RSSAll Entries in the "Issue 9" Category

When and How to Document Workplace Safety Incidents

by Rob Levine

No employer or worker wants to see injuries or illness from an accident at work. While the law requires that all workplace incidents that cause illness or injury be documented, the National Safety Council also recommends that your company document any safety incident that might have led to an accident or injury, even if no injury occurred. Doing a thorough investigation and review of any near-miss incident is the best way to prevent future accidents.

Here are the steps the National Safety Council recommends for documenting safety incidents, regardless of whether an illness or injury resulted:

  1. Evaluate and document the scene:
  • Get to the site as quickly as possible.
  • Ensure the area is safe to enter.
  • Make sure the injured/ill person is receiving first-aid or medical attention.
  • Identify any witnesses.
  • Record the scene with photos (ideally with date and time stamp) or sketches.
  • Safeguard any evidence.
  • Establish what happened.
  1. Investigate the safety incident: The investigation should answer six questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Determining the answers of all six questions will help explain the event and point to ways to prevent future occurrences.
  2. Interview people involved in the incident: Interview all people involved and look for all the causes. Avoid blaming anyone involved, even if an individual admits to causing the event. Investigate every element including but not limited to procedures, supervisor’s directives, training, machinery, and weather. Your organization’s incident and/or near-miss reporting forms should include guidance on this process.
  3. Document the details of the incident: Properly document all incident investigations, using your organization’s approved investigation form. This form should be easy to understand and complete so that it is simple to remember what questions to ask. Once it is completed, file and retain it in chronological order.
  4. Protect privacy: Investigation reports should not to be released to anyone without proper authorization, so that the privacy of all involved is protected.
  5. Review investigations: Before attending the next safety committee meeting, review all incident and near-miss investigations that have occurred since the last safety committee meeting. This will help the committee identify ways to prevent future incidents.

OSHA Reporting

For any incidents involving injury or illness, organizations are generally required to complete several OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) forms as well. You or the relevant employees should have a full understanding of OSHA requirements, as well as the needed forms on hand, before any incident occurs. This will help protect your organization and your employees from mistakes in record keeping.

The main required OSHA injury and illness forms are:

  • 300: Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. This log of each recordable workplace accident, injury or illness must be kept current, with any incident entered within 6 working days of learning about it.
  • 301 (or equivalent): Injury and Illness Incident Report. For each incident, this detailed report must be completed within 7 days of learning about an incident.
  • 300A: Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. This form summarizes the number and nature of on-the-job injuries and illnesses for a calendar year, compiled from your OSHA accident report forms and logs.

These OSHA forms are not filed with the government. Your organization is required to keep them on file for 5 years, either in paper or electronic format, and make them available for review by OSHA inspectors if requested. If an accident or incident leads to litigation, you should preserve the related reports until all legal action, including appeals, has been resolved. (Note: workplace fatalities require much more stringent reporting, which we do not discuss in this article.)

And remember to follow general privacy guidelines to protect the privacy of employees and individuals involved, especially in any forms and reports that are required to be available for employee review.  You can find detailed information on all reporting requirements, as well as downloadable forms, at OSHA’s website under “Recordkeeping.” We are committed to helping your organization become as safe as possible by preventing injuries and accidents.

Rob Levine & Associates specializes in Personal Injury throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as Social Security Disability and Veterans Disability throughout the country. As “The Heavy Hitter” Rob Levine not only works hard on your case, but also believes in making a positive impact in the communities he serves. Through internal resources, education and volunteerism, Rob Levine & Associates strives to help prevent accidents, as well as raise awareness around the needs of our elderly and returning veterans. For more information visit, or call 401.529.1222 or toll free 800-529-1222.

Best Practices for Social Media in the Workplace

Personnel Practices

by Matthew R. Plain, Esq. & Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.

More than a decade after the birth of modern social media, it is now ubiquitous in all aspects of society.  According to surveys from, Twitter averaged 304 million monthly active users in the second quarter of 2015, and Facebook averaged nearly 1.5 billion monthly active users worldwide.  We are often asked by employers what the law requires with respect to social media in the workplace.  Although Rhode Island recently passed a law prohibiting employers from requiring employees to share their personal social media passwords and to connect with the employer on social media, there are many other issues concerning social media that remain unaddressed by statutes, regulations, and case law.  Given the relatively recent development of social media, this is an evolving area of the law—and one where we can expect the General Assembly and the Courts to make further changes to the law going forward.

For now, as a best practice, employers should implement a policy addressing the use of social media in the workplace.  The policy should be designed to supplement and apply in conjunction with other employment policies concerning, for example, confidentiality and harassment in the workplace.

Social media policies SHOULD include:

  • A prohibition on personal use of social media in the workplace. Best practice dictates prohibiting employees from using company computers, networks, and servers to access their own personal social media accounts for non-work-related purposes during the workday. Aside from the loss of productivity that the use of social media can cause, if an employee were to use social media for improper or illegal means, the employer could potentially be vicariously liable for conduct committed on its equipment during working hours.
  • A statement that any activity conducted on employer-owned equipment or networks is subject to monitoring by the employer and that the employee should have no expectation of privacy with respect to any information shared on the employer’s equipment or networks. In the event that the employer needs to investigate allegations of misconduct, that statement may streamline the process by which the employer can access the electronic information.
  • Guidelines for employees’ interactions with clients on social media. For example, medical offices, educational institutions, and social service agencies may seek to prohibit employees from connecting on social media with current patients, students, or clients due in part to heightened privacy requirements in those fields.

Social media policies should NOT include:

  • A requirement that employees share their personal password with the employer or connect with the supervisor or company on their own personal social media pages. Rhode Island recently passed a law prohibiting these practices, which may be considered an invasion of the employees’ privacy.
  • Overbroad prohibitions on the employees’ speech. Although the policy may prohibit employees from speaking on behalf of the company without prior authorization, it should not go so far as to prohibit employees from discussing the terms and conditions of the workplace, which is considered protected speech by the National Labor Relations Board.

In addition, employers should carefully protect their company’s social media accounts.  Specifically, employers should designate a few key people to manage your company’s social media pages, and require them to share the passwords with management.  In the event that your social media manager(s) leave the company, you should retain access to the company’s social media accounts.  Change the password immediately after that employee’s separation from the company.  The potential risks of having a non-employee (or worse—a recently-terminated employee) with access to your company’s social media sites are significant.


Matthew R. Plain, Esq. Partner, Barton Gilman LLP

Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP

Technology! Tips for the Real Estate Professional


by Jeremy Bargiel

Real estate is a business defined by buying, selling, or renting a property. It is an industry that is constantly evolving over time through increasing rules and regulations, economic uncertainty, and financial possibilities. It promises a simple education and a fortuitous graduation through convenient slogans like “Location! Location! Location!” or “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore!”, but there are more stories of personal success and epic tragedy written in real estate than most other industries combined.

Real estate entrepreneurs suffer from the traditional business pitfalls of client dependence, money management, and workforce dependability. The pathway to prosperity is paved through a number of avenues. Client and property diversification lead to a stronger business pattern for growth and less opportunity for substantial stagnation or decreasing income. Continuous cash flow and deep capital reserves enable companies to maintain growth and cover all untimely operational costs. Detailed experience, focused training, and strong employee relationships empower a company to move forward regardless of business or personal related problems in the workplace. These fundamental issues are commonplace and templates for accomplishment exist, but how does an organization cope with constantly changing technology challenges?

Network Infrastructure

Networks provide the flexibility and efficiency to communicate and share ideas on a global scale. Switching is the lifeblood of the network and the key to maximizing growth and productivity in the marketplace. A breakdown or flaw in your infrastructure will result in the inability to close client sales, offer new properties, distribute correct information, sustain new business, strengthen past business, partner with team members, hire the best talent, and build a solid reputation. Real estate is a relationship business and, regardless of a great service, the business will not thrive or survive without the ability to disseminate clear information to the team and clients.

IT Security

Quality security prevents information theft, privacy breaches, and data corruption and is the difference between a minor client inconvenience and a major situation threatening bankruptcy. The increasing use of the web 2.0 platform, social networking, and real time applications for the real estate business produces a higher risk of vulnerability to network resources and web applications from malware, viruses, spyware, and adware. Through streaming content, online chats, and video conferencing, networks are exposed to 100’s of direct threats and daily remote attacks by proxy-jumpers. It’s never been more difficult to secure confidential information and the liability of a leak can have severe revenue, reputation, and legal consequences.

Business Continuity

Business continuity is the process of recovering data quickly and efficiently following a system failure. A compromised or down network, for any amount of time, can have a catastrophic effect on ecommerce systems, payment processing, ERP systems, and digital records and storage. The loss of sensitive data can strike at any time and for a multitude of reasons: database corruption, hardware crashes, and human error or natural calamities. It is vital to incorporate a solution to better centralize daily management tasks and improve the flexibility, scalability, and efficiency of hardware resources which will quickly reduce costs, decrease the physical footprint, lower power output, and increase productivity.

The Technology Advantage

The demand for real estate can be affected by many outside forces: population demographics, debt burdens, industrial and commercial demand, capital market liquidity, interest rate fluctuation, and global uncertainty. The real estate community anticipates these factor through past data indicators or actualized action plans. The answers to problems of the past are time-tested, but today’s real competitive advantage is found through employing the proper technology and committing to an accurate risk assessment platform which will empower and protect your business for near term sustainability and long term success.

Jeremy Bargiel, Writer TBNG Consulting

Easy Steps for Buying a New Home


by Daniel E. Giroux

  1. Preparation Period
  • Build a good credit history. Pay all bills on time and keep balances low.
  • Get mortgage PRE-APPROVAL.
  • Consider hiring an attorney to review all contracts and agreements associated with the home buying process. Often lenders will have attorneys available for review.
  • Figure out what you can afford for a down payment and where it will come from.
    • Consider closing costs which can include taxes, attorney’s fees, and transfer fees.
    • Consider utilities and monthly bills.
  1. Interviewing a Real Estate Professional
  • Get a referral from friends, family, and work colleagues that have worked directly with that realtor. Do not use a friend of a friend without a proven track history.
  • Interview several buyers’ agents. Ask about buyer’s representation contracts and agreements; make sure you understand the terms.
  • Explain your needs and expectations to the real estate professional you choose to work with.
  1. Finding the Perfect House
  • Determine what is important to you; particular schools, neighborhood amenities, monthly mortgage payment, public transportation, walkability, etc.
  • Make sure you include home owner’s assessments, utilities, and taxes when calculating the monthly mortgage payment.
  1. Finance the Property
  • Contact your mortgage broker or lender.
  • Make sure you understand the financing terms—ask the lender for clarification, if necessary.
  • Follow your loan originators direct. They are there to assist you but need to be on the same page.
  • Do not apply for new credit, quit your job, change jobs, or deposit large amounts of funds during the loan process.
  1. Make an Offer
  • Read all contracts before signing—make sure you understand all of the terms, ask questions.
  • Place a competitive bid and be prepared to make a counter-offer.
  • Keep your credit score stable and in-check by waiting to purchase any big-ticket items until long after the closing.
  • Ensure the property is inspected by a licensed home inspector.


Daniel E. Giroux  NMLS 26531 Owner, A-Plus Mortgage LLC NMLS # 2748 Licensed Rhode Island Lender And Loan Broker – APLUS  NMLS# 2748 Rhode Island Loan Broker License– 20041842LB ,Rhode Island Lender License– 20142971LL.

previous arrow
next arrow