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

Evaluating an increase in fatal workplace accidents

North Carolina employers are obligated to provide a safe work environment, but even with excellent preventive measures, accidents can still happen. Trends, however, can signal issues such as poor communication or inattentiveness to safety regulations and practices. Statistics show that there was a 2 percent increase in fatal incidents in the workplace from 2013 to 2014 in the United States, and communication issues could be among those contributing to such changes.

Although statistics don't indicate how increased fatalities related to the languages spoken by the affected workers, approximately 17 percent of those who died in work-related situations in 2014 were born in foreign countries. Approximately 40 percent of these individuals were born in Mexico. More than 60 percent of Latino workers killed on the job were born outside of the United States.

National Farm Safety and Health Week

During the third week of September, the National Safety Council recognizes the safety concerns of farmers in North Carolina and around the country. National Farm Safety and Health Week has been a yearly tradition since 1944, and this year's farm safety promotion was observed from Sept. 20 to Sept. 26.

National Farm Safety and Health Week is scheduled during the month of September because harvest time is usually the most dangerous time to be an agricultural production worker. Farm workers are advised to put safety first while harvesting crops and remember this year's National Farm Safety and Health Week slogan, 'Ag Safety is not just a slogan, it's a lifestyle."

Long shifts put EMS workers at increased risk of injury

North Carolina emergency medical services workers are at a significantly increased risk of injury and illness if they work shifts longer than 12 hours, according to a recent study. The researchers found that those who work extended shifts are 60 percent more likely to develop a work-related injury or illness. The risk increases with the duration of the shift, with those who work 24-hour shifts at the highest risk.

EMS workers face demanding jobs which require physical strength as well as the ability to remain calm in an emergency situation. Researchers explain that the drain of extended shifts could affect the ability of EMS workers to perform their patient duties as well as their own health. The study analyzed 1 million shift schedules for 4,000 EMS workers across a three-year span. Occupational data from 14 large EMS agencies was also observed.

Lights keep North Carolina workers safe

Thanks to advances in lighting technology, those who work in construction or anywhere else where it is dark are safer than ever. For instance, high lumen technology allows for lighting of an entire work area including peripheral areas. In some cases, there is enough light to allow workers to examine certain areas from overhead or potentially dangerous sites from a safe distance.

While most lights need batteries to stay on for long periods of time, some new batteries may be charged with a USB cable. This allows a worker to charge a battery while on the job and eliminates the possibility of a light being unavailable because there are no batteries nearby. They may also be used in conjunction with headlamps, which makes it easier to work without having to carry a light into tight or narrow spaces.

The demands and dangers of being a roofer

A roofer is a demanding and dangerous occupation, especially in North Carolina where summers are commonly hot and humid. In fact, roofers suffer more illnesses and injuries compared with other occupations. Yet, with all the risks involved, there were about 130,000 roofing jobs within the United States during 2012, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report also noted that about one-third of roofers involved in those jobs were self-employed, while nearly two-thirds of them were hired by roofing companies.

In addition to the dangers from hot weather, such as sudden episodes of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, roofers face a plethora of other hazards. They are constantly at risk for slipping and falling off a roof or ladder, being injured by heat and roofing guns or burned from hot asphalt. Without adequate training, a roofer can become severely hurt while lifting heavy materials, or failing to use safety equipment and protective clothing. There are also year-round risks involved in the occupation, as well. Since roofing repairs may be necessary during snowy or rainy conditions, roofers could easily slip on icy or wet surfaces.

Safety glasses and workplace eye injuries

Many North Carolina workers are required to wear safety glasses at their jobs, yet that Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are about 2,000 eye injuries every day at job sites across the country that require medical attention, which is more than one eye injury every minute and accounts for about 25 percent of all head injuries. Prevent Blindness America estimates that up to 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented with proper protective eyewear.

According to workplace injury data, 1 million people have lost part or all of their eyesight from injuries. Between 10 and 20 percent of eye injuries result in the individuals losing their sight temporarily or permanently, leading to them losing an average of two days of work.

Contaminated eyewash endangers workers

Employees in North Carolina may benefit from learning more about the warning for contaminated eyewash water that was recently issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. According to OSHA, employees who use an emergency station that been improperly maintained may be at risk. The eyewash station is required at job sites where employees may be exposed to corrosive or hazardous chemicals. Employees working with formaldehyde, HIV labs and HBV labs must also have access to eyewash equipment.

When the eyewash station is not properly maintained, there is a higher probability that it contains organisms that form in untreated or stagnant water. Employees exposed to these conditions are more likely to contract an infection. The dangerous organisms may be inhaled or come into contact with the eyes and skin. If the employee has already sustained an injury that they are trying to clean with eyewash equipment, they may be more susceptible to contracting an infection.

Amputations program updated by OSHA

Both workers and employers in North Carolina need to be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently revised its procedures and policies for how its National Emphasis Program on amputations is to be implemented. The agency reviewed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in order to determine which work sites will be targets of inspection.

According to OSHA, industries with the highest risks of amputation include commercial bakeries, sawmills, machine shops, food manufacturers and meat processing companies. The highest rate of amputation injury accidents in 2013 was in the manufacturing sector, which suffered more than twice as many amputations than did all private sector industries as a whole.

Most railroads unlikelky to meet federal safety deadline

North Carolina residents may recall the deadly railroad crash on May 12 that claimed eight lives in Philadelphia. An Amtrak commuter train derailed as it rounded a corner at high speeds, and a subsequent inquiry revealed that the tragedy could possibly have been prevented if the train involved had been equipped with a safety system known as positive train control. The technology automatically slows trains in danger of derailing by monitoring their speed using GPS coordinates and radio waves, and Congress passed a law in 2008 that gave railroads until the end of 2015 to install the systems on all of their tracks and trains.

However, a Federal Railroad Administration report released on Aug. 7 reveals that only three railroads have submitted plans to install the safety systems before the Dec. 31 deadline. Among the railroads lagging behind are the nation's leading freight railroad and Amtrak. However, Amtrak officials said that they expect to have PTC operational on busy northeastern commuter lines before the deadline.

Lone worker safety is employer's responsibility

Job safety reports have shown that, while the "buddy system" helps reduce workplace injuries, worker safety for so-called "lone workers" still remains difficult. When workers are forced to do their jobs in isolation, there is a greater chance that they will be injured on the job.

According to experts, a key factor in workplace accidents is whether a worker is required to do his or her job alone. A "lone worker" is identified as anyone who works away from a typical base or location or who is required to work out of sight and sound of other workers. This type of situation is more common to certain industries such as maintenance, utilities, construction and agriculture. It is also more common for those who work on nights or weekends, especially in large facilities such as factories or warehouses.


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Hickory, NC 28601

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Hickory, NC 28603

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