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August 31, 2013

Georgia Chemical Plant Injuries Follow Presidential Calls for Change

Three workers suffered serious injuries following a Georgia chemical plant blast at a facility in Valdosta. The facility is responsible for processing and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
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The incident came just two weeks after President Barack Obama called for sweeping chemical plant safety reforms in the form of tighter federal regulation.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys understand the call for change was prompted by the disastrous chemical plant explosion at a Texas fertilizer facility, which resulted in 15 deaths.

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April 10, 2012

Georgia Company Fined for Unsafe Working Conditions

Eagle United Truck Wash LLC was recently cited with 14 health and safety violations for failing to minimize the risks of work-related injuries at one of the company's stops, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The violations were observed by area officials at the company's Flying J Truck Stop in Jackson. The proposed penalties accompanying these violations total nearly $58,000. The inspection was the result of a complaint filed with the Administration.
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Two of the violations were the same kinds of violations cited back in 2007, which included failing to provide eye protection for employees who were using various corrosives, including aluminum brightener. The second repeat violation was issued for failing to provide workers with an emergency eye wash station.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers understand that employers have a responsibility to help protect employees on the job. To help in this protection, protective equipment and preventative measures must be executed and work-related hazards must be corrected when identified. When a company fails to offer these measures and fails to correct dangers to help to make work sites safe and to protect workers, work-related injuries and even death can result. That's why OSHA is here, to help make sure that companies are doing their best to provide safe work places for employees across the nation. When an injury results because of negligent care, compensation may be provided to the injured.

The inspection of the Jackson facility also landed Eagle United Truck Wash LLC with an additional repeat violation, this one just like the one that it received back in 2009 for letting workers perform maintenance on dangerous equipment without the proper energy control program in place.

The company was also cited with seven serious safety violations, issued as a result of the most recent inspection. These violations included failing to identify permit-required confined spaces when workers were inside tanks, for failing to make sure there was hazard communication training to employees, for failing to cover and minimize exposure to dangerous and corrosive chemicals, for exposing employees to slip hazards, for large holes in the wash bay grates, for various tripping hazards, for various electrical problems, among other issues.

Lastly, the company was cited for neglecting to cover wiring on the wall on the heater and boiler and for neglecting to create and enact a respirator protection program. Neither of these two violations came with any monetary fines, but they are to be corrected to help to ensure worker safety. These were both violations pertaining to dangers that would most likely not cause serious physical harm or death but were ultimately still a threat to workers.

"The very same chemicals that do a great job cleaning metal can be dangerous to workers if used without the proper protections," said William Fulcher, with OSHA's Area Office.

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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.

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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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December 26, 2011

Atlanta Chemical Spills Put Workers At Risk For Serious Injury

Many workers -- regardless of industry -- can be at risk for a potential chemical spill, which could lead to a catastrophic Georgia work injury.

In situations where employees end up with a major injury due to chemical spills, it may be necessary for our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers to assist you in your time of need. Major injuries typically require medical attention, which may be extremely expensive, especially given our nation's rising healthcare costs.
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In cases like this, employers may attempt to cut corners in order to save money. This is unacceptable. Corporations are required to have insurance to cover for such accidents and yet they will attempt to fight a workers' compensation claim with the employee.

Every employee has the right to work in a safe environment and certainly one where precautions are taken to avoid major chemical accidents at work. And if accidents do happen, a workers' compensation claim may be necessary in order to prevent these accidents.

The Thomaston Times reminded us recently that emergency crews are among the type of employees who are at constant risk of being exposed to a chemical accident. Firefighters respond every day to traffic accidents where car batteries explode or fluids are leaking from a vehicle that has just been mangled. And in some cases, the cars are ready to explode when the liquids and heat from a running engine combine.

Emergency crews recently put together a scenario that helps train emergency crews how to handle a chemical disaster. Law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical responders, medical personnel and emergency management officials participated in the recent training.

The scenario involved a private vehicle crashing with a tanker that was carrying highly toxic hydrogen peroxide. Hospital staffers were tested on their ability to properly respond to a flood of patients in a short time. Emergency crews were required to respond to and treat patients at the scene by diagnosing their injuries and keeping them and themselves safe from the chemicals.

In another story, a Georgia college student was severely injured last April when the airbags in her vehicle deployed without a crash and flying metal severed her neck artery. The injuries required surgeries and caused her to suffer strokes, USA Today reports. This reminds us that those in the manufacturing fields, where chemicals are used every day, are especially at risk.

Chemicals may be used in that worker's profession or they may simply be in the office for other reasons. Either way, they can cause problems. A splash in the face can cause major eye trauma or blindness, while exposure to skin or breathing in certain chemicals can cause employees to have other forms of medical problems.

Companies must adhere to safety protocols and give employees proper training to prevent accidents. Many cases of at-work injuries happen because untrained workers cause accidents. With proper training, more workplace injuries in Georgia could be prevented.

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February 11, 2011

Georgia Company Faces Fines for Dust Exposure, Explosion Hazards

A South Georgia company has been slapped with 46 work-safety violations for allegedly exposing employees to dangerous levels of combustible dust, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

Our Georgia workers' compensation lawyers understand the risk of serious or fatal injuries caused by fire or hazardous materials in the workplace. As we reported recently on our Georgia Workers Compensation Attorney Blog, hazardous material exposure in Georgia can come from any number of substances, including dust.
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"Combustible dust is a major safety and health hazard, and employers must recognize and correct hazards that expose their employees to death or serious physical harm," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah.

Protech Environmental South Inc, which does business as U.S. Erosion Control Products, Inc., faces a proposed penalty of $55,250 after the government's 46 alleged safety and health hazards.

The investigation began at the company's Willacoochee, Georgia site following a complaint in August. Inspectors report finding inadequate dust control, workers exposed to dust without respiratory protection, thick dust accumulation, and using unapproved equipment and forklifts in locations that may present a combustible hazard.

Fire extinguishers were also found to be not in place or missing from mounts.

The company is also accused of a number of serious citations, including exposing workers to fall hazards and electrical hazards, as well as permitting obstructed exit routes, hazardous use of propane gas, amputation hazards caused by missing machine guards, hazards from damaged forklifts, and hazards related to a lack of eye protection and a lack of a hearing conservation program.

A serious citation means there is substantial probability of death or serious physical harm and that the employer knew or should have know about the hazard.

OSHA instituted its combustible dust program in Oct. 2007. A massive sugar dust explosion at an Imperial Sugar plant in Port Wentworth, Georgia in Feb. 2008 killed 14 workers and injured others.

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November 15, 2010

Many hazardous chemical standards a half-century old; Georgia work accidents from chemical exposure an ongoing concern

Exposure to hazardous chemicals is an ongoing concern and a common cause of Georgia work accidents. While the federal government is working to improve safety, even the Occupation Safety & Health Administration admits it does not have a firm grasp on the dangers of chemicals in the 21st Century workplace.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys understand that exposure to harmful chemicals in the workplace can result from a sudden accident or from long-term exposure to a dangerous chemical that results in serious or fatal health consequences.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 390 employees were killed last year due to exposure to harmful substances or environments; another 113 died as a result of fire or explosions. Georgia work accidents involving harmful exposure claimed 10 lives, while three others died in fires or explosions.

Each year thousands of others are injured by chemical exposure in the workplace. OSHA reports exposure can damage virtually all parts of the body, including lungs, skin, liver, kidneys, eyes and mucous membranes. The government reports more than 55,000 exposure events per year.

And that number is likely to be underestimated because the consequences of long-term exposure to numerous chemicals are frequently not recognized until years later.

When OSHA was founded half a century ago, it established 400 permissible exposure limits (PELs) for hazardous chemicals. Since then, more protective regulations have been put in place for only 29 chemicals.

"Many of our permissible exposure limits are based on 1950s-era science that we now realize is inadequate to protect workers in 21st century workplaces," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. "We must assure the protection of workers currently exposed to well-recognized chemical hazards for which we have an inadequate PEL or no PEL at all."

OSHA held a forum on the issue this fall and said it is working on updating exposure limits for many of the chemicals employees deal with in the workplace.

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