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

Choosing a safe pair of working boots

Foot injuries can be extremely painful, and they can also take a great deal of time to heal. North Carolina construction workers who suffer such injuries on the job could go months without a paycheck, so they tend to choose their work boots with great care. This is a decision that should be based more on durability and strength of construction than style or designer cachet, and there are a number of federal and state safety standards that can whittle down the options and make the choice an easier one.

Employers also have good reason to see that their workers are protected against injury. Studies have found that workers are more productive and happier when workplace safety is a major priority, and taking steps to ensure that employees purchase or are provided with sufficiently protective shoes or boots is a cost-effective step that can boost productivity and improve morale. Several footwear manufacturers claim that their work boots meet all applicable safety standards, but workers who want to be sure may wish to become familiar with these regulations before making their final choice.

Worker statistics worth knowing

The number of work fatalities around the country in 2014 was 4,821, which was the highest total since 2008. That translates to a rate of 3.4 fatalities for every 100,000 full-time workers, which is higher than the 3.3 per 100,000 in 2013, and it is the first increase since 2010. More than 100 such deaths took place in North Carolina. In the private construction industry, there was a 9 percent increase around the country in work fatalities in 2014 from 2013.

The number of deaths in the oil and gas extraction industry was at its highest level since 2007 with 183 recorded deaths. Workers who were age 55 or older accounted for 1,691 deaths in 2014, which is the highest yearly total recorded. That number was 8 percent higher than the previous high. When broken down by race, almost all groups experienced a higher number of fatalities in 2014 when compared to 2013.

ESFI promotes workplace, home and school safety during April

Many North Carolina residents have been injured or killed in electrical accidents. The Electrical Safety Foundation International promotes electrical safety in workplaces, homes and schools, and the nonprofit organization has designated April as National Electrical Safety Month. The effort provides parties interested in increasing safety with resources such as lists of safety tips, templates and infographics.

Efforts to improve workplace safety are an important part of the ESFI campaign. The organization says that thousands of workers suffer shocks each year after touching circuits that they thought had been turned off. Workers are urged to check any circuits they may come into contact with as well as the equipment they use to test them. The ESFI also calls on employers to properly train all workers about the dangers of electricity and provide them with the appropriate tools and protective equipment.

Improving safety for tower workers

As the presence of cellular towers increases in North Carolina and across the country, the safety of workers who are required to climb them has become an increasing concern. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been fielding ideas from interested parties on how to improve safety for tower workers.

A major safety issue that was reported is the subcontracting of workers who are not qualified to climb towers. Stakeholders say that the culture of the industry is part of the problem, with pressure to complete jobs on time. Contractual language to guarantee safety, some say, would not be enough, and could even cause employers who follow the contract to be blacklisted. Suggestions to improve conditions made at a February workshop included hiring independent auditors to inspect work sites and encouraging a strong safety culture.

Sleep apnea and work injuries in North Carolina

Researchers have discovered that people who suffer from sleep apnea may be more likely to suffer injuries at work. This is attributed to the fact that individuals who have this condition wake many times during the night, so they often do not get enough quality sleep, making them tired and less attentive. This is backed up by the fact that the injuries sustained by those with this condition are more likely to be due to inattention.

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person's breathing passages either become blocked or collapse while asleep. Inability to breathe causes individuals to wake up, often several times a night. Many do not recall having been woken up, but sleep studies show that this is happening.

Convention to boost workplace health and safety

Construction workers in North Carolina and across the country may have heard about a safety and health conference involving representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the construction industry and various other agencies. The two-day meeting will focus on improving health and safety at the work site.

The conference will be held October 26 and 27 in Irving, Texas, at the Irving Conventional Center. Those who will attend the meeting will be informed about innovative research, trends and techniques relating to safety and health issues in the construction industry. Participants will also receive safety and health training, practical solutions and ways to improve their networking.

Workers' compensation paying for more employee injuries

According to a study by the Workers' Compensation Research Institute, more and more employers in North Carolina and throughout the United States are relying on workers' compensation benefits instead of group health coverage to pay for their employee's medical needs. This case shifting is mainly due to higher fee schedules and physician assessment results.

A study that took place from 2008 to 2010 found that some injuries such as lacerations, contusions and fractions most often occur on the job; however, with other injuries, such as shoulder and knee strains that occur with soft tissue damage, it may be more difficult for doctors to pinpoint the cause. Nonetheless, case shifting is not the result of fraud rather it is due to fee schedules.

Ergonomics education could protect employees

Employers who want to keep their staff healthier may be able to do so by implementing new training procedures that address ergonomics. According to experts, focusing on a few kinds of risk factors could reduce the likelihood of musculoskeletal diseases, or MSDs in many working environments.

MSDs may include injuries such as sprains, pulled muscles and nerve compression. Training needs to teach workers about how conditions like consistent vibrations, stressful contact with hard surfaces and constrictive posture can increase MSD risk. They should also become familiar with the hazards of repetitive motion and high-stress actions, like lifting or pulling objects.

The importance of hard hats in construction

One of the most important pieces of safety gear on a North Carolina construction site is a hard hat. They are designed to not only protect people from being struck by objects, they are also able to prevent people from being burned or suffering electrical shocks. However, they are not being used at all times because they are frequently uncomfortable to wear.

Possibly due to the fact that workers are not wearing hard hats at all times, the number of non-fatal occupational head injuries that resulted in people needing at least one day off of work has been on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of these types of head injuries increased by nearly 5 percent between 2012 and 2014.

Preventing injuries in the workplace

According to the National Census of Fatal Occupation Injuries, there are thousands of preventable workplace injuries and deaths each year in the United States. However, there are several simple steps North Carolina employers can follow to help keep their employees safe.

Employers need to outfit their business and employees with the right equipment to safely do the job. If constant heavy lifting is involved, they should get the specialized equipment needed instead of depending on workers to carry the load. Employers can help prevent slips and falls by providing fall safety equipment and clearing all work areas of debris and clutter. They should also issue eye and hearing protection, gloves and any other safety equipment needed to complete the job. It is always more cost-effective to prevent injuries than to deal with the aftermath.


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Hickory, NC 28601

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Hickory, NC 28603

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