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Jacksonville Legal Issues Blog

The risks of heat exposure

According to a new study, North Carolina residents could be at risk for heat stroke even when the heat index is less than 91 degrees. If a person has heart disease, diabetes or uses illicit drugs, they could have a fluid imbalance. Workers could also be more likely to experience heat stroke if they are required to work outside while wearing bulky clothing.

The risk of overheating increases for individuals who are given a workload that is too heavy for the weather conditions. Those who experience heat stroke may experience symptoms such as a body temperature of up to 108 degrees. They may also lack the ability to sweat and become confused or disoriented. Supervisors should be trained to recognize the signs of heat stroke to ensure that workers can get the help that they need in a timely manner.

Criminal activities create workplace hazards for some workers

Law enforcement, emergency medical technicians, government employees and healthcare workers in North Carolina have a chance of encountering unpredictable and dangerous conditions while doing their jobs. Often associated with urban environments, homeless camps or methamphetamine labs produce problems like used needles, dumped hazardous chemicals or violent people protecting territory. The founder of an occupational safety company advises employers to identify potential risks to workers and train them how to protect their safety.

Workers who might encounter methamphetamine labs should receive instruction about the types of chemicals used in these operations and what they look like. Drug manufacturers might even set booby traps to protect locations, and workers need to be warned about the possibility of stumbling upon dangers like this while working in the field.

An overview of common Fourth of July accidents

Esurance and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety both claim that the Fourth of July, more than any other day, is the worst for deadly car crashes. Drivers in North Carolina will want to be careful if they intend on traveling during the upcoming holiday weekend. Nearly 200 highway deaths occur each year over the July Fourth weekend, and 40 percent of all highway deaths are caused by drunk drivers during this same time period.

Drunk driving is not the only issue. The presence of more vehicles on the road, plus the fact that many will be traveling unfamiliar routes to get to their destinations, can increase the risk of accidents. AAA estimates that 37.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Fourth of July weekend.

Workers face daily risk from falls on the job

Workers in North Carolina may face an array of unexpected dangers on the job. Whether they work in an environment with known risks, like construction, or in a less physical space, like a typical office, employees may face a number of hazards leading to workplace accidents and injuries. For example, falls, slips and trips are the cause of many serious incidents in the workplace. While many people may think of this type of accident as minor, they have taken lives. In fact, in 2014 alone, 660 workers were killed in accidents related to falls from a height while 138 workers lost their lives when they fell at the same level.

It can be easy to ignore potential workplace safety risks, especially if someone goes through the same paths on a daily basis. However, extra vigilance can help a person avoid serious injuries. For example, in order to prevent falls at the same level, it can be important to remove hazards and obstacles and clean up liquid spills as soon as they occur to prevent the hazard from posing a risk to many more people. Other steps, like wearing nonslip footwear and avoiding emailing or texting from a mobile phone while walking, can also help people avoid workplace falls.

How can you reduce the risk of electric shock in the water?

Like many other North Carolina families hoping to escape the summer heat, you pack up your beach clothes and your loved ones and head to the lake house. While enjoying an afternoon of diving off the dock, your children complain that they feel painful tingling in the water. Panicked, you tell them to swim away from the dock, search for the source of the electricity and find it – a frayed wire has fallen from a dock outlet and is dangling in the water.

Fortunately, you averted disaster by thinking quickly and giving your children the correct instructions. If you feel electrical tingling while swimming, the safest thing to do is to swim away from the dock or boat and call for help. However, until this incident, you might not have given much thought to the danger of drowning by electric shock. In fact, the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association calls it an invisible danger. You can’t see electricity in the water, and often you don’t know an electric charge is causing someone to drown until it is too late.

The dangers of handling garbage

North Carolina residents and others who choose to work in the sanitation field face a variety of dangers. In the first 10 days of 2018, seven sanitation workers died according to the Solid Waste Association of North America. In addition to the risk of dying on the job, workers in this industry could get hurt handling heavy loads and climbing on and off trucks repeatedly.

Sprains and strains are among the most common types of injuries that they face, and coming into contact with hazardous materials is another significant concern. Individuals who work on garbage trucks or who handle waste materials are advised to wear personal protective equipment. Workers can also reduce their risk of getting hurt by wearing their seat belts while riding in garbage trucks. Furthermore, cellphones should never be used while driving or while in a sanitation facility.

Pursuing SSD benefits at a disability hearing

Many North Carolina applicants for Social Security Disability may be concerned about the impact of an upcoming hearing before administrative law judges regarding their applications. After applying for SSD benefits, a claimant will go through an initial review process. If denied at that level, he or she can seek a reconsideration appeal. At these levels, there is little that an applicant can do to supplement the record or avoid a denial as disability examiners will review the record based on the original application and the additional materials they seek out.

In every state, applicants for Social Security Disability benefits face a higher rejection rate at these levels than before administrative law judges, who make decisions at disability hearings. During the disability examiner stage, people applying for benefits cannot meet the decision-maker, answer questions about matters of concern or seek out additional medical testimony to support their claims. However, at a disability hearing, people applying for SSD have an opportunity to add to their file, ensure their medical records are complete and answer questions directly about their work and medical histories.

Silica reduction still a struggle for some employers

In September 2017, federal safety inspectors began enforcing a new rule that limits the amount of silica dust construction to which workers in North Carolina and across the U.S. can be exposed. However, many construction companies are still not fully compliant with the regulations, according to media reports.

Silica, which is a fine dust, is present on many construction job sites. When inhaled, it can cause a number of serious health conditions, including lung scarring, silicosis and even death. To reduce worker illnesses, the new rule cuts the silica dust exposure limit by 80 percent and requires employers to measure silica levels on worksites. If silica levels exceed the permissible amount, employers must take action to lower it. These actions could include vacuuming up excessive dust or spraying water to keep it from becoming airborne.

Work safety may improve with startup's new wearable tech

Workers in North Carolina should know that every industry comes with its own hazards. While some people may not have to face the risk of radiation exposure or pinch point injuries, they may still be at risk for trips, slips and falls. The fact that so many hazards are unforeseeable partly explains why workplace accidents are so frequent. Every day around the world, more than 1,000 workers die on the job, and every minute, over 500 are injured.

However, a software startup based in Des Moines, Iowa, may have a method for improving workplace safety. MākuSafe specializes in wearable technology and has developed a wearable band for workers. This device records environmental and motion data, automatically reporting any near misses and hazardous injuries and transmitting all the information to a cloud platform. Here the data is made consumable for the benefit of workplace safety managers. The platform is even able to identify unsafe areas and trends.

Factors that influence application decision timelines

When a North Carolina disability case is sent to an examiner, there is no timetable in which the case must be approved or denied. However, this doesn't mean that a lengthy review process is the result of someone being lazy or holding a grudge against an applicant. Instead, the most important factor in how long it takes to make a determination is how long it takes to access relevant medical records.

Individuals may be able to speed up the review of their case by submitting full medical records as well as their doctor's contact information. If an examiner needs more information, an applicant can take action to obtain and transfer records themselves instead of waiting for a medical office to do so. Those who experience pain at work and just had surgery may need to wait until the effectiveness of the procedure can be determined before a case is approved or denied.

The Law Offices of John Drew Warlick, P.A. - Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorneys

313 New Bridge Street
Jacksonville, NC 28540

Toll Free: 888-746-8094
Phone: 910-378-0556
Fax: 910-455-4068
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