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Baltimore Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Skin problems from exposure to toxins or hazards

Maryland workers may encounter a wide variety of toxins and skin irritants in the course of their employment. From hazardous chemicals used in the production of factory products to the wind and extreme cold that must be endured by those obligated to work outside in the winter, it is the business's responsibility to be realistically aware of the hazards to the skin of their employees and to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their workers.

Toxin exposure in the workplace is a major source of damage and irritation to employee skin. Although governmental organizations are well aware of the prevalence of toxins in the workplace environment, estimating that more than 13 million employees nationwide are undergoing toxic exposure right now, historically prevention and amelioration attempts have centered on inhaled chemicals.

Workplace accident draws public criticism of Maryland gas plant

A representative from the Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community spoke up at a public meeting of the Calvert County Commissioners in Prince Frederick. Her complaint focused on the worker injury at the liquefied natural gas plant in Lusby that is being converted into an import facility. She used it as an example of lax safety at the facility and questioned the safety of the community once the plant began new operations.

The community activist added that a truck from IHI/Kiewit, the contractor working on the plant, had rear-ended a vehicle on Cove Point Road only days earlier. She accused the contractor of rushing the job and possibly performing faulty work.

Power surge injures worker at Maryland liquor store

After a fire was put out at Lighthouse Liquors in Charlotte Hall, Maryland, construction workers attempted to move a large refrigeration unit. The assistant chief for the Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department said that the workers believed the power was off, but somehow an electrical surge shocked one man.

CPR was not needed, but the assistant fire chief could not provide any more details about the injured worker's condition. St. Mary's Advanced Life Support and Emergency Medical Services also responded to the accident before the man was airlifted to Washington Hospital Center.

The risks of falls in residential construction

Fall hazards continue to be a major risk faced by Maryland construction workers. This is especially true on residential work sites where the workers may be framing in a home's walls. While performing this task, workers face the risk that they they could fall from the wall and hurt themselves on the ground below or land on other dangerous items, like tools or pieces of wood. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set out a few guidelines on how construction companies can protect workers and reduce this risk.

Effective advance planning is a crucial step in reducing fall hazard risk. Before starting a job, a construction company should identify the work areas that are most prone to falls. It should then consider steps in those processes that can reduce the risk. One option is to use pre-fabricated walls to reduce the amount of time the worker spends on the task.

More workplace injuries occur right after daylight saving

Workers in Maryland may have been affected by the loss of sleep after the daylight saving time change on March 8. While many people complain about having less time to sleep before work, research shows that the lost hour of sleep increases the likelihood of workplace injuries. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most workers need a few days to fully adjust to the time change.

A study that was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2009 showed that there is a significant increase in workplace injuries after the time change for daylight saving. Injury data that was gathered by the U.S. Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration between 1983 and 2006 demonstrated a 5.7 percent increase in workplace injuries around daylight saving. Workers also experienced 68 percent more lost workdays due to injuries around this time.

The dangers of nail gun injuries on construction sites

Maryland employees may be interested in some information about one of the more common workplace injuries on construction sites: nail gun injuries. One government safety agency shows that these injuries may be preventable when the appropriate safety measures are taken.

For those who work in the residential construction industry, a nail gun is a powerful time-saving tool that increases productivity and is simple to operate. However, failure to adhere to safety guidelines when using these tools can lead to serious workers' injuries. Data from OSHA shows that nail guns are the cause of around 37,000 visits to the emergency room every year. Another study of apprentice carpenters reveals that two-fifths of them suffered a nail gun-related injury during their four years of apprenticeship. Most injuries involve the hands, but there are reports of much more serious injuries involving the eyes and internal organs.

Silica exposure cause of pulmonary disease

As many Maryland workers know, on Feb. 18, two governmental agencies issued an alert concerning crystalline silica exposure. This follows the release of international reports showing the cumulative effects of such exposure.

Epidemiological data from Israel and Spain revealed a total of 71 workers who developed overt silicosis after exposure to crystalline silica. In this group of workers, 10 needed lung transplants. Silicosis is due to the inhalation of minute particles of silica that results in lung fibrosis. Symptoms associated with silicosis are dyspnea, fatigue and cough. Exposed workers are at a much higher risk for pulmonary disease, cancer of the lung and kidney problems.

Maryland workers and vibration injuries

Many Maryland workers may be subject to potential injuries caused over time by exposure to vibration in the workplace. Jackhammers, grinders, pneumatic wrenches, saws, sanders, heavy construction equipment and dental tools are all sources of high-rate vibration. Depending on how and where the vibration is focused in the body, the type of vibration is categorized as hand-arm vibration or whole-body vibration. The former can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, while whole-body vibration is a leading cause of lower back pain.

Although vibration monitoring is commonplace in equipment and machinery, relatively few safeguards or safety protocols exist for human vibration exposure. The European Union has set exposure limits for both types of vibration, as well as requiring equipment and tool manufacturers to disclose vibration rating data. Such limits have not been uniformly adopted in the United States.

Workers' compensation and telecommuters in Maryland

The work environment in Maryland as well as across the country has been changing, gradually allowing an increasing number of workers to work at least part time from their home. What people may not know, however, is that in some cases telecommuters may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits even if they are working at home when they suffer an injury.

Two workers' compensation cases underscore the point that benefits may be available to at-home workers. In a case out of Oregon in 2010, a woman who worked as an at-home worker for an interior design company tripped and injured herself while she was walking to retrieve fabric samples from her garage. Although the Oregon Workers' Compensation Board initially denied her claim for benefits, their decision was overturned by the state Court of Appeals. The appellate court found that the woman was entitled to benefits for the injuries she suffered because they occurred while she was working on the job.

Improving employee protective equipment

Employees in Maryland might benefit from understanding more about how compliance and protection can be improved by using better fitting safety eyewear. Government data shows that the demographics of the U.S. labor force are changing significantly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women accounted for 47 of the American workforce during 2010, and are expected to total 51 percent by 2018. As the workplace becomes more diversified, the protection attire and equipment used may need to be redesigned as well.

The changes to personal protection equipment are primarily needed for safety eyewear and other items that fit onto the face in order to work properly for different ethnicities. Other pieces of attire that were designed with traditional sizing, such as boots, clothes and gloves, may not need to be replaced.

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