Slip-and-fall wasn’t on company property: Why did he get Workers’ Comp?

November 1st, 2011

On his way to work, an employee parks his car and walks to the facility entrance. He slips, falls, and seriously injures his knee on an icy/snowy sidewalk. The incident didn’t occur on the company’s property. Despite that, the company is still on the hook for workers’ comp. Why?

First, here are the facts of the case:

Wilbur Rodgers worked for Wawa, a convenience store chain. One snowy February morning, he parked on a street and walked to the store on a public sidewalk. He slipped on ice and injured his knee. Since then he’s had two surgeries on the knee and hasn’t been able to return to work.

The store had its own parking lot. Why didn’t Rodgers park there? The store’s general manager told all first-shift employees not to park there so customers could use the store lot.

On the day he was injured, Rodgers parked around the corner from the store on a side street.

The sidewalk where Rodgers fell is the property of the Borough of Bridgeport. Wawa did not ever maintain, clean or perform upkeep on the sidewalk.

Rodgers applied for total disability benefits under workers’ comp. The case went to a workers’ comp judge (WCJ) who awarded benefits to Rodgers.

The WCJ found Rodgers’ injury didn’t occur on his employer’s premises. However, the WCJ said that by parking on the side street, Rodgers was following his supervisor’s instructions and benefiting his employer by not taking up a space in the parking lot that would be open for customers.

On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Board affirmed the WCJ’s opinion. Wawa took the case to a state appeals court. The company claimed Rodgers’ injury wasn’t in the course and scope of his employment and didn’t occur on its property.

No one disputed where Rodgers fell. But in this case, it doesn’t matter that his fall occurred off of his employer’s property.

The appeals court noted that, for an employee who works in one location, an injury sustained while he’s going to or coming from work doesn’t occur in the course of employment.

However, courts have created four exceptions to that rule, one of which applies in this case: if an employee’s commute involves an act that is done to benefit the employer.

In this case, when Rodgers didn’t park in the Wawa lot, it benefited the company because that allowed more customers to park in the lot.

The appeals court agreed with the decision: Rodgers should get total disability benefits.

7 Ways to Prevent Slips Trips and Falls

October 25th, 2011

1- Using the most appropriate flooring materials
The flooring material chosen should not be selected based solely on cost or aesthetic issues. The flooring surface should be smooth, but not slippery. There ARE standards for the safest co-efficient of friction on surfaces, so make sure your surfaces meet these standards. It should not have joints, ridges or edges that are one fourth inch in height or greater. Any greater elevation changes than this present the opportunity for tripping. The floor material should be slip-resistant, meaning the material should not accommodate any sliding of the feet. This is especially true in restrooms, kitchen facilities, and at exterior entrances where rain, sleet or snow can be tracked inside the building.
2- Having the proper floor maintenance
Any damage done to the floor surface by the building settling, dropped items, wear and tear, or by movement of supplies or equipment should be promptly repaired. Frayed carpet or missing tile often leads to a slip and fall or a trip and fall. All flooring surfaces should be kept in a state of good repair (and that means no duct tape over a frayed seam as a repair). The uses of floor cleaners and waxes should be in accordance to the product specifications. A slip-resistant floor with an excessive coat of wax will lose it slip-resistant properties. 
3- Having the proper housekeeping rules
All materials, supplies, equipment and tools should have their designated locations and the floor is never one of the locations. Litter, debris, and left over production waste should be removed promptly before it can become a slip or trip hazard. Any spills of any type should be immediately cleaned.
4- Marking and identifying all changes in elevation
There are more falls where the change in elevation is one step than there are where the change in elevation is a full set of steps from one floor to another. Whether one step or a dozen steps, the steps need to be properly marked. If the steps have the same color and the same floor covering as the adjacent floor, this is inviting trips and falls. The steps should be clearly marked, well lit, with an even width and height for every step, and be properly maintained. Properly maintained includes no frayed or broken edges, proper handrails, slip-resistant surface and no loose flooring material. 
5- Maintaining the sidewalks and walkways
All sidewalks need to be smooth but not slippery.  Any damage to the sidewalk from settling, tree roots, or machinery traversing across the sidewalks should be repaired quickly. Any elevation change of a ¼ inch or higher needs to be clearly marked or corrected. Any accumulation of water from water sprinklers, rain, ice or snow needs to be removed before an accident can occur.
6- Maintaining parking garages and parking lots
A pothole in the parking lot can cause a lot more than a damaged hubcap or messing up the wheel alignment. The surface area of the parking lot or parking garage needs to smooth without ridges, edges or joints greater than ¼ inch to prevent trips and falls. Any potholes, broken pavement of other irregularities should be promptly repaired. Marked walk areas or sidewalks should be provided to reduce the potential for slips and trips. The parking area should be properly illuminated for night or bad weather use. Parking bumpers, speed bumps, and other potential trip hazards should be brightly painted to reduce the risk of trips.
7- Requiring proper footwear
If the employees are to be working in an area where there is occasionally water on the floor, spills or other causes of slippery conditions, the employer should require all employees to wear shoes designed with a skid resistant sole and heel.  A good rule of thumb is low heels and good tread on all work footwear.

Now Hear This: ‘Feasible’ Stakeholder Meeting Announced

October 20th, 2011

Oct 07, 2011-

OSHA has announced a Nov. 3 meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters to discuss occupational hearing loss prevention with stakeholders. The meeting is significant because it fulfills the promise OSHA made in January 2011, when the agency abruptly withdrew its proposal to reinterpret “feasible administrative or engineering controls” to prevent hearing loss.

The plan was simply this: When judging employers’ controls, agency personnel would interpret “feasible” as everyone else does -– to mean “capable of being done,” as OSHA explained when it proposed this in October 2010. This alarmed some stakeholders who feared being forced to install expensive engineering controls or cited, even when PPE was being worn by exposed workers.

OSHA extended the comment period, received more than 90 comments, and withdrew the reinterpretation while promising to start an education and outreach initiative and hold a stakeholder meeting on noise-related hearing loss.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. EST and end at 1 p.m. The registration deadline is Oct. 27. To register, call 781-674-7374, fax 781-674-2906, or visit Faxed requests should be addressed: Attention: OSHA Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss: Stakeholder Meeting.

OSHA has decided not to allow formal presentations by stakeholders. The discussion will focus on topics such as the use of PPE, effective hearing conservation programs, and the use of feasible engineering controls to lessen noise exposures.

MSHA to Host Meetings on Black Lung Strategy

December 5th, 2009

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced four public meetings in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky during the next two weeks to discuss the agency’s strategy to reduce black lung disease among coal miners.

Scheduled attendees include MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main, Deputy Assistant Secretary Gregory R. Wagner, NIOSH representatives and medical experts.

Survey Indicates Prescription Drug Abuse Decline

September 18th, 2009

Abuse of prescription drugs by Americans 12 and older dropped significantly in 2008 from the previous year, according to results from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey also indicated declines in the usage rates of methamphetamines and cocaine. Despite these declines, the overall rate of illicit drug use remained steady at approximately 8 percent.

The report said that although the rate of marijuana use among 12- to 17-year-olds has remained stable at about 6.7 percent for the past several years, results indicated the rate of alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug abuse has dropped. The rate of binge drinking among full-time college students also decreased to 16.3 percent in 2008 from 19.5 percent in 2007.

However, the survey also indicated that LSD and Ecstasy use among young adults rose in 2008, although use still remained below the peak levels recorded in 2002.

Despite Decline, Still Too Many Worker Deaths

August 26th, 2009

Preliminary figures for 2008 show a nearly 9 percent decline in the number of worker fatalities from the previous year, but Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said even one death is one too many.

A total of 5,057 worker deaths occurred in 2008, according to data released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the lowest total since such data collection began in 1992; in 2007, 5,657 worker deaths were recorded.

In a statement, Solis said the decline “represents change in the right direction.” But she stressed the Department of Labor would “not be satisfied until there are no workplace deaths due to failure to comply with safety rules.”

Key findings in the BLS report included workplace suicides increasing 28 percent, Hispanic worker deaths down 17 percent, and deaths from workplace falls dropping 20 percent after a record high in 2007.

NRC Proposes Stronger Oversight of Radioactive Material

August 9th, 2009

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed limiting the amount of radioactive material allowed in generally licensed devices.

The move would affect about 1,800 devices and offer stronger oversight of radioactive materials by requiring an estimated 1,400 general license holders to apply for specific licenses for the devices, according to an NRC press release. The agency claims increased regulation and monitoring of the specific licenses would increase safety, security and control. In turn, this would make it harder for someone to obtain a device or accumulate a “risk-significant” amount of material for subterfuge.

The proposed rule was published in the Aug. 3 Federal Register.

Stakeholders Trade Blame During Consensus Standards Development

August 9th, 2009

The United Steelworkers have pulled out of talks with the oil industry on the development of two new ANSI standards.

In the aftermath of the deadly 2005 Texas City BP refinery explosion, the Chemical Safety Board recommended both USW and the American Petroleum Institute work with ANSI to develop standards on process safety performance indicators and fatigue.

Pittsburgh-based USW withdrew from the talks this week, citing a process “too severely weighted toward the oil companies.” Conversely, API blamed USW for “attempting to undermine” the development process by silencing other stakeholders.

In a statement, Washington-based API said work would continue on the standards, which are expected to be issued later this year.

Newly Approved ANSI A10.25-2009 Standard

July 29th, 2009

The ANSI A10 Accredited Standards Committee’s new standard, “Sanitation in Construction” (ANSI/ASSE A10.25-2009), seeks to improve sanitation on worksites. The A10.25 standard applies to all construction jobsites and ensures that workers are provided with adequate potable water as well as with sanitary hand-washing and waste disposal facilities. The standard outlines requirements for:  

  • Potable and non-potable water
  • Construction jobsite toilets
  • Hand-washing and washing facilities
  • Eating and drinking areas

A10.25 does not apply to hazardous chemical(s) handling.

For more information on the A10.25 standard, visit

We now offer online training courses

July 22nd, 2009

Click on the following link to enroll for online training courses: