June 2011 Archives

June 25, 2011

Protect Our Teens This Summer from a Work Accident in Georgia

Do you have a child that is going to work over the summer? You may want to make sure that they're working an age-appropriate job with all safety requirements met. Parents are urged to peek in on their young workers, without being too obvious of course, to make sure that they remain safe on the job this summer.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, all workers are entitled to safe and healthful working conditions. Employers are responsible for keeping all workers from potential harm. It is only reasonable to assume that our young workers are not aware of their rights in the workplace. They may not be familiar with what the current child labor laws are or what their employers are required to do for them to protect them from a work accident in Atlanta.

Our Georgia workers' compensation attorneys urge you to get familiar with these rights and regulations if you too are not aware of them already. You can read the Workers Rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act and share it with your child to make sure that there treated equally and protected from harm at work this summer.

Tips to help ensure their child has a safe and rewarding job during the summer break:

-Get familiar with the Federal and State child labor laws. This will better help you to determine if their employer is abiding by these rules. Federal law limits the number of hours that young adults can work in a number of jobs. There are also jobs and work-related activities that children under the age of 18 are prohibited from participating in under federal law.

-You are urged to get involved in your child's employment decisions. It is important for you to know where your young worker is working and exactly what they'll be doing. Get involved. Ask them, often, what they did at work. Encourage them to talk about any problems or concerns.

-Talk with your young worker about the jobs they're involved with and the training and supervision that is provided, if any, by the employer.

-It is encouraged that you keep an eye out for signs that their job is taking too much of a physical or mental toll on your child. Be sure that they're not too exhausted for other activities. Be sure that they're not losing interest or energy for other hobbies. If they're experiencing any of this, then the job may be too demanding for them. Other signs of overwork can include increased stress levels, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.

As agricultural jobs are quite common in our state, it is important for us to keep an eye on our young workers that choose employment in this industry. According to OSHA, more than 40 percent of young workers that were killed from 1992 to 2000 were killed in agriculture jobs. More than a third of these deaths happened around tractors.

Young work injury may occur when:

-Operating unsafe equipment.

-Working under stressful conditions.

-Lacking adequate safety training.

-A lack of adequate supervision.

-Working under severe pressure.

-Participating in dangerous work that is illegal or inappropriate for young workers.

"The biggest problem with young workers is attitude," explains According to Bryan Lowe of the BC Safety Council. "Ironically they have a great attitude. They are so happy to have a job that they'll do almost anything. Young workers need to know that they need to be safe, and that if they aren't safe, then the whole point of the job is defeated. So safety has to come first."

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June 15, 2011

Georgia's Plan to Rid Farms of Workers Backfires

(A new law, House Bill 87, aims to get rid of illegal immigrants in Georgia. Lawmakers are surprised that it's doing just that, getting rid of illegal immigrants in the state. This was a plan that wasn't completely thought through as it now is causing undue harm to farmers across the state.

Now that there is a shortage of workers, since illegal immigrants have been forced out, there is a plethora of untouched unharvested crops rotting in our fields, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Georgia's largest industry has been drastically affected because of the lack of workers' rights in Atlanta and elsewhere throughout the state.
Our Georgia workers compensation lawyers recognize that just two weeks after the bill was put into effect, farmers were already feeling the negative side effects from the change and grew infuriated by the impact this new law and regulation has had on their livelihood.

After the uproar, an investigation was conducted to assess the damages. More than 200 farmers were surveyed by the Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. The results of this survey conclude that farmers will need more than 11,000 workers to finish out the season. This may only be a fraction of the need as not every farmer was surveyed.

"The agriculture industry is the number one economic engine in Georgia and it is my sincere hope to find viable and law-abiding solutions to the current problem our farmers face," Deal said in announcing the findings. In the meantime, Deal proposes that farmers try to hire the 2,000 unemployed criminal probationers estimated to live in southwest Georgia.

There are more than 6,300 unclaimed jobs that reportedly pay out between $7.25 and $8.99 an hour. There are another 3,200 jobs that reportedly pay $9 to $11 an hour. Even though our agriculture commissioner has been quoted as saying that Georgia farms need to pay anywhere between $12 and $18 an hour for these jobs, the survey reports that just under 200 job openings out of more than 11,000 reward workers with $16 or more.

On top of low wages, less than 8 percent of these are offered health insurance. A third of these employees are offered workers compensation.

Still, the Governor aims to seek "viable and law-abiding solutions" for this problem that he helped to create. Many believe that he plans on doing anything but. Many worker advocates believe that if this solution were plausible, it would have been in place a long time ago.

Many believe that Georgia is going to have a hard time getting out of this one. If they were to attempt to alleviate these shortages by offering better paying positions, then the cost of the crop would have to be increased as well. This price increase would put them at a disadvantage against their competitors. States without such tough immigration laws would be able to keep the prices of their crops down. That's one of the major disadvantages of having a government that tries to implement immigration reform state by state, rather than all at once.

Farmers are losing their workers, their crops and their profits. Some may even lose their farms. This could prove to be a major disadvantage for the already economically embattled rural Georgia.

There was a federal court challenge filed last week.

It is estimated that more than 3 million people work on more than 2.3 million farms and ranches in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, work-related health problems and on-the-job accidents killed nearly 1,500 people each year. These incidents also result in more than 120,000 injuries each year. Many of these accidents are believed to be preventable.

Farm workers who are injured on the job should contact a Georgia workers' compensation lawyers as an Atlanta personal injury law firm is able to help to protect your rights.

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June 13, 2011

OSHA Aims to Prevent Work Falls in Georgia and Elsewhere

Later this month will begin the new three-month period in which employers have to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's new directive.

This new directive requires that all safety precautions for residential construction workers be enforced and practiced. These rules are to prevent falls and serious injuries from work accidents in Georgia and elsewhere throughout the United States.

"We want to make sure that the residential construction industry has every opportunity to successfully come into compliance with the new directive," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "I am confident that this phase-in period will provide employers the additional time and flexibility they need to alter their work practices in accordance with the requirements of the new directive."

Our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys understand that falls are common accidents on area work sites. Employers are required to take all of the necessary safety precautions and follow all safety regulations to prevent these accidents. If safety standards are not met, an employer can face serious consequences.

The three-month period will run from June 16 to Sept. 15. If employers fail to meet these regulations, they will receive a hazard alert letter. This letter will inform the employer how he or she can fully comply with the fall protection standard. If the employer still fails to meet the requirements, a citation will be issued.

"Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace deaths in construction. We cannot tolerate workers getting killed in residential construction when effective means are readily available to prevent those deaths," Michaels said. "Almost every week, we see a worker killed from falling off a residential roof. We can stop these fatalities, and we must."

OSHA is available to help employers meet these standards. It offers resources and guidance materials on its website for employers to reference. This website, that includes fall protection information, recently got more than 3,000 hits in a week.

The new directive, or the Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction (STD 03-11-002), provides a full description of the new phase-in policy, a presentation and information about requirements for protecting workers from on-the-job falls.

Looking for even more help? OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program is here to help you with free and confidential advice for businesses in every state. This service gives priority to high-hazard work sites.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 600 fatal work falls in 2009. Roughly half of these falls happen in construction. There has been a recent decline in the number of fatal work falls -- down 12 percent from 2008 -- but the Bureau credits the decline in overall construction activity and employment for the drop.

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June 6, 2011

OSHA Hands Out 13 Violations for Failing to Properly Prevent Georgia Work Accidents

Quality Graphics Inc. recently received 13 safety violations from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The violations followed an inspection conducted by the Administration earlier this year. They now face fines of $45,000 for failing to reduce the risks of a work injury in Georgia.
"OSHA found numerous serious hazards, some of which involve risk of possible amputations by unguarded equipment and dangers related to improperly maintained forklifts," said Andre Richards, director of OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office. "No business should allow these types of hazards in its workplace."

Workplace safety conditions have to meet specific federal regulations to avoid possible citations, violations and fines. More importantly, work sites are to meet these regulations to help prevent work injuries and fatalities. Our Georgia workers' compensation attorneys would like to remind workers and employers about these regulations. If you experience an injury on the job, you are urged to contact an experienced attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Quality Graphics Inc. received 12 of these violations for hazards including electrical and tripping deficiencies, along with violations of OSHA's local emphasis program on forklifts. These forklift violations include allowing employees to operate a forklift truck that had missing and damaged parts, not conducting daily inspections of the forklift truck and not providing training on safe operation of forklift trucks. OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Amputations clearly cites these amputation violations.

The remaining violation was cited with no monetary penalty for not developing a hazard communication program for employees using chemicals capable of causing eye and skin irritation.

The graphics company currently has about 19 workers in Dalton. The company prints graphics designs on carpeting.

OSHA offers companies a free on-site consultation program. The Administration encourages small- and medium-sized companies to take advantage of this program in order to maintain safe and efficient working conditions.

Quality Graphics Inc. has 15 business days to either contest the findings, comply or request an informal conference with OSHA's area director.

Business and Legal Resources (BLR) offers these safety tips for forklift operators to help keep you safe on the job:

-Be sure to inspect your forklift before every shift.

-Complete training, evaluations and testing before operating a forklift.

-Always wear a seat belt when operating the machinery.

-Never load a forklift with more than its rated capacity.

-Make sure that the load is secure before moving.

-Never allow a person to stand or pass under the forks.

-Place load as far back by the mast as possible.

-Slow down and sound the horn when approaching an intersection if your view may be obstructed.

-Make sure to make all maneuvers slowly and smoothly.

-Slow down on ramps, inclines and grades.

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