August 2010 Archives

August 27, 2010

Collapsing scaffolding leads to fatal Carolina work accident


One man was killed and another seriously injured in a Carolina work accident after scaffolding collapsed in downtown Charleston on Monday afternoon, Channel 5 News reported.

The men were caulking windows at Laurens Place condos near the Maritime Center when the three-story scaffolding collapsed. The fatal accident happened in downtown Charleston near the South Carolina Aquarium.

Specific work-safety rules should be followed when working with scaffolding as fall accidents are one of the most common causes of serious and fatal work accidents in North and South Carolina. A Carolina workers' compensation lawyer or personal injury attorney should always be called to assist victims and families dealing with a serious or fatal fall or scaffolding injury.

A 33-year-old man fell into water and was transported to the hospital. A 42-year-old man fell three stories to a concrete pad and was pronounced dead at the scene. The Bolivia native died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to the Charlestown County Corner's Office. Both men worked for a surfacing company and were caulking the third-floor balconies. One man fell from a ladder while the other fell from nearby scaffolding.

The preliminary investigation has not determined why the scaffolding and ladder fell. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified.

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August 25, 2010

North Carolina construction accident claims life of backhoe operator


A Havelock, North Carolina construction accident claimed the life of a North Harlowe man when his backhoe overturned in a drainage ditch, according to the Sun Journal.

The 39-year-old man was killed when the backhoe slid into a drainage ditch and trapped him beneath it, according to a report released by the city. The accident happened at Budget Inn Suites on North Nunn Street.

The victim, who was described as a private contractor, was working with two others to clear dirt and place sod around the hotel when the accident happened at about 11:30 a.m. The city reports that the backhoe slid down a slight grade and overturned. The victim was ejected and the loader landed on top of him. The other workers were reportedly on the other side of the building at the time of the accident and did not immediately notice the backhoe had overturned. A hotel manager said she was not on duty at the time and could not provide additional information.

The accident is under investigation by the North Carolina Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that construction was the most dangerous occupation last year.

A total of 125 fatal North Carolina work accidents were reported last year, down from 161 reported in 2008. The leading causes of fatal accidents were transportation accidents, assault, falls, contact with objects or equipment, exposure to harmful substances and fatal injuries resulting from fire and explosions.

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August 23, 2010

Charlotte, North Carolina work accident involves chlorine explosion at public swimming pool


Two employees were injured in a Charlotte work accident after a chlorine explosion at an east Charlotte swimming pool, Channel 9 reported.

As we reported on our North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers Blog, hazardous chemicals are a common cause of serious and fatal work accidents.
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Chlorine is one of those chemicals in common use, in both industry and households, yet it can be extremely hazardous, even fatal, if handled improperly.

"If you put the wrong chemical in the wrong environment in the wrong place, a lot of things can happen and an explosion is entirely possible," Charlotte Battalion Chief Phil Bosche told the news station.

It was the second time in less than a week that a resident was seriously injured in a chlorine explosion. A separate incident involved the 12-year-old daughter of a Channel 9 producer and required that the girl be airlifted to the hospital with chemical burns.

The dangers of chlorine is one reason Mecklenburg County's public swimming pools have automatic chlorine pumps. It is unclear whether the public pool where the accident occurred is equipped with the automatic equipment. The county health department said it was sending out a safety reminder to all pool operators in the county.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides pool chemical safety advice, including:

-Always read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
-Complete necessary training and education.
-Keep chemicals secure and away from children and animals.
-Follow proper chemical storage instructions.
-Respond immediately to chemical spills.
-Read labels and follow directions.
-Keep chemicals in original labeled containers.
-Use appropriate protective gear.

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August 20, 2010

Violence in the workplace a growing danger in North Carolina


The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a report on workplace shootings, which found nearly 10 percent of all fatal work injuries are the result of violence.

Some of the shootings involved robberies of retail outlets. While a worker would be entitled to North Carolina workers' compensation benefits, consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer or wrongful death attorney is likely the best course of action to protect your rights in the wake of a violent workplace incident.

Such incidents comprise a serious threat in the workplace. An average of 564 work-related homicides have occurred in each of the last five years in the United States. About 80 percent of victims were male.

Robbers and assailants were responsible for 72 percent of incidents for men and half of all incidents for women. Relatives and acquaintances account for only 4 percent of male homicides but 28 percent for women.

The other serious threat is workplace shootings involving multiple fatalities -- incredibly, there were 30 such cases in 2008, accounting for 67 homicides and 7 suicides. Co workers or former co workers were responsible for 12 percent of such cases.

Nearly half of such shootings occurred in public buildings and endangered bystanders. One-fourth of workplace shootings occurred in the retail trade, while 17 shootings occurred in the manufacturing industry.

A quarter of shooting victims worked in sales and nearly all of the victims worked in the private sector. Only 14 percent were employed by the government.

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August 17, 2010

North Carolina disability claim complicated by second work accident and subsequent car accident


A recent case involving two work injuries and a car accident over a three-year span illustrates the importance of having a North Carolina workers' compensation lawyer to properly deal with a work accident claim. The North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a split ruling, which granted workers' compensation benefits and attorney fees but found the victim unqualified for a previous disability award.

The case involved a May 2006 work injury in which a Taco Bell employee fell from a ladder after shocking himself while changing a light bulb. The employee sought treatment for lower back and leg injuries.

The employee was treated for a herniated disc and ultimately assigned a 15 percent permanent disability rating for the back injury. In December 2006, he went to work for IHOP in New Bern, North Carolina for pay that was $200 a week greater than what he earned at Taco Bell. Six months later, he re-injured his back while stooping over to pick up a spatula. He was unable to retain his position at IHOP as a result of work restrictions and later went to work at Wendy's in Tarboro, North Carolina.

In June 2007, he was involved in a car accident, which he said had no impact on his back injury -- However, a month later his pain was so severe that he went to the emergency room and ultimately underwent back surgery.

In a ruling by the workers' compensation commission, IHOP was ordered to pay workers' compensation benefits and attorney fees. On appeal, the court noted that the plaintiff bears the burden of proof in a workers' compensation claim and that aggravating a pre-existing condition may result in the filing of a North Carolina workers' compensation claim.

However, the court ruled that the victim remained employed as a manager in the fast-food industry, as he had at the time of the initial Taco Bell injury, and that he was therefore not qualified for a 15 percent back disability.

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August 15, 2010

North Carolina workers' compensation claim denied for parking lot fall; premise liability claim possible


The North Carolina Court of Appeals has issued a ruling affirming the denial of benefits to a woman injured in a North Carolina work accident.

In January 2008, the employee slipped and fell on ice while walking across the parking lot toward her place of employment; she suffered a broken wrist. Her employer denied her claim and the North Carolina workers' compensation commission was asked to decide whether the employee was entitled to benefits as a result of being injured on company property.

The business leased the property and had no responsibility for upkeep and maintenance of the parking lot. After denial, the employee appealed on a number of grounds, including that it was part of her job to open the building at 7:30 a.m. and that the injury happened during the scope of her job duties.

One judge dissented, saying the employee was clearly in the course of her employment when she was injured.

In this case, a North Carolina premise liability case could have been pursued. A claim could have been made against the owner of the business and the owner of the property, alleging unsafe conditions on the property led to the accident.

By consulting a Carolina injury lawyer who is familiar with both workplace accident claims and premise liability claims, you may have the best chances of collecting damages for your injuries. A premise liability claim may include slip and fall injuries, negligent security, merchandise falling from shelving, assault, swimming pool accidents, dog bites and other injury claims that arise form the negligence of a business or property owner.

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August 12, 2010

North Carolina employees have rights to safe workplace, freedom from fear or retaliation


Most employees in North and South Carolina are covered under the Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1970. This means the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) oversees safety in their workplace and provides the guidelines and mandates under which their employers must operate.

But it also guarantees employees certain rights. One of those rights is to be free from retaliation for filing a work accident claim or for bringing hazards in the workplace to the attention of management or the authorities. Unfortunately, many workers do not feel comfortable in doing so, particularly in today's tough economy. Instead they may continue to deal with dangerous job conditions or even fail to report a work injury.

We encourage you to consult our experienced North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers. We believe workers deserve immediate access to high-quality legal advice; that's why we continue to offer free and confidential consultations to anyone willing to pick up the phone and give us a call. Addressing a dangerous condition in the workplace can prevent an employee from being seriously injured or killed. While failure to report a work injury could prevent you from recovering damages in the event that long-term complications require you to miss work, receive medical treatment or even become disabled.

Under the OSH Act, workers are entitled to job conditions that do not pose the risk of serious harm. Specifically, they have the right to:

-Receive information and training about hazards and methods to reduce the risk. The training must be in whatever language they can understand.
-Observe workplace safety testing and receive the test results.
-Review records of workplace injuries and illnesses.
-Receive copies of the medical records of employees who have been injured on the job.
-Request an OSHA inspection.
-Assert their legal rights without fear of retaliation or discrimination.

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August 10, 2010

Carolina farming accidents a common danger, particularly for younger employees


A Carolina work accident was reported on Monday when a man was injured inside a tobacco barn in Horry County, South Carolina and flown to the Medical University, WMBF News reported.

Rescue workers report the man was seriously injured when he was struck by a beam while working inside the barn. The accident happened just before 11:30 a.m. near Caines Landing Road. The worker's age or medical condition was not released.
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A 15-year study of farming injuries by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that teenagers are among those at the highest risk. As we reported recently on our North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers Blog, specific state and federal laws govern the employment and safety of teenagers in the workplace.

Each year, some 2 million farm workers under the age of 20 are exposed to hazardous job conditions. And nearly 2,200 young workers were killed during the 15-year-study period -- or about 150 deaths per year. Adults are also at significant risk.

The most common causes of serious and fatal farming injuries include drowning, machinery accidents, firearm incidents, mechanical accidents, injuries caused by being struck by an object, and electrical current.

North Carolina farming accidents claim the lives of about 5 young workers per year, while accidents in South Carolina claim the lives of 2-3 young workers per year.

A separate study by East Carolina University found about 34 farmers a year are killed in tractor accidents in North Carolina.

That report found that farming remains the most dangerous occupation in the country after farming.

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August 9, 2010

Ladder falls a common cause of Carolina work injuries


A Carolina work accident was reported on Friday when a Spartanburg worker fell from a ladder after suffering an electrical shock, FOX Carolina reported.

The electrical worker injured his back during the accident at New Rainbow Lake Middle School on River Oak Road. An employee of Dallas Electric in Gastonia, North Carolina, the man was pulling wire through a box when he came into contact with charged wire. The shock knocked him off a ladder at the school construction site.
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The eight-year employee of the company reported injuring his back and elbow.

North Carolina workers' compensation claims frequently result from ladder falls. Back injuries can be particularly challenging to diagnose and treat. And recovery in each case in unique. Back injuries may also not be immediately apparent and the full extent of the injury may take months, or even years to develop. Filing a work injury claim is essential to protecting your ability to collect damages in the event of serious future medical complications, even in cases where little or no injury is felt at the time of the accident.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 680 employees were killed in workplace falls in 2008 -- 116 of those died as a result of falling from a ladder.

The most common injuries from ladder falls include fractures, sprains and bruising. Back injuries and traumatic head injuries are also possible. Most falls are caused either by excessive reaching or incorrect ladder placement.

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August 6, 2010

New Crane and Derrick rules aim to reduce risk of North Carolina construction accidents


The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced new rules for the use of cranes and derricks in construction, replacing decades-old standards that critics contend were antiquated and did not afford construction crews the proper protection.

North Carolina construction accidents frequently involve cranes, derricks or other heavy equipment. Falls or being struck by heavy objects are also leading causes of work accidents and North Carolina workers' compensation claims.

Nationwide, about 267,000 construction and crane companies will be impacted and 4.8 million workers will be affected by the new rules.

"The significant number of fatalities associated with the use of cranes in construction led the Labor Department to undertake this rulemaking," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "After years of extensive research, consultation and negotiation with industry experts, this long overdue rule will address the leading causes of fatalities related to cranes and derricks, including electrocution, boom collapse and overturning."

The previous rules date back to 1971 and were based on 40-year-old standards.

"The rule addresses critically important provisions for crane operator certification, and crane inspection, set-up and disassembly," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Compliance with the rule will prevent needless worker injuries and death, and provide protection for the public and property owners."

The new rules are designed to prevent the leading causes of fatal accidents, including electrocution, being struck or crushed by objects, and collapsing or overturning cranes.

The complete federal Cranes and Derricks Standards is available here.

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August 4, 2010

Cancer linked to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune


A former Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court after both his children died of brain cancer, Veteran's Today reported.

The lawsuit alleges the children died from consuming contaminated driving water at the camp in the 1980s. A number of veterans and their dependents continue to suffer from cancers linked to exposure to organic solvents like trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and benzene in the base wells. The contaminated wells have since been closed.

Our North Carolina injury lawyers continue to report about the dangers of exposure to hazardous chemicals. Many chemicals used in the workplace or in the military have been linked to cancer and other long-term injuries, including asbestos exposure and Mesothelioma.

The Navy and Marine Corps deny that the base's contaminated water has caused cancer or other serious illnesses. The lawsuit claims the military should have known the contaminated water was likely to cause serious health problems, including death.

The Navy is dealing with several thousand administrative claims (SF-95s) as a result of injury claims. Camp Lejeune is one of 130 military bases identified as being contaminated with various hazardous chemicals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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August 2, 2010

Appeals court denies Carolina workers' compensation claim for teacher's knee injury


A ruling by the Court of Appeals recently denied benefits to a school teacher who claimed her torn knee was a result of a North Carolina work accident.

This case illustrates the importance of consulting a North Carolina workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible after being injured while on the job.

A Salisbury High School teacher, who had previously used an elevator to reach her second-floor classroom, began using the stairs during a six-week period in which the elevator was out of order. In December 2006, she reported her knee "gave out" while ascending the steps and she reported the incident to the school the next day.

She was directed to fill out a workers' compensation form and was sent to a doctor. She reported having pre-existing degenerative arthritis in her knees, was diagnosed with a knee strain, and assigned climbing restrictions. After more than a year without improvement, she returned to the doctor and was diagnosed with a tear in her left knee. However, the employer denied her insurance claim and would not pay for surgery. Subsequently, she filed a work injury claim seeking relief.

The industrial commission found her injury was not the result of a work accident and that she was not entitled to compensation for her injuries. She appealed to the full commission, which voted 2-1 that "the act of climbing the stairs as opposed to using the elevator was an interruption of plaintiff's normal work routine and introduced new conditions to plaintiff's employment." The commission then awarded her benefits.

The award was overturned on appeal. The Appeal's court found that climbing stairs became a normal work routine and was not a new condition of employment. And that the injury was not the result of an accident.

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