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Augusta Georgia Workers' Compensation Blog

Understanding OSHA reporting rules

As of January 2017, some companies in Georgia and elsewhere have been required to submit injury and illness data electronically to OSHA. In many cases, these and other companies have been required to keep injury and illness records on file before the electronic filing requirement was adopted. However, this rule has been challenged in court since it went into effect. Therefore, businesses may be even more confused as to what their reporting obligations are.

Employers required to comply with the electronic submission rule were given until Dec. 1 to do so. However, a combination of lawsuits and outcry from the public has created uncertainty as to whether the rule will actually take effect. It is important to note that reporting dates will change going forward. Forms 300, 300A and 301 for 2017 are due by July 1, 2018 and will be due by March 2 in subsequent years.

Fall protection tops OSHA's list of safety violations

For the sixth year in a row, fall protection violations were number 1 on OSHA's list of the 10 most common workplace safety violations. The list is a summary of data from fiscal year 2017, which spanned from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017. While many other violations are not new to the list, others are, which should be of concern to business owners in Georgia and the rest of the U.S.

The failure of companies to follow general fall protection requirements led to more than 6,000 citations in fiscal year 2017. This meant that many companies did not, for example, provide railing and safety nets for elevated work areas or give workers safety harnesses and lines. The list continues with violations in the areas of hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, and lockout/tagout requirements to control hazardous energy.

What CNAs should know about back injuries at work

While many people may not think of health care as a physically demanding field, as a nurse or nursing assistant, you know better, and the statistics validate your experience.

In a 2015 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes almost 60 percent of workplace injuries over a two-year period to the area of nursing. It also notes that health care workers experience a noticeably higher rate of musculoskeletal injuries compared to workers in other sectors.

Leading workplace safety violations in 2017

Workers in Georgia may be interested in knowing that OSHA has released a list of the top 10 most frequently occurring workplace safety violations for 2017. The most frequently cited workplace safety violations from October 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017, were related to the fall protection-general requirements. This has been the leading violation for the past six years.

The number of citations issued for violations pertaining to the fall protection-general requirements exceeded 6,000. For the 2017 fiscal year of the federal government, the remaining violations that were in the top five on the list included those related to hazards communications, breathing protection, lockout and tagout requirements and scaffolding.

Recycling facility to enforce OSHA's BBP standards

Workers in the solid waste collection and recycling industry are at risk for certain injuries, especially needlesticks caused by used hypodermic needles, lancets and other sharps. Such workers in Georgia may even think that their companies do little to enforce OSHA's standards regarding the detection of needles. However, a recent engagement action may indicate that OSHA is upholding its standards more than ever.

In particular, OSHA has entered into a settlement agreement with TOMRA NY Recycling LLC. For employees who manually sort through recyclables, the company has agreed to provide the following: equipment like puncture-resistant gloves and tongs, vaccinations against hepatitis B and annual training on OSHA's BBP standards. BBP stands for bloodborne pathogen, an infectious microorganism that blood (and consequently used needles) can potentially carry.

Gig economy and worker safety

Georgia residents may have an understanding of what is meant by "gig economy." However, there is no consensus as to what the term actually means. Instead, it is used as a general way to describe work that is paid by the job rather than by the hour or some other period of time. There may be a variety of jobs within the gig economy such as working for Uber or starting an online store.

Gig economy jobs can often be dangerous, according to a representative from the National Employment Law Project. Those who deliver goods by bike or other modes of transportation may be at a higher risk of getting hurt or killed on the job. Workers within the gig economy may face further risks because they are usually classified as independent contractors. This means that they are required to take care of their own workers' compensation and other insurance needs.

Keeping workplace safety rules simple

Georgia employers are required to comply with both state and federal regulations to keep their employees safe. A comprehensive workplace safety strategy typically involves employee education. Simplifying safety rules may help employers ensure that basic safety requirements are followed consistently.

One important component of workplace safety is avoiding haste. When workers feel pressured to complete projects in a rush, workplace safety may be compromised. Rushing is often a contributing factor in workplace accidents rather than the only cause because workers who are in a hurry may overlook other important safety precautions.

Workers at heightened risk of injury in first month on job

Landing a new job can be an exciting time for a Georgia worker, but those early days at the job site impose a greater chance of workplace injury on a new hire. A research study by the Institute for Work & Health found that people have triple the risk of injuries that cause them to miss work during their first month of employment compared to co-workers that have been there for more than one year.

A scientist from the institute notes that new workers lack familiarity with their duties and awareness of workplace hazards. Insufficient training also appears to leave new hires vulnerable. A Canadian worker survey from 2007 revealed that only 20 percent of respondents received safety training.

Who watches you during a personal injury case?

Georgia sees its fair share of workplace-related injuries, similarly to any other state. In 2015, the rate of workplace injuries in Georgia was 2.7 out of every 100 workers while the national rate was 3.0 out of every 100. This data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are many nuances of filing a personal injury claim. One concern many people have for good reason is the feeling of someone watching them. There are cases where various entities watch injured people carefully to see if the injuries are actually as bad as claimed. There are a number of ways other parties will accumulate this information, whether it is through surveillance footage or the person's own social media account. 

Employers and workers must take seriously threat of arc flashes

Electric workers in Georgia face many hazards, and arc flashes and explosions from live electrical wires represent a deadly threat. Every year, about 2,000 people go to hospitals with arc flash injuries. The severe burns associated with most of these accidents kill about 20 percent of victims annually.

Personal protective equipment and effective safety training play essential roles in limiting accidents and protecting workers. Over the last five years, manufacturers have made significant improvements to fabrics and insulation used to make arc flash protective clothing. The advances produce higher levels of burn protection and allow the worker to move with greater comfort. Effective clothing will have a rating not only for flame resistance, but also for arc protection.

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