Burlington Personal Injury Attorneys
More than 100 Years of Combined Experience
Smith Magram Michaud Colonna, P.C.

Burlington Personal Injury Law Blog

How incident reporting is essential to workplace safety

Many workers in New Jersey, especially office workers, manual laborers and those in the manufacturing industry, are putting themselves and others at risk for on-the-job injuries by not reporting all incidents. Incident reports are legal documents that can indirectly tell employers where they need to improve their organization's safety. They provide valuable real-life data to go by, especially when they are backed by eyewitness testimony.

Incident reporting can raise awareness of a number of threats in the workplace: for instance, the threat of employees who come to work intoxicated, or the threat of workers who bully or sexually harass others. There are also hazards posed by faulty equipment and machinery, a lack of equipment, inadequate safety training and a lack of hazard controls.

How overall employment conditions affect employee health

Researchers at the University of Washington have shown in a new study that workers' health depends on overall employment conditions rather than on one or two factors. Workers in New Jersey should know that these conditions cover pay, the nature of the work, shift length, schedule flexibility and job security.

The authors of the study, with their backgrounds in environmental and occupational health, found that previous studies that focus on a single factor, such as pay, are not capturing certain elements that influence employee health. Many of these studies do not consider the different forms of employment, including gig economy jobs and jobs characterized by flexible employer-worker relationships.

Parents, are your kids at risk for drain entrapment?

Although Summer 2019 is only a memory now, there are still plenty of opportunities to swim in indoor pools and relax in whirlpool spas. But parents should be aware of the potential dangers their children can face in those environments.

Any source of water carries a drowning risk. But pools and spas have heightened risks of drain entrapment that can prove lethal to children and adults as well.

Hearing loss a threat to miners, oil and gas workers

Some New Jersey workers may be particularly at risk for serious injuries on the job. For example, workers in mining, oil and gas are especially prone to hearing loss. In some injuries, one-quarter of workers experienced symptoms of diminished hearing, while 30% of workers in others faced some kind of damage to their hearing, according to one report published by researchers. They noted that as many as 61% of all miners and oil and gas extraction workers have experienced some type of hazardous noise on the job. In addition, these industries also involve chemical exposure that can put workers at further risk of hearing damage.

Sand and gravel mining workers were some of the most likely to suffer hearing loss, with 36% having damage of some kind. Also, 31% of miners in uranium, radium and vanadium had hearing damage, as did 28% in bituminous coal mining and 27% in iron ore mining. Overall, 24% of workers exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the mining industry had some type of measurable hearing damage. Support workers were also at risk of dangerous noise levels. Coal mining support workers who were exposed to high noise levels were at double the risk of hearing loss compared to workers in comparison industries with little noise exposure.

Appeals court rules employers must evaluate respiratory safety

Employers in New Jersey and across the United States need to be aware of a September ruling that may affect the health of their employees. The ruling made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit determined that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for respiratory protection require that all employers must evaluate all respiratory hazards and respond accordingly.

According to the ruling, the court said that employers with potential respiratory hazards must evaluate the workplace and provide a respirator that is appropriate for the use of the employees. The ruling was made in response to complaints reported in 2009 by employees at an Alaskan shipyard. The employees had been offered respirators on a voluntary basis after being told by the shipyard competence person that the air was free from gas.

Should you let your kids get on carnival rides?

Autumn in New Jersey is a beautiful time of year. Burlington residents often engage in outdoor activities that won't be possible to do once the weather turns cold and the snow begins to fall.

It's often a time for carnivals to make their last passes through the northeast before heading down to the southern circuit for the winter months. In fact, your kids may already have been begging for a chance to go on some rides and scarf down some Midway food. Should you allow them to go?

Radiation exposure a concern for health care workers

Radiation exposure can be a serious concern for many New Jersey workers, including people working in the health care industry. Doctors and radiology technicians are exposed to radiation on a daily basis, and even people in lucrative, highly paid and specialized positions need to be alert to the potential effects of radiation exposure. Everyone experiences some radiation through daily life and devices like mobile phones and microwaves. Occupational exposure is different, however; it usually involves short-wave radiation carrying higher energy levels and capable of disrupting cells. Exposure to this type of radiation on the job can increase workers' risk of developing cancer over time.

Low exposure carries a lower risk, and most modern medical equipment is engineered to provide protection for workers, technicians, professionals and physicians as well as patients. However, exposure to radiation may add up over time, and occupational disease caused by exposure may only become apparent years down the line. Dosimetry can be an important part of measuring exposure and ensuring that individual workers do not exceed the cumulative guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Dosimetry systems usually involve workers wearing badges that are sensitive to radiation. These badges provide readings about the dose received by the worker at any given time.

Floor markings can increase workplace safety

New Jersey businesses can improve worker safety and productivity simply and cost-effectively by the use of floor markings. Floor markings can provide workers with important information about the locations of tools, work spaces and safety equipment. They can aslo improve the facility's emergency procedures and strengthen safety levels for the facility overall. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published recommended color codes for floor markings and other notices.

A company's emergency action plan can be improved by the use of floor markings, which can indicate pathways for emergencies like natural disasters, chemical spills and fires. Glow in the dark tape can be used so workers can see floor markings even in darkness. Markings can be utilized to prevent workers and others from blocking emergency equipment like fire extinguishers and first aid installations by cordoning off the areas around them. Some of these markings may be required by the state's building codes.

Fatigue provides the silent cause of many workplace accidents

Long hours at work and inadequate sleep quietly take a toll on workers in New Jersey and nationwide. Sleep researchers have determined that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep daily, but roughly 30% of civilian workers fail to get six hours of sleep as of the mid-2000s according to the National Health Interview Survey. Sleep deprivation reduces muscle coordination and raises the risk of falling, stumbling or dropping objects. Cognitive difficulties also arise that erode workers' ability to function.

In general, people have a poor ability to recognize the impairment caused by lack of sleep. They continue to work long hours unaware of the risk. The chance of injury goes up when shifts exceed eight hours. At 10 hours, risks rise by 13%. At 12 hours, the dangers jump by 27.5%. Overall, researchers estimate that sleep deprivation contributes to 13% of workplace injuries. An estimated 20% of the population puts in over 48 hours on the job every week.

Man suffers fatal injuries in elevator accident

In New Jersey and across the nation, accidents involving elevators seem rare. Unfortunately, they do happen, and people suffer injuries and fatalities because of them. If an elevator accident happens, it could be due to a failure to ensure that it was in safe working condition. Those who have been hurt or lost a loved one in this type of incident should know what steps they should take.

An elevator accident claimed the life of a 30-year-old man in August. According to the investigation, the man was found trapped between the first floor and the basement, and emergency crews were unable to save his life. After assessing the case, the medical examiner determined it to have been an accident.