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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Bill seeks workplace violence prevention in health care industry

In late 2018, a bill was introduced into the House of Representatives that would require OSHA to create a standard for keeping those in the health care and social services industries safe from workplace violence. On Feb. 27, 2019, the House Education and Labor Committee's Workforce Protections Subcommittee held a hearing about this proposal. New Jersey residents should know that the bill has more than 40 co-sponsors.

The bill is entitled the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The OSHA standard, if implemented, would apply to nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders and other caregivers.

Study links worker back pain with farm machine vibrations

Farm machines such as tractors, combines and skid loaders are known for vibrating at intense levels. The European Union has developed a system for measuring workers' exposure to whole-body vibrations, establishing an "action level" beyond which the vibrations may be detrimental to one's health. New Jersey residents should know that one NIOSH-funded study has reviewed the link between farm machine vibrations and back pain.

University of Iowa researchers attached floor and seat sensors to 112 pieces of farm machinery and measured vibration levels as 55 workers operated them. With the seat sensors, they analyzed how well the seats reduced floor vibrations. They concluded that 56 percent of the machines met the EU's action level for exposure after eight hours of operation and that nearly 30 percent met it after only two hours.

Tesla receives 54 OSHA violations from 2014 to 2018

New Jersey residents who keep up with Tesla's developments in vehicle technology should know that the automaker surpassed all its competitors in the number of OSHA violations it has received. Between 2014 and 2018, its Fremont-based production facility was issued 54 violations. This is three times more than the top 10 auto plants combined and accounts for 75 percent of all their violations.

In comparison, Nissan came in second with only five violations in those five years. Toyota and Ford were third with four OSHA violations. At the same time, Tesla ranks seventh when it comes to estimated production capacity with 364,000 vehicles produced each year. It also has half the industry average of reportable incidents.

Silica dust exposure can threaten a worker's health

New Jersey construction workers who are exposed to silica dust could face a significantly increased risk of serious illness and disease. According to one study, construction workers in bridge repair, chipping and crushing may be exposed to over 10 times the allowed limit of silica dust per federal OSHA workplace safety regulations. The study collected 51 samples of air in the personal breathing zones of construction workers involved in repairing bridges, demolishing buildings or crushing concrete.

Researchers also collected 33 samples from the surrounding area to determine if particles were affecting the environment as well. Some of the job sites had dust suppression controls in place while others did not. The workers at the highest risk were those involved in chipping concrete while repairing the substructure of bridges. These workers faced an average exposure to respirable crystalline silica of 527 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The OSHA regulation places an upper limit on worker exposure to silica dust at 50 micrograms per cubic meter. Other workers who faced almost twice the allowable limit were those operating crushing machines. The researchers urged that additional respiratory protective gear be provided.

Cashiers suffer more injuries than people realize

Most consumers go through their days without realizing how often they encounter cashiers. Grabbing their morning coffee, they pay a cashier. Getting a bite for lunch, they pay a cashier. Filling a prescription, they pay a cashier. Buying groceries, they pay a cashier. The world turns on the service industry and cashiers are the front line of that industry.

Something else most people don’t realize is that cashiers’ jobs make them susceptible to several different medical conditions. Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) are especially debilitating for this job role. If you are a cashier who finds yourself suffering any of these issues, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.

What is behind many car accidents?

When a person is driving down New Jersey roads and they see an automobile accident, it's understandable that they are interested in knowing what it caused the accident. There are a lot of factors that come into play, including human error and distracted driving.

Law enforcement officials, governmental agencies and insurance companies are interested in knowing the reasons behind accidents. This allows them to assign liability for an accident or determine who is legally responsible.

How truckers can reduce wear and tear while cranking

Truckers in New Jersey and throughout the country may be at risk of injuring their shoulders when cranking lifts up and down. However, researchers say that there may be a method to do so while reducing the chances of an injury. A study of a dozen male truckers going through the cranking process revealed that they should lift a trailer while standing parallel to it. Doing so uses more of their body strength and puts less pressure on the shoulder.

When lowering a trailer, an individual should crank frontally because there is less resistance when doing so. The research found that there is less chance of rotating the shoulder too many times and causing ligament and other damage. When observing the truckers, researchers were focused on 16 muscles that have the greatest impact on shoulder movement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that there were more than 70,000 shoulder injuries in 2016.

The law supports workers who report unsafe working conditions

Under ideal circumstances, employers and workers in New Jersey cooperate to maintain safe working environments. Because workers are often the first people to notice dangerous conditions, the law recognizes that they need protection when reporting problems.

If a hazard does not appear to present an immediate danger, a worker should inform the employer in writing about the problem. If the employer does not take action to address the safety issue, then the worker could send a formal complaint to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration or its state-level equivalent. The law prohibits an employer from punishing a worker for informing authorities. Forms of retaliation such as job termination, demotion or pay cuts could enable a worker to complain to OSHA about mistreatment. If the agency confirms the retaliation, then it could order the employer to restore the person's employment and pay for lost wages.

Bad driving habits may explain dump truck crash increase

Many commercial truckers in New Jersey and across the U.S. engage in bad driving habits like speeding, distracted driving and operating while fatigued. The pressure of deadlines and the lure of by-the-load incentives play their part as well. While truck accident rates went down in the early 2000s as a result of improved technology and effective driver safety campaigns, those rates are coming back up as preventative efforts stall.

This trend has become especially apparent among dump trucks and ready-mix concrete delivery vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released a report on the number of serious crashes involving these trucks in 2016 (the latest year for which complete data exists). The numbers came to 8,206 and 838, which were a 9 and 9.6 percent increase from 2015 for dump trucks and concrete delivery trucks, respectively.

Winter weather increases worker safety concerns

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for protecting worker safety and health in New Jersey and throughout the U.S. One of its primary duties is to identify potential causes of job-related injuries or illnesses and formulate procedures, equipment and training that must be used by employers to keep workers safe. But even if no specific OSHA standard has been established for a particular hazardous condition, there exists a general duty for all employers to protect their employees from recognized hazards that are present in the workplace.

Safety experts cite cold weather, snow, ice and wind as recognized hazards associated with winter weather that may place employees at risk. For instance, snow removal from roofs during winter consistently ranks as a leading cause of serious injury or death. However, no specific standard has been established by OSHA for this hazardous task.

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