The Law Offices of Lyndon R. Helton, PLLC
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Lyndon R. Helton, PLLC
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Hickory NC Personal Injury Law Blog

Recycling workers twice as likely to be injured on the job

Recycling may not be what first springs to mind when North Carolina residents think about dangerous occupations, but those who work in this field are injured on the job more than twice as often as the average American worker. While these injuries are sometimes minor in nature, 17 recycling workers lost their lives in workplace accidents nationwide between 2011 and 2013. The dangers of working in the recycling industry were highlighted in a report compiled by researchers at the University of Illinois and safety and environmental experts that was released on June 23.

Many workplace accidents involving recycling workers are caused by exposure to hazardous items or toxic substances on the sort line. Recycling bins sometimes contain hypodermic needles, broken glass or dangerous chemicals, and many recycling workers are hired on a temporary basis and lack the training and experience that could help them avoid to avoid injuries. Some of the most serious accidents at recycling facilities occur in close proximity to heavy machinery and equipment.

Collection of workplace data for compliance with executive order

Safe North Carolina workplaces are important not only because of the safety needs of workers but also for the purpose of promoting positive worker morale. However, government contracts could lead to cutting corners on issues such as safety in order to meet deadlines or curb costs. Executive Order 13673, signed by President Obama in July 2014, is designed to promote both fair pay and safe working conditions through the monitoring of relevant data for companies holding or seeking certain federal contracts.

Compliance records of those who bid on such contracts are to be accessible to the Department of Labor as well as to other relevant agencies so that compliance can be evaluated before the contracts in question are awarded. This is reportedly the first time that these details will be available to the entities making decisions about federal contracts.

OSHA targets occupational injuries among North Carolina nurses

Nurses in North Carolina and nationwide are at more risk of being injured on the job than construction workers and automotive employees, according to a new report from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. The report notes that nurses incur this higher risk despite the general availability of preventative measures for lifting strains, slip-and-fall injuries and exposure to bloodborne pathogens. To combat this trend, OSHA is gearing up to crack down on occupational injuries among health care workers.

According to the report, which relies on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses are at nearly double the national rate of occupational injury risk, at 6.6 and 7.6 percent in hospitals and nursing homes or extended care facilities respectively. The national average across private industry is 3.4 percent. This leads to more workers' compensation claims stemming from trauma injuries and exposure to bloodborne diseases.

Eye injuries in the workplace

Many North Carolina workers who work outdoors may be aware that the sun can cause serious damage to their skin and that they may be at risk for heat stroke. However, some workers may not realize that outdoor jobs can also put their eyes at risk. Construction workers, for example, often face UV radiation, dust and debris particles floating in the air and even splashing chemicals.

All work sites have different risks that could affect a person's eye safety. As such, OSHA does not have a single standard for eye protection and safety. There are, however, safety guides that managers can use to choose the protective eye wear that is most appropriate for the specific work site. Even with safety guidelines, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has indicated that workers suffered more than 25,000 eye injuries in 2013 alone.

Nail salon chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and more

North Carolina nail salon workers could be exposed to as many as 12 chemicals known by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration as dangerous. The worst ones, dubbed by many as the "toxic trio," are dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene. Health problems believed to be associated with them include cancer, miscarriages, kidney failure, lung failure and birth defects.

The federal regulations that apply to the cosmetics industry were established in 1938. These laws ban harmful chemicals from cosmetics, but the chemical manufacturers are not required by the Food and Drug Administration to test their cosmetics ingredients for potential harmful effects or share information with the agency. Furthermore, no prior approval from the FDA is needed when a new cosmetic product is put on the market.

Animals and work injuries

In North Carolina and other states, most workers are eligible to receive workers' compensation if they are injured by animals or insects while on the job. This can ensure that workers are not impacted by lost wages and medical expenses due to these types of incidents.

In many occupations, workers are exposed to the possibility of contracting animal-borne diseases such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and some may also suffer adverse reactions to the bites of venomous animals. This is expected of workers who are in environments where this is a common possibility, but those who work in office spaces or other work areas can also be injured by animals or insects from an infestation. This is often an issue if the appropriate measures have not been taken by employers to ensure that areas are sanitized and properly secured.

OSHA updates rule regarding confined spaces

As many North Carolina construction workers know, certain projects often require them to work in confined spaces. If something goes wrong, the worker could potentially become trapped, increasing the risks of injury and even potentially death. As such, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration recently issued a safety ruling that is set to go into effect in August 2015.

Confined spaces are described as being spaces that are large enough for an employee to enter but are not meant to be continuously occupied. Additionally, the space has a limited number of entrances or exits. These confined spaces can exist in any number of locations, including in incinerators, tanks, manholes and transformer vaults.

How to safely operate a forklift at the worksite

In order to maintain safety, industries in North Carolina and across the country must follow the rules as designated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These regulations include directions for safely operating a forklift.

There are several hazardous situations involving a forklift that could lead to a workplace accident. These situations include dangerous floor conditions, floor loading limits and overhead clearance.

Guidelines for preventing worker injury in North Carolina

Workplace injuries remain a valid concern, particularly for those who are employed in hazardous occupations. Accidents can occur in any line of work, however, and employers have a responsibility to address any incidents of harm or injury according to the proper protocols.

In the event that an injury occurs, the priority is executing the appropriate steps for managing the accident. The employer needs to quickly assess the type of medical response required of the situation, such as a 911 call or an in-office medical evaluation at the nearest clinic. Once the employee's medical needs are being addressed, the employer will want to maintain the scene of the accident in case an investigation is necessary. Other employees should have limited access to the area to reduce the chance of another injury, and any materials or substances that contributed to the accident should remain available and, if possible, untouched, for investigative purposes.

Monitoring and reducing heat exposure on the job

As many North Carolina workers know, heat exposure at the workplace may be harmful if certain precautions are not taken. Designating someone to be trained in hazard management helps keep workers safe despite working in a hot environment.

The work site may be evaluated for worker exposure to heat, humidity and sun during the shift. The type of clothing and protective devices used while working might be reviewed based on how such items add to the overall heat exposure. Workers should be properly hydrated and given periods of recuperation in a shady or cool area.

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The Law Offices of Lyndon R. Helton, PLLC
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Hickory, NC 28601

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Hickory, NC 28603

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