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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Construction workers' top five safety hazards

New Jersey construction workers know that they must be alert for on-the-job dangers at all times. There are five major hazards in construction work, but most accidents and deaths are preventable with knowledge, proper equipment and strict adherence to safety guidelines.

Falls are the number one hazard in construction work. Statistics show that falls account for around one-third of construction industry fatalities. Falls often occur because of misuse of safety equipment or failure to use it at all. Unsafe scaffolding or ladders and unstable working surfaces also lead to falls.

Avoiding pinch point accidents

OSHA has addressed the topic of pinch point protection in its standards for general industries as well as agriculture, marine terminals, longshoring and construction. New Jersey residents who work around machinery should be familiar with pinch points and what OSHA has to say about them. Pinch points are areas in machinery where workers can get caught: between two moving parts, a moving and a stationary part, or a part and a material.

Installing guards on machinery, which prevent workers from getting their hands and other extremities caught, is an essential first step. OSHA also recognizes the use of "devices." There are, for example, devices to stop machines in the case of a pinch point accident, devices that withdraw employees' hands from a danger area and safety devices that require operators to have both hands on the machine controls.

Legal Marijuana Complicates Workers’ Compensation

As New Jersey considers the legalization of marijuana, its residents can look to the experience of other states in this area. In Colorado, for instance, recreational marijuana may be legal, but its effects are felt in other areas as well.

One of those areas is Colorado’s workers’ compensation law. A Colorado widow recently had workers’ compensation payments to her halved as a result of her deceased husband’s legal marijuana use.

The danger of drowsy driving

Half of all adults in New Jersey and the rest of the U.S. admit to driving drowsy, according to the American Sleep Foundation. About 20 percent even admit to falling asleep behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is a serious issue; a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that there are 328,000 drowsy driving crashes every year, resulting in 109,000 injuries and about 6,400 deaths.

The symptoms of drowsiness are easy to spot. Drivers may, for example, miss turns and exits, yawn frequently, have trouble keeping their eyes open and constantly drift out of their lanes. Some drivers become drowsier than they think and undergo periods of micro-sleep, where they suddenly become inattentive for 4 to 5 seconds. This is like driving blindfolded for the length of a football field.

How to identify and assess workplace hazards

Thousands of New Jersey workers face significant job-related hazards each day. Many of these hazards occur in traditionally dangerous industries, such as construction and agriculture. However, statistics show that people working in industries that are generally considered safe, such as health care, retail and transportation, also face considerable on-the-job risks.

To help workers stay safe, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a workplace safety guidance called "Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs". First released in 1988, it is designed to help employers and employees create a safe and healthy work environment. In 2016, it was updated to reflect modern workplace conditions.

The 10 most hazardous jobs in America

Employers and employees alike in New Jersey should be familiar with the results of the 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, which was published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics back in late 2017. Time Magazine has published an article that ranks the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America based on this data.

At the top of the list was the logging industry with a fatal work injury rate of 135.9 per 100,000 workers (full-time or the equivalent). There were 91 logging worker deaths in 2016. This was followed by fishing workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, roofers and trash and recycling collectors. It's clear that the list has several expected entries and several unexpected.

OSHA and ISEA to work together to improve workplace safety

New Jersey employers and employees may be interested to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the International Safety Equipment Association made a formal agreement to improve workplace safety across the county on June 21. The alliance between the two will last for two years.

Under the alliance, OSHA will help ISEA educate both workers and employers about personal protective equipment. This will include helping employers and workers with choosing, maintaining and storing the equipment through educational materials. OSHA personnel will also share information with health professionals and industry safety professionals in order to develop a national consensus regarding standards for personal protective equipment. This will be done through seminars, lectures and workshops. Finally, OSHA agreed to speak or appear at ISEA conferences and other associated events.

No Medical Marijuana For Maine Workers’ Compensation Company

In a ruling of interest to those concerned about the relationship between workers’ compensation laws and the conflict between state and federal law on marijuana, the Maine Supreme Court recently reversed a lower court, ruling in favor of an employer. The employer did not want to reimburse for medical marijuana as part of the employee Gaetan Bourgoin’s workers’ compensation.

Avoiding accidents on the job

Workers in New Jersey can face a wide array of unexpected dangers on the job, whether they work in an industry known for workplace safety concerns like construction or in a less physically demanding job in an office. Slip-and-fall accidents are responsible for a number of workplace injuries and even fatalities. In 2014 alone, 660 workers lost their lives after they fell from a height, while another 138 were killed when they fell at the same level.

This type of workplace accident can occur in unexpected places, especially when people become complacent about their surroundings due to constant exposure. By keeping a close eye on their environment, workers can help to avoid some of the hazards that can lead to injury. It can be particularly important to avoid walking too quickly or being distracted by emailing or texting on a mobile phone in the office, as these can prevent workers from seeing changes in elevation or obstacles in the path. Where obstacles or spills are apparent, it can be important to take action to clear them away quickly to prevent other injuries to additional people in the workplace.

Insect-borne diseases on the rise, CDC says

Diseases transmitted through the bites of germ-carrying mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are on the rise according to a report that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in May. The number of cases involving these diseases has more than tripled from 2004 to 2016. Between those two years, there were over 640,000 cases of Zika fever, dengue fever, plague, Lyme disease and other domestic diseases. Outdoor workers in New Jersey should especially take note.

According to the CDC, outdoor workers are one of the groups most at risk for insect-borne illnesses. Regarding the efforts of local and state health departments and vector control organizations, the CDC has found that they are largely inadequate. Approximately 84 percent of such organizations neglect at least one of five core competencies. These competencies are conducting mosquito surveillance, selecting treatments based on surveillance data, killing mosquitoes and ticks at all life stages, performing source reduction and testing for pesticide resistance.

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