Articles Posted in Workplace Injuries

On November 2, 2014, a Minnesota patient detached a metal bar from his hospital bed and used it to attack four nurses; one nurse suffered a collapsed lung, another broke her wrist, and the others had cuts and bruises . . . as well as bad memories of the night.

While some people might view the frightening event as an oddity, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that healthcare workers are some of the most likely workers to be attacked while on the job. According to OSHA, two out of three (on-the-job) physical assaults happen in the medical care and social service industries, and the numbers are going up. A survey underwritten by the Foundation of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) found that the number of crimes increased by nearly 37 percent in just two years, from just under 15,000 in 2010 to more than 20,500 in 2012. Reported crimes included simple assault, larceny and theft, vandalism, rape, sexual assault and homicide. Even more disturbing than this increased number of violent crimes in healthcare settings is the likelihood that many incidents are not reported – at least one half, according to U.S. Department of Justice estimates.

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I was appalled to read an August 12 AP news report about asbestos production in India being hailed as a form of social welfare, a way to save lives and elevate the living standards of some of the world’s poorest people. India is already the world’s biggest importer of asbestos, which they say provides 300,000 jobs. Guess who the world’s biggest exporter is? Russia.

Are they completely overlooking the fact that asbestos has been linked to deadly diseases like lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, sometimes developing 20 to 40 years after exposure? Or that dozens of countries — including Japan, Argentina and all European Union nations — have banned it entirely, and others, like the U.S., have severely curbed its use?

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Women & Disability in SC

“Man may work from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done.” You’ve probably heard this before . . . maybe from the mouth of your mother or wife. For personal injury lawyers, this is more than an adage. It becomes a real factor in quantifying the value of women’s unpaid work when computing damages for loss of income due to disability in South Carolina or wrongful death.

In a civil action alleging injury due to someone’s negligence – a car accident caused by a drunk driver, for example – a plaintiff may seek compensation for loss of income and loss of future income caused by a reduced ability to work. In a wrongful death action, survivors may seek damages for the financial support lost by the victim’s death. The intent of the law is to allow survivors to attain the same standard of living that they would have enjoyed if the accident or death had not occurred.

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South Carolina Nursing Injuries
“Health care reform” . . . Those three words have become a part of our national language, especially in the last few years. It’s an ongoing process. Did you know it has been ongoing for almost 200 years? Whose name do you associate with health care reform? Hillary Clinton? Barack Obama? How about Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, to a prominent British family who expected her to marry a wealthy man, someone befitting her social standing. Florence, however, had other ideas. In fact, she had what she felt was a divine calling to minister to the ill and the poor. Against her family’s wishes, she became a nurse and embarked on a career that changed medical care from then on.

Of especial note was a new emphasis on sanitation in hospitals. The practices Florence Nightingale instituted reduced the death count at a British base hospital during the Crimean War by two-thirds. Her writings sparked worldwide health care reform.

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Sometimes it takes a mental picture to get across an important message. Try this one: Visualize the end zone of USC’s or Clemson’s football stadium; now imagine that 3 out of every 4 seats are occupied by individuals who have a permanent disability due to a traumatic brain injury. That’s how many South Carolina residents are living with physical, cognitive and behavioral limitations due to a TBI which they survived . . . 61,000 in the state of South Carolina.

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British poet Ralph Hodgson wrote, “Time, you old gypsy man, will you not stay? Put up your caravan just for one day.” Time does have a way of getting away from us. And in the spring, most of us dread the day when we will “lose an hour.” I’m talking about Daylight Saving Time and changing our clocks on March 9 so we can “spring forward” on March 10.

South Carolina Job Safety

That phrase was coined to help us remember whether to set our clocks ahead or back in March. But it’s surely not descriptive of the response most people have to losing an hour of sleep; rather than springing forward, we’re likely to be dragging our wagon.

The physiological processes of living beings – plants and animals – are regulated by our circadian rhythm, a roughly 24-hour cycle. Even small disruptions in one’s circadian rhythm can have measurable adverse affects, such as increasing the chances of cardiovascular events, neurological problems, and accidents – both on the road and in the workplace.

Numerous studies have been conducted to examine the effects sleep loss in general. In 1999, the U.S. National Commission on Sleep Disorders commissioned a study to determine the direct cost of accidents which result from sleep debt. The estimated total economic cost of sleep deprivation in the U.S. was over $56 billion, including $37.9 billion for motor vehicle accidents caused by sleepy drivers, $13.4 billion for work-related accidents caused by sleepiness, and $1.3 billion for falls and similar accidents in public places.

Narrowing the focus just to sleep loss due to Daylight Saving Time, one study, entitled “Estimating the Economic Loss of Daylight Saving Time for U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas,” estimated that the economic loss to this country due to DST was nearly $434 million.

Another study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2009 used injury data from the U.S. Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration to show that the March switch to Daylight Savings Time resulted in 40 minutes less sleep for American workers, a 5.7 percent increase in workplace injuries and nearly 68 percent more work days lost to injuries.

The increased risk of injury is found especially in jobs requiring a high level of attention to detail or in hazardous or potentially dangerous environments. Construction workers, machine operators, fishermen, pilots, farmers, roofers, and truck drivers are among those whose occupations, even under the best of conditions, are hazardous. On Monday, March 10, 2014, we are likely to see a spike in reported accidents for these workers.

In South Carolina, most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation to their employees. Regardless of who was at fault for the injury, workers’ compensation pays 100% of injured workers’ medical bills, as well as two-thirds of their normal wages during the time when injuries keep them out of work. At times, however, employers try to get out of paying an injured person what they’re due. At Louthian Law, we have been serving injured South Carolinians since 1959; we understand how workers’ compensation law works and can help you collect the money you’re entitled to, so you can concentrate on getting better and going back to work.

We’re going to forgo our Sunday afternoon nap on March 9, go to bed early, spring forward on Monday, March 10, and drive very carefully to the office. If you fall asleep on the road or at work and have a DST accident, call us – we’ll be wide awake and ready to help you. Call us at 1-888-662-0430 or fill out our online form.

Federal safety officials are warning employers to take steps this winter to protect workers from serious – and sometimes fatal – exposure to carbon monoxide.

The move follows a recent workplace injury incident in a New England warehouse where a worker was found unconscious and having a seizure from carbon monoxide poisoning. Several other workers at the site also became sick. The facility had no exhaust ventilation, and all of the windows and doors had been closed to conserve heat.

Job sites in South Carolina that use gas equipment or heaters can pose a danger to the men and women who work there. The risk increases during winter – when doors and vents are closed to keep out the cold.

Following is from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration:
Every year, workers die from carbon monoxide poisoning, usually while using fuel-burning equipment and tools in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation. This can be especially true during the winter months when employees use this type of equipment in indoor spaces that have been sealed tightly to block out cold temperatures and wind.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure can include everything from headaches, dizziness and drowsiness to nausea, vomiting or tightness across the chest. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can cause neurological damage, coma and death.

Sources of carbon monoxide can include anything that uses combustion to operate, such as gas generators, power tools, compressors, pumps, welding equipment, space heaters and furnaces.

Following are some safety measures that can reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace:
* Effective ventilation systems
* Avoiding gas and oil-burning equipment in enclosed spaces
* Installing carbon monoxide detectors in hazardous areas
* Training workers and supervisors on carbon monoxide risks.

Thousands of workers are injured and killed in workplace accidents each year. Many of these accidents could have been prevented by jobsite safety measures.

Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=23571

Failure to make workplaces fully safe and accessible may be behind recent findings that workers with disabilities are injured almost twice as often as other workers. A study that appears in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health concludes that improvements to workplace conditions could help disabled workers avoid injuries.

The researchers looked at the U.S. National Health Interview Survey spanning 2006 to 2010 and uncovered a pattern of unnecessary and increased injuries for disabled workers. They found that disabled workers are more likely to be injured from falls or transportation accidents. They also more likely to be injured in accidents not directly related to work activities.

Disabled workers were injured in work activities at the rate of about 6 in 100, compared with a rate of 2.3 for every 100 workers without disabilities. Disabled workers also were injured in accidents not tied to job activities at the rate of 16 in 100, more than twice the rate for other workers.

Need for Safety Programs
Dr. Huiyun Xiang, the study’s co-author and a principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said in a press release that the study “shows the need for better accommodation and safety programs in the workplace and the need for a safer working environment.” Improvements in workplace conditions and better communication could not only help prevent injuries for workers with disabilities, but also could improve safety for all workers, the study’s authors say.

Employers may not be doing everything they can to make sure messages about safety are clear and understandable for all workers. Workers with disabilities may need different efforts, like differently colored paper or ink, Braille lettering or verbal communication.

If You Are Injured, Contact an Experienced S.C. Personal Injury Attorney
Since 1959, the Louthian Law Firm has helped obtain favorable verdicts and settlements for countless numbers of clients injured in workplace accidents in South Carolina. Let us help you, too. For a free evaluation of your claim, call the Columbia, S.C., personal injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm at 888-662-2896 or 803-454-1200 or fill out our confidential online form.

People who work evening or night shifts, rotating shifts or irregular shifts may suffer from a serious but invisible workplace danger: an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Researchers who examined the results of more than 30 different studies found that shift workers are more likely than others to have a heart attack or stroke, according to a report on MedlinePlus.

The experts looked at information from more than 2 million patients. They found that shift workers are about 23 percent more likely to have a heart attack than non-shift workers. They are also about 5 percent more at risk for strokes.

Night shift workers were the most affected, with a 41 percent higher risk of heart-related illness. The lead researcher, Dr. Daniel Hackam, said shift work could be to blame for many heart attacks and strokes in the United States. “Since we are now in a 24/7 society, this problem is not likely to go away any time soon,” Hackam said.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, who teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, pointed out that the findings support other research linking shift work or irregular hours to increased risks of heart-related illnesses and strokes. With an estimated 15 million people in the United States working odd schedules or evening and night shifts, the findings point to a serious workplace health problem.

Health Precautions for Shift Workers
Dr. Hackam said that all employers and employees need to be aware of these health risks. He suggested regular screenings for shift workers to check for signs of heart problems.

Workers should take extra steps to protect and improve their health, especially heart health, the experts say. Make sure you get enough sleep — especially high-quality sleep — if you work nights or irregular hours. Avoid junk food and caffeine, and try to sneak in a quick nap before work.

Contact a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The Columbia, S.C., workplace injury lawyers at Louthian Law Firm have experience in workers’ compensation cases. If you have been injured at work, call us at 1-866-410-5656 or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form.

We are committed to providing personal service and to obtaining fair compensation for all our clients.

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway employee was awarded $2 million by a Yellowstone County, Montana jury for an injury he suffered in 2001.

The employee tripped over a radio handset cord in the locomotive and fell down three steps. The man suffered back injuries that required surgery and has left him with chronic pain. Although the man is currently working at the railroad as an engineer, his attorney said he will probably be medically discharged from his job in the future
Prior to the start of the trial, the presiding judge ruled that the railroad could not argue that the employee contributed to his own injury because the railroad had thrown away the handset and cord.

The five-day trial focused on determining the amount to award. The plaintiff did not ask for a particular amount.

Since 1959, the Louthian Law Firm has helped obtain favorable verdicts and settlements for countless numbers of clients injured in workplace accidents. Let us help you, too. For a free evaluation of your claim, call the Columbia lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm toll free at (866) 454-1200 or (803) 454-1200 or fill out our confidential online form.

Workplace Accident