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Gastonia Injury Law Blog

Why employees should report all incidents

Managers and frontline workers in North Carolina need to know the importance of incident reporting. It keeps an organization safe and efficient and makes everyone more aware of the hazards that are faced in the workplace.

These hazards can include faulty machinery and equipment, a lack of equipment, the threat of exposure to harmful chemicals, inadequate training and the threat of improper behavior like harassment or showing up at work under the influence of drugs. Incident reporting is especially needed among office workers, manual laborers and those in the manufacturing industry where heavy machinery is present.

Construction’s “Fatal Four” cause majority of worker deaths

As a North Carolina construction worker, you may have grown accustomed to spotting hazards around virtually every corner. You probably do everything in your power to protect yourself and stay safe on the job site. Your employer must also prioritize your safety, as well as that of other workers. Otherwise, serious, potentially life-threatening injuries can result.

Regrettably, fatalities on construction sites are not uncommon. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that construction workers suffered more than 20% of all work-related fatalities in 2017. In fact, more than 5,100 construction workers lost their lives while on the job that year. Many of them experienced deaths related to similar hazards and circumstances.

Study finds reduced health among workers in dead-end jobs

Many variables influence job satisfaction in North Carolina. While pay is certainly a big factor, and a new study concludes that issues like schedule flexibility, job security and opportunity for advancement also influence the physical/mental health of workers.

Researchers analyzed data collected from roughly 6,000 adults who responded to the General Social Survey. They compared responses related to their employment situations alongside answers about physical health, mental health and on-the-job injuries. The data helped the researchers drill down into the relationship between health and poor working conditions, such as harassment or the threat of job loss. People working in dead-end jobs that offered very little opportunity for advancement or control over work duties had the greatest chance of being in poor health. Even well-paying dead-end jobs, like manufacturing assembly line work, produced negative health outcomes.

Oil and gas extraction workers, miners prone to hearing loss

North Carolina miners and oil and gas extraction operators are at serious risk of hearing loss, based on a new study. The study, which was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, was conducted by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Taft Laboratory in Ohio.

NIOSH recommends that workers be exposed to under 85 decibels of noise per eight-hour shift to avoid hearing loss. However, many operators in the mining and oil and gas extraction sectors are apparently exposed to more than this maximum. According to the agency's study, around 61% of all employees in those industries have been exposed to dangerous levels of on-the-job noise. Researchers found that 36% of noise-exposed employees in the construction sand and gravel mining industry suffered hearing loss. Meanwhile, 31% of noise-exposed uranium, radium and vanadium ore miners, 28% of bituminous coal and lignite surface miners, 27% of iron ore miners and 24% of copper and nickel ore miners suffered hearing damage. Researchers also found that 28% of noise-exposed operators in the natural gas liquid extraction industry suffered hearing loss.

Ninth Circuit rules in favor of OSHA in toxic exposure case

According to a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, North Carolina employers must determine before work starts whether employees could need respiratory equipment. The ruling was handed down in a case involving workers who said that air quality was poor while performing welds on a ship's voids. As a result of the poor air quality, workers for Seward Ship's Drydock Inc. filed a complaint with OSHA.

The company was given 13 citations for exposing workers to dangerous fumes that contained elements such as iron oxide and manganese. Inhaling these elements could result in labored breathing or developing a condition called "iron lung." The company did have a competent person perform grab samples to ensure that workers were not exposed to dangerous levels of gas. An administrative law judge ruled that this was enough to keep workers safe, and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission concurred with this decision.

Key aspects of hit-and-run claims in North Carolina

Auto accidents occur every day. If parties are not prepared, it can leave them with serious financial burdens. For this reason, laws exist to protect and assist citizens.

Particularly in the case of a hit-and-run accident, drivers must follow the right protocol. There are a few key aspects parties should be aware of.

Safety advocates push for truck side guard requirement

North Carolina residents should know that 4,102 Americans died in large truck crashes in 2017. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that 82% of these victims were occupants of other vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians and that most died by being crushed in the exposed area between the truck's front and rear wheels.

In fact, the majority of truck crashes are side-impact crashes. From 2005 to 2009, a total of 556 pedestrians and bicyclists in the U.S. died in side-impact crashes.

Improving workers' safety with floor markings

Most warehouses, factories and other commercial buildings in North Carolina can benefit from having more floor markings. Floor tape in particular, especially reflective and fluorescent material, is affordable as well as versatile. Its use can extend beyond flooring to the walls, pipes, tools and equipment. The following are just some of the ways that floor marking can improve safety in the workplace.

Every facility is different, so floor markings should, first of all, identify site-specific hazards. If there are any beams, ramps or loading docks that might pose a hazard, they should be clearly highlighted. Electrical outlets and access doors could also benefit from the extra marking.

Fatigue a factor in many workplace injuries

For many people, modern-day life in North Carolina and throughout the country is characterized by the nonstop demands of a 24/7 world. Everything is seemingly always available. Nothing ever shuts down, and neither do people. The result of this continuing type of lifestyle is reflected in fewer hours per night of sleep, which very quickly translates into fatigue. Chronic fatigue, in turn, is not simply a personal issue but one that can impact how a person performs, or, perhaps more accurately, does not perform his or her job.

Various work-related research studies have revealed some remarkable information regarding how workers perform when they are fatigued. First of all, the population in general needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, almost a third of workers get less than six hours on average. Fatigue causes the lack of ability to focus, loss of muscle coordination, issues with memory and greater distractibility. One study showed that a person trying to perform after 18 hours of being awake is the same as someone with a 0.50 BAC. Other research estimates that 13% of all work-related injuries are the result of lack of sleep.

NSC: traffic deaths reach 40,000 for third year in a row

For three consecutive years, from 2016 to 2018, the number of traffic deaths in North Carolina and across the U.S. has reached and even exceeded 40,000. This is according to preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council. In 2018, there were approximately 40,000 fatalities, which was a 1% decline from 2016, at 40,327 deaths, and 2017, at 40,231 deaths.

A 5.8% increase in fatalities could be seen in Washington, D.C., and several states, including Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada and Hawaii. On the other hand, Maine, New Jersey, Kansas and Wyoming were notably safer with a more than 9.4% drop in roadway deaths. Overall, though, the trend is not good; numbers are 14% higher than they were in 2015. Bad driving behaviors are largely to blame.