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Berlin New Jersey Legal Blog

Fall safety the subject of annual construction stand-down

Construction workers in New Jersey should know that falls are the leading cause of death in their industry, accounting for roughly one-third of worker fatalities. Though OSHA has guidelines in place to protect workers on scaffolding and other elevated surfaces, these are not always followed. This is why OSHA, together with NIOSH and the Center for Construction Research and Training, encourage construction employers and employees to participate in the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.

Begun five years ago, the campaign takes place across all 50 states and even internationally. The event has wide appeal among both large and small businesses; in fact, those with fewer than 25 employees made up 49 percent of the U.S. participants back in 2017. The fifth annual stand-down is scheduled to take place from May 7 to May 11.

Chemical exposure in the workplace can cause injuries and illness

Many people think the only hazards they must worry about objects, falls and poorly designed work equipment. Occupational hazards exist in all New Jersey work environments, including in offices, manufacturing warehouses and construction sites. One type of work hazard that often gets little notice until an adverse event occurs is chemical exposure. Chemicals are used in all work environments. 

OSHA requires employers to identify potential hazards and take measures to make the environment safer to prevent accidents, injuries and illnesses. It also mandates that employers take every reasonable measure to limit exposure to hazardous substances and chemicals. Workplace injuries and illnesses that occur due to chemical exposure are covered by workers’ compensation. Take some time to review the symptoms of chemical exposure to minimize the risk of you becoming ill or injured. 

Back, neck pain not uncommon for radiologists

According to a survey from the American College of Radiology, one-third of radiologists in New Jersey and elsewhere complain of lower back pain. The survey conducted by the ACR's Human Resources Commission gathered data by polling 500 practice leaders throughout America. Today, radiologists are being asked to spend long periods of time on computers in uncomfortable positions.

Prolonged sitting itself could be contributing to their back and other musculoskeletal issues. According to the survey, 32 percent of respondents said that radiologists who worked at their practices had back pain. Another 25 percent said that neck pain was an issue. Those who worked on the study say that such pain could be a sign of low job satisfaction, which could put radiologists at risk for burning out.

How to improve the safety of autonomous vehicles

New Jersey residents may have heard about the Uber vehicle that fatally struck a pedestrian in Arizona on March 18. At the time of the crash, the vehicle was traveling on a dark road at night, and there was not enough light for it to detect the pedestrian before impact. The professor says that the car should have been designed to assume that there could have been a person or another object in that poorly lit area.

Instead, autonomous vehicles are designed with some of the same bad driving habits that humans have. Going forward, the professor argues that they should be designed to place a premium on safety as opposed to familiarity. This would mean that they drive at speeds slow enough to come to a complete stop if an object is detected suddenly. Furthermore, an autonomous vehicle should have higher expectations placed on it to avoid an accident compared to a human driver.

Why the police need to know about your slip and fall

One mistake that some people make after slipping and falling is not reporting the incident to the police. Such an oversight makes sense. After all, you slipped and fell. No one assaulted you or hit you with their car. Why would anyone think to notify the police after falling on something such as poorly maintained stairs?

However, it is best to err on the side of caution and documentation. Reporting the slip and fall begins the documentation process, and it can be used in court to uphold your claim. In fact, the police report serves as a concise early summary of what happened, where, when, how and if anyone witnessed it. The police or your attorney may also be able to obtain any video evidence of the incident, which can be time critical. Such videos are often deleted or taped over every few days.

OSHA wants to keep trench workers safe

New Jersey construction workers will be at a lower risk of getting hurt in a trench accident if OSHA has its way. It says that it wants to make reducing such accidents among its priorities in 2018. This will be done by educating both workers and employers about ways to prevent cave-ins as well as increase awareness of the risks that come when trenching.

An average of two people died per month in trench accidents in 2011 according to OSHA. In 2016, the fatality rate for trenching and excavation was nearly double the average of the previous five years. There have been many suggestions as to why this was the case. Pressure related to time and money, laziness and inadequate enforcement by state and federal safety groups have all been cited as contributing to the cause. Common methods of preventing a trench collapse include shoring, shielding and benching.

How workers can protect their eyes

Workers in New Jersey, especially those in the construction, manufacturing, and mining industries, know how important eye safety is. Every year, more than 20,000 workers suffer an eye injury, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with over 40 percent of the most serious injuries occurring in the industries mentioned above. Eye injuries cost companies more than $300 million annually in delays, workers' compensation benefits, and medical care.

90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented, though, simply by wearing the appropriate eyewear, including safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and helmets. They should be OSHA-compliant and approved by the American National Standards Institute. Also, workers can prevent injuries from worsening by getting immediate medical help. This is true whether they suffer from bleeding in the eye, an enlarged pupil, torn eyelids, or difficulty moving an eye.

3 steps to take after a slip-and-fall accident

With motor vehicle accidents such a high risk for anyone who drives, you likely are prepared with knowing what to do after a collision. But do you know what you should do after a slip-and-fall accident? Falls are the top reason for a visit to the ER, shares the National Floor Safety Institute.

Before you get anxious about another thing to worry about, know that the steps to take are similar to the ones following an auto accident but even fewer.

Beryllium standard enforcement pushed back to May

New Jersey employers may know that OSHA's new beryllium standard will not take effect until May 11. The reason for the delay is that negotiations are still occurring to settle lawsuits related to the rule. For those in the shipyard and construction industries, enforcement of the .2 micrograms per cubic meter of air per eight hours standard will not be enforced until May. The same is true with the 2 microgram limit per 15-minute sample period.

Beryllium is typically used to make electronics, and too much exposure to the material can lead to chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer. According to OSHA, roughly 62,000 workers are exposed to it each year. The new standards are expected to prevent 90 deaths per year from beryllium-related disease. Companies that are not in compliance with the new standards may receive a notice from OSHA as well as an offer to help get into compliance.

Soft tissue damage can bring pain after car crashes

Drivers in New Jersey who have been victims of a car crash may experience lingering pain and ongoing problems due to the soft tissue injuries that frequently accompany motor vehicle accidents. This type of injury is distinguished from a hard tissue injury because rather than affecting bone or cartilage, these affect softer body parts like ligaments, tendons and muscles. There are a number of signs and symptoms that can point to soft tissue damage after an auto accident, including sprains, tears and other pains and injuries.

The power of a car accident's impact can jolt the people inside the vehicle, forcing their bodies to move quickly in different directions. Even protective responses to a crash such as sharply applying the brakes or entering a brace position can intensify damage to soft tissue. The impact of a car crash can damage the soft tissue and force it to stretch. One of the most common types of soft tissue injuries suffered in a car accident is whiplash, a neck injury. This most frequently occurs in rear-end accidents when a car is hit from behind. The accident victim's head swiftly moves back and forth, putting pressure on the neck that can later manifest as chronic pain.