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Hickory NC Personal Injury Law Blog

Proposed Legislation Could Change Grandparent Visitation in North Carolina

The current law in North Carolina concerning grandparent visitation allows grandparents seeking visitation with their grandchildren to intervene into a pending or "on going" custody action between the grandchild's parents.  A grandparent must have a substantial relationship with the minor child, generally in the nature of a parent-child bond.  Grandparents have been successful proving this substantial relationship in cases where the child has lived with them for an extended period of time and the grandparent has assumed parental responsibilities.

Trenching accident causes death of 2 men

As North Carolina residents may have heard, two men were killed in an accident in Boonton, New Jersey, when the 9- to 13-foot trench the men were digging collapsed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the collapse and issued multiple citations for safety violations.

OSHA visited the site of the workplace accident in October 2014. After investigating, the agency determined that the trench lacked the mandatory protections required if a trench is 5 feet deep or more.

Examining OSHA's workplace safety requirements for employers

A: North Carolina employees interested in workers' compensation issues may want some information about an employer's safety responsibilities. Failure to live up to these responsibilities can put their employees at risk.

Part of an employer's health and safety responsibilities to their workers involve various requirements set forth by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. OSHA requires that employers keep their workplace free from hazards, which includes complying with OSHA standards and providing their employees with the proper safety equipment and tools to help avoid worker injury. The employer must also provide safety training and keep safety procedures up to date in order to comply with these federal safety regulations.

OSHA cited contractor twice before fatal North Carolina accident

Workers for Associated Scaffolding were taking down a scaffold on a glass and steel building going up in downtown Raleigh when it collapsed and killed three men and injured another. Over the past decade, the company had received two citations from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration for serious safety violations in the state before this deadly accident.

The citations had concerned scaffold access equipment and the storage of welding materials. OSHA and the State Department of Labor plan to investigate the accident.

Overview of occupational illnesses and injuries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses found that in 2013, 1,162,210 workers and state and local government employees took one or more days off work. Almost 3 million private sector workers are affected in North Carolina, together with other states in the U.S. each year.

The severity of a workplace injury or illness is measured by the median number of days away from work. In 2013, almost 100 injured workers out of 10,000 employed in the private sector missed days from work, with eight being the median number lost workdays. Although workplace problems such as this are down from 20 years ago because of better health and safety practices, hazardous workplaces are found in areas not commonly considered dangerous.

Hazard alert issued for stone countertop workers

Workers in North Carolina who are involved in the manufacturing, finishing and installation of stone countertops may be at risk for crystalline silica exposure. In February 2015, OSHA along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued a joint hazard alert about crystalline silica exposure.

The hazard alert was issued after reports came out that dozens of workers in Spain and Israel had been exposed to unsafe levels of crystalline silica while they were manufacturing stone countertops. The workers had developed an incurable, disabling and sometimes fatal disease of the lungs called silicosis. Lung transplants were required to treat 10 of the workers in Israel.

Using a nail gun safely in North Carolina

While a nail gun can make any nailing task easier, it can also make that task more dangerous. Among apprentice carpenters, 40 percent were hurt at least once by a nail gun during their four years of training. Another 20 percent were injured twice during that period while 10 percent were hurt three or more times during the four-year training period.

Many of the injuries occurred to the hands and fingers, but it was also common to see nail gun injuries to the knees, legs and feet. Some injuries were severe and led to damaged organs, broken bones and nerve damage. Nail gun injuries also led to long-term injuries such as blindness, paralysis or even death. Of those who were injured, most were injured while doing sheathing or framing work on a residential construction site.

Facts and help regarding workplace back injuries

Because many warehouse and factory jobs in North Carolina and throughout the country require employees to move and lift heavy inventory, back injuries are common. In fact, during 2013, there were more than 100,000 of these types of work-related injuries amounting to $15 billion in company costs, according to statistical reports. To improve safety at the workplace, a new company has developed a device for employees to wear that will detect when the employee is lifting an object and which muscles are being used in the movement. It will then provide the employee with feedback regarding how the movement was made. The company believes that the devices will help users to avoid a work-related injury.

Although employers should train workers how to handle heavy boxes to avoid back muscle injuries, it can be easy for employees to disregard that training when they are under time restraints, for example. This new product can serve to warn employees of any potential danger for injury while they are working by reminding them to use correct lifting techniques. Moreover, it supplies companies with valuable data through observation of employee activities over a period of time, which helps keep managers updated to any necessary safety improvements. In turn, employees may be less prone to suffer on-the-job injuries.

The risk of hydrogen sulfide in work environments

For many North Carolina industrial workers, specifically those who work with natural gas or oil, hydrogen sulfide contamination is a serious and constant risk. If the ambient air becomes contaminated with hydrogen sulfide, workers could suffer serious injuries or even die as a result. While many safety organizations have developed standards to help keep workers safe and healthy, it is recommended that companies perform their own risk assessments and testing procedures.

There are a certain number of dangers associated with hydrogen sulfide. The gas can be detected at about .13 ppm. At 10 to 100 ppm, workers may begin to experience throat and eye irritation. After an hour of exposure, workers may experience headaches, nausea and vomiting, among other symptoms. Workers are at risk for falling unconscious when levels reach between 700 to 1,000 ppm. Finally, workers can instantly succumb when levels reach more than 1,000 ppm.

Hearing loss resulting from workplace conditions

As North Carolina residents may know, workers in the manufacturing sector are susceptible to many injuries as a result of their jobs, with a significant one being hearing loss. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss accounts for one out of nine injuries recorded in that occupation. Areas included in the manufacturing category include primary and fabricated metals, wood, furniture and transportation. A hurdle in addressing hearing loss in manufacturing is that, although it may happen quickly due to a sudden loud noise, it frequently occurs gradually, and the worker may be unaware that he or she has suffered a hearing impairment.

The problem is that in order to be counted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it is necessary that the hearing loss is a direct result of the effects of noise at work. In addition, the degree of hearing loss the worker suffers must be sufficient enough to categorize the worker as hearing impaired.


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