January 2012 Archives

January 25, 2012

Pilot Fired After Voicing Concerns for Risks of Work Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere

A former commercial airline pilot will be getting his job back soon, after officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ordered AirTran Airways to reinstate the employee to his former position with the company. The airline's pilot was originally let go from his job after he reported a number of mechanical concerns. In addition to getting his job back, the company has been ordered to give the pilot over $1 million in back wages, compensatory damages and interest. Results from a Whistleblower Protection Program inspection concluded that the when the employee was fired, the company was using it as an act of retaliation by the employer and that AirTran was in fact violating OSHA's whistleblower provision. Firing or reprimanding employees who report work accidents in Georgia and elsewhere is unfair, unconstitutional and covered under workers compensation claims.
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"Airline workers must be free to raise safety and security concerns, and companies that diminish those rights through intimidation or retaliation must be held accountable," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels.

Our Atlanta workers compensation attorneys understand that the AirTran employee was let go from his pilot position back in August 2007, pending an investigative hearing into the sudden increase in the number of reports from the employee regarding a number of mechanical problems he claimed to observe. The investigative hearing was held on September 6, 2007. This hearing lasted for only about 15 minutes. Just a week later, the pilot was let go from the company, saying he didn't adequately answer the company's questions on standards regarding the spike in concerns. Investigations from OSHA determined that the pilot didn't refuse to answer any of the questions and that the answers he provided were appropriate and that the dismissal of the pilot was retaliatory.

Those who raise safety concerns in the workplace are to be protected under workers' rights.

A whistleblower provision is enforced by OSHA. Within this provision OSHA has a number of ways to protect those who raise concerns regarding workplace safety. OSHA pushes 20 addition statutes to help to protect employees who speak out about trucking, health, nuclear, environmental, maritime, consumer, food, securities, safety, pipelines, rail, health care and product safety laws.

Retaliation from an employer can include:

-Getting fired.

-Being blacklisted.

-Being demoted.

-Being held back from receiving overtime or a deserved promotion.

-Unnecessary disciplining.

-Failing to receive deserved benefits.

-Failing to be hired to rehired.

-Being purposely intimidated.

-Receiving workplace threats.

-Cutting deserved pay or scheduled hours.

Workers who feel an employer has retaliated against them for raising safety concerns are asked to file a complaint with the secretary of labor to induce an investigation from OSHA officials. Call OSHA's regional office in Atlanta at (678) 237-0400 to report your concerns and seek support from an Atlanta workers compensation lawyer to help to ensure that you're properly compensated.

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January 18, 2012

Georgia Worker Accidents on OSHA's Radar

Potential work accidents in Georgia are catching the eyes of officials with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Recently, there were two Georgia companies, Coleman Natural Foods and NuTech Powder Coaters LLC, that were inspected, cited and fined for a number of alleged serious work hazards and failing to properly protect employees on the job.
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Our Georgia workers compensation lawyers would first like to address the findings from the Coleman Natural Foods inspection. This company was given eight violations at its plant in Braselton. These citations came with proposed fines totaling more than $142,000. This inspection was initiated after OSHA received a complaint regard the company's safety hazards in July.

Oftentimes, inspections are conducted after OSHA catches wind of an irresponsible employer who fails to keep the work place safe for all employees. These types of reported tips can be provided to officials from concerned workers. If you feel that your safety is at jeopardy on the job, you are urged to report your concerns to your regional OSHA office.

Coleman Natural Foods Citations:

-Neglecting to install machine guards on equipment in which employees could be injured by moving parts.

-Failing to seal off electrical enclosures to help to avoid any type of corrosion.

-Failing to offer adequate strain relief on electrical components.

-Not providing an ammonia detector to sniff out gas unsafe amounts of gas that has been released into in the air.

-Not providing the proper training to employees who work among hazardous materials.

-Not fixing hydraulic fluid leaks that were started by slippery floors.

-Machine guards were not provided.

-The fire extinguishers on the premise were not regularly inspected.

The second inspection of unsafe Georgia workplaces was of the Newnan facility of NuTech Powder Coaters LLC. This company was issued 20 citations by OSHA for failing to keep work places safe for all employees. These various citations came with a combined proposed fine of more than $55,000. The inspection in which OSHA officials discovered these violations happened after a previous inspection in August.

NuTech Powder Coaters LLC Citations:

-Neglecting to ensure employees were provided with and using the proper protective clothing for working in dangerous conditions.

-Failing to provide workers with the proper eyewash/shower unit for those who had been exposed to corrosive materials.

-Neglecting to create and implement a confined space program.

-Failing to post permit-required confined space signage.

-Letting powder coating material to gather.

-Exposing employees to electronic, fall and other combustible dust hazards.

-Failing to create a respiratory protection program.

"Companies of all sizes must take their responsibilities seriously when it comes to workers' safety and health, and implement controls that ensure all employees are protected from hazards," said Andre Richards, director of OSHA.

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January 12, 2012

Fall Accidents in Atlanta and Elsewhere a Top Concern in 2012

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were roughly 635 people killed because of fall-related work accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere in 2010. This is the most recent statistic released regarding these types of accidents. While this is about 10 fewer fall-related fatalities from the previous year, these on-the-job accidents still account for about 15 percent of all work accidents. The numbers are still far to high considering that they can be prevented by taking the proper safety precautions.
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Our Georgia workers compensation attorneys are asking for all workers in Georgia and elsewhere throughout the nation to make a New Year's resolution to be safer on the job in 2012. It's a new year, and time to commit to safe working practices. By taking the proper safety precautions, we can all work together to reduce our risks for one of the most common work accidents in the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are a common hazard in any and all occupational settings. A work-related fall accident can happen during the simple task of climbing or walking a ladder to change a light bulb, as well as more dangerous circumstances like working in complex conditions like those that iron workers endure.

Most commonly, fatal fall accidents on the job happen to who work within the construction industry, which has the highest rate for fatal work-related fall accidents. Additionally, the healthcare industry and the those who work in the wholesale and retail industries experience the most fall accidents in which an injury results.

Common conditions that lead to on-the-job fall accidents:

-Slippery or wet floors.

-Cluttered areas.

-Unstable walkways.

-Unprotected edges.

-Floor holes.

-Ladders that are positioned improperly.

-Inadequate fall protection.

-Wall openings.

The federal government provides workers and employees with specific standards and recommendations that must be used to help to prevent these types of accidents. When work sites are not kept in a safe condition for employees, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) will step in to reprimand employers and to establish safer working conditions.

Every year, these types of accidents cost the country nearly $100 billion.

Our Georgia workers compensation lawyers are asking all employers and employees to work together to help to reduce the risks for fall accidents in 2012. While these accident have decreased with each passing year, there are still far too many workers injured and killed in these preventable accidents. If you think you're facing risks for a fall accident on the job, be sure to voice those concerns to a supervisor or the owner of the company. Fall accidents are completely preventable if everyone takes the proper safety precautions. Make 2012 the safest year yet!

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January 4, 2012

Cold Weather Increases Risk of Georgia Work Injuries

The recent cold snap highlights the risks faced by those working outdoors, and the fact that Georgia employees are not immune. As far south as Naples, the temperature has dropped into the 30s. Some municipalities have opened emergency shelters. Employees may be at increase risk of a Georgia work accident or injury while on the job.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys understand the risks. In fact, many Georgia employees and residents may be at higher risk, even at milder temperatures. Many work crews lack the proper equipment to work in the cold, are not accustomed to freezing temperatures, and lack the knowledge necessary to stay safe in frigid weather. 1373399_bonnets_and_earlaps.jpg

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports cold stress may set in at temperatures above freezing, particularly in warmer clients where employees may be unaccustomed to dealing with frigid temperatures. Near freezing temperature and increasing wind speeds can cause rapid heat depletion from the body. Those most at risk are employees without shelter, outdoor workers and those working in buildings without proper insulation, such as metal fabricated shops, barns or warehouses.

Hypothermia can occur when the body loses heat faster than it can be reproduced. Prolonged exposure to cold saps the body of energy stores and the ability to maintain core body temperature. Hypothermia sets in when low body temperature begins to affect the brain. Thinking and movement begin to slow. And the risk of external injury increases as well as the health consequences associated with hypothermia.

Symptoms include shivering and loss of concentration and coordination. Ultimately, slowed pulse, breathing and loss of consciousness may result.

Frostbite is caused by freezing; symptoms include a loss of color to the affected area. Ears, nose, fingers and toes are most often affected. Severe cases can require amputation.

Trench foot occurs with lengthy exposure to cold and wet conditions. It can occur in temperatures as high as 60 degrees in wet conditions, which exacerbate heat loss.

Employers can do their part to help prevent injury to workers due to cold-weather working conditions.

-Schedule outdoor tasks for the warmer parts of the day, or year.

-Reduce the demands on workers by using relief workers, reducing workload, etc.

-Provide plenty of liquids and plenty of rest.

-Monitor workers for fatigue or other adverse symptoms.

-Provide proper training, first aid and preventive measures.

Employees should wear proper clothing, dress in layers and avoid tight-fitting clothing, which can reduce blood flow and circulation. Particular attention should be paid to protecting ears, face, hands and feet. Waterproof and insulated boots are ideal.

Workers should also take plenty of breaks in a warm location, limit the amount of time spent outdoors and drink plenty of liquids.

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