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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

The alarming rise of computer vision syndrome

In New Jersey and across the U.S., workers who use computers, tablets, cellphones and digital screens on a regular basis are at a risk for computer vision syndrome. This includes office workers as well as those in manufacturing and industrial operations. Also known as digital eyestrain, CVS is a form of eye injury recognized by the American Optometric Association. Its symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and itchy eyes.

Reading text on a computer screen is vastly different from reading printed material as each word on the screen is made up of light pixels. When viewing computer screens, the eyes have to constantly refocus; they also tend to go back and forth between the screen and keyboard. Issues with screen resolution and contrast, flicker and glare also contribute to eye fatigue. Having the screen too close can result in strain as well.

Ways to encourage a safer work environment

Many business owners in New Jersey might not be aware that their workers are being put at risk because of a lack of safety guidelines. A fast-paced work environment and looming deadlines can even make some employers nonchalant about their workers' safety. When workers sense this, it can lead to low morale, high turnover rates and low productivity.

To avoid these consequences, employers, site managers and safety coaches can take the following tips into consideration. Leadership is the first essential; employers must take the initiative when it comes to organizing a safety culture. Next, they can survey employees anonymously about several matters, such as their knowledge of safety guidelines, the sense they have of their own responsibilities and the expectations of others.

Could I have work-related asthma?

Work-related asthma is a condition that many people have never heard of. Most people think of asthma as a congenital medical condition. It is true that some people are born with asthma, but other people develop it later in life.

One way to develop asthma is by working at a location that exposes you to certain substances including chemicals, dust, mold or animals. If you have been exposed to any of these things on the job, it is possible to develop work-related asthma.

Auto body shops and workplace safety violations

People in New Jersey who work in auto body shops should be aware that hazard communication and respiratory protection are the two main reasons the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issue citations to their facilities. Respiratory protection and hazard communication were to the two most frequently cited violations from October 2016 to September 2017.

According to the respiratory protection standard issued by OSHA, employers are required to have a written respiratory protection program that incorporates fit testing and employee training. They are also required to determine if a worker can wear a respirator by providing a medical evaluation.

Safety stand-down for construction workers to be held in May

Construction employers in New Jersey and across the U.S. are being encouraged to hold fall safety stand-downs in May. During these events, they will cease operations in order to talk about fall hazards in the workplace and how to reduce or prevent them. OSHA and the Center for Construction Research and Training have declared that from May 7 to 11, they will be holding their fifth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, so this would be a good time for many employers to join in.

Roughly a third of construction deaths are caused by falls, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. This is why the stand-down, which brings together employers and their employees, could prove beneficial. There is no prescribed way of holding a stand-down -- employers could create a training session with videos, demonstrations or toolbox talks. They could also conduct an equipment inspection or something else that addresses fall hazards.

Trenches and excavations can be dangerous for workers

Construction site accidents can be a major source of workplace injuries for workers in New Jersey. One particular source of an increasing number of serious injuries and even fatalities is work in trenches and excavations. These underground cuts and caverns can involve removing tons of earth in order to create passageways for the laying of building foundations, creating piping or electrical lines and other important construction tasks. However, due to the sheer weight of earth removed and the subsequent risk of cave-ins, collapses, falls and other accidents, trenches and excavations can be dangerous places for workers.

In 2016, fatalities doubled as a result of on-the-job injuries in trenches and excavations. In the previous five years, two workers were killed every month as a result of trench and excavation accidents, most frequently collapses. As a result of the dangerous environment for construction workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified improvement in trench and excavation safety as a priority goal for 2018. As part of its work on the subject, OSHA is acting to build awareness about preventative technologies, safety rules and actions that employers can take to cut down on the threat of severe injuries and fatalities.

Safety risks abound on construction sites

The construction industry is an incredibly important industry, but just because it is vital, vibrant and financially successful does not mean it is without it's faults. The most prominent of these faults is the safety of workers in the construction industry. It may be an inherent part of the construction process, but nonetheless, the people who work on construction sites are almost always in a dangerous situation -- even when nothing goes wrong.

Construction sites are filled with heavy and powerful machinery. They are filled with dangerous substances and building materials. The work that needs to be done at the site could be at precarious heights, or in awkward locations. And the physical labor and effort that it takes to complete these construction projects puts more stress on a worker's body than most other jobs -- let alone expose them to risks other jobs don't.

Tips on avoiding workplace back injury

Back pain, who needs it? Who wants it? No one does, but back pain is a common problem and has become one of the main causes of lost work days. It doesn't discriminate against certain workers, either. Nurses and paramedics may experience it when awkwardly lifting patients. Industrial workers hurt their backs when lifting heavy loads or by slipping and falling. And office workers often suffer lower back pain after spending long hours sitting in front of a computer most of the day.

Some may think that back pain is caused by a single action such as suddenly stepping or lifting something the wrong way. Actually, back pain typically comes as a result of years of activities such as awkward posture, twisting, repetitive tasks, straining, standing too much and even sitting down too much.

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