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Key tips for staying safe at work

Ideally, both workers and managers in New Jersey and throughout the country will take responsibility for workplace safety. Workers are encouraged to report any unsafe conditions to their immediate supervisors or anyone else who can remedy the problem in a timely manner. Another safety strategy is to make sure that emergency exits are easy to access at all times. Emergency shutoffs should also be easy to access and make use of in times of peril.

Workers should be allowed to take regular breaks to avoid burnout or extreme fatigue. Those who are tired or burned out may have a harder time doing their jobs properly, and they are more likely to make mistakes that could lead to injuries or illnesses. Breaks may also be a good way to reduce worker stress, which can play a role in a person burning out. Stress can be caused by long hours or being assigned too many tasks in a given workday.

Distracted driving still poses a roadway danger

New Jersey drivers continue to operate their vehicles while distracted despite growing efforts to crack down on distracted driving and educate the public about its dangers. One study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that from 2014 to 2018, rates of distracted driving remained roughly the same. However, researchers also documented that the types of distraction have changed over time, becoming even more dangerous. The study compared the results of observational surveys of drivers in 2014 and 2018, measuring behavior while driving and while stopped at red lights.

The nonprofit agency funded by the insurance industry found that drivers are less likely to engage in voice conversations on a handheld cellphone while driving than in the past. However, they are also 57 percent more likely to use their mobile devices to send text messages or surf the internet. This change reflects an overall difference in how people use their phones, but it can also pose a greater threat. Driving while talking on a handheld phone is dangerous, and drivers' eyes often shift to the center of the road. However, driving while manipulating a phone by hand, including typing and texting, increases the risk of fatal car accidents by 66 percent.

Controversy builds over OSHA's authorization of drone inspections

A 2018 OSHA memorandum now allows its investigators to use camera-equipped drones during workplace inspections. Many contractors in New Jersey and across the U.S. are objecting to the measure, saying that the drones, which are capable of taking pictures and video recordings, can violate privacy.

The main concern is how the employer's right to object to inspections will be affected. OSHA's investigators require permission from an employer before conducting an inspection; however, if the construction site has multiple employers working on it, the permission of one employer will affect the rights of the others. Another question involves the ownership of the airspace above a construction site.

It is possible to prove someone was on their phone during a crash

In a lot of personal injury cases, the only evidence available is the testimony of the two or more people involved. It can be hard to determine what is true, what is an exaggeration and what is a lie. When the circumstance involves a motor vehicle collision, thousands of dollars worth of damages and losses may be involved.

The good news for victims of negligent drivers who chose to text at the wheel is that it is very often possible to prove that somebody had their phone out at the time of a crash. Your word alone won't be the only information available. If you can prove that the other party was on their phone while driving, that alone may be sufficient grounds for a personal injury claim in New Jersey after a car crash.

Tips for maintaining safe scaffolding

Scaffolding accidents are an all-too-common occurrence in the construction industry. OSHA reports that about 60 percent of construction workers, a total of 2.3 million, regularly use scaffolding. Of those, about 4,500 are injured every year, and approximately 60 die every year. Employers in New Jersey will want to consider the following tips for maintaining safe scaffolding.

The first step is to give the scaffold a solid footing and to never support it with unstable objects like boxes, barrels and concrete blocks. The scaffold should be able to carry its own weight as well as four times the maximum intended load without settling or displacement. Scaffolds must have guardrails, midrails and toe boards. The platform must be tightly planked with a durable material.

Ensuring the safety of retail workers over the holidays

Retail workers in New Jersey, as elsewhere, will be stocking shelves, packing boxes and delivering products at greater speed during the holiday season, and this could raise their risk for injuries due to slips, falls and excessive manual lifting. For this reason, OSHA is reminding employers about their duties to their employees.

Those with expanded work schedules are especially prone to workplace stress. Though they may benefit from the extra pay they earn, this comes at the price of less sleep and less time with family. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 24 percent of U.S. employees in 2016 reported that work interfered with their ability to meet personal and family obligations.

OSHA emphasizes joint liability for temporary worker safety

The use of temporary workers is common throughout New Jersey and the rest of the U.S. These days, staffing agencies supply workers for more than office or janitorial work. A good portion of temporary workers are used in factory settings, construction work and transportation industries, where the risk of industrial accidents are higher.

An issue that often arises with temporary workers is the determination of responsibility in the event of an injury or accident. Staffing agencies can attempt to shift blame to the host company and vice versa. When this shifting occurs, a hurt worker could be left in the lurch and delayed injury compensation. By utilizing a large portion of temporary workers, some companies may attempt to avoid the applicable safety regulations required for permanent employees.

Electrical safety is a must in wet conditions

When the weather turns sour in New Jersey, and rain, sleet, ice or snow make your work harder than usual, it's important that you're prepared to avoid injuries. If you work with electricity, that means being cautious not to suffer an electric shock.

As you know, water is conductive, which means that electricity passes through it easily. If you are in water at the time of an electric shock, it's more likely to cause damage than if you are not. Similarly, if you're approaching a downed line, any puddle or grouping of water touching it could be electrified.

OSHA names major workplace safety violations

Workers in New Jersey may face an array of dangers on the job, especially if they work on heights or in construction areas. This can be especially true when employers violate safety regulations. A deputy director of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, announced the agency's top 10 workplace safety violations at the 2018 National Safety Council congress. The statistics, collected between October 2017 and September 2018, identified the safety regulations most frequently violated by employers across the country.

Many of the featured workplace safety issues have figured prominently year after year in the OSHA statistics. For example, the top issue repeated for the past several years was failure to provide fall protection. Employers have a duty to provide proper protective equipment to help workers on heights prevent falls or mitigate the consequences if one occurs. However, OSHA found 7,270 cases in which employers failed to provide this gear to employees working on unprotected edges or on rooftops. This was not the only issue related to fall protection. Failure to provide proper training on these issues was the eighth most common workplace safety violation during the year. Employers failed to train workers or did not ensure that the trainer was competent to do so.

Safety officials say drugged driving is on the rise

New Jersey is one of many states that have legalized medical marijuana, and the number of states that have legalized recreational use of the drug has been expanding as well. With the increase in legal use of marijuana and the problem of prescription drug abuse, the National Transportation Safety Board is calling for more work to be done to combat the problem of drug-impaired driving.

On Oct. 16, the NTSB asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to write standards for roadside drug testing devices and give additional guidance to states on how to fight drug-impaired driving.

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Law Office of Jack L. Stillman, P.A.
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