November 28, 2012

Factory Fire Shines Light on Unsafe and Unfair Work Conditions


Wal-Mart is headquartered in Arkansas. There's a clothing factory in Bangladesh where products manufactured for the big-box giant are manufactured. A fire there recently killed 100 workers, many of them unrecognizable due to the severity of their injuries.

In the U.S., the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911 resulted in the implementation of the nation's first work-safety laws. In this accident, there were close to 150 workers who jumped to their deaths or were incinerated after they discovered that the exit doors of the building were locked. A very similar situation in Bangladesh -- at the Faded Glory factory -- happened recently.
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Wal-Mart may be off the hook in this particular incident because it had already severed services with the factory because of bad reports regarding its fire-safety provisions, but one of the suppliers in the company's very long supply chain decided to continue to subcontract the work.

Conditions at the factory were deemed in violation of Wal-Mart's policies, according to The Washington Post's Social Reader.

Our Rock Hill worker's compensation attorneys understand that Wal-Mart's production system is to hire as many workers as possible through contractors and subcontractors. These workers are to help to increase Wal-Mart's ability to keep prices low.

Still, American workers right here in our country are exposed to some of the same working conditions. There are some getting less than minimum wage and are forced to work in unsafe warehouses.

Logistics companies run these warehouses, many supplying employees through more than 200 temporary employment companies.

Last year, the state of California and the Department of Industrial Relations caught wind that many of these employees may have been cheated. As a result of an inspection, one of the logistics companies involved in these warehouses was charged for neglecting to provide workers with the proper pay stubs and other appropriate info for their pay. Wal-Mart wasn't charged in this case, but that's the beauty of its chain of deniability.

Some of these workers have been stepping up in recent weeks, speaking about the unfair treatment and their low wages. Many of these workers don't even have any kind of health benefits. On Black Friday, more than 1,000 Wal-Mart stores saw employees and advocates blocking off roadways and protesting the unfair treatment of the workers, according to Democracy Now. Here's another denial from the company: Wal-Mart pushed back, saying it knew of only a "few dozen" protests, and that most of the protesters were not its employees.

One of the largest of the protests across the country was in Paramount. Los Angeles officers even ended up arresting three people -- all Wal-Mart workers.

But Wal-Mart isn't taking any responsibility for either of these accidents or for any employee treatment. As the country's biggest private-sector employer, their emergency exits are always kept open!

Continue reading "Factory Fire Shines Light on Unsafe and Unfair Work Conditions" »

November 27, 2012

Winter & Storm Season Creates Risk for Workers Using Portable Generators


During the winter season, many workers will be required to use portable generators as part of their jobs. Portable generators may be used on construction sites or in emergency situations by disaster response teams. Portable generators are also used by homeowners, retail and commercial establishments in the event of power failure.

These generators provide power when people need it, but they also present some significant dangers.

Asheville workers' compensation attorneys urge employees who are working with portable generators in any capacity to exercise great care in their operation. It is also essential for employers to follow Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) guidelines to help reduce the risk that their employees will suffer injury. 1402897_high_voltage_towers.jpg

The Risks of Using a Generator
Generators can be dangerous in any environment, whether in a construction site or used to provide power during an outage after a storm. Some of the possible risks associated with portable generator use include:


  • The risk of electrocution or shock as a result of the generator's improper power use or as a result of other electrical systems being energized by the generator.

  • The risk of exposure to carbon monoxide from the exhaust of the generator .

  • The risk of fire due to the improper storage of generator fuel or due to errors or omissions during the refueling process.

These are just some of the risks that workers face when called upon to repair or operate a generator as part of their jobs. With a volatile mix of electric current and gas fuel sources, generators are undeniably dangerous unless you know how to use them and exercise caution at all times.

Safety Tips
Workers and employers both need to be aware of the proper work practices when using a generator. Employers need to have guidelines in place outlining best practices and they need to provide workers with the training and safety tools they need to use generators safely. Workers, likewise, need to follow the safety guidelines set forth and be cautious when operating the generator.

OSHA suggest some specific safe work practices that will also help to reduce the risk of a workplace accident resulting from the use of a portable generator. According to OSHA's guidelines for protecting yourself when using a portable generator:


  • Portable generators should always be inspected prior to use. They should be checked for loose fuel lines or for any damage that might have occurred while the generator was transported.

  • All manufacturer use and safety instructions should be followed when operating the generator.

  • The generator should never be directly connected to any type of electrical system unless a transfer switch has been properly installed and is in working order.

  • Any appliances plugged directly into the generator should be plugged in using cords supplied by the manufacturer. When extension cords are needed, they should be heavy-duty and undamaged.

  • The manufacturer instructions on the use of ground-fault circuit interrupters (CFCI's) must always be followed.

  • The generator should be shut down before refueling.

If these safety tips are followed each and every time a portable generator is used, the risk of workplace accidents may be reduced. If a workplace accident does occur as a result of generator use, the injured worker may be able to make a workers' compensation claim for benefits.

Continue reading "Winter & Storm Season Creates Risk for Workers Using Portable Generators" »

November 23, 2012

Keeping Tree Trimmers Safe from Carolina Work Accidents


In the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, many are considering the possibility that climate change is here to stay. Sandy is only one of many adverse weather events in recent years, and came approximately a year after a notable early October storm affected similar parts of the country.

With strange weather patterns and violent or early storms illustrating the damage that can be caused by trees near homes or buildings, more homeowners and commercial property owners may turn to tree trimmers to keep their space safe. 1404217_autumn_colors.jpg

Tree trimming can be a dangerous occupation and both workers and employers need to take proper safety steps to help maximize safety. Spartanburg workers compensation lawyers urge both tree trimmers and those hiring tree trimmers to brush up on the key safety rules and to always err on the side of caution.

Safety Tips for Property Owners
Property owners should keep trees pruned and properly maintained in order to minimize the risk of stray branches causing damage during a storm. When a storm does cause branches or trees to come down, homeowners should contact professional tree trimmers to resolve the issue.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides guidance for safe tree trimming. Their safety tips caution that all tree trimming work or tree removal work that occurs within ten feet of a power line should be done by line-clearance tree trimmers. OSHA also advises that a second tree trimmer should be present and within the range to communicate with the first trimmer using normal voice volume.

Safety Tips for Tree Trimmers
While employers of tree trimmers must follow safety precautions to help workers avoid workplace accidents, tree trimmers should also be aware of the safety precautions that they need to take when working in the field. OSHA tips for safe tree trimming and removal remind workers to:


  • Contact utility companies and request they de-energize, ground or shield power lines before tree trimming work begins.

  • Maintain proper minimum distances whenever working around energized power lines.

  • Exercise extreme caution when moving equipment and ladders around power lines and downed trees.

  • Avoid tree trimming during adverse weather conditions.

  • Survey work areas for potential hazards before beginning work and eliminate potential dangers.

  • Use equipment only if they have been properly trained in its use.

  • Use equipment only if it has been properly maintained.

  • Wear appropriate personal protective gear including safety glasses and hard hats.

  • Determine the felling direction of the tree and address issues if the tree is leaning.

  • Assess how much hinge wood is necessary to guide the tree when falling.

  • Carefully inspect trees for stability prior to climbing.

  • Refrain from climbing with tools in hand.

  • Keep eyes focused on a falling tree and never turn your back.

  • Remain alert at all times.

By following these tree-trimming safety tips, workers can hopefully help to eliminate the risk of a serious workplace accident. Unfortunately, accidents still can and do happen and workers who do suffer an on-on-the-job injury may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

Continue reading "Keeping Tree Trimmers Safe from Carolina Work Accidents " »

November 19, 2012

Black Friday Madness Ups the Risk of Rock Hill Work Injuries


Black Friday has long been a day of retail madness, with shoppers lining up for hours to be the first in the door to score heavy discounts on some of the hottest gifts of the season. Unfortunately, with all the focus on the holiday hype, there is often too little attention paid to the workers who are left struggling to keep order amid eager and sometimes angry crowds.

With large crowds and often limited security, the risk of work-related accidents increases in Rock Hill and throughout the Carolinas during the Black Friday holiday shopping events. 1335852_sale_sign.jpg

Work-related accidents on Black Friday can have far reaching consequences, resulting in serious injuries, ending careers and even causing death in certain tragic cases. Our Rock Hill workers compensation lawyers are concerned about the risk that this presents to employees who are asked to work on these shopping days and urges employers to take action to protect their staff.

Black Friday Dangers
The dangers of Black Friday have become well-known for both shoppers and workers. In 2008, for example, a worker was trampled to death during a sales event when customers stormed the doors. Other incidents at stores have included angry customers getting into physical brawls, customers using pepper spray to try to get the advantage over fellow shoppers and even customers discharging weapons in stores or in Black Friday sales lines.

Unfortunately with many stores becoming even more aggressive in their Black Friday marketing during these tough economic times, the risk of workplace injury may be even greater to workers.

The Black Friday madness will also be going on for longer this year. The North Carolina Consumers Council, Inc. reports that many major retailers have now decided to begin their sales events on Thanksgiving instead of waiting until the day after the holiday. A longer period of aggressive shopping means a longer period of time for something to go wrong and for workers to be caught in the middle and injured.

Preventing Workplace Accidents on Black Friday
Employers have an obligation to make sure that employees are reasonably safe when they come to work, and this means taking extra precautions during dangerous shopping events this Thanksgiving season. A November news release from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides suggestions for employers to create a crowd management plan. Some of these suggestions include:


  • Having trained security on-site.

  • Using barricades or rope lines and establishing these barriers in an area that leaves space before the store entrance.

  • Putting crowd control measures in place in advance of customers arriving at the store.

  • Having a contingency plan in place in case of emergency.

  • Educating the public on the store rules including the store's entry and exit policies.

  • Not permitting customers into the store once the maximum occupancy level has been reached.

  • Not permitting exit doors to be blocked or locked.

By following these and other security procedures, stores can help to keep both customers and employees safe. Preventing workplace accidents and stopping workplace injuries should always be a top priority, and is a far more important goal even than encouraging retail sales.

Continue reading "Black Friday Madness Ups the Risk of Rock Hill Work Injuries" »

November 18, 2012

Construction Workers at Risk of Workplace Accidents During Holiday Travel Season


During the upcoming holiday season, the roads will be packed with merrymakers. From college kids driving home to see their families for Thanksgiving and Christmas to partygoers out celebrating the holidays at family gatherings to shoppers hitting the mall, drivers are likely to be eager to get where they are going this holiday season.

Unfortunately, with so many drivers headed to their holiday destinations, the risk of construction accidents for workers may increase. The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports that they have suspended most road construction activities in the days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday, but road crews in several areas still will be working to complete their jobs during the holiday season. In these areas, construction workers are at risk of workplace accidents caused by drunk drivers, distracted drivers and drivers who may be headed to holiday events in adverse weather. 1365367_traffic_cone_1.jpg

Rock Hill workers' compensation lawyers urge all drivers to be aware of the dangers to road crews and urges employers to take steps to prevent work zone fatalities and injuries.

How Drivers Can Help Avoid Work-Zone Accidents
The first line of defense against work-zone accidents for road crews is drivers who drive safely and obey the rules. The North Carolina Department of Transportation provides some advice to drivers, all of which can help prevent construction workers from falling victim to workplace accidents on the roadside. These tips include:

  • Leaving ample time to get to your destination.
  • Driving during non-busy times.
  • Choosing alternative routes to avoid busy or congested roadways.
  • Remaining alert for signs of workers, narrow lanes and traffic shifts.
  • Obeying the speed limit.
  • Avoiding drowsy and distracted driving, both of which can be deadly.
  • Keeping informed of traffic backups. You can obtain real-time travel and traffic information on your phone by calling 511.

By following these common-sense precautions, holiday travelers could potentially save a life.

How Employers Can Help Avoid Work-Zone Accidents
Employers must also take steps to keep workers safe during holiday construction. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides some guidelines for employers on work zone traffic safety. Their recommendations include:


  • Using clear traffic control signs to identify work zones.

  • Marking work-zone areas with signs, barrels, cones and other identifying markers.

  • Instructing drivers on what paths to follow when work is being performed.

  • Using additional protective devices including crash cushions and collapsible barriers.

  • Ensuring flaggers are properly attired in fluorescent, retro-reflective material. This material should be performance class 2 or performance class 3.

  • Illuminating flagger stations. If employees are on foot or operating equipment, the illumination should consist of candles that are five feet or larger. The glare from the lighting should also be controlled or eliminated.

  • Training flaggers and ensuring they know authorized signaling methods.

These essential suggestions made by OSHA should be followed by all employers who have road crews working this holiday season. Avoiding workplace accidents should always be a top priority at any time of the year, but with the many holiday drivers on the roads, vigilance and caution are more important than ever.

Continue reading "Construction Workers at Risk of Workplace Accidents During Holiday Travel Season" »

November 14, 2012

Snow Brings Increased Risks for Carolina Work Accidents


The snow is coming to many regions of the country a whole lot earlier this year.

That means it's time to start talking about worker safety. Each year, there are workers seriously injured and even killed while completing ice or snow removal jobs from rooftops and other buildings and structures. According to officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls and heart attacks are among the leading causes. What's most alarming, according to officials, is that these incidents could have been prevented.
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Workers are hired or assigned to remove snow and ice for a number of reasons. Removal can help to prevent overloading and collapse. Whatever the reason is for the removal process, our Rock Hill workers' compensation attorneys understand that safety needs to be the number one concern. In most cases, these workers will climb right on to the roof and use equipment like snow rakes, shovels, ladders and even snow blowers. Workers are urged to even use aerial lifts that can help them to apply deicing materials. The truth of the matter is that these jobs are carried out in some of the most extreme work conditions and many times, these workers have little experience on the job and haven't been provided with the proper training.

These employees are exposed to some of the most serious dangers. Based on OSHA's injury data, falls are the most common causes of injuries and fatalities for these workers. They can fall through skylights, they can fall off of roof edges and they can even fall off of aerial lists and ladders.

Other hazards for these workers:

-Eye injuries.

-Amputations.

-Injuries from snow blowers and mechanized equipment.

-Electrocution/shock.

-Musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion.

-Frostbite.

-Suffocation.

-Collapses.

-Entrapment.

-Tip-overs with aerial lifts.

How to prevent these kinds of accidents:

-Try to use snow removal methods (when possible) that don't involve workers going on the roof.

-Evaluating loads exerted on structure or roof, meaning calculating the total weight of the snow, the workers and the equipment being used) and comparing that to the load limit of the roof or structure.

-Making sure that all workers are using the proper fall protection.

-Make sure that workers are properly trained on all equipment being used for the job.

You should always try to remove the snow without having to go on top of a roof or structure. You should do this by using ladders to apply deicing materials. You can also use drag lines or rakes from the ground to scrape the ice off. While you need to be cautious when using these devices, it can be a heck of a lot safer when done from the ground. Be safe out there and let's get through the snowy winter season safely!

Continue reading "Snow Brings Increased Risks for Carolina Work Accidents" »

November 12, 2012

Protecting Workers with Safety Equipment -- An Employer's Responsibility


Employers have a responsibility to keep workers safe and protected on the job.

One of the biggest responsibilities is to provide employees with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This kind of equipment is designed to protect employees from serious workplace illnesses and injuries that can result from contact with electrical, physical, mechanical, radiological, chemical and other workplace hazards.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), protective equipment goes way beyond just face shields. For deserving occupations, workers should also be provided with respirators, earplugs, vests, gloves, coveralls, goggles, safety shoes, hard hats and safety glasses -- whatever is required to complete the job safely! It's also a federal requirement that employers make sure that workers are using these devices in the conditions they're designed for. Having PPEs is no good if they're not used.
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In Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), it states that employers are required to conduct a hazard assessment of their workplaces to figure out which hazards are present that would require the use of protective equipment. When this is determined, the equipment must be provided and the workers must be required to use it in a sanitary and reliable condition. Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that this isn't always the case. Unfortunately, workers are sent out in dangerous conditions without the proper protective gear they need. This is how careless accidents happen.

PPE is essential, but it's usually the last line of defense after engineering controls, administrative controls and safe work practices. Listed below are the conditions of each safety control.

Engineering Controls: When a work environment or a machine is changed to make operation safer.

Administrative Controls: When how/when workers are completing their jobs. Changing these factors can many times reduce the risks for accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Work Practices: Training workers in the safest and most effective ways to complete the job without and hazard or accident risks.

Employees must be properly trained to complete the following:

-Use PPE properly. Each device should be thoroughly understood by all using workers.

-Know when PPE should be used. Workers should be required to use the PPE in these conditions.

-Know which PPE is needed for each job. Different jobs require different PPE.

-Understand the limitations of PPE. PPEs can help, but they can also restrict. Be sure you know when each is in effect.

-How to put on, wear, adjust and remove PPE.

-How to maintain PPE and keep it in good-working order. Ensured safety relies on the condition of these devices.

If you feel like you're not being provided with the proper PPE on the job, it's your job to speak up. If you feel in any way that your safety is in jeopardy, then you should not be working in those conditions. It's an employers responsibility to make sure that each work area is safe for each employee.

Continue reading "Protecting Workers with Safety Equipment -- An Employer's Responsibility" »

November 10, 2012

Traffic Accidents: Leading Cause of Work Fatalities


Car accidents are the number one cause of on-the-job fatalities in the country.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), half of the federal workers who were killed on the job between 2002 and 2010 died in transportation accidents. During to 2003 fiscal year, there were close to 30 workers who were killed in work-related traffic accidents. Anothermore than 8,000 federal workers injured in these kinds of incidents.
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Our Greensboro workers' compensation attorneys understand that our roadways are dangerous out there. Driving workers face the highest risks for car accidents. It's important that these workers are not overworked. When they're not given schedules conducive to proper rest, they face serious risks for drowsy driving car accidents and distracted driving accidents. It's important that employers make sure that workers are safe behind the wheel and that rules and regulations are in place to maximize safety.

Employers should require that all employers wear their seat belt during ever trip. As a matter of fact, seat belts can cut the risk of death in the event of an accident by nearly 50 percent for those in cars and by as much as 60 percent for those in SUVs and trucks. Each year, officials estimate that nearly 15,000 lives are saved every year because of seat belts. Each state in the U.S. has a law mandating seat belt use, employers should as well. Despite these efforts, about 20 percent of Americans still neglect to wear a seat belt.

Federal workers are required to wear seat belts during every trip. All others should be required, too! Employers should also require that cell phones be kept out of the driver's seat. Behind the wheel is no time to multitask and to deal with work-related business. It's a time to focus on safety and on driving. There should be a no cell phone policy enacted in all driving positions. Federal employees are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving a government vehicle. Your employer should have a similar policy.

Some of these accidents even involve semi-trucks and tractor-trailers. These can be some of the most catastrophic accidents. When these are involved in crashes -- fatalities usually result. It's important that these truck drivers are getting plenty of sleep and are not being over worked. For this reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted new Hours of Service (HOS) rules. These rules will be effective on July 1st of 2013.

Final HOS Rules:

-For every 8 hours behind the wheel, a driver must get at least a 30 minute rest break.

-Driving (or allowing a driver to drive) three or more hours beyond the driving-time limit may be considered an egregious violation and subject to the maximum civil penalties.

-Drivers are allowed to drive 11 hours in a row after a consecutive 10 hours off the clock.

-Driving time and records need to be kept in a log book and an electronic equivalent.

Continue reading "Traffic Accidents: Leading Cause of Work Fatalities" »

November 8, 2012

Keeping Young Workers Safe on the Job in North Carolina


There are many reasons why young workers are injured or get sick on the job so often.

Most commonly, they work with unsafe equipment, they don't get the proper supervision, they work under pressure, they perform dangerous work that's illegal or inappropriate for youth under 18, they work under stressful conditions and they don't get the right safety training to complete the job.
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One of the most important things that we can do in the workplace is make sure that our young ones are safe. Our Rock Hill workers' compensation lawyers understand that our teenage workers are the future of our workforce and it's important to keep them safe. In 2010, there were more than 325 young workers killed in the U.S. Another 110,000 of these young workers were injured on the job during the same year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Every 9 minutes, a teenager is injured on the job in the United States.

The truth of the matter is that most workplace accidents are completely preventable. The safety of the workplace is a joint effort between the employer and the employee. Both have key responsibilities in preventing these accidents. But what are these responsibilities?

A Worker's Responsibilities:

-To work in a safe workspace.

-To get the health and safety training provided in a language that can be easily understood.

-To be able to ask questions, regardless of what they pertain to.

-To be trained on safety gear that is required on the work site. This gear can include ear plugs, goggles and safety hats.

-To exercise your workplace safety rights without fear or the act of discrimination or retaliation.

-To file a complaint if they feel that there is a hazard on the job or a standard that their employer is not following.

An Employer's Responsibilities:

-To provide a work area that is free of serious and recognizable dangers.

-To follow all of OSHA's health and safety standards.

-To make sure that all workers are provided with the proper (and required) safety equipment.

-To inform employees of where to get health and safety information/answers.

-To inform workers of what to do if they experience an on-the-job accident.

How Can You Stay Safer on the Job?

-Make sure that you report any unsafe work conditions. Report these concerns to your supervisor/manager/shift leader.

-Be sure that you're always wearing the required safety equipment.

-Follow all safety rules and regulations.

-Ask questions if you have them!

-If you need help -- ASK!

There needs to be open communication between the worker and the employer. Safety is a joint effort and everyone needs to be on board. It's important that we talk with our younger workers about what they can expect in the workplace and what is expected of them. Start them off with a thorough understanding of this and help them to ensure a safe lifetime of work.

Continue reading "Keeping Young Workers Safe on the Job in North Carolina" »

November 6, 2012

State and Federal OSHA - A Question of Proper Enforcement


Each and every year, there are about 6,000 workers who die as a result of workplace injuries.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor (DOL) another 50,000 die from illnesses that are caused by exposure to workplace hazards. It gets even worse. There are another 6 million who suffer non-fatal injuries too, which cost the country close to $150 billion yearly.
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Our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers understand that many of these workplace accidents, injuries and fatalities are in fact completely preventable. Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970, "to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources."

There have even been some states that have decided to enact occupational heath and safety laws. These states push their own set of standards that are meant to be as "effective" as federal law. The problem is in the enforcement. While the laws may be in place, employers and enforcers don't always abide. And that's where we get so many work accidents, injuries and deaths.

Who is the Act supposed to cover?

It's supposed to cover all workers (except those who are self employed and those who are considered public employees in both local and state governments). Agencies that are covered by other federal regulations do not count, like some agencies of the Department of Transportation and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

What are an Employer's Responsibilities?

Employers are required to make sure that all equipment and tools are properly maintained. This includes the personal protective equipment that is required to be provided to workers. Medical examinations must also be provided to deserving workers. Training and education is one of the most important things that an employer must provide an employee. That's why it's federally required for an employer to provide this for a worker. Companies and employers are also required to report any kind of accident that results in a death. They're also required to report any work accidents that land three or more employees in the hospital.

Additional Requirements of an Employer:

-To keep records of all work injuries, accidents, illnesses and more. This information must include the cause of the incident.

-An OSHA poster must be posted in a visible area. This poster should inform workers about their responsibilities and rights on the job.

-Workers are to be allowed access to their exposure and medical records.

-Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees in any kind of way.

-Employers must abate cited violations within the prescribed period.

Even with all of these regulations in place, we're still seeing far too many workers injured and killed on the job. It's important that we keep an eye out for our personal safety while at work. Report any hazards or dangers to help to keep you and your coworkers safe!

Continue reading "State and Federal OSHA - A Question of Proper Enforcement " »

November 5, 2012

Window Washing Accidents Target of Partnership


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) renewed the alliance with officials from the International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA).

This Alliance focuses on preventing the risks that are associated with slip, trip and fall accidents, especially for workers who perform their duties from such heights. The Alliance also works to address the safe usage of high-reach access equipment, like ladders and scaffolds that are commonly used in the window cleaning industry.
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"We look forward to continuing our work with the IWCA to provide workplace training and education to help ensure that workers are aware of on-the-job hazards and reduce injuries," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels.

Our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers understand that falls are a persistent danger found in nearly all occupational settings. A fall can happen when you're just walking around the office, it can happen when climbing a step stool or a ladder, or it can happen when scaling up the side of a building on a scaffold. The unfortunate truth of these kinds of accidents is that there were more than 600 workers killed in fall accidents to the same or lower level in 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were another 213,000 people seriously injured in these kinds of accidents during the year. Many of these accidents, injuries and fatalities can be prevented with a little bit of awareness, educations and safety training and equipment!

Because of the frequency and the severity of these accidents, Alliance members are going to make training and education programs aimed at window cleaning contractors. These same efforts will also be focused on those working with solar panels. Current safety materials and all future material will be translated so that these safety tips and stats can be shared with those workers who speak Spanish -- which account for about half of the industry.

IWCA is a non-profit trade association that currently represents about 500 member companies around the world. These companies employ more than 10,000 people.

Fall injuries can result in quite the financial burden. Both workers' compensation and medical costs tally about $70 billion year in the country.

There are simple ways that you can help to reduce the risks of these kinds of accidents at your workplace. You should:

-Make sure that all floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.

-Make sure that all employees are trained in a language that they can understand.

-Make sure that all workers are provided with the proper personal protective equipment. This should cost the employee nothing.

-Whenever working from a runway, an elevated floor or a sided platform, there should be a guard rail and toe-board around.

-Be sure to guard every floor hole into which an employee can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).

Continue reading "Window Washing Accidents Target of Partnership" »

November 2, 2012

Carolina Airport Accidents - Ground Crew at High Risk


The Alliance between the Airline Ground Safety Panel and officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been renewed. This Alliance works to reduce the risks of on-the-job accidents, injuries and fatalities for those who work with the operation of aviation ground support equipment.

The Airline Ground Safety panel is a labor partnership with industry that is made up of 11 airline companies as well as 3 unions. Employed and represented by this organization is close to 400,000 workers, accounting for about 85 percent of the industry.
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"We look forward to working with the panel to educate and train employers and workers on preventing workplace injuries," said David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

Our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers understand that the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport is the 6th busiest airport in the world, as of 2010 and based on traffic movements.

It used to be called the Charlotte Municipal Airport, but was renamed Douglas Municipal Airport after former Charlotte Mayor Ben Elbert Douglas, Sr. in 1954. Because this is such a busy airport, there are many workers who we can thank for helping to make it run as smoothly as it does -- each and every day. Without these hard workers, there would be no airport. Unfortunately, these employees are at serious risks for accidents, injuries and fatalities. They run the risks of fall accidents, transportation accidents and other injuries on the job -- some even severe enough to cause disability or death.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were more than 700 workers who died at work after being struck by equipment or objects. Another 700 die in fall accidents. Airline support workers are at some of the highest risks for both of these kinds of accidents. Many of these accidents can be completely prevented, too! It's important for an employer to take the proper safety precautions to make sure that all employees are protected on the job.

The renewed Alliance will be working over the next 2 years to help to reduce the risks of these accidents. There will be new fact sheets and information material targeting these kinds of accidents, in addition to the risks associated with pushback trucks, high-lift tugs and other equipment for ground safety.

Common Airport Work Accidents Can Include:

-Injuries that result from falling objects.

-Carbon Monoxide Injuries.

-Baggage tug and cart accidents.

-Vehicle accidents.

-Belt-loader injuries and accidents. These include caught-between accidents and amputation injuries.

-Lifting injuries.

-Struck by equipment accidents.

When you're injured on the job, you want to make sure that you're getting the best treatment available. When a worker feels like they're being pushed to a specific treatment option by an employer or their workers' compensation insurance company, talking with an attorney is their best option. The treatment that you get can affect you for a lifetime.

Continue reading "Carolina Airport Accidents - Ground Crew at High Risk " »

October 29, 2012

North Carolina Work Safety: Generator Safety Risks


Generators are used on many work sites across the nation. While they're convenient and help to make many workdays a lot easier, they can also come with a slew of risks that can seriously injure or kill users.

Portable generators are internal combustion engines that are used to create electricity where none is available. These devices are key when remote or temporary power is needed. They're commonly used during recovery and cleanup efforts after disasters. You better believe that a slew of people, both workers and residents, will be using generators to clean up the mess left by Hurricane Sandy.
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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), some of the most common causes of injury and death from generators include electrocution and shocks when they're not used properly or are improperly connected to various structures, like trailers, shops, offices and residences.

Our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers understand that there are specific safe work practices that need to be carried out when using these devices. Employers are required to make sure that these practices are followed and that each employee is trained in how to use these devices, how to spot hazards, how to correct these hazards and what to do in the event of an emergency. One of the first things that should be done in these situations is making sure that these generators are properly maintained and are operated in accordance with the manufacturer's use and safety instructions.

These devices aren't only used by workers either. Many of the homes in the area have a backup generator out in their garage. It comes in handy when disaster strikes, whether from large power mishaps or from natural disasters -- like Hurricane Sandy. Whether you work with a generator or not, it's a good idea for you to review the following safety tips below and share them with friends and family -- really anyone who uses a generator.

More Safe Work Practices:

-No one should ever attach a generators directly to the electrical system of a trailer, office or home, unless the generator has a correctly installed open-transition switch.

-Only manufacturer cords should be used when plugging in appliances to the generator. All tools and appliances should be plugged directly into the generator.

-Make sure you use extension cords that have a grounding conductor, are heavy duty and are 3-wire flexible cords.

-All generators and connected equipment should be inspected before, during and after use.

-Make sure that you're using the proper ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) as the manufacturer instructs.

-Never use underrated cords. You want to use cords that use heavier gauge wires.

-Never attach appliances that have any frayed cords.

-When possible, your best bet is to use battery-operated tools.

According to federal standards with OSHA, the frame of a generator that is portable does not need to be grounded (connected to the ground) and the frame can serve as the ground.

Continue reading "North Carolina Work Safety: Generator Safety Risks" »

October 28, 2012

Asbestos: A Ticking Time Bomb for Employees


You've heard all the talk about asbestos. You commonly hear about it being in the drywall in residential homes. But do you ever stop to think about how it got there or about the workers who were at risk for exposure when they were installing the stuff. In these cases, many of these workers were unaware that they are working with asbestos. Many times, the repercussions of the dangerous material doesn't appear until years later.
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Asbestos is the name that has been given to a group of naturally occurring materials that are used in products like vehicle brakes and building materials. What these materials do is resist corrosion and heat. Asbestos includes amosite, chrysotile, tremolite asbestos, acticolite asbestos and anthophyllite asbestos. These materials have been chemically altered and treated with additional chemicals, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that the inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause some serious diseases in the lungs and other vital organs. Many times, these diseases are not detected until years later. Most asbestos fibers are too small to be seen with the naked eye. If you're a smoker, you're at higher risks for developing asbestos-related diseases.

How much asbestos can be in a work area?

According to federal standards, worker exposure must not go over 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter of air over an 8-hour work day. When workers are exposed short-term, the levels can't be more than 1 fiber per cubic centimeter for more than 30 minutes at a time. Oftentimes, employers will rotate employees in these conditions to get the work done faster. That's not allowed!

What compliance methods must employers use to control asbestos exposure?

They are required to control exposure to or below the PELs using engineering controls and work practices to the extent feasible. Where these kinds of engineering controls and practices don't do enough to make sure that workers are not overexposed, employers are required to reduce a worker's exposures to the lowest levels that can be achieved and then make sure that they are using the respiratory protection to meet and go below the PELs.

Which employers are federally required to provide concerning medical examinations to at-risk workers?

Employers in the shipyard and the construction industry are required to provide medical exams to workers who, for 30 days or more a year, engage in Class I, II or III work or work in exposure levels exceeding a PEL. Make sure you're getting the exams you need if you work in these conditions. Detection is key in preventing lifelong disabilities and even death.

Employers are required to make sure that all workers have the proper protective clothing. For all workers who are exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos that exceed the federal limits, employers are required to provide and require that employees wear the proper protective clothing, like foot coverings, gloves, head covers and other full-body clothing. These workers are to be provided with vented goggles, face shields and other protective equipment where there is the possibility of eye irritation. Employers must also require that these workers wear this equipment.

Continue reading "Asbestos: A Ticking Time Bomb for Employees" »

October 26, 2012

Works Accidents & Carbon Monoxide: An Undetectable Killer


There are a lot of dangers on the job that you might never think about.

Not only might you not think about them, but some you can't even see, taste or smell. We're talking about carbon monoxide. According to officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that can is frequently linked to accidental death -- both at home and in the workplace.

You can inhale carbon monoxide and never even know about it. This is a serious threat that may be one of the hardest to detect. Ultimately, accidents, injuries and fatalities involving carbon monoxide can be prevented with the right safety tools and procedures in place. This is particularly important as we head into the colder months, as generators and kerosene heaters are among the most common causes of such tragedies.
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Our workers' compensation attorneys understand that carbon monoxide is a common industrial danger that comes from the incomplete burning of natural gas and any other material that contains carbon. Some of these materials include oil, propane, wood, coal, kerosene and gasoline. These gases can come from coke ovens, blast furnaces, forges and most commonly internal combustion engines.

So how does carbon monoxide harm you?

It's harmful when you breathe it in because is displaces oxygen in the blood and does not allow the brain, heart and other vital organs to get the proper amount of oxygen. When you inhale large amounts of this gas, you can lose consciousness within minutes and even die.

The only warning signs that you're going to get is maybe some tightness in the chest, drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue and maybe a headache, but it happens so quickly, it may be too late before you diagnose the problem.

Some people are at higher risks, too. These groups include younger people, elderly workers, those with medical conditions and those working at high altitudes.

Luckily, carbon monoxide poisoning can be reversed if you catch it early enough. But even if you're lucky enough to recover, even the smallest amount of poisoning can have some lasting effects.

Those who work in petroleum refineries, warehouses, breweries, boiler rooms, paper and pulp production and even in steel production are at high risks for these incidents.

Safety Steps to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

-Make sure the work area has the proper ventilation system.

-Make sure that equipment that produces carbon monoxide is kept in good working order.

-Don't allow gas-powered engines in small work spaces and even in larger work areas that are not properly ventilated.

-Make sure workplaces with these gases have carbon monoxide monitors. Check to make sure that all carbon monoxide monitors have audible alarms.

-Test work areas regularly for the gas. This is especially important in confined work areas.

-Make sure respirators are available and workers are trained in their operation.

-Post emergency contact information in the workplace.

-Be sure that all employees are educated about the sources and the conditions that might result in carbon monoxide poisoning in addition to the symptoms and the control of exposure to the dangerous gas.

Continue reading "Works Accidents & Carbon Monoxide: An Undetectable Killer" »