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Connecticut Legal Blog

The importance of safety signage

Many Connecticut workplace accidents could be prevented with adequate safety signs and proper labels. Employers should not underestimate the importance of safety signage in term of keeping employees away from certain hazards and dangers, particularly when signs and labels can be made on the premises.

The main objective of safety signs at work is to inform employees in a timely, clear and unobtrusive manner. Some employers believe that posting red "Danger" signs all over the workplace is a good strategy; however, such an abundance of warning signs could actually become a distraction. Employers who are more interested in spending the least on safety signs are known to purchase the cheapest signs they can find at an office supply stores. However, this might not be a wise decision, as lower-quality signs could rapidly deteriorate in some workplace environments.

Facts regarding texting and driving in Connecticut

In April 2017, a Connecticut police department carried out their Distracted Driving High-Visibility Enforcement Campaign. As a result, law enforcement issued 209 violations to drivers that broke the state's mobile phone laws.

Officers from the Milford Police Department collaborated with the Connecticut Highway Safety Office. Together, they issued violations to drivers that were ignoring the laws regarding the use of mobile devices while operating a vehicle. First-time violations cost $150, and the fine for third and subsequent offenses is $500. Those who commit a second offense may have to pay $300.

Remembering the importance of worker safety

Connecticut residents may be appalled to learn that an average of about 150 American workers died each day in 2015. This was according to a report issued by the AFL-CIO. Of the 4,836 who died that year of workplace injuries, 903 were Latino workers, and a total of 943 immigrants die. The rate of Latino deaths was 18 percent higher than the national average while the number of immigrant deaths was the highest in almost 10 years.

In addition to the fatalities due to workplace injuries, there were another 50,000 to 60,000 people who died of occupational illnesses. In the report, the AFL-CIO blamed corporate negligence as well as weak safety laws for the number of injuries and deaths that workers experienced. Overall, the cost of job injuries and illnesses was estimated to be as high as $360 billion.

Bipartisan Budget Act prompts large incresaes in OSHA fines

The fines assessed against employers in Connecticut and around the country for violating workplace safety regulations increased by up to 78 percent in August 2016. These financial penalties had remained largely unchanged for several years, but a key provision of the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act required federal agencies covered by the legislation, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to update their penalties in order to bring them into line with increases in the cost of living.

Under the revised penalty schedule, the average fine assessed by OSHA for serious workplace safety violations against employers with 250 or fewer workers increased by 54 percent from $3,285 to $5,087. However, large employers will now be fined an average of $10,065 for each serious violation. This represents an increase of 70 percent over the previous fine schedule.

Trump could repeal silica law, advocacy groups warn

Connecticut residents may be interested to learn that, on April 6, the White House announced that a workplace safety regulation would be delayed. The regulation, which was issued by the Obama administration, would limit the amount of silica dust employees could be exposed to.

If employees are exposed to it, silica dust could cause cancer. Every year, 2.2 million workers are exposed to silica dust in the United States. Unions and workplace safety advocates have reportedly spent decades seeking to impose regulations that could keep workers safer. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that the regulation could save more than 600 lives every single year. OSHA made a statement the same day the announcement was made in which it said it would be holding off on enforcing the rule.

Rise in construction work increases risk

In the last few years, there has been a significant rise in the amount of construction activity. This has had the benefit of helping the economy and providing jobs for many Connecticut residents, but it has also resulted in an increase in the number of accidents on construction sites. The number of people employed as construction workers is at its highest level since 2008, and wages are up for this line of work as construction firms look for new employees.

The issue is that fatalities of people working in the construction industry are also at their highest since 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 937 construction workers died on the job in 2015. This represents more than a fifth of all work-related deaths for that year.

Inattention blindness can harm pedestrians too

With the first day of beginning of spring coming this week, it is only a matter of time till warmer weather will embrace our region. You can expect more people to be walking outside, running and even riding bicycles.

Yes, warm weather naturally brings out pedestrians. Because of this, so many drivers must be re-educated to ensure that they know to watch out for pedestrians. At the same time, some pedestrians may put themselves at greater risk if they are not paying attention to the world around them because they are so focused on their cell phones. 

DOL vows to be tough on employers in 2017

Accidents at workplaces around the country killed about 13 workers every day in 2015, and figures from the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics reveal that a further 3 million workers suffered an injury or became ill while at work. Connecticut employers must abide by workplace safety legislation such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor helps the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop new regulations and enforce these laws.

Worker injury and death statistics remain worryingly high despite improvements in safety equipment and training, and the deputy solicitor of labor vowed that enforcement efforts would be stepped up in 2017 when she spoke before a meeting of the American Bar Association on March. 8. She told the assembled attorneys that the scant resources available to her office would be used to go after persistent violators, and she cited cases where fines of up to $500,000 have been assessed. A pattern of violations may be a sign of systemic issues, and investigators are encouraged to broaden their inspections when there are indications that a company-wide problem may exist.

The rise in traffic fatalities

According to the National Safety Council, a nonprofit safety advocacy group, the number of motor vehicle deaths around the country in 2016 reached 40,200, many of which were in Connecticut. The figure represents an increase of 6 percent from 2015 and a 14 percent jump from 2014. It should also be noted that the increase in the traffic fatalities has occurred as motorists are driving more due to a robust economy and inexpensive gas.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also indicate an increase in traffic deaths. The agency reported the number of deaths during the first nine months of 2016 was an 8 percent increase from the number of deaths during the same period in 2015.

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