June 30, 2013

General Worker Health: Managing Pain Prescriptions


Proper training, equipment, and safety precautions are necessary to prevent workplace injury. While preventing accidents in the workplace is critical, the general well-being of employees can also help to create a safe and healthy work environment.

The National Safety Council launched its Employee Wellness Week this month to promote safe behaviors that can prevent injury and death. The agency is seeking to promote educated decisions with regard to general health and well-being.

Many people do not consider their health or well-being until they have an illness or injury. Overall health means taking care of your body, having regular check-ups, and avoiding harmful behaviors. Knowing good behavioral practices can ensure that you keep your mind and body healthy. This promotes overall well-being at home and in the workplace. Our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers also know that general employee wellness can often be overlooked. We are dedicated to helping the NSC promote safety and the general health of employees.

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Every day, we make important decisions that will affect our overall health. When you wake up in the morning, you could choose to eat eggs and bacon or a piece of fruit. You could opt to ride your bike to work or drive a car. During the workday, you could choose to eat a salad or a cheeseburger.The choices we make have the ability to impact our bodies, intellect, and emotional well-being affecting our performance at home and at work.

In addition to eating well and getting appropriate exercise, employers and employees should also be aware of any drug or alcohol habits that could affect health and mindfulness. According to the NSC, the use of prescription pain medication has reached epidemic levels in the United States. Every day, there are 45 people who die of an overdose of prescription pain medication. This is a shocking statistic that should make regular users question their intake and habits.

If you are prescribed a painkiller, you should take additional precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. You medications should be kept in their original containers and stored out of sight and away from children. If you have finished with your prescription or you have decided that you no longer need a prescription, you should make sure any leftover pills are properly disposed. This can prevent theft or abuse of your old medications. If a doctor has given you a prescription, you should know the proper dose and only take your medication as it has been prescribed.

The NSC is reaching out to organizations, communities and the general public to disseminate important information about health and to effectively reduce the damage of prescription abuse and addiction. If someone you love is suffering from an addiction, you should seek appropriate resources.

Remember that the decisions you make now can have long-term impact on your overall health. Employers as well as employees should be aware of behavioral patterns that could impact workplace safety. If you have questions about your health or healthy habits, you should consult with your doctor. Promoting general health in the workplace can also prevent future illness and injuries.

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June 30, 2013

Occupational Disease and Chemical Exposure Can Go Ignored


OSHA is charged with making sure that a workplace is safe for employees.

It is often true that both OSHA and state workplace safety enforcement agencies focus heavily on accidental injury to the detriment of preventing occupational disease and illness. North Carolina has been recognized as a state with a high incidence of both injury and accidental death. Our Spartanburg workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of occupational disease and illness.

According to a recent report published in honor of Memorial Day by the National Council on Occupational Health and Safety, Federal OSHA rules and enforcement focus almost exclusively on safety conditions and hazards that may result in falls and other immediate bodily injury. Focusing on accidental injury ignores some of the other serious hazards in the workplace including toxic substances that can result in loss of vision, burns, permanent brain damage and death.

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Recent headlines have pointed to a North Carolina operation that manufactured cushions using a highly toxic chemical known as n-propyl bromide (or nPB). Where OSHA has the ability to regulate workplace conditions for safety to prevent falls, fires equipment injuries and other accidents, it has no standards to limit exposure to the chemical nPB. When workers at the plant were exposed to the chemical, they were made sick and many of those suffered permanent injury and disability.

Despite reports that the chemical was causing serious harm to workers, the North Carolina OSHA agency failed to take any action to prevent additional injury. According to a local physical who treated the poisonous workers said that many were unable to stand on their own. They had to be supported by family members. Even when the company lost employees to disability and the disease, they continued to hire additional workers without any oversight from the government.

While OSHA is responsible for ensuring workers have safe and healthy working conditions, the North Carolina cushion plant story illustrates that the agency is failing. In this case, OSHA had inspected the agency over the course of several years. Even finding exposure, it only fined the company modestly and saw no changes after the inspection. Workers continued to fall prey to the exposure to toxic nPB.

In addition to occupational hazards such as accidental injury or fall, workers, employers and government agencies should be more aware of the potential for occupational disease and illness that can be attributed to toxic exposure and hazards. Employees are also at risk of permanent damage to sight or hearing.

An occupational disease is any chronic ailment caused by work or occupational activities. Many instances of occupational disease are discovered after more than one employee fall victim to the disease or illness. Examples of occupational disease include lung disease or asbestos poisoning, black lung, or occupational asthma. Employees have been known to contract skin diseases, including eczema when exposed to certain chemicals in industries like catering, healthcare, printing, construction, mechanics or hair styling. Other forms of occupational disease include Carpal tunnel syndrome and lead poisoning.

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June 26, 2013

Public Sector Workers Risk Injury and Death for Citizens


In the eyes of public safety groups and legislators, employees at private companies face greater risks than public employees. While a significant amount of attention attention is paid to the safety of workers in the private sector, public workers can often go ignored. OSHA and North Carolina government agencies are charged with keeping private employers in line; however, public employees face significant dangers while on the job. Firefighters, law enforcement, road side crews and other public service workers are risking their lives every day.

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Every worker faces different risks depending on their duties and tasks. Construction workers risk falls, industrial workers may risk chemical exposure, oil industry workers may risk fire and explosion. Public employees are often responsible for handling dangerous jobs intended to keep citizens safe from harm. This means that every day, these public employees are at risk of accidents, injuries, and even violence. Our Spartanburg workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of all workers and can help public employees protect their rights.

It is a false conception that public workers face fewer dangers than those working in private industry. While workers for private construction companies, contractors, factors, or in other industrial settings face many hazards, there are different risks for public employees. According to recent reports, published by the National Council on Occupational Health and Safety, there were at least 8 public service workers who lost their lives in North Carolina in 2012. Dangerous public sector jobs include police officers, firefighters, road crews, school employees, emergency personnel, and employees working for state parks. These dedicated workers are often putting their own lives at risk to protect the general public.

Public employees are often acting to protect public citizens, which can put them at risk. They face an exceptionally high rate of injury and fatality on the job. A significant number of public employees die in highway or vehicle accidents. Last year, four employees of the North Carolina Department of Transportation were killed in motor vehicle accidents. These deaths are a reminder that all motorists should take greater care when traveling through construction and work zones. Department of Transportation crews are facing additional dangers because of distracted driving related to cell phones and other hand held devices.

Policymakers and legislators must take the necessary steps to ensure public worker safety in North Carolina. This requires having a specific understanding of the kinds of risk faced by public employees. These employees face the threat of injury, illness and death and must be protected with the same efforts as private employees. Public workers should be properly trained and have the same protections as private workers.

Like employees in the private sector, public service workers are entitled to workers compensation in the event of an accident. If you are a service worker and have been injured while on the job, remember that you do have options and you do have rights. An experienced attorney can investigate your case and pursue just compensation on your behalf. In addition to workers' compensation, you may also be entitled to financial compensation in the event of third-party negligence. Families of victims are also entitled to compensation after a public employee's death.

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June 24, 2013

North Carolina Under-Reporting Work-Related Deaths


Both the state and the federal government have an interest in tracking workplace accidents, injuries and death. In addition to using data to create safer workplaces and enhance regulations, the data can also be useful in determining where employers may be taking shortcuts. Recent reports indicate that there are more North Carolina workers dying on the job than the state is reporting.

Workplace safety is increasingly under scrutiny since the industrial disaster in West, Texas killed 15 and left hundreds injured. Factories, construction sites, and other industrial work sites are notoriously dangerous for employees. Employers as well as government agencies are accountable for protecting workers from such grave violations and preventable accidents. Our Charlotte workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to helping prevent workplace injury and protecting the rights of employees in North Carolina.

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According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, there were 53 work fatalities in 2011. The Department of Labor manages its own statistics on workplace accidents and reports that the number is closer to 150, based on a recent report from the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health. It is not surprising that states have an incentive to keep reporting rates low. A high incidence of work-related death could be indicative of non-compliance or in an inability to manage workplace safety. This could leave state agencies open to intervention by the federal government to ensure compliance with OSHA laws.

The North Carolina Department of Labor only reports workplace deaths that the agency has the authority to investigate. Alternatively, the federal BLS report includes accidents that are not under state jurisdiction. Accidents and injuries that are not reported by North Carolina, include accidents involving transportation and workplace violence deaths. Conveniently, the state claims that since it does not investigate the claims, it's not able to claim them as work-related accidents. This means that the number of employees who die in work-related accidents is significantly underreported.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that there were 19 workers killed in 2011 on the job due to violent acts in North Carolina. OSHA has reported that the average fine imposed by North Carolina OSHA for a serious violation (including serious bodily harm to an employee) was only $1,309.95. This is an insignificant amount for many large companies; even with they are fined for repeat violation. When OSHA investigates a violation, it's able to fine up to $7,000 for a serious violation. Usually companies are fined much less than this, even in the event of a fatality.

If someone you love died in a work-related accident, you do have options and rights. An immediate investigation can help determine the cause of the accident and hold responsible individuals or entities accountable. One way to prevent work-related accidents is to closely track the type of injury or accident and to create preventative measures in the future. It is important that both federal and state agencies accurately report the number of deaths to ensure that employers are held accountable. Companies that have a high incidence of work-related death could also be fined for repeat offenses and violations of state or federal regulations.

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June 23, 2013

Employers Helping Prepare For Carolina Wildfires


Wildfires are common natural disasters that can spread very quickly. They can spread even quicker when conditions are dry. Educating workers about the risks associated with wildfires can wind up saving lives and saving businesses.
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That's why officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have designated web resources to help businesses prepare and recover from wildfires.

Our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers understand that preparation is one of the most important steps a company can take to help prevent disaster. One of the most important things to have is an evacuation plan. When you have one in place before a fire strikes, you can help to avoid confusion and to prevent injuries.

A good wildfire evacuation plan should include:

-Make sure everyone understands and can recognize the conditions that will put this plan into effect.

-Make sure you've got a chain of command.

-Be sure that each emergency function is mapped out, including who is in charge of performance.

-Include procedures for accounting for personnel, customers and visitors.

-And you should frequently review this plan with your workers. It's not going to work if people don't understand (or can't remember) it.

When a fire comes and goes, it's time to cleanup. In the aftermath, employees may be involved in a variety of response and recovery operations. Some operations, such as utility restoration, cleaning up spills of hazardous materials as well as search and rescue, should only be conducted by workers who have the proper training, equipment and experience.

When cleaning up and recovering from a wild fire, workers need to be on the lookout for electrical hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning, lifting injuries, heavy equipment accidents, extreme heat, unstable structures, hazardous materials, additional fires, confined spaces, worker fatigue, respiratory problems, downed electrical wires and slip, trip and fall accidents.

These issues are very real here in the Carolinas. Remember back in March when there were about 60 wildfires that broke out in South Carolina because of the low humidity mixed with high winds? In one instance, the fire completely destroyed 100 condo units. During that time, officials with the South Carolina Forestry Commission issued a Red Flag Fire Weather Alert for the entire state. In some municipalities, that meant a ban on outdoor burning.

Check with your employer today if you're not aware of a plan to address wildfires, because the truth of the matter is that you have the right to a safe workplace. You have the right under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). This was the act that was passed to help to prevent employees from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers.

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June 21, 2013

Carolina Employee Safety in the Face of Natural Disaster


Tornadoes can come out of the sky with little to no warning. That's why it's important that we take all of the proper safety precautions to make sure we're ready when they do hit. Some of these important precautions including learning the warning signs, having an emergency plan in place, keeping an eye on the weather and monitoring the watches and warnings. These steps can help to make sure that you're safe regardless of where you are -- even if you're at work.
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Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have developed web resources to help ensure that companies, business owners and workers are prepared and ready for when a tornado strikes. The webpage has also been designed to help companies get back on their feet after one of these natural disasters.

Our Rock Hill workers' compensation attorneys understand that it is critical for each business to have an emergency plan in place. Workers should know where to take shelter in the event of a tornado, ways to make sure that everyone is accounted for and procedures to address any dangerous materials that may be on the work site. It's not a bad idea to take these tornado disaster plans home with you to help to make sure that everyone in your family is safe, too.

A tornado is a column of violently rotating air, spawned by a thunderstorm, which is connected from the thunderstorm cloud to the ground. It often appears funnel shaped or as a column of debris. These phenomenons are one of nature's most violent storms. They can even reach over 250 mph. Tornadoes are a threat to human life and responsible for millions of dollars worth of property damage each year in South Carolina.

Even if you make it out of a tornado safely, you're going to have to take the proper safety steps to recover. Employees can face some serious dangers during this time, including the risks for even more storms, downed power lines and and dangerous debris. Employees should be cautious of the dangers that accompany heat stress and from equipment that is used during these recover operations (like generators). You're going to have to make sure that everyone is taking the proper safety precautions to avoid any additional disasters.

In the aftermath of a tornado, employees may be involved in a variety of response and recovery operations. While workers can participate in many of these operations, there are some operations, such as utility restoration, cleaning up spills of hazardous materials, and search and rescue, which should only be conducted by workers who have the proper training, equipment and experience.

Employer Responsibilities:

-Be sure that each worker is provided a safe workplace.

-Make sure that employees are protected from any possible hazards affiliated with these kinds of storms, in addition to on-the-job dangers.

-Make sure that workers are protect while engaging in recovery work.

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June 19, 2013

North Carolina Work Fatalities on the Rise


According to the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL), there were close to 25 workers killed on the job in North Carolina during the 2013 Fiscal Year (through May of 2013).
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To no surprise, the number one industry for these fatalities was the construction industry. Our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers understand construction workers face some of the most dangerous hazards. They're faced with falls, motor-vehicle accidents, struck by, electrocution and excavation accidents. There are many other health risks on these job sites, including noise, solvents, asbestos and more.

Preventing Falls:

-Before starting, make sure that each worker has the materials they need to complete the job safely. This especially includes safety equipment. Be sure to include the cost of this safety equipment when estimating job costs.

-Make sure that everyone is properly trained on all equipment. Employees must be trained in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment they'll be using on the job.

Crane Safety:

-Make sure these devices are only operated by trained personnel.

-Never exceed the load chart capacity while making lifts.

-Make sure that everyone is following manufacturer's instructions during operation.

-Be sure that all equipment is inspected before use.

-Make sure that cranes are always used on smooth and flat surfaces.

Motor Vehicle Safety:

-Be aware that vehicle-related incidents are consistently the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States.

-Make sure that workers are not using their cell phones or text messaging devices behind the wheel.

-Every employer whose workers drive on the job should have a comprehensive motor vehicle safety program. The program should provide clear policies, promote safe driving, and ensure that vehicles are maintained in a safe condition.

-Never allow drivers to exceed the Hours-of-Service Regulations.

Electrocution Safety:

-Always use the proper tools for every job.

-Make sure that equipment is isolated from energy sources.

-Make sure that every conductor and circuit is tested before operation.

-Wear protective clothing and equipment and use insulated tools in areas where there are possible electrical hazards.

-Make sure that all conductors and circuits are de-energized before beginning work.

Excavation Safety:

-Remember that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has standards in place that require that trenches be inspected each and every day and even as conditions change. They must be inspected by a competent person before a worker enters to ensure elimination of excavation hazards.

-Make sure that ladders, ramps, steps or other safe means of exit are available to workers who are working in trench excavations of 4 feet or more.

If you have been injured on the job, it's critical for you to go after the compensation for the injuries and damages that you deserve. Workers' compensation provides for payment of medical expenses, including hospital and rehabilitation services, medication and travel. In some instances, you may also be entitled to future medical expenses and lost wages.

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June 16, 2013

Misclassification: North Carolina Proposes New Penalties for Employers


Employee rights have developed over centuries to protect workers financially, physically, and from other abuses that may result from employers or companies taking advantage of power. While the legal rights of workers have developed, employers continue to find loopholes to make a profit and put workers at a disadvantage. One way that workers may lose rights is when they are misclassified by an employer.

Construction workers, factory workers, and other skilled laborers may find themselves signing an "Independent Contractor" arrangement, even when they are actually a bona fide employee. Unfortunately, many workers do not realize that they are signing away their rights until it is too late. Though contracts can be binding, "Employee" versus "Independent Contractor" status is determined by law and the courts, not an agreement established by an employer. Our Charlotte workers' compensation attorneys are experienced in the complexities of workers' compensation law and are dedicated to helping protect employee rights.

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One primary difference between an "Independent Contractor" and an "Employee" is that an employee is entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Employers will intentionally misclassify employees for several reasons. First of all, they do not have to pay workers' compensation insurance. Companies and single employers also avoid various taxes and can avoid a number of other legal obligations that they would otherwise have to an employee.

Courts base classification on the degree of control the employer has involving the manner and method of work. Misclassification of employees is not difficult because it usually isn't challenged until an employee is in need of workers' compensation or other benefits. Many employees don't realize that they do not have the correct status until they are facing a dispute with an employer who avoided taxes and failed to pay insurance.

Some legislators are suggesting that companies should face criminal prosecution and that civil penalties should be increased for such misclassifications. Other ways to discourage misclassification would be to create a statutory definition of employment. For example, in Germany, any employee who makes more than 82% of their wages from one party is technically an employee and cannot have "Independent Contractor" or freelancer status. This broadens the security gap for employees who are solely dependent on one employer for income. Some workers' rights advocates are also proposing that legislators revoke the licenses of perpetrators or consider workers' compensation for all employees.

A new bill will require employers to notify employees of their work classification in writing. At least workers who are classified as "Independent Contractors" will be aware of their status in advance and can contest any terms that they disagree with. The bill also increases punishments for those who practice fraud and wage theft.

Workers' compensation is a program intended to protect workers and their families in the event of an injury, illness or work-related accidental death. Unlike personal injury claims, employees do not have to prove negligence; however claims are limited to medical expenses and lost wages. Employees who are denied benefits may be able to file third-party negligence claims. The North Carolina bill would protect workers and ensure that companies and employers are compelled to compliance.

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June 14, 2013

Southern States Have More Workplace Fatalities


Federal and state agencies as well as workers' rights groups will calculate and assess the number of workplace injuries and fatalities every year. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine by the RAND Corporation, counterintuitive results in work-injury cases reveal that states with more comprehensive safety efforts have fewer fatal accidents. Our North Carolina workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to representing workers who have suffered non-fatal injuries and the families of fatal workplace accident victims.

Analysis of data shows that states that report low numbers of nonfatal injuries also have higher rates of fatal injury. Also, the data works in reverse, revealing that states with low fatality rates also have higher numbers of nonfatal injuries. Researchers found that states in the South, including North and South Carolina, had lower non-fatality injury rates and high fatality rates. These states also had lower worker compensation benefits packages and tended to have fewer rights for workers. In these states, workers collected less pay and were less likely to have union power.

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Conversely, states with high non-fatality injuries and lower fatality rates were in the West. In these states, workers collected higher pay, benefits, and wages. They also tended to be more unionized and were more likely to carry out safety inspections in the workplace. The study looked at data collected between 2003 and 2008 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The authors of the study were comparing fatal and non-fatal injuries by state. According to the report, workers in the construction industry have the highest rate of fatalities.

Individuals responsible for the RAND study were surprised at this relationship between fatal and non-fatal injuries. The study seems to suggest that the scope of benefits may impact the rates of fatality. Interestingly, the states with the highest number of non-fatal injuries and the lowest number of fatalities were in the West. Arizona, Main, Oregon, Washington, California and Wisconsin had the highest number of non-fatal injuries and the lowest number of fatalities. Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas had the highest number of fatalities and the lowest number of non-fatal injuries.

The researchers were surprised that the data was inversely related, concluding that the more extensive the workers' compensation benefits package, the higher reports of non-fatal injuries. This may mean that workers are able to file claims for non-fatal injuries more easily and with less hassle. States with higher fatality rates and reduced benefits packages may make filing non-fatal injury claims more challenging. Essentially, the benefits packages create an incentive for workers to report injuries.

The authors admit that workers' compensation may not be the only factor in the report of injuries. Each state has its own agency to enforce OSHA regulations and many state programs deviate from the federal programs. Every state has different requirements for wages and a different culture regarding compliance.

Ultimately, the study reveals that where a worker is injured can impact their ability to seek care and collect benefits. The findings also suggest that states reporting low non-fatality injuries and high fatality rates are likely underreporting the number of injuries that occur on worksites.

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June 10, 2013

Occupational Hearing Loss and Workers' Compensation


Excessive noise is a widely known hazard for workers that can result in temporary or permanent hearing damage. While the affects of loud noise in the workplace are already known, employers must continue to cultivate defenses to protect the well being of workers. Any worker who has suffered hearing damage while performing work-related duties is entitled to compensation.

Specific legal requirements exist in South Carolina and nationwide to prevent permanent hearing loss caused by excessive noise. Employers are responsible for identifying the levels of noise in their workplace, when using certain machinery or equipment, or when performing specific job duties. After the levels of noise are identified, employers must take necessary preventative action to prevent hearing loss. Our Charlotte workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to helping employees pursue recovery for hearing loss sustained at work.

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Research on hearing loss caused by long term exposure to noise has been studied since the 18th century. Since then additional scientific research has revealed what levels of noise create the greatest risk of hearing damage. Long-term studies have proven that there is a direct link between work and occupational noise-induced hearing loss (ONIHL)

Workers in industrial or construction settings are at the highest risk of noise injury. In addition employees who work at clubs, bars, restaurants, or at concert venues may also be at risk of hearing loss. Scientific evidence also suggests that the regular use of personal devices including iPods and iPhones or MP3 players can also create the risk of hearing damage.

To prevent hearing loss in environments of excessive noise, employers and businesses must often consult with healthcare professionals, including Occupational Hazard nurses. An OH nurse has a pivotal role in helping to prevent workplace injuries by identifying risks and developing preventative measures to protect workers. In a recent article, OH nurses are described as critical to helping guide employers, regulators, and other individuals and entities responsible for worker safety.

An employer who has knowledge of excessive noise exposure in the workplace should consult with an OH nurse to implement noise reduction and noise control policies and procedures. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, employers are responsible for protecting the hearing of their employees. Employers must consult with professional experts who can analyze noise hazards. Once risks are identified, employers must provide appropriate defense equipment and disseminate information to workers to avoid excessive exposure to noise. In some cases, noise levels are so high that workers should not be exposed at all.

Occupational Hazard nurse are often called upon to assess noise in the workplace and to give instruction to employers and employees. This requires nurses to have a specific understanding of an industry so that applicable policies can be implemented in the workplace. The legal duty to understand and prevent noise exposure gives many employers the incentive to hire outside experts.

Hearing loss or deafness caused by occupational exposure is a disease recognized by the disability benefit system and the workers' compensation system. Victims of noise exposure and hearing loss should consult with an experienced expert as soon as hearing damage is recognized.

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June 7, 2013

Random Inspections Proven Successful in Protecting Workers


It's a fact -- random workplace inspections help to improve workplace safety.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), many companies were arguing that these random inspections were doing nothing more than driving up costs. But according to scientists, this study should be used to further create regulation and inspection plans to make workplaces across the country safer for everyone.
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Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that most workplace inspections are completed by officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Some of them are done by state-approved OSHA agencies. Unfortunately, these inspections are mostly conducted on companies or industries that have high accident rates, instead of being done at random. When an accident happens, OSHA officials step in to investigate. After these inspections however, accident rates typically drop back down to where they were before. But are the rates dropping because of the inspection or because of the alertness caused by the recently-reported accident?

To help get to the bottom of this, economists with the University of California and Boston University looked for various workplaces that had undergone inspection from 1996 to 2009. An equal amount had been inspected and not inspected. All of these companies produced "fabricated metal" materials. Of the 409 companies selected, researchers found that the random inspections did in fact weigh heavily on the safety of workers and the reduction of accident reports.

Within the companies that were randomly selected, the number of workplace injuries dropped by about 9 percent in the following 4 years. The companies that were not inspected saw virtually no reducing in the number of workplace accidents and injuries.

With this drop in accidents, the companies saw a drop in the costs resulting from missed work and various medical treatments -- by more than 25 percent. This concluded that random inspections will actually help companies to save more money in the long run.

But just to make sure, researchers looked to see if these inspections have any effect on sales, total earnings, employment or the survival of the company. And reports indicate that there was no effect at all.

It's all there in black and white: Random workplace inspections can help to keep workers safe, help to reduce the number of on-the-job accidents and can help companies to save money along the way. This is a win-win situation for everyone.

Each and every day, there are roughly 13 on-the-job fatalities in the U.S. In 2011, there were more than 4,600 people killed in the job. Although this is the third lowest annual total since the fatal injury census was first conducted in 1992, we're still far from where we need to be.

According to OSHA, there are roughly 2,200 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers, employed at more than 8 million worksites around the nation--which translates to about one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers.

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June 1, 2013

Rising Heat Increasing South Carolina Work Injury Risks


We're seeing temps hit the 90s and workers are exposed to more rigorous work conditions as summer enters full swing. The truth of the matter is that heat illness can be deadly and it's a condition that we all need to take seriously. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are thousands of workers who get sick each year before they're overexposed to heat on the job. Some of these workers even die.
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Our Rock Hill workers' compensation attorneys understand that these illnesses and fatalities are completely preventable. But what is heat illness? According to OSHA, it's when sweating just isn't enough to combat overheating. Our bodies need to sweat to cool, when the temperatures are high, more needs to be done.

These measures need to be discussed in your workplace today!

Water

Employers need to make sure that workers are getting plenty of water to drink. This means that they should be provided with plenty of short breaks. Limiting time in the sun is a key factor in helping to prevent heat-related illnesses. It's important that you're getting plenty of water. Sports drinks are fine, but don't forget that H2O. Provide your workers with liquids to drink or remind them to bring their own to stay hydrated.

Rest

It's important that everyone has a chance to get acclimated to the heat. Start off by easing new employees into these work conditions. Provide them with plenty of rest time. The newer workers should be allowed more frequent breaks, too. A good idea is to schedule heavier work during the morning hours while it's still cool out. Save the lighter work for the middle of the day when the temps rise. Work/rest cycles give the body an opportunity to get rid of excess heat, slow down the production of internal body heat, slow down the heart rate, and provide greater blood flow to the skin.

Shade

It's important that you allow workers to stop and escape the sun occasionally. Getting out of the sun is important to keeping your body cool. Too much time in the sun increases workers' risks for all kinds of heat illnesses. Spending your resting time in a shaded, cool area is the best way reduce the risks for these kinds of injuries. Take cover under a tree, in the air condition or even in a vehicle or a trailer. Workers should also make sure that they're wearing the proper gear to help to keep them cool on the job. It might not be a fashion statement, but it can save lives.

Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Also, it's important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency and know what to do -- acting quickly can save lives!

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May 27, 2013

New OSHA Rule for Crane and Derrick Workers



The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency responsible for assessing worker conditions and issuing regulations to prevent injury or death. With a rise in construction worker injuries caused by cranes and derricks, the agency has issued a final rule that will apply the same safety standards relevant to demolition and underground construction work.

As construction workers know, every day at work poses a risk of serious accidents. Workers using cranes and derricks are at risk of falls, head injuries, back injuries, neck injuries and other risks associated with heavy machinery. Worker negligence, failed safety systems, improper safety equipment, and broken equipment can result in catastrophic injury and wrongful death. The new rule is intended to ensure that construction companies and employees follow safety standards to prevent these injuries or accidental death. Our Charlotte workers' compensation attorneys are experienced with cases involving OSHA violations and construction injuries.

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The application of the rule is intended to protect workers from the hazards associated with hoisting equipment during construction activities. According to a spokesperson for OSHA, the rule will ensure that construction workers in this sector have the same safety protections as those construction workers in other sectors. The agency believes that extending the rule to all construction workers will prevent lives and dangerous injuries in the construction industry.

While underground construction and demolition construction projects have different objectives and processes than projects involving cranes and derricks, workers doing both kinds of work face a number of risks and dangerous conditions. Creating one safety standard for all construction workers can help to avoid confusion for construction companies as well as workers. Knowing the safety standards and requirements will help to ensure that individuals and entities are held accountable for accidents and injuries.

Derricks and cranes are both heavy machinery used in lifting. They may be used at construction sites, oil rigs, or ships. They are commonly used in the construction industry and in the oil industry.

The final rule
will apply the same crane rules to underground construction and demolition, streamlining OSHA's standards across the board. Effectually, the implementation of this rule will eliminate the separation of the "cranes and derricks" standard from the "underground construction and demolition" standard. The new rule also makes adjustments to the old standards for underground construction and demolition.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe work environments for their employees. This means ensuring that equipment is properly maintained, that employees have appropriate safety equipment, and following safety training procedures. The role of the agency is to promote healthy and safe working conditions for America's working men and women be setting safety standards and enforcing those standards. OSHA promotes safety and enforces standards through education, training, assistance, and in holding employers accountable for violations.

Streamlining OSHA standards will also promote equity in the event of a workplace injury or workers' compensation claim. In the event of an accident or injury, OSHA investigators will be able to clearly identify any violations. The final rule will become effective May 23, 2013.

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May 25, 2013

New Legislation Aims to Bolster OSHA Role in Worker Safety


Many workers face dangerous conditions every day on the job. OSHA is the federal organization responsible for overseeing conditions in the workplace, for making sure workers are properly trained, equipment is maintained, and that companies are held liable in the event of an accident or injury. Companies who fail to meet guidelines and follow OSHA regulations can also be fined even if no accident or injury has occurred.

Our workplace accident attorneys have extensive experience in the investigation of workplace accidents and injuries. We know that OSHA plays an integral part in workplace safety and that any violation can be used as evidence of negligence in the event of a work-related injury.
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Some critics of OSHA have argued that the standards and requirements make hiring difficult and can kill job prospects. In the current economy, this kind of rhetoric can put workers at odds with an organization that has saved the lives of millions of workers. According to recent studies, OSHA inspections can actually save companies billions of dollars in workers' compensation costs, lost hours, and lost productivity that can occur after an accident or injury.

Conversely, unexamined work sites can create serious hazards and result in injury or death. Though occupational fatality rates have decreased since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, there is some evidence that workplace safety conditions have been on the decline. Recent reports indicate that job fatality rates have been essentially unchanged over the past three years.

Workers in certain industries face more dangerous conditions than in others. The fishing and logging industries have some of the highest fatality rates. Non-fatal injuries threaten workers in the fire safety and nursing fields. In any industry, companies must be scrutinized to ensure that workers are safe and to take every measure to avoid preventable injury or death. Data collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration indicates that there are approximately 13 deaths per day, non-including work-related illness.

After the recent fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas which killed 14 workers, OSHA as well as state and federal officials should be considering potential inspection failures that left workers vulnerable to such an accident. Initial investigations indicate that failure to enforce and regulate the plant created unsafe and dangerous working conditions. Worker advocates are urging members of Congress to pass the Protecting America's Workers Act to strengthen OSHA's role in worker safety.

With the high rates of accidents and injuries, it is important for companies and employees to make safety as a priority. Though OSHA inspections and regulations can make companies more accountable, workers continue to suffer serious and fatal injuries on the job. Work-related illness is also a serious threat to many workers that can cause health issues even into old age.

In the event of an accident or injury or work-related illness, it is important to consult with an experienced advocate who can successfully protect your rights and interests. An immediate investigation will identify the cause of the accident or injury and give you the documentation necessary to make workers' compensation claims and any additional third-party claims you are entitled to.

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May 20, 2013

Independent Contractor Workers' Comp and Third-Party Claims


The workers' compensation program is intended to help workers and their families quickly and effectively recover financial support after an accident or injury. While workers are not required to prove negligence or fault, recovery under the workers' comp program is limited to medical expenses and lost wages. Many workers are not aware that they may also be entitled to third-party injury claim. In addition, many independent contractors are not aware of their rights to recover under the workers' comp program or for third-party negligence.

Our North Carolina workers' compensation attorneys are experienced in handling a range of claims involving workers. Contractors and their loved ones should be aware of the full scope of opportunities they have to recover for all losses, including wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, long-term care needs, as well as wrongful death benefits. Our legal team will explore every opportunity to recover the full compensation you and your family deserve.
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Many companies are using contractors to avoid certain liabilities. In many ways, independent contractors do not have the same rights as workers. A contract is a worker employed by an agency or who is self-employed but working for another firm that exercises responsibility for the operations of the site. When a worker suffers a serious injury or is killed on-site, contractors and their family members may be entitled to recover workers' compensation. They may also be able to pursue additional benefits through third-party negligence claims.

Contractor fatal accidents may include falls, vehicle accidents, equipment failures, explosions, or fires. Any work-related accident, injury or death requires an immediate investigation to determine the cause of the accident and to identify responsible parties. Some cases may become more difficult if the injury involved a contractor at a private residence or a worker injured or killed at sites where a firm does not have overall responsibilities.

Immediately after an accident, an injured worker or their family should file appropriate claims. An experienced attorney can ensure that documentation is properly filed and that medical records are used to support that claim. An injured worker should continue to seek medical treatment and therapies, when available. In addition to filing workers' compensation claim, an attorney should investigate whether third-party claims are possible.

Third-party claims for contractors may involve a negligent contractor or sub-contract, equipment malfunction and product liability, auto accidents and defective parts or negligent drivers, and premises liability claims against property owners or maintenance companies. These cases can be complicated, but an experienced advocate can review your case and pursue the full compensation you and your family are entitled to.

Contractors are often victims of serious and permanent injury, including head and back injuries. In these cases, it may be necessary to recover additional compensation for long-term care and treatment. While these costs are not covered by the workers' compensation program, victims and their family may be entitled to pain and suffering as well as additional medical care costs. Our attorneys have extensive experience in handling complex workers' comp claims as well as personal injury claims.

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