December 2011 Archives

December 28, 2011

Refurbished Circuit Breakers in North Carolina Can Cause High Risk of Fires and Explosions Leading to Burn Injuries at Work


The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a hazard alert for certain refurbished circuit breakers that have been rebuilt incorrectly by a third party. Any employee working near one of these refurbished circuit breakers is at severe risk of electrical shock, arc flashes or electrocution hazards at work in Greensboro or elsewhere. Certain molded-case circuit breakers emit a high risk of burn or other severe injuries caused by fires or explosions.
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Gastonia workers' compensation lawyers know that employers trying to cut costs by opting to use refurbished equipment need to be careful because they can put their workers at risk of severe injuries or even death when an accident occurs. Many refurbished items look brand new but may not have been rebuilt correctly.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the hazard alert after they learned from the Mine Safety and Health Administration that a third-party rebuilder slapped on 600 or 1,000 VAC covers to circuit breakers and then labeled them to look as though they were new products before selling them directly to users or indirectly through a mining supply company. The circuit breakers were originally manufactured by Eaton/Cutler-Hammer as part of its E2 mining series but were refurbished by a different company.

Workers in the mining industry may be at risk of hazards such as arc flash, electrocution and shock when the defective circuit breakers catch fire or cause a potential explosion. Safety features such as phase-to-phase fault protection or proper grounding may be lacking in the defective circuit breakers putting workers at risk of these hazards when the breaker trips. Additionally, the frames used for covers may contain tips and springs from an unknown origin and are labeled with 600 VAC or 1,000 VAC which may not be the correct identification for the defective part.

You may be wondering how workers or employers can identify the defective circuit breakers. The circuit breakers will either appear new or properly built on any frame size but the design has changed from the original manufactured look. These types of circuit breakers are used for tunneling operations or in any electrical cabinet where standalone type circuit breakers are used. The refurbished models have different cover colors than the original equipment and lack the marking of a qualified National Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) on the label or frame. These are the only two known exterior means of identifying the defective breakers. Model numbers that may be defective include the E2K or E2KM mining series breaker.

OSHA is instructing employers who may have one of the defective models to take necessary precautions and refrain from resetting the Eaton circuit breaker if it trips. Someone qualified in working with circuit breakers should shut off the power and follow proper procedures for lockout/tagout practices. Workers should be protected from voltage in the area by being prohibited from going anywhere near the circuit breaker until it has been determined that the circuit breaker is working properly and does not impose a threat for electrocution or fire hazards.

Contact the NRTL Program if you have questions or concerns about defective circuit breakers manufactured by Eaton. Call 1-202-693-2300 or email nrtlprogram@dol.gov.

Continue reading "Refurbished Circuit Breakers in North Carolina Can Cause High Risk of Fires and Explosions Leading to Burn Injuries at Work" »

December 26, 2011

North Carolina Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Aim to Reduce Workplace Accidents in Statesville, Elsewhere


The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has been vigilant in recent years in developing injury and illness prevention programs in order to keep workers safe at work.
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Statesville workers' compensation lawyers are concerned that even after the development and implementation of these prevention programs the nation averages 12 deaths a day while at work. In 2009, serious work illnesses and injuries in North Carolina and throughout the country were a staggering 3.3 million, not to mention the 4,300 deaths occurring in the workplace. In 2008, the average amount spent on workers' compensation costs nationwide was more than $1 billion a week. Think about all the jobs that could be created if employers took the initiative to prevent work injuries and illnesses which would result in saving the nation $53.42 billion annually in workers' compensation costs.

According to OSHA, the following are examples of effective Injury and Illness Prevention Programs:

Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP): these programs are a proactive and cooperative approach by employees, management and OSHA to prevent illnesses, injuries and deaths by focusing on worksite analysis, employee training and hazard control and prevention.

OSHA Challenge Program: OSHA provides an online roadmap to employees to help them achieve VPP requirements. OSHA then recognizes any employer who has made valid improvements to their safety and health management systems. Click here to view some of OSHA's Challenge success stories.

Alliance Program Case Studies: examples of case studies are provided to employers to demonstrate the positive effects of a successful health and safety program.

Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP): small employers are recognized for their efforts to implement a safety and health management system. Click here to view some of the successful SHARP stories.

North Carolina is one of 34 states that have guidelines established for employers to implement a health and safety program within their organization in order to protect workers from being injured or contracting an illness while performing a work task. Any North Carolina employer who employs 11 or more workers and has an experience rate modifier of 1.5 or above is required to have an Employee Safety and Health Committee. Each committee member will be trained and educated by employers on the following:

-How to identify a hazard in the workplace.

-How to conduct an effective accident or incident investigation.

-Define the employer and employee rights and responsibilities as directed by the Safety and Health Programs and Committees Act and Mine Safety Laws.

-How to keep and meet accurate recordkeeping requirements set forth by North Carolina's Workers' Compensation Act and Mine Safety Laws.

-Provided knowledge of the most common causes and cited violations of workplace accidents.

Members of the committee have a responsibility to protect workers and ensure that employers are doing everything in their power to keep workers safe on the job. The goal of all North Carolina employers should be to have zero work accidents each and every day.

Continue reading "North Carolina Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Aim to Reduce Workplace Accidents in Statesville, Elsewhere" »

December 24, 2011

North Carolina Scissor Lift Accidents Common at Work When Employees in Charlotte, Asheville are Not Trained Properly


You may remember the tragic story of the college student who was fatally injured at a college football practice last year while filming the team's practice. The student was employed by the University of Notre Dame but was not properly trained about how to operate the scissor lift, which contributed to the fall accident that took the young man's life.
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Asheville workers' compensation attorneys see so many red flags associated with this particular work accident. Young workers must be properly trained when they are required to operate dangerous equipment, especially if weather or other factors can cause a severe or fatal injury to occur.

Scissor lifts are large pieces of equipment powered by hydraulics which contain a platform that is raised and lowered by a scissor motion below its base. Without proper training of safety precautions, scissor lift-related accidents in Charlotte, or elsewhere are quite common, especially when performing job responsibilities in an outside environment. The college student raised the lift upwards of 39 feet into the air during a practice that entailed wind gusts of over 50 mph. The lift was blown over and killed the young man.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a hazard alert to organizations following this incident. Employers and young workers should be familiar with the following hazards related to using a scissor lift if you are required to use equipment to complete your job responsibilities:

-High winds or inclement weather conditions can cause the lift to fall over.

-The lift can fall over when it is positioned on uneven ground or in a particularly soft area due to excessive amounts of rain.

-Weighted objects on the platform can cause the lift to fall over.

-A worker may fall off the platform if no personal protective equipment or guard rails are being used.

Not only are workers at risk of fall accidents from a raised scissor lift, they can also be subject to electrocution hazards. A worker that comes into contact with electrical lines while standing on the platform is at severe risk of being electrocuted.

Employers have a responsibility to take the necessary precautions to keep workers of any age safe while performing job duties. The following initiatives must be taken to prevent scissor lift-related work accidents:

-Inspect the equipment before it is about to be used by a worker.

-Stay away from parking the apparatus near slopes, holes or ground obstructions.

-Park the scissor lift at least 10 away from electrical lines upon its full extension.

-If rain, sleet, snow or wind is expected, prohibit workers from using a scissor lift.

-Make sure the lift is limited two one or two people using minimal equipment.

-Provide workers with fall protection such as a harness to prevent them from falling off the platform to ground level. Always make sure guard rails are in place before using the equipment.

-The scissor lift must be tested, inspected and maintained according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

-Train all employees on how to properly use the equipment. Never permit an untrained employee to use the scissor fork in a raised position.

Continue reading "North Carolina Scissor Lift Accidents Common at Work When Employees in Charlotte, Asheville are Not Trained Properly " »

December 22, 2011

Fatal Work-Related Transportation Accident a Reminder to Drive Safe in North Carolina Throughout the Holidays


Workers' compensation attorneys in Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Statesville and elsewhere hope that everyone drives safely this holiday season to help avoid a serious or fatal work-related transportation accident in North Carolina or elsewhere.
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We recently posted on our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, that a state trooper, along with two other vehicle occupants were injured in a work accident in North Carolina. The police officer was responding to a potential drunk driving arrest. Many of us associate work-related transportation accidents to jobs that require emergency response efforts. But that isn't the only time that workers are in danger of being involved or struck by a vehicle that can cause serious injury or death while performing a job task.

IndependentMail.com recently reported about a worker who was struck and killed by a passing car while he was working at a job site in South Carolina. The employee had just arrived at the site and was assisting a group of workers from the town's water department who were working to repair an underground line. A 2005 Honda hit the worker as it passed by. The town employee was taken to AnMed Health and Medical Center by ambulance where he was later pronounced dead from chest and head trauma. The 47 year-old man had worked for the town water department for 10 years and town officials state he is the third employee to be killed while working in the small South Carolina town of Honea Path. No charges have been filed but the accident is still under investigation. The South Carolina Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Labor have both been notified of the fatal occupational injury.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina Department of Labor reported that there were 48 fatal occupational injuries in 2010. The two most common causes of death at work in North Carolina last year were fall accidents and struck-by accidents, which in many cases were related to transportation incidents. Though the 48 fatal workplace accidents were below the previous five-year average of 53.2, it was an increase from 2009 in which 34 occupational deaths were recorded.

Employees who rely on transportation to perform their job responsibilities have been given the following Safe Driving Practices for Employees by the NC Department of Labor:

-Always give driving your full attention rather than allowing yourself to be easily distracted.

-Remain calm, courteous and patient every time you get behind the wheel rather than engage in aggressive driving practices with other motorists.

-Make sure tools and equipment are tightly secured rather than leave them loose, where they can cause severe injury if they become airborne.

-Never drive drowsy or under the influence of drugs or alcohol as these are two common causes of transportation incidents at work.

Much attention is given to the safety of drivers in transportation accidents but very little attention is given to the safety of workers at risk of being struck by a vehicle. Employers have a responsibility to make sure these workers are protected by creating a safe work zone and making them visible to other motorists who are passing by. All workers have a right to be protected from a work-related accident so employers must take the necessary actions to make sure that happens each and every day on the job.

Continue reading "Fatal Work-Related Transportation Accident a Reminder to Drive Safe in North Carolina Throughout the Holidays" »

December 19, 2011

Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals Puts Workers at Risk of Suffering Long-Term Health Issues in Statesville, Elsewhere


In 2009, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) implemented a pilot National Emphasis Program meant to deter facilities from releasing hazardous chemicals that could cause an explosion or fire, putting workers at risk of long-term illnesses from work-related accidents in North Carolina and nationwide.
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In many industrial work environments, there are a variety of dangerous substances and chemicals that can cause long-term health effects. Hickory workers' compensation attorneys understand that the detriments to a worker's health conditions often rely on factors such as the type of chemical, the amount or dose of exposure, the length of time or duration that the exposure occurred, and the number of times exposure to the substance occurred.

In a recent release, OSHA announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) for chemical facilities that replaces the old one. OSHA inspectors will now be able to visit chemical facilities nationwide to ensure proper measures are being taken to prevent worker illnesses and deaths related to chemical or toxin exposure. The NEP gives OSHA inspectors a detailed explanation of procedures and policies to follow when they are in the process of inspecting a site. Inspectors should ask detailed questions in order to gather facts and demand verification that employers are consistently following OSHA's process safety management (PSM) standard. Facilities will be randomly selected from a list of work sites that are proposed to have highly hazardous chemicals in the work environment.

Even if a work facility isn't prone to a release of chemical hazards, many work environments can be deemed dangerous for toxins or other hazardous substances that can affect a worker's health. The United States Environmental Protection Agency offers the following general safe practices to all employers in any industry:

-Provide workers with respirators designed to keep dust inhalation to a minimum.

-Workers should use nonhazardous cleaning solutions to clean hands and arms or other body parts after a dirty job.

-Train all employees to make sure containers with hazardous substances are sealed at all times.

-Employees should be instructed to wear protective equipment like gloves, overalls, or eye protection when exposure to chemicals or hazardous substances is possible.

-Have waste products removed from a work environment immediately.

-Develop a safety plan to prevent employees from being exposed. All exposures must be documented and kept on record.

-Evaluate the safety of a work environment routinely. Take note of procedures that seem to be working and make changes when accidents are occurring on the clock.

One accident is too many. Employers must take the initiative to prevent chemical exposure for all employees by training all workers about safe practices while performing work tasks. Waiting until an employee is exposed may be too late to save them from a life-changing and long-lasting illness that can lead to an early death.

Continue reading "Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals Puts Workers at Risk of Suffering Long-Term Health Issues in Statesville, Elsewhere" »

December 16, 2011

Workers Subject to Severe Injuries Caused by Explosions at Tire-Servicing Jobs in Asheville, Elsewhere


Workers who service single-piece and multiple-piece rim wheels for large tires are probably more at risk of a tire servicing-related work accident in Greensboro or elsewhere than you may realize. There are enough incidents nationwide to make the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recognize the issue, making an announcement of their efforts to update materials and revise tire charts to help keep workers safe as they service large tires.
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Safety News Alert recently gave four examples of workers killed or injured while handling large vehicle tires. In the first example, one death and four injuries occurred at a metal factory in Kentucky when a tire exploded while employees were trying to fuse a rim to a large tire. In a second example, a worker from New Jersey was killed while trying to put air in a re-treaded tractor-trailer tire. The tire exploded while he was trying to check the air pressure causing the worker to die from multiple blunt trauma injuries. A Maine employee was seriously injured in the third example. The Bath Iron Works employee was changing a tire at a shipyard when it exploded and caused severe facial trauma. The final example provides a video on You Tube of a worker being killed by the blast of a tire exploding right underneath him.

Asheville workers' compensation lawyers understand that large tires on tractor-trailers, machinery used in shipyards and large farm equipment are subject to wear and tear and need replacing. We hope that employers take note of the new materials presented by OSHA and train their employees accordingly.

OSHA reports there are roughly 322,000 workers who service large vehicle tires at over 100,000 job sites nationwide. Employees can be injured when pressurized air is suddenly released by the bead breaking or slipping in single-piece rim wheel accidents. The pressurized air has enough force to throw an employee across the room or cause the rim wheel to propel at a trajectory that could be dangerous for anyone standing nearby. Actions during a multiple-piece rim wheel accident cause the wheel components to separate and release, also with violent force enough to cause blunt trauma injuries to a worker.

Employers must train employees to prevent injury by using the following safe operating procedures on single-piece rim wheels:

-The valve core must be removed and the tire completely deflated before demounting.

-The tire must be mounted and demounted only from the narrow ledge side of the wheel.

-Use caution to prevent damaging the beads while mounting and dismounting.

-Unless otherwise instructed by the wheel manufacturer, the bead and wheel mating surfaces must be greased with a nonflammable rubber lubricant before assembling the rim wheel.

-A restraining device should be used to inflate the tire when it is positioned behind a barrier or is bolted on the vehicle with tightened lug nuts.

-Heat should never be applied to a single-piece wheel.

-When a tire is being inflated, all workers should steer clear of the trajectory.

-Never attempt to weld, rework or braze a cracked, bent, broken or otherwise defective wheel.

Employers and workers should visit the website for more information about OSHA's Revised Tire Charts.

Continue reading "Workers Subject to Severe Injuries Caused by Explosions at Tire-Servicing Jobs in Asheville, Elsewhere" »

December 14, 2011

OSHA's 'Picture It: Safe Workplaces for Everyone' Contest Winner From Charlotte


The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has been boosting its efforts to create public awareness about occupational health and safety to help reduce work injuries in Greensboro and throughout the country.
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As part of its 40th anniversary celebration, OSHA sponsored its first photo contest, inviting the public to capture an image depicting a safe work environment. Participants were encouraged to take pictures of workplace safety and health and submit to OSHA for judging. A secondary contest was offered to OSHA staff by challenging them to submit pictures of safe work environments or images promoting health in the workplace.

Gastonia workers' compensation lawyers agree that increasing employee awareness may help reduce work accidents, but it is really up to the boss to make sure all workers are provided a safe environment and ample amount of training to perform work duties safely.

OSHA received more than 300 submissions with photos representing a range of industries and activities. OSHA awarded six winning photographs in addition to seven honorable mentions. The safety administration also received 50 photographs for the secondary contest from OSHA staff. The photos were judged by a panel of experts.

View winning photos here.

Public Contest Winners:
1st Place was awarded to a participant from Cincinnati, Ohio. The picture shows workers out in the sun wearing protective hats, gloves and footwear. The workers are also utilizing proper tools to perform the job task.

2nd Place was awarded to a participant from Charlotte, N.C. The photo captures workers well above ground level working to install solar panels. The workers are wearing protective gear and are harnessed with fall-protection equipment.

3rd Place was awarded to a participant from Mesquite, Texas. The image depicts sparks flying while a worker is using a large piece of equipment. The worker is wearing protective head gear and gloves with no other workers present within close proximity of where he is working.

OSHA Staff Winners:
1st Place was awarded to an office in Braintree, Mass. The picture is of three workers completing a task involving heated temperatures and a fire-related environment. All workers are wearing fire-resistant coats and boots, and other personal protective equipment to prevent face and eye injuries.

2nd Place was awarded to the same office in Braintree. The picture is of an OSHA investigator walking down a long tunnel ready to investigate workplace safety at the job site.

3rd Place was awarded to an office in Washington, D.C. The winning photo was an image of a worker at a wind turbine construction site well above ground level.

Winners receive a framed certificate, and their photos will be hung in the Department of Labor's headquarters in Washington, D.C., as a constant reminder of the importance of workplace safety.

Continue reading "OSHA's 'Picture It: Safe Workplaces for Everyone' Contest Winner From Charlotte" »

December 12, 2011

Untrained Seasonal Employees at Risk of Work Injuries in Charlotte, Elsewhere


The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent nationwide, the lowest it has been in roughly 2.5 years. Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers know that the hiring of seasonal workers in November probably had a lot to do with the economic improvement, but it could be a small sign that things are looking up for the American public overall.
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An economic recovery can lead to workers changing jobs or employers hiring new employees so it is important to remember training and preventative safety measures to reduce the number of work accidents in Greensboro, Asheville, Winston-Salem or elsewhere in the state. It is up to the employer or business owner to make sure each employee, seasonal or otherwise, is treated fairly and kept safe while performing their job duties.

We recently posted on our North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers Blog that Black Friday sales events can be a danger to untrained employees. Seasonal and full-time workers are at considerable risk of a trampling or other work-related injury while working security, parking attendant jobs or sales registers at overcrowded sales events.

The U.S. Department of Labor continues to be concerned about the number of fatal work injuries occurring on the clock. In 2010, there were more than 4,500 fatal occupational injuries nationwide. North Carolina reported 134 worker deaths, an increase from the previous year.

Incidents related to fire and explosions at work were increased significantly in the number of deaths reported from 113 in 2009 to 187 last year. Fires and explosions can occur in just about any work environment when combustible dust ignites or safety precautions are not taken to prevent electrical fires.

Homicidal incidents are another type of fatal work injury that most industries should be concerned with as there were over 500 cases reported in 2010. Female workers reported 13 percent more homicidal incidents in 2010 when compared to reported incidents in 2009. Healthcare workers, retail workers, convenience store workers and police officers are a few of the workers that face considerable danger and may experience a fatal homicidal incident at work if they go unprotected by a business owner or employment agency.

Transportation incidents were the leading cause of death for North Carolina workers in 2010. There were a total of 43 work fatalities related to transportation incidents in North Carolina and 1,766 deaths nationwide. Sadly, 40 percent of fatal work injuries nationwide in 2010 were related to transportation incidents.

Employees hired on a short-term or long-term basis must be formally trained to reduce the number of fatal incidents related to fires and explosions, transportation, homicides or other work-related tragedies. Employers who fail to train workers can and should be held accountable for their negligence.

Continue reading "Untrained Seasonal Employees at Risk of Work Injuries in Charlotte, Elsewhere " »

December 12, 2011

Backhoe Accident at South Carolina Construction Site Kills 18-Year-Old From Charlotte


A teenage worker from Charlotte was recently killed in a backhoe accident at a South Carolina construction site. The Republic reports the 18-year-old was working at the future site of the Giordana Velodrome, a 250-meter track with embankments measuring as steep as 40-degrees. The construction worker, employed by Indian Trail-based Kempf Contracting, was injured and taken to Piedmont Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead. South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are conducting an investigation into the cause of death and the events surrounding the accident.
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Workers' compensation lawyers in Asheville, Winston-Salem and throughout North Carolina know that many workers risk their lives daily while performing their work tasks, especially in the construction industry. Employers must be vigilant about training young workers or new hires on how to operate certain equipment to avoid a preventable accident at work.

A high percentage of construction jobs require workers to operate large pieces of machinery. Operators of heavy equipment should be required by their employer to take annual Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety training. Any worker who is not trained on how to operate a backhoe or other large piece of equipment safely is at considerable risk of injury, and the employer can be fined for company negligence when an accident occurs.

Beyond crucial training on how to operate construction equipment, there are some things that backhoe operators should keep in mind while they perform their daily work tasks. Backhoe operators should always check the equipment for proper functioning before starting a task. Check the equipment to make sure lights and signals are functioning properly, as well as connections, tires and guards are tight and ready for safe operation. Anything that is not in working order should be repaired before starting the engine. Backhoe operators should always check their surroundings before they begin a task. This includes checking the area for obstacles or other workers who might be trying to complete a task at the same time.

Additional backhoe safety tips include:

-Park backhoes on level ground as opposed to an incline or slope. Make sure to lower the backhoe and bucket to the ground. Always block the wheels, take the key out of the ignition and engage the parking brake when leaving at the end of the day.

-Workers are at risk of being crushed when the backhoe moves upward, so always make sure the hitch lock-down device is in place.

-Know the location of underground cables, water pipes, or gas lines before you start digging. A signal person can help determine obstacles and help you avoid contact while you are digging.

-Reduce speed of the machinery while operating to avoid rollover accidents.

-Make sure other workers steer clear from the backhoe swing area.

-Keep the weight of the machine balanced while working on slopes.

Continue reading "Backhoe Accident at South Carolina Construction Site Kills 18-Year-Old From Charlotte" »

December 10, 2011

North Carolina Workplace Accident Kills Retired Farmer at Cotton Gin Warehouse


A family man from Trenton was killed in a workplace accident at a North Carolina cotton gin warehouse recently after taking a second job to earn extra money for Christmas gifts. WCTI 12 reports there were no witnesses, but family members are speculating that a large cotton bale fell on the 62-year-old man while operating or working near a forklift at the Jones County warehouse.
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Gastonia workers' compensation lawyers know that when worker safety does not take precedent at a work site, serious and fatal accidents can happen. Large machinery and farm equipment present many dangers, especially when employers don't take the initiative to provide workers with proper training on how to operate them safely.

We posted recently on our North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers Blog that the fatality rate in the farming industry in 2009 was 24.7 deaths per 100,000 workers. In many cases, overturned tractors or farm equipment is a common cause of death for farmers.

According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, the Agriculture Safety and Health Bureau conducted 76 farming industry compliance inspections in 2010. More than 60 percent of the inspections resulted in citations. In 2010, a total of $73,025 in penalties was issued in North Carolina as a result of 182 violations in agriculture safety and health.

In the Trenton incident, the retired farmer was conscious when help arrived but he suffered from a traumatic injury with severe lacerations to his head, face and left side. He was taken to Lenoir Memorial Hospital by ambulance and later transported by helicopter to Pitt County Memorial Hospital where he died following surgery. The incident is under investigation by the North Carolina Department of Labor.

Administrative records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) do not indicate any previous worker safety violations or citations at the cotton gin warehouse since its opening in 1998. The warehouse employs 50 to 99 workers and nets $10 to $20 million in revenue annually.

The Department of Environmental Health and Safety at Iowa State University offer these safety tips to farmers while operating large farm equipment:

-Never attempt to operate equipment without being trained or reading the operator's manual.

-Wear protective equipment like heavy gloves or boots, eye or ear protection, and overalls that fit properly.

-Most farm equipment is meant for one person so never carry or transport a passenger on sprayers, combines, tractors, fork lifts or other types of equipment.

-All farm machinery should come equipped and never be operated without protective safety guards.

-Only operate a tractor equipped with Roll-over Protective Structures.

-Falling Object Protective Structures should always come equipped on front-end loaders or other farming equipment that present a hazard for falling debris or struck-by accidents.

-Develop a system of hand gestures when using loud machinery that allows you to communicate with other workers in a safe manner.

-Kill the engine when leaving a piece of machinery sitting stationary, especially when checking a maintenance problem or cleaning out a clogged area. Engage the brakes and remove the keys at the end of the workday.

-Drive at an appropriate speed for the task you are performing and never operate farm equipment under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Continue reading "North Carolina Workplace Accident Kills Retired Farmer at Cotton Gin Warehouse" »

December 7, 2011

Solar Power Safety a Concern for 'Green' Workers in South Carolina, Nationwide


In the news recently was the announcement of the opening of the newest Boeing Co. factory in Charleston, S.C. The Post and Courier reports that within the next few months, the new Interiors Responsibility Center will begin to manufacture, integrate and install the insides for Boeing 787 Dreamliners made in South Carolina. The Boeing plant is considered one of the first one-stop-shops for Boeing 787's where the interior components will be built and installed all in one factory.
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Creating a safe work environment and worker safety inside the building is not the only thing our Spartanburg workers' compensation lawyers are concerned about. The new factory also made headlines for being the largest installation for rooftop solar energy in this part of the country. We know that the installation and maintenance of solar and wind power energy sources on a building or rooftop can be every bit as dangerous as working around machines and large plane parts inside the building.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the installation of photovoltaic panels on the Boeing Co. plant began back in May and was recently completed in October by workers at South Carolina Electric & Gas. The array on the roof can generate enough solar energy to power 250 homes, which is approximately 2.6-megawatts of power. The 14-acre roof (equivalent to roughly 8 football fields) is covered by more than 18,000 thin film solar panels. Officials at South Carolina Electric & Gas report renewable energy sources like bio-fuels will provide the remaining source of power needed to energize the Boeing plant.

Green energy is important in preserving a healthy and safe environment for our future but it doesn't come without certain risks for workers injured by solar power accidents in Greensboro and throughout the country. Workers in the solar energy industry are exposed to electrical hazards that can lead to electrocution and arc-flash hazards.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, workers are at risk of severe burns or electric shocks when installing panels for solar energy. They are also at risk of fall accidents because it typically requires working at elevated levels or on top of slanted or flat roofs well above ground level.

Employers are required to develop hazard prevention and control methods in order to prevent workplace injuries and create a safe environment for their workers. Worker training requirements are outlined in OSHA's Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Standard.

All workers in the electric power industry must be provided with personal protective equipment, which includes face shields, hard hats, protective glasses, safety shoes, flame-resistant clothing and insulated rubber gloves with leather protectors. Workers should also be provided with insulating protective equipment such as rubber-lined hoses, blankets and hoods, and fiberglass or phenolic barriers.

Though the number of work-related solar incidents is difficult to gauge, it is still a rising concern for workers' compensation attorneys in North Carolina and nationwide. Natural energy sources can create a safer living environment for the public, so as the industry continues to grow employers must take the necessary safety precautions to keep workers safe in a dangerous work environment.

Continue reading "Solar Power Safety a Concern for 'Green' Workers in South Carolina, Nationwide " »

December 5, 2011

Machinery Accidents Common Cause of Injury or Death in North Carolina Farming Industry


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Farm workers in North Carolina are at risk of many dangerous hazards while they perform their job. Training these seasonal workers how to operate large farming equipment, how to avoid suffocation or dust explosion in a grain bin, how to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals or how to prevent heat illness is critical in preventing work injuries from farming accidents in Hickory, Statesville or elsewhere.
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Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that farm worker advocates are asking state officials in North Carolina to do more to prevent serious injuries and death in the farming industry. Many gathered in Raleigh recently for Day of the Dead which is symbolic in remembering those who have lost their lives while working on a farm. Supporters gathered to remember two workers who were killed in the field while harvesting in August. One worker was pulled into a large piece of machinery while trying to clear a tobacco clog. There have also been several North Carolina farmers die from heat stroke since 2005.

Gastonia workers' compensation attorneys know that the farming industry is particularly dangerous for young workers because many farms are a family business where youth workers live and work right on the premises. Migrant workers also live and share the work right on the premises on many family farms that hire seasonal workers needed to harvest the crop in a timely manner.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported almost 1.8 million laborers were employed in agriculture in 2009. There were 440 farmers or farm workers who lost their lives on the job in 2009, which equated to a fatality rate of 24.7 deaths per 100,000 workers. It is estimated that over 1 million children under age 20 lived on a farm in 2009, of which more than half performed work duties during harvesting season. In addition, 230,000 youth were hired outside the family to work in the farming industry.

From 1995-2002, it is estimated that 113 young workers died from a farm-related injury; 34 percent were between the ages of 16-19 years old. The most common causes of deaths were machinery accidents, transportation accidents (involving ATVs) or drowning.
Overall, there were more than 9,000 farm workers or farmers who died from an injury sustained at work from 1992 to 2009. Each year during this period, an average of 90 deaths were from overturned tractors which was the leading cause of death for these workers. It is important to note that five percent of the 243 workers in agriculture injured daily suffer from permanent impairment.

The U.S. Department of Labor offers these farm safety tips to workers:
-Develop awareness for hazardous chemicals and toxins on the farm, as well as, machinery hazards. Employees should always be trained in how to prevent farming accidents related to illness or injury.
-Read and follow instructions on the owner's manual for operating large equipment.
-Never operate farm machinery without the safe guards in place. The guards are meant to protect and reduce the risk of serious injury.
-Only perform job duties when necessary personal protective equipment is provided by your employer.

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