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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Preventing the most common injuries at the office

Most people who work in an office spend their day sitting at a desk. That fact alone would make it seem like office workers do not have much to worry about when it comes to workplace injuries.

However, just the opposite is true. Office workers face just as much of a risk for a work-related injury as anyone else in the workforce. It is important for office employees to take precautions to reduce the risk of injury at work.

Holiday stress can impact workers and consumers

Retail employees in New Jersey and throughout the country may appreciate having extra work during the holiday season. However, it can also come at the cost of their emotional and physical health. According to a 2016 survey from NIOSH, 24 percent of respondents said that their work schedules got in the way of family and other obligations. Employers should note that this can be a source of stress, and stressed-out workers may be more prone to making mistakes.

Common workplace injuries that can be the result of stress or fatigue include slipping, falling or trying to lift without using proper technique. By having plans in place, workers can know that their employers care about them and are looking to meet their needs. This may help an anxious worker get into a better mental state, which can lead to a safer and more productive employee.

Protections for temporary workers on the job

An increasing number of people in New Jersey and across the country work in temporary employment, often through agencies or other intermediaries. As a result, many of these workers are confused about their rights and protections in case they are injured on the job. In particular, they could be worried if they face ongoing workplace safety violations that put them at risk. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made recommendations for practices to improve protections for temp workers on the job.

OSHA recommends that both employers -- the host and the staffing agency -- lay out their responsibilities for compliance with workplace safety standards in their agreements. In all cases, agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for ensuring that all workers, including temporary workers, enjoy a safe job environment that complies with federal regulations. This can include ensuring that workers receive proper training and mandatory protective gear. Both employers are responsible under the law for protecting workers' safety and health.

OSHA reveals top 10 safety violations

New Jersey workers often face dangerous environments on the job, especially if their employers violate federal workplace safety regulations. At the 2018 National Safety Council Congress, a deputy director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revealed the federal agency's top 10 safety violations uncovered during a year of inspections. The statistics were gathered from October 2017 through September 2018, yet the results often mirrored those of previous years.

For example, the first-place position was held by the same kind of safety violation that has occupied the top spot for several years: failure to provide fall protection. Employers have a responsibility to provide protective gear to workers operating at heights that could help to prevent falls or limit the damage in case of an incident. However, 7,270 violations were found in the past year; in most cases, employers failed to issue protective gear to employees working near unprotected edges or on rooftops. Other issues related to fall prevention were also prominent on the annual list. For example, the eighth place on the list noted that 1,982 violations were found for training issues related to fall protection. In some cases, employers failed to provide required training while in other cases, unqualified people delivered it.

Teen drivers more dangerous when passengers are teens

Research prepared by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety highlights the importance of adult supervision while teens develop their driving skills. Parents in New Jersey should aim to accompany their teen drivers for at least 100 hours behind the wheel before allowing them to drive with only teen friends. The foundation measured substantial increases in traffic fatalities when teens drove without anyone age 35 or older in their vehicles.

When teens drive with only members of their peer group, their accidents result in 51 percent more deaths compared to older drivers. An analysis of teen accidents showed that deaths among occupants of vehicles hit by teen drivers went up by 56 percent. Teen drivers themselves experienced a 45 percent higher death rate, and fatalities among bicyclists and pedestrians rose by 17 percent.

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