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

Trench collapse in North Carolina kills 1

A civilian employee in North Carolina was killed after an accident that occurred at Fort Bragg on July 24. Identities of both the worker and his employer have yet to be released. The worker was reportedly buried in a trench after it began to collapse at approximately 11 a.m. Search and rescue personnel from an area fire department arrived to offer assistance, but it quickly became apparent that they would be unable to reach the buried worker in time.

Investigators say that displaced dirt had fallen back into the trench, burying the worker. Reports state that he had been attempting to connect two pipes at the time. Response crews secured the sides of the trench in order to remove the dirt and excavate the decedent. The worker's family may wish to consider speaking with legal counsel regarding the viability of filing a claim for damages in court.

The practice of free climbing for electric company workers banned

North Carolina electric utility workers should be aware that those with the Obama Administration have made free climbing, or climbing utility poles without the use of safety harnesses, illegal. One company, Washington-based Seattle City Light, used to let their workers climb in excess of above 180 feet without any form of safety. While the crew chief stated that no injuries had ever occurred, falling from the height could result in life-altering injuries or even death.

Across the country, an average of 74 electric company workers die each year as a result of falls and electrocution. An employee with another Washington-based energy company stated that the fatalities from falls could be reduced if some sort of fall protection was put into place. This particular company, Puget Sound Energy, and its transmission-line contractor no longer permit their workers to engage in free climbing.

Employee killed in North Carolina work plant

Emergency workers found an employee with a crushed skull at a factory. The plant where the fatal workplace accident occurred performs embossing and printing on textiles and plastics.

The North Carolina division of Occupational Health and Safety is performing an investigation of the fatal work injury. According to the plant's vice president, the company called the division to request assistance with looking into the accident. The company will also perform its own investigation. A representative for the state's Department of Labor stated that an investigation is typical after a workplace fatality.

Explosion at GM factory kills 1, injures 8

Residents of North Carolina may be interested to learn about a deadly chemical explosion that happened at a General Motors factory in Indiana. One worker is reported to have died in the explosion and eight others were injured. According to a GM spokesperson, four of the injured workers suffered from non-life-threatening injuries and the other four were sent home without requiring any treatment for their workplace injury.

At around 1:50 p.m. on July 1, emergency officials were notified about an explosion that took place at a metal-stamping factory operated by GM. Following the fatal explosion, employees of the factory were evacuated from the building. The fire department and other emergency workers were said to have responded to the scene promptly. The spokesperson offered his condolences to the deceased team member's family.

Factory fire injures 2 in eastern North Carolina

According to a local news source, a fire that occurred in the Bridgestone-Firestone tire plant about 215 miles east of Hickory, North Carolina, in Wilson, injured two individuals on June 28. Employees were reportedly evacuated while authorities dealt with the blaze, and eight workers suffered from smoke inhalation in the incident.

Respondents to the factory included about 70 firefighters and emergency personnel according to the source. The fire reportedly broke out around 2:45 p.m. on the first floor in the mixing area but did not spread any further. Officials with the company said plant workers tried extinguish the blaze before authorities reached the plant.

North Carolina slaughterhouse evacuated due to ammonia leak

Authorities reportedly evacuated a slaughterhouse in Tar Heel after a severed ammonia line led to an ammonia leak on the plant floor. The June 17 evacuation affected some 2,000 workers at the Tar Heel plant, which is the largest pork slaughterhouse in the world, and at least eight employees suffered minor injuries as a result of the incident, authorities said.

Investigators stated that they are still looking into how the accident occurred. A representative of the company that owns and operates the slaughterhouse stated that a collapsed water-heater tank severed the ammonia line. Yet, the reason the water-heater tank failed is unclear, the representative said.

Growing concern over workplace safety at Amazon fulfillment centers

Many North Carolina residents have likely purchased an item on Amazon.com. From a refrigerator to a bathroom cleaner, customers are able to purchase a wide variety of products from the number one online products providers. Every product ordered from Amazon.com must be sorted, packaged and loaded at one of its 89 warehouses which dot the globe.

According to Amazon.com's website, the company employees more than 88,400 workers in 32 countries around the world. Of those, many work in fulfillment centers and warehouses to ensure purchased products are packaged and loaded properly. According to the Amazon.com career page, a Fulfillment Specialist position at one of Amazon's warehouses requires that a worker is able to perform "continuous walking, standing, bending pushing, pulling reaching, and handling in a warehouse environment."

150 U.S. workers will die today from work-related injuries and illnesses

The United States has some of the strictest workplace safety laws and regulations of any developed country. While great strides and improvements have been made with regard to workplace safety since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, every day an estimated 150 U.S. workers die from workplace injuries and occupational illnesses.

The ALF-CIO recently released a Death on the Job Report which details statistics related to workplace injuries and fatalities from 2012, which is the most recent year for which comprehensive data exists. While the report details 3.8 million reported injuries among U.S. workers during 2012, the real number of injuries suffered by U.S. workers is likely much higher with actual numbers estimated at between 7.6 to 11.4 million.

Tips to avoid suffering a work-related back injury

Whether standing or sitting, walking or standing; the muscles in an individual's back are always working and often stressed. Back injuries are among the most prevalent and debilitating of all injuries. An injury to the lower or upper back can be painful and greatly inhibit an individual's ability to work and enjoy life.

Regardless of job position or assigned duties, an individual's back is often put under tremendous stress. Back injuries among employees who work in construction and nursing, where the lifting of heavy objects is routine, are especially prone to suffering lower or upper back injuries. However, even employees who primarily sit behind an office desk may be at risk for back injuries as poor posture and inactivity lead to weakened muscles which are then more prone to injury.

Majority of farm-related injuries and illnesses go unreported

Given North Carolina's strong agricultural ties, recent news related to the underreporting of agricultural injuries and illnesses is especially troubling. The information is detailed in a study which was conducted by researchers at UC-Davis. The study provides strong statistical information that shows an estimated 77 percent of U.S. agricultural-related injuries and illnesses go unreported.

Agricultural-related jobs are already traditionally listed as being among the most-dangerous occupations in the U.S. Researchers conducting the study estimate that more than 140,000 injuries and illnesses suffered by agricultural workers on both crop and livestock farms went unreported during 2011 alone.

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Hickory, NC 28603

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