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Lawnside New Jersey Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Law Blog

Mining hazards, injury underreporting top OIG concerns

The Department of Labor has issued its semi-annual report from the Office of Inspector General. The report notes that underreporting of occupational injuries and fatalities of laborers in New Jersey and across the United States is an issue. The semi-annual report addressed the top challenges of the Department of Labor. Topping the list was the concern that OSHA needs to increase its efforts of requiring employers to report injuries and occupational fatalities.

In 2015, OSHA changed its regulations in how businesses report occupational fatalities and injuries and the time frame in which they must be reported. Since that time, OSHA has issued approximately 400 citations each year to businesses that failed to report or reported on problems too late. Unfortunately, the OIG report says that these citations are not enough and that there are no fail-proof ways to ensure that all injuries and fatalities are being reported.

Nursing home patients can cause injury risks for staff

Some elderly people move into nursing homes because they develop mobility issues. When older adults can no longer safely navigate their homes, their fall risk increases. Falls can cause fractures that lead to infections and other complications. For many seniors, moving into residential care facilities can help prevent traumatic injuries associated with falls.

Other times, older adults don't make the decision to move into nursing homes. When family members begin to notice signs of mental or physical decline in their elderly loved ones, they may realize that the senior citizens no longer have the ability to care for themselves in their present home.

How drivers can stay safe in the winter

Drivers in New Jersey should keep the following tips in mind before they head out in icy or snowy conditions. It all starts with having a properly winterized vehicle. A mechanic could check components like the battery, brakes, spark plugs and ignition. The mechanic could also ensure the right tire pressure and antifreeze levels.

Drivers should know the function of any safety features in their vehicles. The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa have a campaign called, My Car Does What? which is intended to educate drivers about new vehicle safety technologies. Even without these, drivers likely have anti-lock braking and traction control. Both are useful in winter conditions. On the other hand, it's best to avoid using cruise control and the parking brake.

OSHA has special rules and regulations for winter work

Winter weather means different safety standards apply to workers. In New Jersey, employers have a duty to protect employees from serious hazards at work, such as cold weather, ice, wind, snow and other winter conditions. Workplace safety is regulated at the federal level by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which publishes regulations that apply to safe outdoor work in the winter.

For example, OSHA requires that workers be properly trained to deal with winter weather. This is of particular importance for people who are inexperienced with winter weather and individuals who have recently relocated from a warmer area. Employees should be instructed about the basics of protection from cold and winter hazards. They should also receive more specific training regarding tasks like snow removal, working at elevation and winter driving.

Workplace safety requirements for staffing agencies and employers

Many people in New Jersey labor as temporary workers who are sent to third-party host employers by staffing agencies. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration assigns responsibility for workplace safety to both staffing agencies and host employers. Both parties have a duty to inform workers of hazards, train them appropriately and keep records. The two parties are guided by the concept that each entity should focus on the hazards of which it has control and can correct.

When staffing agencies prepare to send workers to a job site, they should ask questions about the conditions that employees will encounter with their host employers. Essentially, the staffing agencies need to confirm that they are sending people to workplaces that comply with safety standards.

8 safety tips for driving in wintry weather

Most of us who drive have to do so in every season, as much as we would sometimes rather put life on hold and watch a graceful snowfall, or head out with the kids on a snow day to go sledding, instead of having to schlep to work.

In New Jersey, trying to stay safe on roads covered in ice and snow can be challenging. All drivers should prepare for their adventures before they leave the house. One of the first things that you must do is check the weather to find out what it is going to be like when you head out.

Brake inspection blitz pulls almost 5,000 trucks from the road

In September, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held its Brake Safety Week inspection blitz in New Jersey and across North America. The alliance reports that inspectors ended up pulling just over 14 percent of inspected trucks from service during the initiative.

Overall, CVSA inspectors looked at 35,080 commercial trucks all across the U.S. and Canada. Of those trucks, 4,955 had brake issues serious enough for them to be placed out of service. One focus area for inspectors involved checking that trucks required to have antilock braking systems actually had them and that the systems were properly maintained.

Driving safely during bright sunlight hours

Studies show that traffic accident risks increase by 16 percent during the early morning and afternoon hours in New Jersey and across the United States. This spike occurs because of the bright sunlight that can cause visual illusions during the sunrise and sunset. Taking steps to drive safely during these times can help to keep pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle passengers safe.

For starters, sunglasses can improve driving safety during bright sunlight. These work by blocking a portion of the light that reaches the eyes. Sunglasses also block harmful UV rays, which can damage vision over time. Sun visors can act similarly as sunglasses. Most vehicles are equipped with sun visors that can be positioned to block the sun at certain times of the day. Sun visors are designed to block the rays of the sun without hindering vision.

4 reasons nurses are at a higher risk of injury

There are many reasons why nurses have difficult jobs. Besides having to be emotionally supportive of patients, they also have to be physically present and supportive in a visceral way. They work long hours, and they may not get all the breaks they deserve.

There are a number of reasons why nurses are likely to get hurt on the job. Four common reasons include:

  1. Maneuvering on stairs, with or without patients, can lead to falls
  2. Heavy lifting can be overpowering and cause back strain
  3. Illness and needle sticks can pose a threat to health
  4. Exhaustion can lead to accidents

OSHA focuses on excavation dangers on the job

New Jersey workers in construction know that their jobs can be dangerous. Since construction workers often operate in incomplete structures and use heavy machinery, the consequences of a workplace accident or injury can be severe. Trenching and excavation projects can pose particular risks, especially those associated with possible cave-ins or collapse. Across the country, there has been an increase in deadly accidents connected to these types of projects. Between 2011 and 2016, 130 workers died on the job while engaged in trenching or excavation work.

Even more concerning, these fatalities are on the upswing. A full 49 percent occurred between 2015 and 2016 alone. Of the private construction deaths, 40 workers lost their lives at industrial sites, 39 at homes and 21 on highways or roads. As a result of these concerning statistics, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that enforcement and education about workplace safety in trenching and excavation will be national priorities. Just this year, OSHA fined one employer more than $400,000 for safety violations leading to trench cave-ins. The agency also levied a $250,000 fine against another company for failing to use cave-in protection while employees worked in a trench.

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