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Asheville Workers' Compensation Law Blog

New OSHA reporting rules for North Carolina organizations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued new guidelines that are part of an effort to prevent future injuries from occurring by improving data, which is expected to help identify trends and common workplace hazards. Previous to the update, employers only had to report hospitalizations and fatalities that involved three or more workers. Starting on Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA is requiring that all employers report work-related hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye within 24 hours and fatalities within eight hours of the employer being informed of the incident.

There are a few circumstances where reporting is not required. For example, only fatalities that occur within 30 days of an accident must be reported, and hospitalizations and amputations only have to be reported if they take place within 24 hours of an incident. Hospitalization for in-patient diagnostic testing or observation is also exempted from reporting requirements as are hospitalizations due to a heart attack.

The risks of occupational skin diseases

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that more than 13 million employees are at risk of suffering a range of occupational illnesses and injuries because of exposure to chemicals. It is important for North Carolina workers in certain industries to be aware of their risk of exposure. Employees who are at the highest risk of skin exposure-related injury or illness are those who work in the health care, cosmetology, food service and agriculture industries. Other industries with a high risk include construction, painting, mechanics, cleaning and printing.

The second-most frequent kind of occupational disease reported is occupational skin diseases, costing more than $1 billion a year. They come in different forms, including injuries, infections, cancers, contact dermatitis and other skin diseases. Among these, contact dermatitis is the most common, occurring in about 90 to 95 percent of OSD cases. Workers with this condition may experience redness, pain, blisters, itching and dry, scaly skin.

Common workplace injuries

Staying safe on the job is important for workers in North Carolina. Unsafe workplace conditions can lead to injuries that require expensive hospital treatments and lengthy recovery times. A worker who suffers an injury while on the job may be entitled to a workers' compensation claim that may pay for the entirety of their medical expenses.

One of the most common causes of workplace injuries is overworking. There is nothing wrong with working hard but when a worker becomes fatigued, the likelihood of an accident increases. Working for too long without proper rest can cause fatigue which in turn can decrease concentration, affect decision-making and increase the chances of making a mistake.

Examining the difficulty with keeping airline ground crews safe

North Carolina employees may be interested in some information about the danger of ignoring safety protocols in our nation's airports. Due to multiple factors, serious accidents and damage to aircraft can occur.

According to reports, since 2001 nearly 100 people have been killed on congested airport ramps. These areas are used for unloading and loading baggage, delivering food to the plane and refueling the aircraft. Worldwide, accidents and damage to aircraft that occur on the ground cost airlines over $10 billion every year. While one airline group has published a comprehensive safety manual to outline safety procedures for avoiding ground-level accidents, many issues remain.

1 injured in North Carolina plant explosion

Officials are investigating the cause of a ConMet plant explosion in Haywood County on Dec. 4 that resulted in the injury of a worker. Officials say that the incident happened just before 9 a.m. while the injured employee was working on an injection-molding machine.

ConMet employs about 500 workers at the manufacturing facility, which makes plastic components for the insides of trucks and semi-trucks. While a worker was working in a high-pressure process on the machine, a malfunction occurred. This released pressure and smoke, and the employee suffered a serious leg injury. He was taken to Mission Hospital for treatment.

The World Health Organization takes action against asbestos

In North Carolina and around the country, people may be surprised to learn that the World Health Organization estimates that roughly 125 million people around the world are exposed to asbestos while at work. Despite being banned in the United States, this dangerous chemical lingers in many commercial and even residential buildings. The material has been used in all types of building from homes to government centers, and it can be found in floor tiles, insulation, gaskets and even automotive brake pads.

The concern with asbestos is that it is dangerous to humans in all of its forms. The exposure can lead to several different types of cancer, including mesothelioma. In addition to determining how many people are exposed to this dangerous chemical at work, the World Health Organization has also conducted studies regarding asbestos-related deaths. It is currently estimated that more than 107,000 people die every year as a result of asbestos exposure and related illnesses.

5 steps to insure safety at the construction site

Construction workers in North Carolina and throughout the country are important to the nation's economy. Because many operate dangerous machinery and work in hard-to-reach places, the risk of accidents is great. In fact, about 150,000 construction accidents occur annually, with 824 construction-related deaths taking place in 2013, according to a recent report.

Employers should regularly inspect their machines to make sure they are in good working condition. Machine-related accidents at the workplace account for almost 15 percent of workplace fatalities and about a third of job-related injuries. Construction employers should insure that their employees are adequately trained in the use of all the equipment. Workers need to be familiarized on how to use new and advanced machinery, not only for their own safety, but for the safety of other workers, as well.

Top types of workplace injuries and how to avoid them

North Carolina workers may be able to take several precautions to prevent workplace injuries. The most common injuries are falls on the same level and falls to lower levels, getting hit by falling objects, overexertion and bodily reaction. All together, these types of injuries result in direct costs of more than $40 billion nationwide.

Falls on the same level can be prevented with anti-slip footwear and coating on floors as well as keeping work areas tidy and free from clutter. Avoiding falls to lower levels can be prevented by securing and checking the safety on ladders, scaffolding and other equipment. Workers can reduce the chances of being injured by falling objects by wearing appropriate safety gear, avoiding working under equipment while it is in operation and wearing visible clothing.

OSHA policies to protect construction workers on ladders

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has policies in place to safeguard construction workers who have to use ladders on the job. Its policies are designed to protect workers in North Carolina and around the country from falling from ladders that are positioned unsafely or are being used in unsafe conditions. Construction workers who are at least six feet high on ladders must be protected.

Every time a construction worker uses a portable ladder, the employee is at risk of falling, which may cause one or more of many types of injuries and possibly death. This could happen if the ladder is not set up safely because it could slip or move off of its supports. Falling from a ladder could also happen if the worker becomes unbalanced or the ladder becomes unstable.

Workplace illnesses and workers' compensation

When most people in North Carolina think about workers' compensation, they think of scenarios in which a worker is physically injured on the job through an accident. The state's workers' compensation laws also provide for benefits in situations in which a worker has contracted certain illnesses due to exposure on the job, however.

There are multiple illnesses covered by workers' compensation laws. People who contract anthrax due to workplace exposure or those who have adverse reactions to a vaccination required by the employer are covered illnesses. Others include illnesses resulting from poisoning by arsenic, brass, chrome, benzol, mercury, zinc, phosphorous, manganese or compressed-air illnesses.

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