March 2011 Archives

March 30, 2011

Georgia Work Illnesses Caused by Hazardous Airborne Contaminants

Two documents have been developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for spirometry testing.

Our Georgia workers' compensation attorneys know that this kind of testing will help, but not eliminate, employee exposure to respiratory hazards. A prior post to our Georgia Workers Compensation Attorney Blog illustrated the risks to workers exposed to high levels of dust that could lead to Georgia work injuries.
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To determine how well your lungs breathe air in and out, a spirometry test is performed, using a spirometer. Over time, employees who inhale such contaminates as gases, dust or smoke can develop lung damage. Frequent testing can detect changes in an employee's lung function or breathing difficulties
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The two guidance documents, one for workers and one for employers, provide information to help employers identify and eliminate respiratory hazards in the workplace and help workers reduce or prevent them from developing lung disease.

The new OSHA-NIOSH Infosheet for employers explains what spirometry is, the benefit it provides to their employees and when it is needed. The information also goes into detail as to how monitoring employee's lung function over time can catch early lung problems and identify respiratory hazards in the workplace that need fixing.

The employees portion of the OSHA-NIOSH Worker Infosheet, document explains the significance of taking a spirometry test, how to take the test and their right to get a copy and explanation of test results.

"Spirometry is the best available test for early detection of decreasing or abnormal lung function," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Our joint effort with NIOSH in developing these products will help broaden outreach and enhance knowledge of preventive measures aimed at protecting worker health and safety."

NIOSH was also satisfied with the joint effort.

"We are pleased to join with OSHA in emphasizing the important role of spirometry in preventing costly, debilitating, and potentially fatal occupational lung diseases," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "These tests are a vital component of health and safety programs in workplaces where workers may be exposed to hazardous airborne contaminants."

Spirometry testing is recommended by OSHA to identify workers having unfavorable health effects from exposure to flavorings, including food flavorings containing diacetyl and diacetyl substitutes. More information is available at Occupational Exposure to Flavoring Substances: Health Effects and Hazard Controls and Worker Alert on Diacetyl and Substitutes.

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March 22, 2011

Georgia Boat Maker cited for Work Safety Violations

We reported last month on our Georgia Workers' Compensation Attorney Blog about a South Georgia company who was cited for several work-safety violations regarding combustible dust and exposing their employees to a hazardous work environment.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys want to remind workers of the serious danger as another Georgia company has been cited for similar violations. Combustible dust explosions in the workplace can lead to life-altering changes for the victims and their families. Fire and explosions leave burn victims scarred and many times asthma and breathing problems result from too much smoke inhalation.

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced that Carolina Skiff LLC is at fault for 19 safety and health violations and will be penalized accordingly. Violations were found in a 2008 site-specific program inspection, of which very little was addressed, so the Waycross, GA company now faces $95,240 in fines as a result of the follow-up inspection.

Carolina Skiff is being cited for six repeat violations adding up to $45,740 in penalties. Repeat violations are cited when the employer has previous knowledge or has been cited for the same or similar violations within the last 5 years. OSHA also cited the fiberglass boat manufacturer for 10 serious citations adding up to $48,510. Fines totaling $990 were assigned for three other-than-serious health citations.

Safety violations included:

-Use of unapproved electrical equipment and compressed air in areas where combustible dust is highly concentrated which can lead to an explosion or fire.

-Failure to place exit signs for emergency escape hazards.

-Allowing dust accumulations to form without proper cleaning.

-Cleaning with compressed air greater than 30 pounds per square inch.

-Fall hazards.

-Flammable liquids used during spray painting were stored and transferred inappropriately.

-Potential electrical hazard due to an inadequate installation of an electrical service system.

Citations given for a few of the health-related violations include:

-Failure to conduct engineering controls that would reduce high noise levels.

-Failure to comply with a program that conserves hearing and safety on noise-related issues.

-Welders lack of trained knowledge on hexavalent chromium hazards.

-Failure to provide appropriate protective gear, such as clothes and gloves, for employees exposed to potential skin injuries from styrene-containing resin.

-Overexposure to excessive amounts of airborne styrene considered over the permissible limit.

Carolina Skiff has 15 business days to comply, contest, or meet with OSHA's area director about the proposed citations. "Carolina Skiff continues to leave its employees at risk of serious injury or illness by failing to implement the proper safety and health protections," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah.

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March 17, 2011

Georgia Car Accidents Leading Cause for Fatal Work Injuries

A 51-year-old Medical College of Georgia Hospital worker was struck by an SUV that allegedly failed to yield at a pedestrian crosswalk, reports The Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia workers' compensation lawyers would like to remind you that your safety is your employers business, too. An Economic News Release reports that nearly 100 people were killed in Georgia work accidents last year and about half of those died in transportation incidents. Our lawyers can help you to take some of the stress out of workers' compensation problems and personal injury accidents so you can focus on your recovery.
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GHSU President Ricardo Azziz previously denied a request asking that the area, where the incident earlier this week took place, be closed off to most vehicle traffic. Azziz has decided to open the case up once again and continue to look into the issue.

The National Highways Transportation Safety Administration reports that nearly 31,000 fatalities occurred last year from motor vehicle traffic crashes. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average employed American works an estimated 47-hours a week. That leaves plenty of opportunity for work-related car accidents to occur.

Being injured on the job can have numerous effects on your life. Not only will you have to fight for your rights as an employee to cover medical expenses, but you could faced lost wages at work and other issues that impact your future financial well-being. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that more than 1.2 million employees missed work last year because of an on-the-job accident causing lost wages.

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March 12, 2011

Georgia Company Cited for Lack of Cave-in Protection; Trenching Presents High Risk of Work Injury

The Latex Construction Co. Inc. of Conyers, Georgia has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to provide cave-in protection to its employees while working in a trench.

The company was working along Old National Highway in Atlanta laying 12 miles of natural gas pipe in a trench. The proposed fines total $42,000.
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Our Georgia workers' compensation attorneys know that trenching and excavating work kills roughly 50 workers a year nationally - countless others are injured. Trench cave-ins are among the most dangerous and most common construction accidents.

A repeat citation was issued by OSHA, to the company, for lacking cave-in protection on a trench that was 150 feet long, 17 feet wide and 7 feet deep. Workers can be engulfed or crushed by the trench walls if they are not properly secured. Latex Construction was issued a repeat citation because it was cited for the same violation while working in Florida in 2007.

"This employer is aware of OSHA's requirements but left the workers unprotected," said Andre Richards, director of OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office. "Being irresponsible about workers' safety is unacceptable, and OSHA will not tolerate it."

A serious violation was also issued to the company for not having a ladder within 25 feet of the workers in the trench. OSHA requires a means of escape be close by in the event of a cave-in.

Unless a trench is made in stable rock OSHA requires a protective system be in any trench that is deeper than 5 feet.

Several different types of protective systems exist to protect workers in trenches including:

-Shielding: involves the use of trench boxes placed in the excavation area.

-Shoring: involves installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil from moving.

-Sloping: requires cutting the trench wall back so it inclines away from the excavation.

Additional trenching and excavation rules include: don't pile extra dirt within 2 feet of the trench edges, don't let heavy equipment go near trench edges, trenches need to be inspected before work begins and after it rains, never work under raised loads and always know the location of underground utilities.

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