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Bridgeport Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Save a worker: Know the stages of heat stress

As the mercury climbs on hot summer days, so too does the risk of heat-related illness. As a construction worker, you could drop a tool because of a sweaty palm or collapse from heat stroke while digging a trench on a 100-degree day. For your sake and the sake of your co-workers, learn what heat illness looks like and what first aid to provide.

Thousands of employees suffer annually from serious heat-related sickness and injury, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Heat stroke kills 30 Americans every year on average, according to the federal government. Unsurprisingly, more than 40 percent of these deaths happen in the construction sector where workers are outdoors for long periods facing hazardous environments.

Fatigue on the force

As a police officer, you know better than anyone that you hold one of the most hazardous jobs in the U.S. According to the FBI, 118 police officers were killed in the U.S. in 2016. Another 57,180 officers experienced assault, of which 28.9% were injured. You face those numbers every day that you report for duty.

Obviously, you signed up for the job because you can handle the stress, but police today are dealing with more complex calls and more monitoring than ever before. Additionally, reductions in employment and compensation mean that you are likely working double shifts or even taking a second job. 

How to stay safe at a construction site

According to OSHA, about 20 percent of workplace deaths in Connecticut and throughout the country happen on a construction site. The vast majority of construction-related injuries and deaths occur because of falls and falling objects. Electrocution and being stuck between objects are two other common ways in which construction workers can be injured or killed. However, there are steps that employers can take to ensure that their workers are as safe as possible.

For example, employers can inspect ladders or scaffolding that a worker will be using during a given shift. Using railings, toe boards and personal protective equipment can either lower the risk of a fall or reduce the odds of injury if one does occur. Canopies to catch falling objects can help keep workers safe on a job site as well, and workers should always wear hard hats to further prevent against damage from falling debris.

Tesla faces claims of not reporting injuries

Connecticut residents may have heard about Tesla and the electric vehicles that it produces, but they may not have heard that the company is under investigation by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In a report, the company was accused of not properly counting or identifying its employee injuries. The report also brought to light a paint shop fire that Cal/OSHA is looking into.

State regulations require employers to report serious injuries within eight hours, and a serious injury is defined as one in which a person is hospitalized for more than 24 hours. An injury can also be deemed serious if a person loses a body part or is otherwise disfigured.

Federal court upholds charge of willful violations

Employers in Connecticut, especially those in construction and other highly hazardous industries, may want to know about a recent ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The case is entitled Martin Mechanical Contractors, Inc. v. Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor.

In 2015, an HVAC contractor in Georgia fell through an unguarded skylight on the flat roof of the warehouse he was working on and subsequently died from his injuries. Though the onsite foreman had fall protection equipment, the employees did not use it; the foreman himself testified that it was the company's practice not to use such equipment on flat roofs.

What to know about spinal cord injuries as a construction worker

You’re at work on a construction site when suddenly things go terribly wrong. You find yourself on the ground with pain radiating from your neck and back. When you arrive at the emergency room, the doctor informs you that you have sustained a spinal cord injury. What are spinal cord injuries? Are they treatable? Can you seek relief through workers’ compensation?

 

Firefighters face an epidemic of repetitive stress injuries

If you’re a firefighter, you know that the risks associated with your job can go far beyond burns and smoke inhalation. The work itself can be repetitive and physically demanding, often resulting in injury over time. Last fall, the National Fire Protection Association reported that there were over 62,000 reports of firefighter injuries in 2016. Nearly half of the reports were due to repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) sustained in fireground operations.

What are stress injuries? What’s covered under workers’ compensation?

Most common safety hazards in the workplace

Employers across Connecticut, especially those in construction, manufacturing and other hazardous industries, should know what the most common factors are in workplace injuries. The National Safety Council has created a list after years of conducting safety audits, and its results can be eye-opening.

One major factor is poor housekeeping. Clutter can pose a trip hazard, or it could block fire exits, aisles and emergency exits. In addition, stacking up too many loads in warehouses can limit the effectiveness of sprinkler systems. Electrical hazards are a second factor, especially the use of multiple extension cords in a process known as "daisy-chaining."

Grain engulfment poses safety risk to workers

Grain workers in Connecticut and across the country can face serious dangers on the job due to the threat of grain engulfment, which can often be deadly. Grain engulfment can happen on private farms and also in commercial grain companies, which are required to obey the workplace safety rules of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Wherever a worker is dealing with stored grain, keeping high levels of safety can be important to avoid these types of accidents, including providing extensive training.

Several large industry bodies in the commercial grain industry are working with OSHA on the project, which aims to reduce worker injuries and prevent fatalities in commercial grain storage. When unloading grain, a worker could be at serious risk of engulfment. Grain that is flowing is similar to quicksand and can bury a person almost instantly. Workers have only two to three seconds to act to protect themselves from being engulfed by flowing grain if they are in a bin. Grain can also bridge by clumping together and then falling into an empty space occupied by a person, who can then be suffocated.

Opioids may prolong return to work after lower back injuries

The opioid epidemic is proof that there's no one-size-fits-all solution to managing pain. Opioids work for some people. For others, they don't. Opioids become addictive for some people. For others, they don't. And of those who struggle with addiction - even when they've recovered from their original injuries - there are still others who say that opioids help get them through a day that would otherwise be filled with debilitating pain.

But now there's another black mark against opioids.

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