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Ocean County Personal Injury Law Blog

OSHA faced with inspector shortage under Trump

40 inspectors for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have been removed through attrition in President Trump's first year in office. This is due to the president's larger efforts to slow the growth of the federal workforce, which have led so far to the removal of 16,000 of its permanent workers. While New Jersey was not hit hard by the decrease in OSHA inspectors, the southeastern region is.

Mississippi, for instance, which has the highest workplace fatality and injury rates in the country, saw a 26 percent decrease in the number of OSHA inspections since Trump took office. Fewer inspectors means fewer inspections, which in turn means that employer negligence is not being addressed. There have been cases of OSHA not following up on reports of serious injuries. This is especially worrying for high-risk industries like construction, manufacturing, and meatpacking.

Snow removal safety tips for workers

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging workers in New Jersey and other states to take precautions when removing snow this winter. According to the agency, snow removal has led to several workplace injuries and deaths in recent years.

OSHA reports that workers removing snow from elevated surfaces like rooftops are at most risk for injury. Over the last decade, 16 workers have been killed or seriously injured under such conditions. Worse, all the accidents were preventable. To reduce the risk of fall injuries, the agency recommends that workers use drag lines or snow rakes to remove snow from elevated surfaces. They should also wear protective gear and remove snow in small batches. OSHA urges employers and workers to evaluate the amount of snow load on a roof to ensure it can also support the weight of workers and equipment. Workers should remove the snow in a uniform pattern to avoid putting too much load in one area of the roof.

Meat and poultry industry in need of worker safety improvements

The meat and poultry industry has one of the highest injury rates among workers, and anyone associated with this field in New Jersey will want to know about a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. The GAO has stated that better communication between federal agencies like OSHA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service may help improve worker safety conditions.

The data under analysis included OSHA inspection records from 2005 to 2016 as well as interviews conducted by agency representatives, worker advocates and other individuals. The GAO found that OSHA has been unable to gather adequate data on unsafe worker conditions because employees, fearing retaliation, sometimes refrain from reporting violations and injuries. Many in the meat and poultry industry are allowed only limited bathroom access, and others are exposed to hazardous chemicals.

Working safely in the cold weather

Cold air, wind and moisture can all have an adverse impact on a worker's health. Therefore, New Jersey employers should look out for their workers during the wintertime and provide them with the resources necessary to stay warm. For instance, employees should be provided with hats, gloves and liners to place under their hats. They should also be provided with shelter and warm drinks after spending time in cold weather conditions.

During winter, work should be scheduled to be completed during the warmest times of the day. Furthermore, employers should have extra people on hand if a job will take longer than usual to complete. Workers should use a buddy system and have access to communications systems if they are working in remote locations. This may allow a worker to get help quickly if hypothermia or frostbite starts to set in.

How to stay safe on winter roads

Snow, ice and black ice are common dangers that New Jersey drivers may experience while on the roads during the winter months. Black ice may be especially dangerous because it isn't always apparent that it is there until a driver loses control of a vehicle. It may be possible to avoid accidents and other winter driving dangers by allowing more time to reach a destination.

Drivers are also encouraged to increase their following distance when road conditions are bad. Before the winter weather sets in, it may be a good idea to get an oil change and to test a car's battery. The transition from fall to winter may also wreak havoc on tire pressure, so it may be a good idea to inspect them as well. The heater, as well as the defroster, should also be checked as part of a late fall or early winter inspection.

Poor slip resistance on floors can lead to injuries

Researchers at CNA Financial Corporation have studied the slip and fall liability claims the insurer faced between 2010 and 2016, and they came to several conclusions that may intrigue business owners in New Jersey. Most importantly, in 50 percent of the surveyed sites, flooring did not meet the minimum threshold for dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) levels; in other words, they had inadequate slip resistance.

Real estate and retail businesses were the most prone to slip and fall accidents. Forty percent of slip and falls occurred on business entryways, 33 percent in parking lots, and 27 percent on sidewalks leading up to the entrance. Less than 1 percent took place on interior office floors.

Smartphones and traffic fatalities

New Jersey motorists who use their smartphones while behind the wheel should know that they increase the chances that they may be involved in a motor vehicle accident. Their behavior may also be a factor in the rise of traffic deaths.

Within the last two years, traffic deaths in the United States have jumped by 14.4 percent. This is after years during which the number of deaths had been declining. In 2016, there were over 100 deaths on average each day. Regulators have been unable to specify why traffic deaths are increasing. The distances people are driving have only increased by 2.2 percent in 2016.

Drivers may not benefit from new dashboard features

Drivers in New Jersey may think that a car is more convenient or fun to drive with voice controls or other modern features. However, research has shown that many dashboard features and other technology included in new vehicles may be more of a safety risk. A study was conducted by the University of Utah that had drivers between the ages of 21 and 36 perform a series of tasks while driving.

The study found that something as simple as listening to the radio could result in significant distraction. The use of a GPS as well as texting while driving were considered the two most distracting tasks that participants engaged in. In some cases, participants took their eyes off of the road for up to 40 seconds. They were also likely to have trouble staying in their lane or driving at the posted speed limit.

Warehouse worker dies in fall from forklift

Warehouse workers in New Jersey and throughout the country should be trained on forklifts if they are driving or working around them. They should also have the right safety and fall protection equipment to allow them to be lifted to high shelves. These were among the conclusions of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after investigating a warehouse accident in which a worker was killed.

The 33-year-old man was being lifted on a pallet placed on a forklift to a shelf when he fell 7 feet to a concrete floor. He died in a hospital several days later. When OSHA investigated the accident, it identified several causes and made a number of recommendations to prevent similar incidents from happening.

Are a will and a living will the same thing?

Wills and living wills are two totally different documents. The most notable difference is that a will takes effect after you have passed while a living will has legal power while you are alive.

In most cases, if not all, it is beneficial for people to have both types of documents rather than just one or the other. Here is a look at these two types of wills.

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