February 2012 Archives

February 25, 2012

Atlanta Work Hazards Reduced by OSHA Outreach Program

A safety outreach program at residential construction sites, created by a federal oversight agency, has been extended for several months in an effort to reduce construction accidents in Atlanta and across the country.

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According to a release from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or OSHA), the agency had dedicated a large number of resources to preventing falls within the residential construction industry.

As our Atlanta workers compensation attorneys understand, construction site falls are among the leading causes of work-related injuries in Georgia and throughout the U.S.
That's why in September of last year, OSHA pumped up its enforcement efforts regarding fall hazards on construction sites, particularly residential projects, such as houses, condos and nursing homes.

Essentially, what it meant for a number of construction companies was that the agency would provide free assistance on-site to help each employer make sure it was meeting OSHA's updated standards.

It also offered a reduction on fines and penalties if the company was making a good faith effort to update its safety policies and conditions. In fact, companies were specifically given 30 days to fix fall hazards. If there was a serious injury or fatality that happened during those 30 days, the company wouldn't be off the hook, but the whole idea was to give companies time to come into compliance, and ultimately keep workers safer in the long run.

The effort also implemented certain guidelines that would make it easier for companies to be more consistent in matters of safety, and particularly in preventing fall hazards.

This increased enforcement effort was intended to run through the middle of March. Now, OSHA says they are extending the efforts through the middle of September - so the program will run for a year total.

Within the last several months, OSHA said it has held more than 1,000 outreach session across the country, with the goal of helping employers comply with more stringent safety rules.

OSHA has a long list of rules that dictate what measures a construction company has to take in order to keep its workers safe from a fall. Those include the requirement that for any worker who is engaging in work more than 15 feet off the ground has to be protected by a guardrail, safety net or some other fall restraint device. For construction workers who are doing their job on multi-story buildings, there must be safety cables installed around the interior and exteriors of the floors, as soon as metal decking has been laid down. Plus, employees working with connectors (which they should be if the structure is more than two stories high), need to be trained in how to use them.

Training for employees is also key in preventing construction falls in Atlanta. Employers are required to organize the training for their workers. That training has to cover the following areas:

1. Identifying fall hazards.
2. Using guardrail systems.
3. The correct way to put up, maintain and inspect all fall protection systems.
4. Procedures to prevent lower-level falls.
5. Proper safety gear.

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February 20, 2012

Work Hazards in Atlanta Named in Publix Citation

Publix grocery store, with 182 locations in Georgia alone, has been fined almost $200,000 for alleged work safety hazards in Georgia and Florida.

Most recently, an employee lost a hand after alleged negligence at one of the locations.

Our Atlanta workers compensation attorneys understand that due to a host of violations at various stores across the country (including in Georgia), the grocery chain has been placed on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program with the U.S. Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That's according to the Financial News & Daily Record.

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Media reports indicate that this latest incident happened at a distribution center in Jacksonville on West Beaver Street. The employee had been cleaning equipment when his hand was sliced off.

OSHA has said that the incident would not have occurred had Publix taken certain precautions. Publix officials disagree, and say they plan to fight the government agency's decision.

While it is true that some accidents may not be foreseeable or preventable, oftentimes a company is aware of certain safety risks, yet chooses not to address them because to do so would require time and money they do not wish to spend.

In this case, the complaint was first made in September.

OSHA's Jacksonville-area director, Brian Sturtecky, said that Public officials knew about the risks to which its cleaning crew was being exposed. And yet, it didn't take any action to keep its employees safe from harm, which could have been as simple as implementing controls on the conveyor equipment's source of energy.

Sturtecky said opening up the possibility of having a limb amputated is absolutely unacceptable, and further, that action has to be taken immediately.

OSHA said one of the grocery chain's violations was "willful," which essentially means that the company broke the rules knowingly, and with a total disregard for the law. That is going to cost them a penalty of about $70,000.

Additionally, the store had two repeat violations. Those could result in a fine of about $66,000. Those include a failure to use or even have a procedure for lockout-/tagout and the failure to conduct a yearly inspection of the energy control procedures. The store was cited for the exact same offense in Georgia four years ago.

Another six violations are considered serious, and could result in fines of nearly $40,000 for not properly training employees on a number of safety issues. Another six violations, which include things like improper documentation and paperwork, could bring a fine of nearly $7,000.

The store has half a month from the time it received these notices to comply with the federal agency's request to either pay the fines or fight back on the allegations.
A company spokesman told the Daily Record that the store does maintain a safe working environment, and it plans to appeal the findings. He added, however, that the store intends to address any issues that could have been a contributing factor in the instance where an employee lost his hand, which he called "an unfortunate incident."

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February 13, 2012

Company Cited For Risking Employee Safety in Georgia

K.M. Davis Contracting Co. Inc. of Marietta was recently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to take the appropriate measures to help reduce the risks of work-related injuries in Georgia. In total, the company faces proposed fines of nearly $55,000. The company was observed disregarding OSHA's workplace safety standards.
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The violation was discovered by officials after OSHA inspected the site back in August. The work site inspection was conducted as a part of OSHA's national emphasis program on trenching and excavations. The company was contracted by the city of Marietta to put in fire hydrants and install nearly 3,000 feet of water lines along North Cobb Parkway.

Our Atlanta workers compensation attorneys understand that trench-related work accidents can be some of the most catastrophic of any industry. For this reason, there are a number of standards that trenching and excavating companies must meet to help ensure the safety of its employees. K.M. Davis Contracting Co. Inc. was busted for violating these national standards.

In the violation discovered by OSHA, employees were allowed to work in a trench that was nearly 10 feet deep that didn't have cave-in protection. This violation was categorized as a willful violation, meaning that the employer knew about it or should have known about it and disregarded the law.

In other words, the management was aware of the potential hazards to employees in the trench, but flagrantly ignored those hazards.

Under the current standards laid out by OSHA, employers are required to make sure all excavation and trenching projects which are done at a level of 5 feet or deeper be protected against cave-ins or collapses.

According to the Trenching and Excavating page on OSHA's website, excavating and trenching is easily one of the most dangerous and hazardous of construction operations. The safety standards were recently revised to help to make it easier for employers to understand and to protect workers in this field.

The top danger for workers in trenching and excavating projects is collapse. To help reduce the risks of a cave-in or a collapse, employers are required to conduct an analysis on the soil to figure out shoring, benching and sloping.

It's also important to keep an eye on the placement of heavy machinery, work materials and work-related traffic near the work site. Employers and employees also want to be cautious of natural gases and various electrical hazards stemming from power lines located underground.

K.M. Davis Contracting Co. Inc. can either pay the proposed penalties, request a conference with the area director or contest the investigation's findings. Regardless, they have 15 business days to do so.

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February 7, 2012

Respirator Info Available to Help Reduce Risks of Illness and Injury on the Job in Georgia, Nation

There are 17 new videos released recently by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to help to educate workers about the proper way to use respirators on the job. Educating yourself on the use of these devices can help to reduce the risk of a work-related injury in Georgia and elsewhere.
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There are nine videos in English and eight videos in Spanish. Our Atlanta workers compensation attorneys encourage you to view these videos if you work in the construction industry. Some of the topics discussed in these videos are fit-testing, training, use and detecting counterfeit respirators. They're even available with closed captioning.

There's even a page on the Safety and Health topics page regarding Respiratory Protection on OSHA's website. This page offers the information on the hazards associated with these industries, various training materials and details on the Respiratory Protection Standard.

Every year, there are about 5 million employees who have to wear respirators on the job. These workers occupy nearly 1.5 million work areas in the country. These respirators are used to protect employees against insufficient oxygen levels, gases, mists, smoke, harmful dusts, sprays and vapors. Some of these work environment hazards can potentially cause lung impairment, cancer, a number of other diseases and even death.

Employers are required to comply with OSHA's respiratory Protection Standard. Officials believe that this standard helps to reduce the risk of hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries and illnesses every year.

Respirators are specially designed to provide clean and filtered air to workers. The respirators work by filtering out the dangerous particles from the air that a worker might inhale.

Employees who have beards should be careful when using a respirator. If there is any chance your facial hair could somehow break the seal and allow unfiltered air into your lungs, there's a problem. Beards and sideburns can cause outside air to make it to the employee before being filtered correctly, increasing the injury risk.

If you're required to wear a respirator on the job, trim your facial hair so that it doesn't interfere with the seal.

You also want to make sure your mask isn't loose. You want a tight-fitting face mask to ensure outside air is making its way in.

Employees are urged to review the new videos and material that was recently released by OSHA. This information can help you stay safe on the job and avoid any unnecessary injuries or death. If you feel that there's a problem with work safety at your job, speak up! Point out hazards you observe to help to reduce the risks of an accident.

Continue reading "Respirator Info Available to Help Reduce Risks of Illness and Injury on the Job in Georgia, Nation" »