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Gastonia Injury Law Blog

Preventing electrical accidents at work

Workplace safety is a top priority for OSHA. It created the NFPA 70E standard several years ago to ensure that workers in North Carolina and throughout the country are safe from electrical hazards. Ideally, companies will see the standard as a set of guidelines that can be followed to their benefit. By keeping electrical hazards to a minimum, businesses will have fewer injuries that reduce productivity and cost them money.

Furthermore, companies that buy into the standard may find that jobs have to be redone less frequently. This is because there is a greater emphasis on planning before a project is started. Ultimately, there will less time spent covering items, getting equipment and then uncovering items once work is ready to resume. Using the job planning checklist can be another way to save time and money in addition to the savings realized by keeping workers safe on the job.

National Electrical Safety Month begins in May, 2019

Electricity is a major cause of death for those who work in construction. The United States Occupational and Safety Health Administration notes that violation of its electrical standards is one of the top 10 citation areas each year. In 2019, electrocution was the third leading cause of construction worker deaths across the country.

It behooves all North Carolina construction companies to honor National Electrical Safety Month. Construction workers' lives depend on the trust they place in their industry to implement the latest safety devices designed to lower injury or death from electrocution at work. 

The top causes of serious workplace injuries

According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, a serious injury is any incident that causes a person to miss five or more days of work. These injuries in North Carolina and other states are categorized and ranked to find out which incidents are causing the biggest problems for employers and employees. The leading cause in all types of industries was overexertion involving outside sources, which costs the economy more than $13 billion every year.

Research also sought to discover which types of serious workplace injuries were the most common in eight types of industries. In construction, falling from one level to a lower one caused the most injuries. Falls were also the top cause in the hospitality and health care sectors. For all other industries, including transportation, retail and manufacturing, overexertion was the top cause of accidents.

How to reduce risks in the workplace

Employers and employees in North Carolina should focus more on eliminating risks than establishing rigid safety protocols. One key reason is that workers tend to think of workplace safety as something that their employers do on their own. However, workers are acutely aware of the risks that they face whenever performing a task. By focusing more on eliminating risks as opposed to imposing safety tasks, they are more likely to take ownership of the process.

Without worker input, it is difficult or impossible to determine what risks they may face. Without that knowledge, employers can't take the proper steps to keep them safe. It is also important to understand that new hazards may emerge over time, and they are easier to mitigate when workers and managers are actively looking for solutions. Ideally, risk management and productivity will not be seen as competing ideals within a company.

Crash tests show pickup passengers more vulnerable than drivers

Since 2012, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been carrying out crash tests on the driver's side of vehicles. In 2017, it commenced analyzing the passenger's side as well. Now IIHS researchers have found out something about safety in newer two-row pickup trucks that should be of interest to pickup owners in North Carolina.

The IIHS found that passengers are more likely than the drivers to suffer either injuries or death. Out of 11 pickups that were crash tested, only three achieve the highest rating of "good." These were the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan. The Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma were given the next best rating of "acceptable."

Study shows farm machine vibrations raise risk for back pain

Farm workers in North Carolina and across the U.S. may be in danger of developing back pain as a result of the vibrations caused by farm machinery. In a NIOSH-funded study, researchers from the University of Iowa examined vibration levels for 112 pieces of machinery as they were being used by 55 farmers. The machines included tractors, combines, forklifts, bobcats and ATVs.

Within eight hours of use, 56 percent of the machines caused their operators to experience whole-body vibrations that met the European Union's "action level" for exposure limit. Nearly 30 percent of the machines surpassed the exposure limit in less than two hours of use.

The dangers of scaffolding

On virtually all of your North Carolina construction jobs, you have to work on or around scaffolds. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirms that 65 percent of all construction workers do indeed work on or near scaffolding, tall ladders, hoists and/or lifts virtually every work day. This work, in turns, puts you at high risk for sustaining on-the-job injuries.

Per the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 72 percent of the injuries that construction workers like you sustain result from the following four situations:

  1. The supports and/or planking of the scaffolding on which you are standing give way.
  2. You fall off the scaffold.
  3. Something such as a tool falls off the scaffolding and hits you while you are underneath it.
  4. The access by which you get on and off the scaffolding is less than secure.

Ford "Sleep Suit" replicates experience of drowsy driving

Drowsy driving is not only widespread but also dangerous, accounting for one in five road accidents in North Carolina and across the U.S. Experts say that remaining awake for 18 hours or more can create the same level of impairment as that experienced by a drunk driver. Now, Ford has developed a special "Sleep Suit" to raise awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving. This came just in time for World Sleep Day, which was March 15.

The suit raises awareness by simulating the experiences of a drowsy driver, in particular the microsleep episodes. These are periods where the brain involuntarily shuts down for a few seconds, making the driver blind to the road.

Tesla sees high number of OSHA violations 2014-2018

From 2014 to 2018, Tesla was issued a total of 54 OSHA violations. This is three times higher than all the OSHA violations combined that were issued to all the other top 10 auto plants in the U.S. Nissan came in second with five violations, followed by Toyota and Ford with four violations. North Carolina residents may wonder why Tesla's number is so high.

It may have something to do with the fact that Tesla hires the most individuals and contractors of all the top 10 auto plants: 15,000 employees in all. BMW comes in second with 11,000 employees, yet BMW received no OSHA violations between 2014 and 2018, followed by the 8,000 or so employees at Nissan and Toyota. At the same time, Tesla ranks seventh in terms of estimated production capacity.

Traffic groups seek safety devices to be installed on semi-trucks

With a recent rise in the number of fatal truck crashes, two prominent traffic organizations are lobbying the federal government for mandatory safety measures. If the measures become law, it will affect semi-truck drivers in North Carolina as well as those driving through the state.

There are two safety features that the groups seek to become mandatory. The first is a speed limiter that will slow a truck if it exceeds 65 mph. Many truck models have such speed limiters installed, but they can be turned on and off or set at different speeds. According to advocates, the rate of highway accidents is twice as high for those who do not use speed limiters.