November 2010 Archives

November 30, 2010

Struck-by accidents a common cause of Georgia work injuries

Federal safety authorities organized and sponsored a stand-down hour this month in an effort to raise awareness of Georgia construction accidents caused by employees being struck by foreign objects.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know that being struck by an object, or coming into contact with heavy equipment, is a common cause of construction accidents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 1 in 6 fatal accidents last year was caused by an employee coming into contact with an object or equipment, accounting for 788 of the 4,340 fatal workplace accidents nationwide. Such accidents killed 11 employees in Georgia.
The event on Tuesday Nov. 9 stopped work for an hour so safety officials could conduct work zone safety training at Georgia construction sites, aimed at preventing injuries resulting from employees being struck by objects or vehicles. Such accidents are a leading cause of construction-related deaths and about 75 percent involve heavy equipment, such as trucks or cranes.

"The one-hour stand down will heighten employees' awareness and their ability to identify and eliminate work-related hazards in the construction community," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator for the Southeast. "This alliance has taken the initiative and shown leadership with organizing and conducting this safety stand-down industry-wide as well as throughout Georgia to emphasize the importance of employees' safety in work zones."

The Georgia Struck-By Alliance consists of OSHA, Associated General Contractors of America Georgia Branch, 3M Visibility and Insulations Solutions, Georgia's Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration Georgia Division, Georgia Highways Contractors Association, Georgia Utility Contractors Association, Association County Commissioners of Georgia, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Lamar Signs, Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia and Georgia Power.

Other Georgia work safety programs put on by the organization include:

-Safety Stand Down on Crane Safety

-Safety Stand Down on Fall Safety

-Safety Stand Down on Trenching & Excavation

-Safety Stand Down on Electric Safety

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November 27, 2010

OSHA safety training can help reduce risk of Atlanta work accidents -- agency bars extra-long training sessions

Federal work-safety advocates are cracking down on the employer practice of cramming safety training sessions in to unreasonably long work days. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has instituted a new rule, effective immediately, which requires its 10-hour safety classes be conducted over two work days and its 30-hour program be taught over a minimum of four days.

Our Georgia workers' compensation lawyers know that many employers loath reducing productivity for mandatory safety training, even in good economic times. Since the start of the recession, safety training in the workplace has been under even more pressure. The government reports 16-hour safety training days were becoming commonplace, likely robbing employees of the ability to process information meant to keep them safe on the job.
"Limiting daily class hours will help ensure that workers receive and retain quality safety training," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels.

Federal authorities were also concerned that the time requirements for the 10-hour and 30-hour classes were not being met in 1-day and 3-day training sessions by the time lunch breaks and other downtime were scheduled.

The new policy goes into effect immediately and OSHA will no longer recognize training in excess of 7.5 hours a day. OSHA has established a safety training fraud hotline where employees can report abuse.

The Outreach Training Program utilizes a network of 17,000 independent trainers that teach workers and employees about OSHA, workers' rights and how to avoid workplace hazards and accidents. Construction, general industry and maritime have 10- and 30-hour training sessions, while disaster-site workers undergo 16-hours of training.

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November 20, 2010

Georgia workers' compensation lawyers note more than 1.2 million lost-time work accidents reported in 2009

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a 9 percent reduction last year in the number of work accidents and injuries that required time away from work. Still, more than 1.2 million employees missed work last year because of an on-the-job accident.

Our Atlanta work accident lawyers believe the reduction is primarily due to the economic downturn. However, fewer employees and an increasing demand for output as the economy recovers can also increase the risk of injury. Those who suffer an accident on the job need to properly document the incident. Failure to do so can impact your ability to collect damages through a Georgia workers' compensation claim. The law protects employees from retaliation if they file an injury claim; consulting an experienced law firm is the best bet to protect the future financial well-being of you and your family.
"Injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work to recuperate can be costly to both employers and employees alike, often resulting in lost productivity for employers and lost wages for workers," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "All employers, private and government, can use the data released today to focus on areas with high incidence rates, and find and fix hazards to prevent future occurrences. We are continuing our efforts to ensure that these data are complete and accurate, so that they will assist employers in that effort."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found significantly higher accident rates among local and state workers, half of whom work in states where public workers have no OSHA coverage.

"We see a high occurrence among many public employee occupations, particularly among transit and intercity bus drivers, law enforcement officers, emergency response workers, and nursing aides and orderlies," Michaels said. "We are also concerned that musculoskeletal disorders continue for the second year in a row to comprise almost 30 percent of all workplace injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work."

The government also noted the reduction was likely due in large part to the economic downturn.

"A decrease in employment and total hours worked, especially in construction and manufacturing, has led to fewer workers exposed to safety and health hazards in the workplace," Michaels said. "As the economy improves, more Americans back on the job could potentially lead to easily preventable work-related injuries and illnesses."

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November 15, 2010

Many hazardous chemical standards a half-century old; Georgia work accidents from chemical exposure an ongoing concern

Exposure to hazardous chemicals is an ongoing concern and a common cause of Georgia work accidents. While the federal government is working to improve safety, even the Occupation Safety & Health Administration admits it does not have a firm grasp on the dangers of chemicals in the 21st Century workplace.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys understand that exposure to harmful chemicals in the workplace can result from a sudden accident or from long-term exposure to a dangerous chemical that results in serious or fatal health consequences.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 390 employees were killed last year due to exposure to harmful substances or environments; another 113 died as a result of fire or explosions. Georgia work accidents involving harmful exposure claimed 10 lives, while three others died in fires or explosions.

Each year thousands of others are injured by chemical exposure in the workplace. OSHA reports exposure can damage virtually all parts of the body, including lungs, skin, liver, kidneys, eyes and mucous membranes. The government reports more than 55,000 exposure events per year.

And that number is likely to be underestimated because the consequences of long-term exposure to numerous chemicals are frequently not recognized until years later.

When OSHA was founded half a century ago, it established 400 permissible exposure limits (PELs) for hazardous chemicals. Since then, more protective regulations have been put in place for only 29 chemicals.

"Many of our permissible exposure limits are based on 1950s-era science that we now realize is inadequate to protect workers in 21st century workplaces," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. "We must assure the protection of workers currently exposed to well-recognized chemical hazards for which we have an inadequate PEL or no PEL at all."

OSHA held a forum on the issue this fall and said it is working on updating exposure limits for many of the chemicals employees deal with in the workplace.

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November 4, 2010

Seasonal employees, holiday crowds, often a recipe for Atlanta work accidents

If you have been to a big box store in the last few weeks, you know it's not too soon to start thinking about the upcoming holiday seasons. Even in southern states like Georgia and Florida, Christmas has replaced lawn and garden and seasonal hiring is in full swing.

Just this week, it was announced that Target would sell $3 appliances as a Black Friday promotion.
New employees and the busiest shopping season of the year can be a dangerous combination. Our Georgia workers' compensation attorneys encourage employees to stay safe and to report work injuries to their employer. Failure to report an accident on the job can result in an inability to collect damages should a serious medical condition later arise.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is already preparing for the holidays, warning retailers that they have an obligation to protect employees from the notorious crowds of Black Friday, and from on-the-job injuries throughout the holiday season.

"Crowd-related injuries during special retail sales and promotional events have increased during recent years," said Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Many of these incidents can be prevented by adopting a crowd management plan, and this fact sheet provides retail employers with guidelines for avoiding injuries during the holiday shopping season."

Safety tips for Georgia employers and employees include:

-Utilize trained security, crowd management personnel or police officers.

-Create a detailed staffing plan.

-Ensure proper training of employees.

-Contact local authorities and comply with all public safety requirements.

-Designate an employee to be the contact with local emergency personnel.

-Prepare and emergency plan.

Too often, retailers stage large, promotional events with no plan to protect employees or the public. Barricades, rope lines and other crowd control measures are not in place. Proper lighting and crowd control are not utilized. Local safety regulations are not followed. Customers are permitted to enter beyond the store's maximum capacity.

When injuries result, it is no accident. It is the negligence of a business owner that is responsible and an Atlanta work accident claim or premise liability lawsuit can be necessary to collect damages.

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