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Connecticut Legal Blog

OSHA violations in 2018

Workplace accidents can cause a significant disruption in an injured victim's life. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is constantly working to make workplaces in Connecticut and other states safer, but some employers fall short in implementing safety regulations which puts their workers at risk. Data has been collected regarding the top OSHA violations for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2018.

Violations of the duty to provide fall protection was the number one OSHA violation in fiscal 2018. Common violations include failure to provide protection near sides or edges on roofs. Failure to provide proper training in fall prevention ranked number seven. Failure to comply with OSHA guidelines on hazard communication ranked second. This includes failure to provide a written program, inadequate training and failure to properly fill out data sheets. Auto repair companies and hotels received some of the most citations in this area.

OSHA releases trencing and excavation NEP

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration updated its excavation and trenching National Emphasis Program, superseding a special emphasis instruction that was released in 1985. The new standards may establish requirements for Connecticut businesses. The increased enforcement has been called for, according to OSHA, by the number of trenching or excavation collapses that result in loss of life.

The NEP directive says that 130 deaths were recorded in excavation and trenching projects from 2011 to 2016 with 49 percent of these incidents occurring from 2015 to 2016. Private construction projects accounted for 80 percent of these construction accident deaths. The NEP directive requires that OSHA offices conduct outreach programs to help employers meet the excavation and trenching standards. The outreach is scheduled to run for 90 days beginning on Oct. 1, 2018. After the outreach period, enforcement and inspections will begin under the new NEP.

Overall, motor vehicle accident numbers were down in 2017

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the 2017 statistics acquired from its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. It seems that the overall number of fatalities occurring because of motor vehicle accidents across the nation were down by almost 2 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year. However, Connecticut residents should be aware that not all of the news is positive.

While motor vehicle accidents resulted in fewer deaths overall, the bigger picture shows an increase in fatalities involving large trucks over 10,000 pounds. There are several factors that may contribute to this development, including a stronger economy. Since more commercial trucking across the country contributes to additional travel miles logged on the roadways, there's a potential for more wrecks. It is not just commercial truck accidents that have increased. Some of the trucks involved include privately owned trucks such as dual-wheel pickups.

Americans drive 107 billion miles each year while distracted

Smartphone ownership in the U.S. stood at 55 percent in 2013, but now more than three in four Americans carry the ubiquitous devices. Road safety experts say that the corresponding surge in distracted driving in Connecticut and around the country is one of the chief reasons that the number of car accidents rose by 12.3 percent from 5.7 million to 6.4 million during the same period. According to a study, drivers in the United States covered 107 billion miles in 2017 while distracted by a cellphone.

The study was released by the workforce logistics and management company Motus, and it suggests that mobile workers may be particularly prone to driving while distracted. The Boston-based firm based its research on information gathered by one of the world's largest driver databases. It shows that mobile workers in America make 49 percent more road journeys than other employees and drive about 1,200 miles each year while distracted. The data also indicates that cellphone use by drivers is at its highest between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Researchers endorse teen driving programs

Thousands of teenagers die around the country each year in motor vehicle accidents, and police investigations often reveal that they were ignoring posted speed limits or staring at cellphone screens when they died. Public information campaigns have done little to deter young drivers from behaving recklessly behind the wheel, but a Baylor University study suggests that supplemental driver's education programs that bring teenagers face-to-face with the consequences of speeding and distraction could succeed in Connecticut and across the U.S. where more conventional approaches have failed.

A group of 21 teens with checkered driving histories were asked a series of road safety questions both before and after they took part in a risk reduction program that included trips to intensive care units and morgues. Researchers found that visiting these places and speaking with the doctors, nurses and pathologists who work in them made the teens far more aware of the possible consequences of even a moment's impatience or distraction. However, the researchers did not gather enough follow-up information to find out if these lessons were applied when the teens got back behind the wheel.

Investigation reveals unsafe conditions at Amazon warehouses

Online retail giant Amazon currently has over 140 fulfillment centers across the U.S. However, these warehouses have frequently been hotbeds of worker injuries. This prompted an investigation on workplace conditions from the Guardian. Connecticut residents should know that the investigation turned up numerous cases of Amazon employees being improperly treated after workplace accidents.

In April 2018, a 43-year-old former employee in Florida filed a lawsuit against Amazon, alleging that his managers fired him after he hurt his back. He also said they neglected to file a workers' compensation claim once the injury was reported. They allegedly told him that he was too young to experience back problems. Amazon Human Resources would have been able to authorize a doctor visit, but the employee was fired before that could happen.

Keeping chemical handlers safe with 11 rules

Employers in Connecticut who have their workers handle hazardous chemicals will want to make sure the following 11 rules are incorporated into their own safety policies. They should, first of all, have employees perform their duties just as they were trained to do and not deviate from established practices. They should also provide their employees with personal protective equipment like gloves and respirators: whatever applies to their workplace.

Thirdly, employers must have emergency procedures in place for fires and spills, among other emergency situations. Employees are encouraged to be cautious and always think ahead on potential hazards. Fifth, employees can be required to clean their work surfaces at least once during every shift to prevent contamination.

Lawsuit filed after duck boat accident

Connecticut residents may have heard about a duck boat accident that took place on July 19 in Branson, Missouri. As a result of the accident, a family member of nine people who died in the incident filed a lawsuit against the boat operator. The lawsuit claims that the company that ran the boats knew that they weren't safe. It also claims that the boats were taken out even though a severe thunderstorm warning had been issued.

The boat encountered large waves and winds of up to 60 miles per hour as it tried to get back to shore before sinking. There were 31 people on the boat at the time of the accident, and a total of 17 people were killed. According to the president of Ripley Entertainment, the boat shouldn't have been on the water, and the NTSB has been issuing warnings about duck boats for many years.

BLS releases 2016 workplace fatalities report

Traffic congestion may not be what Connecticut residents think of first when it comes to on-the-job dangers. However, government data reveals that transportation accidents are the leading cause of workplace deaths in the United States. According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40 percent of the workers killed in 2016 lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes. Among the dead were 632 truck drivers, 116 farmers and 62 landscapers.

The BLS releases a Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries every year, which includes a list of the nation's most dangerous occupations and how often workers in these sectors lose their lives while on the job. Workers in the logging sector face the highest risks, according to the 2016 data, but truck and sales drivers were killed in far higher numbers. Construction workers, roofers, steel workers, trash collection and recycling plant workers, pilots and fishing industry workers are also killed at rates far higher than workers in other sectors.

New auto technologies are increasing distracted driving

Car manufacturers are constantly attempting to improve their information and entertainment products to impress their clients. However, Connecticut residents might be surprised to learn that a study from AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that these same systems might be contributing to distracted driving and the resulting accidents.

The study is one of many that focuses on the impact of new systems designed to provide information and entertainment and help drivers on the road. The result, however, has been that those same systems might be distracting drivers and contributing to a number of car accidents. Some of the systems are installed in the vehicles while others are used through cell phone apps. Either way, the systems demand enough concentration that drivers have a harder time focusing back on the road after using them. In fact, available data suggests that young drivers between the ages of 17 and 22 spend at least 12 percent of the time they are driving using their cell phones.

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Plainville, CT 06062

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