving into and out of the bed, shown in a nursing home or hospital setting:



New York Times: C.D.C. Painkiller Guidelines Aim to Reduce Addiction Risk

The following is an exerpt from a New York Times article by Sabrina Tavernise publised on March 15, 2016.

New C.D.C. guidelines on opioids like Percocet are likely to have sweeping effects on the practice of medicine.

In an effort to curb what many consider the worst public health drug crisis in decades, the federal government on Tuesday published the first national standards for prescription painkillers, recommending that doctors try pain relievers like ibuprofen before prescribing the highly addictive pills, and that they give most patients only a few days’ supply.

The release of the new guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ends months of arguments with pain doctors and drug industry groups, which had bitterly opposed the recommendations on the grounds that they would create unfair hurdles for patients who legitimately have long-term pain.

In the end, the agency softened the recommendations slightly but basically held its ground, a testament to how alarmed policy makers have become over the mounting overdoses and deaths from opioid addiction. Opioid deaths — including from heroin, which some people turn to after starting with prescription painkillers — reached a record28,647 in 2014, according to the most recent federal statistics.

Published by Causey Law Firm