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Toms River, New Jersey, Personal Injury Blog

Workers' eyes at risk on the job

For workers on the job in New Jersey, eye safety can be a particularly important task when working with hazardous materials or in dangerous locations. Eye protection can be important in all kinds of jobs, including in traditional desk-based office work. Dealing with eye safety should be a priority in the workplace; accidents and injuries that involve the eyes can be especially devastating and costly.

Each year, there are approximately 20,000 eye injuries suffered by workers on the job in the United States, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that approximately $300 million is lost annually due to workplace injuries involving the eyes. The personal costs to workers can be even higher in many cases, ranging from severe pain to decreased vision and even blindness. Many eye injuries are preventable; safety experts advise that up to 90 percent of workplace injuries involving the eyes could be avoided by wearing protective eyewear. There is a range of safety equipment that can help to protect the eyes, including helmets, face shields, goggles and safety glasses.

Partnership hopes to limit theatrical injuries

New Jersey workers in the entertainment industry may be interested in learning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has renewed a partnership focused on improving safety for those employed on theater and movie sets. A five-year alliance with the International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees (IATSE) and the United States Institute for Theater Technology (USITT) was set to expire later this year but has now been extended through 2023.

As part of OSHA's Alliance Program, the federal agency works with industry partners to improve workplace safety through education and awareness programs as well as taking a collaborative approach to fostering improved environments for work safety. Specifically, the partnership with the entertainment industry groups will seek to reduce falls, electrical hazards, ergonomic, and other factors considered hazardous to workers. Both USITT and IATSE will help educate OSHA and other government officials as well as industry consultants regarding best practices for fall prevention and power distribution in theatrical settings.

How manufacturing workers end up with repetitive-motion injuries

Working in a manufacturing setting can be quite challenging. Many people in this field have to perform the same task repeatedly every day. That can mean eight hours or more a day on your feet, as well as straining your back, hips, knees and hands. For those who hope to retire from manufacturing jobs, repetitive-motion injuries — also called repetitive-stress injuries — could prove a bigger risk than a catastrophic workplace accident.

While workers do end up hurt due to accidents with machinery, collisions with objects or chemical spills, the daily wear and tear of physical labor contributes to many cases of disabilities and workplace injuries. These injuries develop slowly over time, as you perform your job. You may not have any symptoms at all. Then one day, pain starts becoming an issue.

Former OSHA head testifies in favor of traditional regulation

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, former Occupational Safety and Health Administration head David Michaels outlined his belief on why voluntary compliance programs don't have the same results as standard enforcement measures. According to Michaels, compliance assistance programs are useful for companies that are proactively seeking to protect their employees from hazardous working conditions, but the result is no substitute for vigorous, fair regulation enforcement.

Michaels' testimony primarily focused on the ineffectiveness of voluntary OSHA efforts including Voluntary Protection Programs, or VPP. It was his testimony that VPP was designed to recognize the best employers in an industry but ultimately wasted OSHA resources and lacked focus.

OSHA tightens standards for silica exposure

Employees in New Jersey and across the country may be concerned about the potential dangers of exposure and inhalation of respirable crystalline silica. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published a fact sheet that aims to encourage compliance with its standards on exposure to the mineral product. Employers are mandated to take action to protect employees from silica exposure, including assessing the potential for exposure in the workplace, providing training and establishing clear plans in case of exposure.

OSHA's rule decreases the limit of allowable exposure to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged across an eight-hour work shift. Crystalline silica, which can cause cancer, is found in sand as well as artificial stone. Being exposed to silica, and particularly breathing in silica dust, can lead to silicosis. This is an occupational disease that leads to trauma in the lungs. It begins when a worker inhales small particles of silica dust. These particles slip into the lungs, triggering an immune response that attempts to remove them from the body. Instead, this sets off a cycle of responses that can leave the lungs severely damaged and workers unable to breathe.

When gallbladder surgery leads to bile duct injuries

Bile duct injuries occur in an estimated 1 percent of gallbladder operations. These injuries are caused by trauma during surgery, and they often lead to scarring and a narrowing of the bile duct, which is known as a bile duct stricture. Anyone in New Jersey who has undergone gallbladder surgery will want to be aware of the symptoms of such an injury and what can be done if he or she develops an issue.

Bile duct strictures prevent the bile from draining into the intestine, resulting in the leakage of bile out of the liver and into the bloodstream. This in turn causes obstructive jaundice. In 20 percent of bile duct injury cases, patients also suffer an injury to the hepatic artery, which is the blood vessel that leads to the liver.

OSHA makes silica exposure a priority with new fines

New fines have been put in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violations of the crystalline silica standard that became law in 2013. Constructions workers in New Jersey who cut, sand, saw or drill concrete or brick materials must follow safety protocols to avoid dangerous levels of exposure to health-harming silica dust.

To comply with regulations, construction companies must provide respiratory masks or instruct their workers to wet-cut the building materials. Failure to meet safety standards will result in hefty fines. Each violation incurs a $12,934 fine plus another $12,934 per day until compliance is achieved. Repeat offenses could raise fines as high as $129,336.

It may take time to feel pain from your car accident injury

While many car accident injuries are immediately painful or plainly visible, some injuries do not cause pain to a victim until hours or even days after the accident. If a victim does not receive proper medical treatment as soon as the accident occurs, these injuries may worsen and draw out recovery time and suffering.

In general, it is wise to seek out medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident, even if you do not think that you received any injuries. A medical professional will carefully examine you, and may find injuries you do not expect, catching them before they turn serious, or, in some cases, deadly.

Proposals to help reduce risks to EMS workers

New Jersey paramedics have plenty to be concerned about when it comes to fatigue on the job. Because a major part of EMS work can involve vehicle operation in emergency situations, the impact can be catastrophic. The potential for serious accidents and injuries due to fatigue has inspired a collaboration between the National Association of State EMS Officials and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to develop guidelines that can reduce the likelihood of this.

The researchers examined thousands of reports and studies that indicated the level of fatigue experienced by EMS workers. Over half of all of the EMS workers documented in the reports got less than six hours of sleep on a regular basis. The same percentage reported ongoing, severe mental and physical fatigue, low quality of sleep and little recovery time between often-lengthy and stressful shifts.

Improved tracking systems may create safer New Jersey workplaces

A yearlong analysis of existing programs dedicated to worker safety in the U.S. has resulted in a call from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to reconfigure existing information systems to create safer working conditions in a changing economy. Analysts say that the study illustrates a need for improved health surveillance systems as well as better tracking and monitoring of occupational injuries. Experts are also calling for a systemic sharing of information between agencies.

Health surveillance is the term used by professionals who track metadata related to public health concerns. Current systems are primarily outcome based and focus on after-the-fact analysis of workplace injuries. A more proactive approach could lead to injury prevention through predictive analysis of occupational safety data. Sharing of data between the BLS, OSHA and NIOSH could result in a more rapid response to industry-wide safety hazards. In the face of changing workplaces, tracking exposures to hazardous materials as well as periodic testing and screening of workers could improve medical outcomes for exposed workers.

Contact R.C. Shea & Associates, Counsellors At Law

Call our Toms River office at 732-505-1212, our Manchester office at 732-408-WILL (9455), our Brick office at 732-451-0800, or call us toll free at 800-556-SHEA (7432). You can also contact our firm online.

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R.C. Shea & Associates, Counsellors at Law
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