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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Keys to a healthy work environment

Regardless of their industry, New Jersey employers have a duty to provide a safe environment for their employees. There are several keys to a safe workplace, and they include clean indoor air, ergonomic designs and continual training on how to identify and address hazards.

For good indoor air quality, employers need to protect their work space from pollutants like asbestos. This can be found in building materials like roofing sheets and pipes from before the 1970s. Certain industrial chemicals like benzene and chloroform can also contaminate the air. Wood industries are no stranger to silica, which can be found in dust and cause lung disease. Ventilation and the regulated use of common chemicals like benzene are important.

How to prevent pinch point accidents

Many New Jersey factory workers face serious risks from pinch points. A pinch point is a gap between two moving parts where a person or a body part could get caught or stuck. In some cases, pinch points involve spaces between a moving part and a stationary object. They are generally found in printing presses, press brakes or conveyors. Powered covers, doors and hatches may also contain dangerous pinch points.

Workers can be protected either by guards or devices. Devices are designed to either stop when a worker's hand or other body part is in a machine or to not allow a worker to get stuck in a machine at all while it's in motion. For example, a machine may not run unless both of a person's hands are on the controls. Any guard or device should be difficult to remove or tamper with, and it should be strong enough to withstand damage.

Five worst summer safety hazards for construction workers

Construction workers in New Jersey face a lot of safety risks in the summer with five common ones being fatigue, heat stress, dehydration, conditions resulting from prolonged sun exposure and injuries in roadside construction zones. There are ways that employers can manage these risks, though.

The first basic steps are to provide workers with hydrating liquids and frequent breaks in a shaded place. If workers do not like water, add a lemon slice to it or bring in electrolytic beverages like Sqwincher and Gatorade. Canopies and umbrellas can give shade even on the job site. For fatiguing tasks, cycle workers in and out.

Ladder safety tips to protect you on the job

Depending on your profession, you may need to use a ladder to complete various tasks. For example, roofers and painters use ladders almost every day of the week.

Even if you've been safely using a ladder for many years, you could still make a mistake that causes an accident. Here are some safety tips that will give you peace of mind:

  • Don't use a damaged ladder: Ladders don't last forever, so you should check for damage and defects before taking your first step. A damaged ladder is one that's much more likely to cause an accident.
  • One person at a time: Even if you're in a hurry, there's never a good time for two or more people to use a ladder at the same time.
  • Choose the right size ladder: The ladder you use to reach a roof is not likely to be the same one you use to paint the interior of a home. The wrong size ladder can force you to lean or reach, which puts you at risk.
  • Keep an eye on the weather: Inclement weather, such as rain and wind, can compromise your safety when using a ladder. If conditions take a turn for the worst when working outdoors, pull down your ladder and move to safety for the time being.
  • Don't set your ladder near high traffic areas: If you set your ladder near the path of vehicular or pedestrian traffic, there's a greater chance that someone or something will knock into it. If this happens while you're on the ladder, you're likely to fall to the ground below.

DUI fatality rate peaks during Fourth of July

More than any other major holiday in the U.S., the Fourth of July sees a spike in the number of deaths resulting from drunk driving crashes. New Jersey residents should know that 1,192 people were killed in DUI crashes on the Fourth of July between 2010 and 2017. The second deadliest holiday turned out to be Memorial Day with 1,105 people dying on that day between the same years. In all, the average DUI fatality rate was 23% higher on Independence Day.

It is also a far more deadly day than the average summer day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 184 DUI fatalities in 2017 on the Fourth of July weekend. A comparable span of four or five summer days sees an average of 117 such fatalities. The Fourth of July DUI fatality rate is 40.9, whereas that of an equivalent summer day is 26.1. This amounts to a 57% jump on the holiday.

Pneumoconioses in the workplace

Pneumoconiosis is a form of interstitial lung disease, or lung disease that causes scarring to lung tissue. The most common types of pneumoconiosis are asbestosis, silicosis and black lung, which is properly called coal workers' pneumoconiosis. Workers in New Jersey should be aware that these are all caused by the inhalation of certain particles. In the above-mentioned cases, the particles would be asbestos fibers, silica dust and coal mine dust.

Dust containing other elements like aluminum, graphite, iron and talc can lead to pneumoconiosis, but this is not as frequently reported. Workers who develop asbestosis, silicosis or black lung disease may not show any symptoms until years later. By that time, they may experience lung impairment and disabilities.

Preventing teen work injuries during the summer

Summer is considered by many workers to be the most dangerous season of the year. Those that operate outside are at risk of developing heat illnesses. Some companies bring in larger crowds around this time of year and could potentially push their workers too hard. It requires alert and experienced hard workers to ensure that operations go smoothly and safely.

However, summer is also the peak time for many companies to bring in newer and much younger recruits. Many high school and college students are taking summer jobs to pay off their expenses. While an extra set of hands can help speed up a workplace, the inexperience of these workers could present a large risk to you, your coworkers and the teens themselves. As these new employees start settling in, keep these safety tips in mind to avoid any serious incidents.

Keeping workers safe around loading docks

Loading docks can be a dangerous area for workers in New Jersey to find themselves in. The good news is that there are basic steps that companies can take to minimize the opportunity for an accident to occur. One such step is to provide training as it relates to using forklifts. To comply with OSHA regulations, employees should be taught how to use the specific machines that they will be working with on the job.

Workers should be equipped with safety gear such as footwear that won't cause them to skid or slide on a dock floor. They should also be given protection for their ears, eyes and face. Helmets may protect employees from objects falling from shelves or similar objects. The dock itself should be dry and in good condition at all times. Doing so may prevent workers from slipping, tripping or falling.

Drowsy driving signs and dangers

Being drowsy behind the wheel can be as dangerous as being drunk. According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, someone who has been awake for 24 hours straight has the same impairment level as an individual with a blood alcohol content of .10. For reference, .08 is legal maximum BAC for drivers in New Jersey. For those who find themselves tired while driving, there are some tips to stay alert.

According to an associate professor of neurology, every driver should take a break around every two hours. Signs of drowsy driving include yawning or blinking frequently, drooping eyelids, drifting out of traffic lanes, missing exits or road signs and not remembering the previous few minutes of driving. All of these are signs it's time for a break from the road.

NIOSH joins effort to prevent falls in construction

Construction site owners in New Jersey should be aware that falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On average, 310 construction workers die every year in falls, and 10,350 are seriously injured. In the effort to prevent falls, NIOSH has released a fact sheet on roof, scaffold and ladder safety for both employers and workers.

The fact sheet stresses the importance of adequate training. Employers must additionally have a fall protection program in place for roof workers and have them use the buddy system. Fall arrest systems should have the correct anchorage. It's also best to monitor the weather.

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