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

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.

How vibration may be dangerous in the workplace

Vibration is not commonly known to be one of the greater occupational hazards facing employees in North Carolina and elsewhere. It can sometimes be overlooked in risk assessments, but authorities such as the Journal of the American Medical Association assert that vibration exposure is responsible for a substantial portion of the occupational injuries and lost-time accidents in America.

One of the first types of vibration-related occupational injuries that was detected occurred in quarry workers who used heavy pneumatic tools to chip stone. Their hands developed a previously unknown condition where the fingertips turned white and blood flow in the extremities was lost. In extreme cases, the fingertips had to be amputated. Researchers eventually traced Vibration White Finger Disease to the constant shaking that their arms endured during their workday. This is now known as hand-arm vibration exposure.

North Carolina workers have the right to be safe

Despite certain work environments being known for occupational hazards, employers are obligated to keep employees safe from injury while working. The failure of some employers to implement necessary safety measures has contributed to the ongoing incidents of workplace injuries.

For example, most trench-related deaths resulted from inadequate protection from cave-ins, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An unprotected trench poses significant risk to the employee's life and should be modified and outfitted with a protection system appropriate for the specific working environment to reduce the risk of injury or death.

Federal machine testing for workplace safety

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, maintains two laboratories that are used to study workplace safety for protection of workers in North Carolina and throughout the country. This includes machine safety. While machines increase workplace efficiency, they also introduce a number of new hazards. The High Bay Laboratory researches large equipment safety as does the Safety Engineering Laboratory.

At the High Bay Laboratory, in operation since 1995, researchers study the safety of machinesused in agriculture, construction and industry. In addition to test equipment, the laboratory uses an Advanced Dynamic Anthropomorphic Manikin, similar to a crash test dummy, in various simulations. The ADAM is wired throughout its system for collecting and transmitting data in tests for protective fall equipment and other safety measures. The Safety Engineering Laboratory conducts a number of tests including ambulance impact tests and research around farm tractor roll-overs. It has equipment to simulate a fire engine cab and a long-haul truck cab that can be used to assess various safety factors including accommodation for individuals. These test cabs contain the working components that would be found in their real-life counterparts.

Implementing new workplace safety plans

For North Carolina employees, workplace accidents can seriously affect their ability to do their jobs and may result in long-term disability. One way to prevent this is for employers to have the necessary workplace safety protocols in place. In order to make this effective, certain initial actions should be taken.

Having an overall strategic vision for safety is one thing that companies often neglect, even as they have detailed plans for many other aspects of the business. Creating and implementing this strategic vision can have a large impact on creating a sustainable safety program that survives employee turnover and other obstacles. It is important to remember that a strategic vision is not the same as strategic goals, as it often takes time to reach the desired result.

OSHA reports dangers of lasers

According to officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, lasers are a source of concern for workers in North Carolina and throughout the country. Individuals who work in the construction and medical industries are particularly at risk from suffering work injuries from lasers.

OSHA officials say that employees who work in industrial and research occupations are also at an increased risk of injury from lasers. The assistant labor secretary for OSHA said that workers who are not protected from exposure to lasers may suffer severe eye injuries including permanent blindness and skin injuries, such as tissue damage.

Change in workplace accident reporting requirements

As North Carolina business owners should already know, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's requirements for reporting workplace fatalities and serious injury accidents changed beginning Jan. 1. Since that date, more businesses, including those with 10 or fewer employees, are required to file reports, and more report-triggering incidents are included.

Previously, employers were only required to report injuries necessitating hospitalization, amputations, eye losses and fatalities to OSHA if the triggering accident involved three or more workers. Employers with 10 or fewer workers were completely exempted from reporting.

Workplace skin exposure in North Carolina

Most employers are aware of the dangers of workplace exposure to chemicals and take steps to help prevent them. Most of the preventative measures employers use, however, are designed primarily to prevent inhalation injuries. Skin exposures to toxic chemicals are also problematic, and steps should be taken to prevent resultant injuries to workers.

Skin exposures can lead to contact or allergic dermatitis, which are reactions at the site of the exposure, or to more serious neurological disorders, diseases, systemic toxicity and skin cancers. These problems are not just relegated to workers in the chemical industry, but rather workers across many different sectors suffer exposure injuries and illnesses.

Facts regarding occupational auto-related accidents

Nearly every day, workers in North Carolina and across the country face dangerous working conditions. One such danger involves accidents involving motor vehicles. In fact, more than a third of on-the-job fatalities are linked to vehicle accidents, according to a recent report.

The risk of workplace-related injuries and fatalities involving vehicles affects various occupations such as those who drive buses, transfer trucks and construction vehicles. While many of these workers, whose main job is to transport people or freight, are protected by a strict set of federal safety policies, employers are not required to follow those policies for employees who must drive a personal or company vehicle during work hours.


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Hickory, NC 28601

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Hickory, NC 28603

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