Recently in Hazardous Chemicals Category

October 28, 2014

Ebola and Dangerous Health Care Working Conditions

With two nurses from Dallas, another doctor from New York, and now with another nurse being quarantined after providing services to Ebola patients in West Africa, working conditions for health care workers are under scrutiny. The life-threatening threat has spiked concern among residents, politicians, and members of the health care working community--both in training and establishing protocol and how workers should be treated to prevent future spread.


After the death of a Liberian who was infected with Ebola, a nurse responsible for treating him became the first person to contract Ebola in the United States. Local, state, and federal officials scrambled to determine how she had contracted the disease, despite wearing protective gear. Officials were also concerned about how to prevent future cases, and to minimize the risk of treating patients.

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March 27, 2014

New Chemical Safety Provisions From OSHA Pending

Last year, 15 workers were killed in West Texas during an ammonium nitrate explosion. The incident spurred officials with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration to issue a new Process Safety Management standard per the President's Executive Order 13650. chemicals.jpg

The agency recently announced it would be extending the comment period for potential stakeholders before making final revisions and formalizing the measure.

Greensboro workers' compensation lawyers understand the new measure broadly seeks to improve chemical safety and security at all workplaces.

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March 2, 2014

NC Farm Worker Chemical Exposure Focus of New Proposed Rule

Work-related harm from hazardous chemicals sometimes extends beyond just the worker themselves. We've seen this in cases where those who worked closely with asbestos brought illness home to their families each night as loved ones breathed in the deadly fibers carried on work clothing. barbedcountryside.jpg

In 2007, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported on the case of three North Carolina farm workers who gave birth to infants with congenital anomalies consistent with pesticide exposure. State investigators found numerous pesticide safety problems, but they were unable to prove any clear violations by the employers.

Farm workers in general tend to be some of the most vulnerable employees in the workforce, prone to high levels of heat stress, musculoskeletal pain, respiratory illness and injuries and illness due to work with dangerous equipment and exposure to toxins.

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September 23, 2013

Health Risks for Oil Spill Clean-Up Workers

In the event of a national emergency or catastrophe, crews may be sent from around the region or the world to help with clean-up and restoration. A recent report indicates that workers who tended to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill may have suffered a high-risk exposure that has increased their risk of liver cancer, leukemia and other terminal conditions.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine, there are dangerous health repercussions for the workers involved in the clean-up after the Gulf oil spill. Our Spartanburg workers' compensation attorneys are experienced in handling claims on behalf of injured workers and their families. We are vested in helping workers collect the compensation they are entitled to after a work-related accident or when diagnosed with an occupationally related disease.


After the BP oil spill, chemicals were used to break up the crude oil which have proven to be hazardous to workers. There are now more than 170,000 people who worked on clean-up and could suffer from toxic exposure. In addition to the chemical dispersants, workers were also exposed to benzene, contained in the oil, which is a high-risk carcinogen.

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September 14, 2013

Workplace Chemical Exposure Serious Concern in Nail Care Industry

Exposure to chemicals is an issue in almost every type of industry there is - from waiting tables to plastics manufacturing.
The toxicity of those chemicals varies, of course, as does the level of exposure. However, our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers are careful to point out that some occupations not normally viewed as hazardous can be quite dangerous when the element of chemical exposure is considered.

One of the best examples of this is the work of nail care technicians. A recent publication was released by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, detailing the workplace dangers to which nail care workers are routinely exposed. At the top of the list are chemical hazards, followed by chronic aches and pains and then biological hazards. It's worth noting that many nail care salon workers are immigrants, and thus may not fully recognize all of their rights under the law. Acute or chronic illnesses resulting from workplace hazards or conditions is never acceptable and all workers in the U.S. have a right to be protected.

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August 27, 2013

Airport Work Safety: OSHA Cites TSA

When taking a domestic or international flight, TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is charged with ensuring that passengers are properly screened and searched. Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued 14 notices an citations to the Department of Homeland Security Agency.

Federal workers are entitled to the same workplace safety standards as private employees. An unsafe workplace and conditions that violate OSHA regulations could result in serious injury to employees. Our Raleigh workers' compensation attorneys are experienced in representing both private and public employees when pursuing workers' compensation claims. We also stay abreast of local and national employment law issues and are dedicated to workplace safety.


Inspections of TSA, began as part of OSHA's Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program. OSHA authorities have stated that employees who work to protect travelers against unsafe conditions deserve the same protections. On-the-job hazards have apparently threatened the workers of the TSA agency, notably at Logan Airport in Boston.

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July 31, 2013

Dangers of Combustible Dust: OSHA Reports

Combustible dust is a notorious hazard in a number of industries. According to OSHA, a combustible material can burn rapidly when in a fine partical form. Dust suspended in the air at the right concentration under certain conditions can become explosive. Some materials, including aluminum or iron, under certain conditions can become flammable or highly explosive when in the form of dust.

Employers and industry leaders, as well as government agencies, including OSHA, are responsible for regulating work conditions and ensuring that combustible dust is properly eliminated. Our Charlotte workers' compensation attorneys are experienced with complex cases involving work accidents and injuries. We are aware of the very dangerous nature of highly combustible dust and urge employers to take appropriate action to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.


The force of an explosion from combustible dust has been known to cause significant employee injuries and deaths. In some cases, a combustible dust explosion can demolish an entire building. The U.S. Chemical and Safety Hazard Investigation Board has identified 281 combustible dust explosions between 1980 and 2005. These accidents lead to the deaths of 119 workers nationwide. The explosions also resulted in over 700 injuries and the damage to countless industrial facilities.

Materials that can be combustible in dust exist in a range of industries including food, tobacco, plastic, wood and paper, furniture and textiles. Combustible dust also exists in textiles, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and metal industries. Workers in these and other industries should be aware of the risk and follow appropriate safety protocols to prevent injury. In the event of an explosion or injury, workers and their loved ones have the right to pursue workers' compensation benefits.

This week, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will hold a public meeting in Washington D.C. The board may designate an OSHA combustible dust standard as its first "Most Wanted Chemical Safety Improvement," due to the very dangerous nature of the material. Leadership in OSHA is the audience for the meeting and the board is slated to consider whether the three previous recommendations are not acceptable. After several investigations the board has not found that OSHA adequately implemented safety management.

The meeting will focus on three main recommendations. The first is in response to an investigation in a Delaware refinery which found that the storage tanks could be involved with the potential release in a covered process with 10,000 pounds of a flammable substance. The second recommendation involves a Texas refinery which should require additional oversight of organizational changes that could impact process safety. A third recommendation calls on OSHA to issue a fuel gas safety standard for construction and general industry.

The meeting and review of standards in the treatment of combustible dust is intended to broaden OSHA oversight and create enforceable safety standards to protect the well-being of workers. We are committed to raising awareness about the dangers of combustible dust and urge North and South Carolina employees and workers to stay abreast of all safety measures in all impacted industries.

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July 19, 2013

U.S. Craft Breweries Put Worker Safety at Risk

Nationwide, there are a growing number of craft-brewing companies that are expanding their production, bottling and distribution. With the rising trend of craft breweries, worker safety has been put at risk. There have been numerous injuries caused by explosions and fires as well as a rising death toll over the past few years. Brewery owners and workers should be aware of the safety risks and take necessary steps to prevent injury and accidental death.

According to recent reports, between 2009 and 2012, at least four workers have died in craft brewery accidents in the United States. Our Greenville workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to worker safety and helping victims and their families recover financial support in the event of an accident, injury or wrongful death. We will assist in investigating an accident, filing necessary documentation and advocating on behalf of victims and their families.


Craft breweries, or smaller breweries, can pose additional risk to workers. According to OSHA records, there were fewer deaths at larger facilities that produced 10 times more beer. This means that smaller breweries are probably not implementing the same safety measures as large brewing companies, or that they are less monitored. The same reports indicated that there were four times as many safety violations at the smaller craft breweries.

The Brewers Association defines a craft brewery as one that makes 6 million barrels or less per year. A craft brewer title also requires that the recipe is traditional and less than 25% of the company can be owned by an alcohol drinkmaker. Brewery experts say that the oversight of smaller companies is lacking because there aren't enough resources to keep tabs, especially as the trend is only growing. The number of injuries may also be under reported. The craft brewing industry has expanded from a niche market into an $10 billion dollar industry. To meet the needs of a quickly growing industry, employee safety has sometimes been overlooked. Many of the entrepreneurs in the brewing industry do not have a chemical or industrial safety background and do not know how to keep grounds safe or to train employees.

Brewery accidents and injuries can range from explosions and fires to serious injuries caused by heavy machinery, falls or electrical injuries. Reported accidents include death caused by fire or explosion and a keg that compressed because of pressure, which exploded and killed a worker. Craft industries should be consulting with safety experts to ensure that machinery is safe for use and that kegs pressures are kept at safe levels.

Safety inspectors and OSHA officials found 547 violations including 250 serious violations in breweries between 2003 and 2011. The brewers were fined a total of $222,000 for their violations which ranged from failing to enclose sprockets to not ensuring that machinery was disabled when an employee was inside.

In the event of a catastrophic workplace accident, victims and their families may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. In addition to workers' compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, victims may also be able to pursue third-party claims for additional losses. In these complex cases, a personal injury and workers' compensation attorney can assist in sorting through the viability of your claims.

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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.


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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July 17, 2012

National Emphasis Program Working to Protect Workers in Nursing and Residential Care Facilities

If you work in Nursing and Residential Care Facilities, we've got some good news for you. According to officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there's a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) that is going to help to reduce some of the risks that these workers face on a daily basis.

Through this program, employers will be taught how to eliminate on-the-job hazards and officials will be conducting inspections throughout a three-year period in search of very specific hazards in this field. The NEP will help OSHA officials to target residential care facilities and nursing homes to help to reduce the risks of occupational accidents, injuries and illnesses among these giving and compassionate workers.
Employees who work in nursing and residential care facilities experience some of the highest rates or lost work days because of illnesses and injuries sustained on the job. Their rates were a lot higher than many other American industries. These injuries and illnesses can be easily prevented, too.

Our North Carolina workers' compensation attorneys understand that the incidence rate for these workers -- where they had to spend time away from work because of a work accident -- was nearly 3 times higher than that of those in the private industry. This number was still alarmingly high despite the improvement and the availability of feasible controls designed to help to reduce the risks of these dangers.

Many of the accidents experienced by workers in this industry were the result of slips, trips and falls as well as overexertion. If you combine the number of both slips, trips and falls with the number of overexertion accidents, the pair accounted for more than 62 percent of accident reports in which an employee had to take time off of work in 2010 in this field. With the NEP, officials will be targeting facilities with a DART rating of 10 or higher per 100 full-time workers.

"It is not acceptable that they continue to get hurt at such high rates," said Dr. David Michaels, with OSH.

Officials are hoping that the new emphasis program and the threat of inspections by OSHA officials will help to get employers to improve employee protections and to do a better job at helping to protect society's caretakers.

Those who work at these kinds of facilities face a number of serious health and safety hazards. Under the new NEP, employers will be offered guidance from OSHA officials regarding procedures and policies that can be used to target and conduct inspections to help to eliminate these dangers. Some of these hazards can include exposure to chemicals, exposure to drugs, ergonomic stressors from handling patients, communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, exposure to blood and other potentially infectious material, slips trips and falls and even workplace violence.

These workers are entitled to the same rights as any other worker in the country. They are to be provided with the proper safety equipment to help to reduce the risks of an accident or an illness. In fact, protective gear might be more important in this field than in many other industries.

Workers in this field are required to be extra careful on the job. They may not face some of the same work-related dangers that construction workers do, but their risks of on-the-job injuries can be just as serious. One wrong move can land one of these workers with a life-altering injury. It's important to not only keep the safety of the residents and the patients a top priority, but to also keep the safety of the workers as a number one concern, too.

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April 8, 2012

Work Accidents in Asheville and Elsewhere Targeted by Revised Hazard Communication Standard

Workers throughout the country now have a better way to stay protected from hazardous chemicals on the job and to help to minimize their risks for a chemical-related work accident in Asheville and elsewhere. Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it had revised its Hazard Communication Standard. Now, the standard aligns with the global chemical labeling system from the United Nations. Officials believe that this new standard will be able to save the lives of nearly 45 workers every year. In addition, the standard should help to produce more than $475 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. companies every year. It's a win-win for everyone.
"Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious dangers facing American workers," said Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor.

Our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers understand that these new revisions have the potential to help to improve the consistency, the quality and the clarity of hazard information for employees working with these dangerous materials. The most important part of working with hazardous chemicals is staying informed about the dangers of these materials and knowing how to reduce the risks of injuries and illnesses. Now, employees who work with the dangerous chemicals will be safer and will have an easier time staying competitive in the global marketplace.

The newly revised Hazard Communication Standard will take effect later in 2016. Officials with OSHA believe that this new version of the standard will help to eliminate the confusion regarding dangerous chemicals in the workplace, will help to improve the understanding of such dangers, and will help to facilitate safety training programs. The main focus of these programs will also be targeting low literacy workers.

Now chemicals will be classified based on their physical and health hazards. They will be classified in a way that is consistent with the labels and data sheets for chemicals that are handled in the country as well as ones that are imported from around the world.

In addition to the lives that the new revision is expected to save, officials are estimating that nearly 600 injuries and illnesses can be prevented every year. With the new revisions, officials say, trade barriers will be reduced and American companies will be able to have a cost savings of more than $32 million. This cost savings should come from less need to update labels and data sheets. The new standards come with a more efficient labeling system.

Dr. David Michaels with the Occupational Safety and Health says that the old standard only gave employees the right to know about such dangers and risks associated with such chemicals. The new standard is working to help them to understand these dangers. Clearly, understanding is much more beneficial than just knowing. Understanding is one of the keys in keeping workplaces safe!

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March 17, 2012

Chemical-Related Work Accidents in Asheville and Elsewhere Targeted Under Renewed Alliance

Recently on our North Carolina Workers Compensation Lawyers Blog, we discussed the alliance between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA). This alliance was renewed for another two years to help to reduce the risks of work accidents involving trenching, excavation, hydrostatic trenching and equipment operations.
Well, OSHA is at it again. The administration recently announced yet another renewed alliance to help to reduce the risks of work-related accidents in Asheville and elsewhere. This recent announcement expands the alliance between OSHA and the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC). This continued alliance is being used to help raise awareness and education, as well as to provide safety tips to help reduce the risks of work-related injuries regarding the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

Our Asheville workers compensation lawyers understand that there are more than 30 million employees across the nation who are exposed to nearly 700,000 hazardous chemical products. According to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, the renewed alliance is going to help make sure that employees are knowledgeable about the chemicals present at their work site, the dangers those chemicals present, and how to prevent accidents and injuries regarding these dangerous chemicals.

The renewed alliance between OSHA and the SCHC will go on strong for another two years. These two will be sharing information on OSHA's Regulatory Agenda, National Emphasis Programs and participating in the rule-making process. In addition, the alliance will be creating informational sheets regarding the physical and health hazards of certain chemicals and the elements of the GHS label complaint. This information will be shared through webinars, industry meetings, presentations, and national health and safety conferences. Most importantly, the alliance will be helping to inform workers about the most effective practices to help prevent injuries and illnesses from dangerous chemicals.

Currently, the SCHC represents about 500 professionals within the chemical hazard communication industry. These individuals work diligently on raising awareness about new technology, developments and safety measures within hazard communications.
The SCHC includes faith- and community-based organizations, trade and professional organizations, unions, educational institutions, consulates, businesses and others. Those within the alliance program do not receive any exemptions from OSHA's programmed inspections.

OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) currently requires dangerous products and chemicals to visibly provide information identifying these materials. The following must be completed to help protect workers:

-Chemical importers and manufacturers must evaluate the hazards of the chemicals that they manufacture and import.

-Manufacturers much create and display labels and material safety data sheets (MSDS) to communicate the hazard information to their downstream customers.

-All hazardous chemicals in the work area must have labels and must have MSDSs to convey dangers to exposed workers. These exposed workers must be trained properly to handle these chemicals safely.

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December 19, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Have waste products removed from a work environment immediately.

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

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

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

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November 16, 2011

OSHA to Improve Workers' Safety and Health at Asheville Nursing Homes, Nationwide

In a previous post on our North Carolina Workers' Compensation Blog we reported that social service and healthcare workers were injured more than construction or manufacturing workers last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2010 Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report.
Charlotte workers' compensation attorneys are trying to understand why the incidence rate increased by 6 percent in the healthcare industry last year when it seems as though jobs in the industry are the first to be cut by state officials. Perhaps it is because employees are being required to work longer hours, perform more job duties, and take on more taxing responsibilities.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration intends to respond by launching a new National Emphasis Program. The initiative will provide more inspections of nursing home and residential care facilities with regard to the many hazards workers face in these types of work environments. Handling or lifting residents, workplace violence, exposure to infectious diseases or blood-borne pathogens, and trips and falls are common causes of injuries for nurses or healthcare workers in long-term or residential care facilities.

In a recent statement, Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Dr. David Michaels, expressed concern for the increase in reported healthcare worker injuries and illnesses

"It is unacceptable that the workers who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are sick are the very same workers who face the highest risk of work-related injury and illness," Michaels said.

With more than 12 million workers employed in health care, it is the second fastest growing sector in the U.S. Last year there were 2.5 times more healthcare work injury incidences than all private and public sector workers -- 283 cases per 10,000 full-time employees compared to 118, respectively. The rate of incidence for nursing aides, attendants and orderlies increased by 7 percent last year, or 489 cases per 10,000 employees. Another reason healthcare work injuries in Asheville and statewide occur may be because females account for 80 percent of the work force. Musculoskeletal disorder cases rose 10 percent nationwide for attendants, aides and orderlies due to the tremendous strain caused by lifting and moving patients around. With so many females performing these types of tasks, the increased incidence rate seems understandable.

Nursing Assistant Education offers the following back-injury preventable tips to healthcare workers:

-Don't be afraid to ask a co-worker for help if you need help lifting a patient.

-Communicate with the patient what you will be doing so that he or she can assist with movement. Even the slightest assistance with movement can help take strain off the lower back.

-Keep your body close to the patients rather than bending over to reach for them before you lift.

-Use your legs rather than bend your upper body. Keep your back perpendicular to the floor.

-If a mechanical lifting device is available, use it.

-Place your feet at least shoulder width apart for support while using the long and strong muscles in your legs for strength.

-Move patients smoothly by making sure you have a firm hold or grip on them before you start your motion.

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October 20, 2011

North Carolina Welders Exposed to Hexavalent Chromium at Risk of Nose, Throat and Lung Damage

Tenneco Automotive Operating Company's manufacturing facility located in neighboring Georgia has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for 20 health and safety violations. Many of the violations involve hexavalent chromium exposure. The proposed monetary penalty is $90,000.
Our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers in Greensboro know that exposure to hexavalent chromium can cause damage to the lungs, nose and throat and have lifelong effects on a worker's quality of life.

Hexavalent chromium is a metallic form of chromium that is a naturally occurring element found in various objects like soil, plants, rocks, volcanic dust and gases. There are many industrial applications that use hexavalent chromium including leather processing, welding stainless steel, arc welding, painting, electroplating, grinding stainless steel, textile dying, wood preservation and chrome finishing.

A spokesperson for OSHA commented that violations regarding hexavalent chromium exposure are inexcusable due to the abundance of information available to employers.

In May 2010, OSHA started enforcing new standards for hexavalent chromium, which require engineering controls for anyone working with hexavalent chromium. The most important change in the new standard involves workers' exposure limit. The old standard had an exposure limit of 52 micrograms per cubic meter on an 8-hour time-weighted average. The new standard has an exposure limit (PEL) of 5 micrograms per cubic meter. It is vital to limit employee exposure limits because hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen when inhaled.

Safety equipment needed to protect workers from hexavalent chromium can include respirators, fume extractors, goggles and safety clothing. It is recommended that employers have a separate area for employees to store and change their protective clothing and provide them access to a clean air supply before leaving the workplace

Seventeen serious violations were cited. Serious violations are defined as those with a significant probability that a worker could die or become seriously ill or injured from the hazard that the employer knew or should have been aware. Seven of these violations involved hexavalent chromium including:

-Failing to avoid exposure above OSHA's allowed exposure limits.

-Not having a plan on how to limit exposure time.

-Not giving workers a separate storage/changing area for personal protective equipment.

-Failing to discuss with a doctor about chromium exposures.

-Not having an eyewash area.

-Not providing clean work area surfaces free from chromium particles.

-Not providing sealed containers for disposal of waste.

The other serious violations involved entering confined spaces, lockout/tag-out procedures and lack of safety guards and covers on machines and electric panels.

Violations that resulted in no financial penalty included a lack of confined space training, improper mounting of switch boxes and outlets, and a blocked electrical disconnect.

For more information on hexavalent chromium , visit OSHA's website.

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