Winter Storm Stella: NYC Issues Hazardous Travel Advisory for Tuesday, March 14

The Weather Channel is predicting Stella will result in 12-18

The Weather Channel is predicting Stella will result in 12-18″ of snow in the NYC metropolitan area.

The New York Metropolitan area is preparing for 12″ or more of snow and high winds on Tuesday, March 14th. New York City has issued a hazardous travel advisory in connection with this storm. We advise all of our clients to follow the precautionary measures listed below.

If you have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, please call to confirm our offices are open before coming to see us.

NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ISSUES HAZARDOUS TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR TUESDAY MARCH 14 

Blizzard Watch in effect from late Monday night through late Tuesday night

Heavy snow and strong winds will create dangerous travel conditions; Alternate Side Parking Regulations suspended Tuesday and Wednesday

March 12, 2017 – The New York City Emergency Management Department today issued a hazardous travel advisory for Tuesday, March, 14, 2017. The National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Watch in effect from late Monday night through late Tuesday night. A nor’easter is forecast to bring heavy snow along with strong and potentially damaging winds that will create hazardous travel conditions on Tuesday.

 

“We’re preparing for a significant storm on Tuesday, and New Yorkers should also prepare for snow and dangerous road conditions,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Besides the snow, it will be cold. We urge you to avoid unnecessary travel and help keep roads clear for Sanitation crews and first responders.”

“Heavy snow will make travel difficult on Tuesday. New Yorkers should avoid driving and use mass transit when possible,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “We are working closely with our agency partners to coordinate the City’s preparations for the storm.”

A low pressure system develops off of the Carolina coastline Monday before making its way up the East Coast late Monday night. According to the latest forecast, light snow is expected to begin late Monday night, and will intensify overnight into early Tuesday morning. The heaviest snowfall is expected Tuesday morning through the afternoon, with rates as much as 2 to 4 inches per hour possible. Strong winds are expected to accompany the heavy snowfall, with wind speeds 20 – 30 mph, and gusts 35 – 50 mph, creating hazardous travel conditions.  The snowfall is expected to taper off Tuesday evening. A total accumulation of 12 to 18 inches is anticipated, but locally higher amounts are possible. New Yorkers should avoid driving and use mass transit where possible on Tuesday.

New York City Emergency Management also urged New Yorkers of the potential for widespread minor to locally moderate coastal flooding during the Tuesday morning high tide cycle. The National Weather Service has issued a Coastal Flood Watch from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday for areas near the coastline in Brooklyn and Staten Island, and areas along the southern shores of Queens. Minor to moderate flooding of the most vulnerable shore roads and/or properties is possible. Coastal residents should be alert for updates and take action to protect property.

NYC Emergency Management also reminded New Yorkers to prepare for extremely cold temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday. Temperatures Tuesday are expected to be in the upper twenties, with lows Tuesday night in the low twenties. Temperatures are forecast to be at or around freezing on Wednesday.

Snow Preparations

DSNY

  • The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is pre-deploying 689 salt spreaders across the five boroughs. PlowNYC will be activated and more than 1600 plows will be dispatched when more than two inches of snow accumulates.
  • DSNY will assign 2,400 workers per shift. Workers will be assigned to 12 hour shifts beginning at 7 a.m. Monday.
  • DSNY has 283,000 tons of rock salt available.
  • Garbage/recycling collections will be suspended once snow operations begin.

DOT

  • Alternate Side Parking is suspended Tuesday, March 14, and Wednesday, March 15, to facilitate snow removal operations. Parking meters are in effect.
  • DOT will deploy crews to pre-treat pedestrian overpasses and step streets, and ensure that ferry terminals and municipal parking garages are pre-salted in advance of any snow.
  • During snow operations, DOT typically deploys more than 400 personnel and more than 100 pieces of equipment, including nearly 80 trucks for plowing over several shifts.
  • The Staten Island Ferry is expected to run on a normal schedule, but all passengers should allow extra time should weather conditions impact the schedule.
  • Citi Bike service is expected to remain in service until further notice.

NYC Emergency Management

  • NYC Emergency Management is working closely with the National Weather Service to monitor the storm’s track to determine the impacts to New York City.
  • NYC Emergency Management has begun hosting daily interagency conference calls with City and state agencies and public and private partners to coordinate the City’s preparations for the storm.
  • NYC Emergency Management’s Emergency Operations Center will be activated Monday evening to coordinate the City’s response to the storm’s impacts.
  • NYC Emergency Management has begun extensive outreach to elected officials with the latest information regarding the storm’s track and potential impact to the City.

Homeless Services

A Code Blue Weather Emergency notice is issued when the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., including National Weather Service calculations for wind chill values.  No one who is homeless and seeking shelter in New York City during a Code Blue will be denied. Should you see a homeless individual out in the cold, please call 311 and an outreach team will be dispatched to offer assistance. Code Blue Weather Emergencies include the following options for the homeless:

  • Shelters: During a Code Blue, shelter is available system-wide to accommodate anyone who is reasonably believed to be homeless and is brought to a shelter by outreach teams. Accommodations are also available for walk-ins.
  • Drop-in centers: All drop-in centers are open 24-hours per day when Code Blue procedures are in effect and will assist as many people as possible for the duration of the emergency. Drop-in staff can also make arrangements for homeless individuals at other citywide facilities.
  • Safe havens and stabilization beds: Chronically homeless individuals may be transported directly to these low-threshold housing options.
  • Street homeless outreach: Teams will contact vulnerable individuals on their Code Blue Priority Lists a minimum of once every four (4) hours beginning at 8 p.m. during Code Blue Alerts and once every two (2) hours beginning at 8 p.m. for Enhanced Code Blue Alerts to encourage them to accept transport to a safe place. DHS coordinates borough-level Code Blue efforts directly with agencies such as NYPD, DSNY, and the Parks Department.

Travel Safety Tips

For Motorists

  • Use mass transportation whenever possible. If you must drive a vehicle, monitor weather and traffic reports for the latest road conditions.
  • Drive slowly. Posted speed limits are for ideal weather conditions. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
  • Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they do not stop quicker than other vehicles.
  • Keep the name and phone number of at least one local towing service in your vehicle in case you break down or become stuck in snow.
  • If you get stuck on the road, stay with your vehicle and contact a towing company.

For Pedestrians

  • Exercise caution and avoid slippery surfaces; some ice may not be visible.
  • Wear layers including a hat, gloves/mittens, and a scarf to stay protected from the cold.
  • Keep clothes and shoes dry, if a layer becomes wet, remove it.
  • Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered if you go outside.
  • Have heightened awareness of cars, particularly when approaching or crossing intersections.
  • Wear sturdy boots that provide traction to reduce slipping. Use handrails when using stairs.
  • Seniors should take extra care outdoors to avoid slips and falls from icy conditions.

Coastal Flooding Preparations

 

NYC residents living in coastal areas expected to experience minor or moderate coastal flooding should take the following preparedness steps:

  • Learn the safest route from your home or workplace to safe, high ground in case you have to evacuate. This should be part of your household emergency plan.
  • Prepare a Go Bag that you can grab in case you need to leave your home in a hurry.
  • If you live in a flood-susceptible area, keep materials, such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber, on hand to help protect your home.
  • Stay informed. Before and during an emergency, the City will send emergency alerts and updates to New Yorkers through various channels.
  • If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving or use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • When outside, avoid walking and driving through flooded areas. As few as six inches of moving water can knock a person over. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. One or two feet of water can carry away a vehicle.

Safe Home Heating Tips

Improper use of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely.

Fire safety tips:

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm in every room. Test them at least once a month and change the batteries twice a year.
  • Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use. Space heaters are temporary heating devices and should only be used for a limited time each day.
  • Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. Never drape clothes over a space heater to dry them.
  • Never leave running space heaters unattended, especially around children. Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord or power strip. Do not plug anything else into the same outlet when the space heater is in use. Do not use space heaters with frayed or damaged cords.
  • If you are going to use an electric blanket, only use one that is less than 10 years old from the date of purchase. Also avoid tucking the electric blanket in at the sides of the bed. Only purchase blankets with an automatic safety shut-off.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Carbon monoxide comes from the burning of fuel. Therefore, make sure all fuel-burning devices such as furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers are properly vented to the outdoors and operating properly. If you are not sure, contact a professional to inspect and make necessary repairs.
  • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Most homes and residential buildings in New York City are required by law to have carbon monoxide detectors installed near all sleeping areas. Owners are responsible for installing approved carbon monoxide detectors. Occupants are responsible for keeping and maintaining the carbon monoxide detectors in good repair.
  • If you have a working fireplace, keep chimneys clean and clear of debris.
  • Never heat your home with a gas stove or oven, charcoal barbecue grill, kerosene, propane, or oil-burning heaters. Kerosene heaters and propane space heaters are illegal in New York City.
  • The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are non-specific and include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness. Severe poisonings may result in permanent injury or death.

If a carbon monoxide detector goes off in your home get outside immediately and call 911. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside immediately and call 911.

For more winter weather safety tips, visit NYC.gov/EmergencyManagement. New Yorkers are also encouraged to sign up for Notify NYC, the City’s free, official emergency notification system. Through Notify NYC, New Yorkers can receive phone calls, text messages, and/or email alerts about winter weather conditions and other emergencies. To sign up for Notify NYC, call 311, visit NYC.gov/notifynyc, or follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.

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Injured As A Result of 9/11? The World Trade Center Accidental Disability Deadline Is Approaching

I recently traveled to Virginia with most of my immediate family to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. While he is not in the best physical shape, he was clearly touched that we all came to wish him well as he celebrated this milestone birthday. As an added bonus, we also got to visit with my grandmother, Mary Walsh, who will celebrate her 109th birthday in August. 

My dad was a New York City firefighter for many years. Unfortunately, quite a few of his current health issues were caused by his exposure to smoke while battling fires during the worst years – the 1970s and 1980s – the City of New York has seen in terms of firefighting calls. Along with the smoke inhalation, years of carrying heavy packs, rescuing people and sustaining burns, broken bones, and other injuries have wreaked havoc on his body. While he saw more than his share of death and destruction, it pales in comparison to the losses the City sustained on September 11, 2001, when 411 emergency responders, including 343 firefighters, lost their lives. Even more distressing is that according to statistics, more than 850 additional first responders have died as a result of 9/11 related illness since that day. Just two weeks ago in fact, retired firefighter Robert Newman from Patchogue, Long Island, died from cancer as a result of breathing in toxins at the World Trade Center.

Many of these first responders initially retired without realizing the extent of their illnesses, and that they were entitled to compensation for their injuries. While Workers’ Compensation benefits are not available to uniformed employees of the FDNY or NYPD who participated in the rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations, they are still eligible for certain benefits.

In 2005, the World Trade Center (WTC) Disability Law took effect in New York State. This law establishes a presumption that certain disabilities for those who participated in the rescue, recovery, and cleanup at the World Trade Center and other specified sites would entitle them to accidental disability retirement benefits subject to certain criteria including when, where, and for how long they worked at a WTC site. Subsequent amendments expanded the list of individuals eligible, extended the filing deadline, and added qualifying conditions.

The bill allows many police officers and firefighters who retired with non-WTC accidental disabilities to have their retirement reclassified as an accidental disability related to the WTC disaster. Death benefit legislation enacted in 2006 provides an accidental death benefit to certain city and state employees within this same eligibility group. If approved, World Trade Center accidental disability retirement will become effective as of the date of reclassification and not retroactive to the date of retirement.  

If you are disabled, you should file an Application for World Trade Center Accidental Disability

Presumption. If you have not already done so, you must file this Notice on or before September 11, 2018. In order to preserve your right to file at some time in the future if you are presently not disabled, you will also need to file an Application for World Trade Center Notice on or before September 11, 2018.  While you do not need an attorney to represent you, it may be in your best interest to seek the advice of a professional as there are certain restrictions, deadlines, various forms, and qualifying conditions that could make filing the application difficult. 

The after effects of 9/11 continue to take their toll even after all these years, with no immediate end in sight.  We are grateful that there is at least some small consolation for our first responders who should at least not have to be worried about financial issues for themselves and their families. 

 

Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

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Need Joint Replacement and on Medicare? Better Not Be Sick.

Having a lung ailment may make it more difficult to obtain coverage for joint replacement.

Today’s post comes from guest author Charlie Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

A new Medicare rule that took effect April 1, 2016 retools Medicare payments for hip and knee replacements.  Patients with serious medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and lung ailments may not be able to find an orthopaedic surgeon willing to perform the joint replacement because hospitals face financial incentives to avoid patients with a high risk of complications. 

Hospitals will be given a “target price” for total joint replacements for the patient’s entire care from the hospital stay to outpatient rehabilitation through 90 days after discharge, according to a new rule from the Center for Medicare Services.  If the reimbursement is less than the target price, the hospital may receive an additional payment from Medicare as an incentive for good outcomes.  On the other hand, the hospital may be required to pay back part of their reimbursement that goes above the target.  The rule is intended to control costs on the $7 Billion Medicare spends for hospital care and for almost one-half million beneficiaries who receive a hip or knee replacement each year.  However, since Medicare will pay only one “bundled payment” for the patient’s entire care after total joint replacement surgery, the hospital will be accountable for the quality of care through the incentives and penalties.  The surgeon shares responsibility when a patient is re-admitted to the hospital and receives a “black mark” even when the re-admission has nothing to do with the joint replacement.  An unintended consequence of this payment model may be “cherry picking” of low risk patients.  Patients claiming a work-related connection to joint replacement surgery who have been denied by Medicare may face additional hurdles in obtaining their surgery. 

Stay tuned…

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Cutting Corners Costs Lives: Non-Union Work Sites Twice As Dangerous As Union Sites

This large inflatable rat is a common sight at protests of non-union worksites in New York City.

As an attorney who practices in the metropolitan area, I often find myself traveling into New York City. I am amazed at the amount of construction that I see; the cityscape is changing and evolving rapidly. This construction boom means more business, a steady paycheck for workers, and more money for the city and state. Unfortunately, with the rise in construction also comes a rise in safety violations, injuries, and fatalities.

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) recently issued a report called Deadly Skyline regarding construction fatalities in New York State. A summary of their findings notes that from 2006 through the end of 2015, 464 construction workers died while on the job, with falls as the leading cause of death. When a fatality occurred, safety violations were inherent in more than 90 percent of the sites inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The report pointed out that non-union work sites had twice the safety violations of union sites, and in 2015, 74 percent of the fatalities occurred on non-union projects with the majority of the fatalities involving Latinos.       

It is painfully obvious that shortcuts and cost-saving measures result in injury and death. Many employers use misclassification as a means to save money. Misclassification occurs when an employee is labeled as an “independent contractor” so that a business owner doesn’t need to pay Workers’ Compensation insurance, Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment taxes. Some even resort to paying employees off the books as well in an effort to save money. This may not seem troublesome until you realize that this is a one-sided deal that really only benefits the employer. According to the NYCOSH report, misclassification of workers allows an employer to skirt the safe workplace requirement as OSHA does not cover independent contractors.

Employers must provide Workers’ Compensation insurance for their employees, and typically must notify their Workers’ Comp carrier as to the number of employees they have and the type of work they do. A risk analysis is performed and then employers are assigned a premium to pay in order to cover their workers in case of injuries. If injuries occur, premiums may be increased accordingly. Obviously employers in high-risk businesses must pay more for their premiums than those with employees involved in low-risk jobs. As injuries on misclassified workers do not add to an employer’s bottom line, there is less incentive to provide safety measures if it cuts into profits.

To make construction sites safe, NYCOSH recommends adequate education and training as well as legislation to punish those whose willful negligence causes a death. They also recommend passage of the NYS Elevator Safety bill that requires the licensing of persons engaged in the design, construction, operation, inspection, maintenance, alteration, and repair of elevators. It would also preserve Section 240 of the New York Labor Law, commonly referred to as the “scaffold law,” which governs the use of scaffolding and other devices for the use of employees. Weakening the Scaffold Law would shift safety responsibility from owners and general contractors who control the site, to workers who do not control the site and are in a subordinate position.

It is a true tragedy when someone is maimed or killed in an accident that could have been prevented. Not every employer engages in these tactics, and most workplaces are generally safe spaces for workers. However, even one death is too many. 

 

 

Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

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The Dangers of Working with Vibrating Tools

Today’s post comes from guest author Anthony L. Lucas, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Vibration White Finger (VWF) or “Dead Finger,” now known as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), is a chronic, progressive disorder caused by regular and prolonged use of vibrating hand tools that can progress to loss of effective hand function and necrosis of the fingers. In its advanced stages, the obvious symptom is finger blanching (losing color). Other symptoms include numbness, pain, and tingling in the fingers, as well as a weakened grip.

It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of the estimated 2 million U.S. workers exposed to hand-arm vibration will develop HAVS. Some common industries and the tools associated with HAVS are listed below:

  • Agriculture & Forestry – Chainsaws
  • Automotive – Impact Wrenches, Riveting Guns
  • Construction – Jackhammers
  • Foundries – Chippers, Grinders
  • Metal Working – Buffers, Sanders
  • Mining – Jack-Leg Drills, Stoper Drills

The time between a worker’s first exposure to hand-arm vibration to the development of HAVS symptoms can range from a few months to several years. Prevention is critical because while the early stages of HAVS are usually reversible if vibration exposure is reduced or eliminated, treatment is usually ineffective after the fingers blanch. 

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

Today’s post comes from guest author Kristen Wolf, from Causey Law Firm.

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

 

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Tips on Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

I just returned from New Orleans where I made a presentation to about 150 workers’ compensation lawyers (both for workers and for employers) on “Case and Client Evaluation In Workers’ Compensation”.

Since many in the audience represented insurance companies and employers, I paid particular attention to their response to my presentation. As one would expect, their best chance to win a case on behalf of the employer and insurance carrier occurs when several items come into play:

  1. When there is no actual report of the injury. [Worker’s Tip: No matter how small the work injury, make sure it is reported in some fashion – cell phone, voice recording, or Accident Report and the worker keeps a copy (BEST).]
  2. Failure to report that a work injury occurred to the first treating practitioner (whether Emergency Room, employer-directed medical facility, hospital, or primary care physician). The single most difficult hurdle in a workers’ compensation claim involving a traumatic injury occurs when no report of the injury is found in the initial medical record.
  3. In “Occupational Exposure” cases, no discussion with the doctor about work duties or prior incidents. (In Wisconsin, a worker can recover for workers’ compensation in one of two ways: 
    1. A traumatic injury where a single incident has caused the disability (lifting a box, falling, etc.)
    2. Occupational Exposure, where the wear and tear of a worker’s job causes the disability over time. In this latter category, workers routinely do not indicate with any kind of specificity the type of work they perform when they see the doctor.

These three tips can help us as workers’ compensation lawyers win claims, more so than any “Clarence Darrow” court room techniques or strategies.

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Medical Records Important for Workers’ Compensation Claim

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Bennett, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Medical records are necessary to substantiate an injured worker’s claim. At a minimum, injured workers and attorneys need the records from doctors and hospitals to show the diagnoses the workers have and the treatment that they have received. This includes records from physical therapy, MRI, pain management, orthopedic, etc.  

Every injured worker has a right to receive her or his medical records, and by law should be able to obtain those records promptly at a fair cost.

Federal law is clear: a patient has the “right to obtain from [their health care providers] a copy of [their medical records] in an electronic format,” 42 USC § 17935(e)(1), and that health care providers may bill “only the cost of … copying, including the cost of supplies for and labor of copying,” 45 CFR 164.524(c)(4)(i). This is all part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act).

Rehm, Bennett & Moore employs the HITECH Act on behalf of injured clients to represent them in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

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