April 2011 Archives

April 25, 2011

OSHA Cites Companies for Georgia Work Accidents

A recent string of work accident in Georgia led to numerous safety violations and thousands in fines.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a popular beauty products manufacturer, House of Cheatham, Inc., 16 separate safety and health citations. The citations are the result of a 2010 inspection at its Stone Mountain facility which revealed that the company was not meeting recommended safety standards. The company is facing proposed penalties totaling more than $46,000.
Our Atlanta personal injury lawyers understand that employers are expected to keep their employees safe on the job by providing safe working conditions, regardless of the place of employment. We would like you to know that it doesn't matter whether you were responsible for the accident that caused your injuries; if you are injured at work for any reason, you may seek damages under the state's workers' compensation program.

OSHA will issue a "serious violation" when there is substantial probability that an employer knows, or should have known, about a hazard that could cause death or serious injury. House of Cheatham, Inc. received 11 serious citations including the failure to properly store oxygen and acetylene cylinders and failure to have lockout/tagout procedures to prevent accidental start-up of a machine.

An "other-than-serious" violation is issued when a hazard has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but would probably not cause serious physical harm or death. The company also received 5 other-than-serious citations, including failure to ensure that employees wearing respirators and failure to provide retraining for employees wearing those respirators.

Another company, Aluminum Finishing, LLC, received 18 citations for various hazards after 2010 inspections. OSHA conducted a first inspection in 2008 and a follow-up inspection in October of 2010. The company was inspected after complaints reported alleged safety hazards. The company is currently facing penalties of more than $125,800, according to an OSHA press release.

A "willful violation" is issued when an employer demonstrates a plain indifference to an employee's safety and health or intentional disregard for the requirements of the law.
The company was handed one willful citation for exposing employees to various fall hazards. They were billed nearly $54,000 for the dangerous condition.

A "repeat violation" is issued when an employer has previously been cited for the same or a similar violation of a rule, order, standard or regulation at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The company was issued 6 repeat citations costing them more than $43,000 for failing to have employees use fall protection. Fall protection is required when employees are working above dip tanks. They also failed to provide sanitary conditions for workers, failed to guard live electrical equipment and failed to cover open troughs to prevent tripping. The company received their repeat violations after having been initially cited in a 2008 inspection.

Being injured on the job can have can affect your life in a number of ways. Not only will you have to fight for your rights as an employee to have medical expenses covered, but you could also face lost wages at work. 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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April 23, 2011

Salon Workers Experience High Levels of Dangerous Chemical Increasing Risks of Serious Georgia Workplace Injury

The United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) and State OSHA programs are currently investigating several complaints from salon owners and employees claiming to have experienced exposure to formaldehyde from the use of Brazilian Blowout products and other hair smoothing products, according to a recent OSHA Hazard Alert.

Our Atlanta workers compensation lawyers would like to warn employees and owners about the recent studies, which found formaldehyde present in the air when using so-called "formaldehyde-free" products. These products neglect to list formaldehyde on their product label, which could potentially cause serious damage to your eyes, throat and lungs if overexposed.

During one of the investigations, the agency's air tests revealed formaldehyde at levels greater than the recommended limits for a salon. Violations were recently handed out to an importer and distributor of the so-called "formaldehyde-free" product. The violations were for failing to list the hazardous ingredient. Exposure to these chemicals can be dangerous and can bring about a worker's compensation claim in Atlanta or elsewhere.

"Workers have the right to know the risks associated with the chemicals with which they work, and how to protect themselves," said federal OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Employers need to know these risks in order to ensure the safety and health of their employees."

Formaldehyde can be very dangerous if a worker is exposed to dangerous levels or for an excessive amount of time. Formaldehyde can cause irritation to the eyes and nose while also causing allergic reactions to the eyes, lungs and skin. It has also been linked to nose and lung cancer. You can experience these side effects by either breathing in the chemical or coming into physical contact with it. Different levels of the chemical are tolerable by different people. Regardless, it is important to keep the levels under the recommended OSHA standard.

OSHA offers these tips to help salons keep their business in compliance with the recommended OSHA levels:

-Make sure that employees understand information on a product's label before use.

-Install air ventilation systems in your salon, especially in areas where the products are used. Inspect the ventilators often.

-Require workers to use low heat settings on flat irons, blow-dryers and other heated hair utensils when possible.

-Post signs where formaldehyde may be above OSHA's level to warn everyone of the dangers and ensure that only authorized personnel enters the area.

-Educate workers about the effects of the chemical. Make sure they understand how to safely use the product and what protective gear to wear during use.

-Make sure all workers are properly trained in techniques for cleaning up spill and properly disposing the product.

-Provide workers with respirators and train them how to properly use them, just in case.

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April 16, 2011

National digging awareness reduces Georgia injuries suffered on the job

The National Safety Council wants to remind us all that April is Safe Digging Month.

Our Georgia workers' compensation lawyers want you to "Call Before You Dig". Whether you are a homeowner planting a tree or a contractor building an addition, you need to know what is below to avoid a potentially deadly accident.
"Spring is the time many of us take on outdoor projects and home improvements. We need to remember that there can be danger just below our feet. That is the reason we need to call 811 before beginning any type of digging, whether we are planting petunias, installing a sprinkler system, fence posts, mail boxes or building a deck." Georgia 811's President and CEO Claudette Campbell said.

The 811 hotline was created to protect our underground utility infrastructure from being damaged by digging projects. Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is the group specifically created to work with all industries in this effort. The 8-1-1 campaign was launched to increase the public's awareness of the dangers of damaging underground utility lines.

811 is an easy means of getting your underground utility lines marked before starting your digging project. All you need to do is tell the call center operator about your digging project, in turn, they will call your local utility companies. Within a few days of your call your underground cables and pipes will be marked for you.

Universal colors mark your utilities including red for electric and yellow for gas. A complete list of color markings can be found here.

Don't take the chance of not calling 811, you could be held responsible for fines and repair costs if you damage an underground utility line. Knocking out power to an entire neighborhood is also a possibility. It goes without saying that hitting a gas line could have disastrous consequences to you and those around you.

Georgia's 811 four Dig Safely practices include:

-Call before you dig.
-Wait the required amount of time for marking.
-Respect the marks.
-Dig with care.

Georgia 811 local information can be seen here.

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April 7, 2011

GDOT Remembers Those Lost in Georgia Work Accidents during National Work Zone Awareness Week

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) recognized fallen workers earlier this week during the National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week kick-off. The celebration was held at the One Georgia Center and in attendance were many members from the transportation department and local government officials. This event was dedicated to the workers we've lost in unfortunate and preventable Atlanta work zone accidents.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers urge you to participate in Georgia's "Go Orange!" work zone safety campaign in an attempt to reduce the dangers in our highway construction zones.
"The arrival of spring and warmer weather, coupled with construction through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, mean an increase in highway construction and heightens the risk for Georgia motorists and GDOT workers," a press release said.

GDOT officials report that, in 2009, nearly 700 people died and almost 34,000 people were injured in road construction zones in the United States, according to Fox 31. The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse reports that Georgia reported more than 30 deaths and almost 1,300 injures to those statistics.

"The biggest problem we have with that is motorist speeding through the work zone, not slowing down, and running what we've reduced the speed to; so speeding and then the other thing is texting and talking on the phone," says Craig Solomon with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Officials will be displaying 57 orange cones and will be wearing orange vests to alert drivers of the threats motorists pose to road workers. Officials are representing the 57 workers we've lost in work zones since 1973. Motorists present the greatest risk of threats to these employees. It is not uncommon for a Georgia construction employee to work in these zones while cars fly by at speeds of 65 miles per hour.

The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse offers these tips to workers in the construction and maintenance zones:

-Make sure you and your employer have ensured adequate separation between workers and traffic.

-Make sure everyone on site is trained in federal- and state-approved traffic control

-Implement standards that require all workers to wear personal protective equipment, which can include hard hats, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, reflective vests, etc.

-Make sure appropriate safety devices are use, such as drums, cones, and a truck-mounted attenuator when working in a closed travel lane.

-Avoid using MP3 players, radios, televisions or any other distracting devices while on the job.

-Have a plan for escaping your work area to a safe location if something happens.

GDOT officials have presented this Work Zone Safety Presentation to help motorists practice more educated driving skills in these construction and maintenance zones.

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