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Slidell Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Radiologists at risk for lower back injuries, review shows

All Louisiana workers are at risk of sustaining injuries at work, and the types of workplace injuries that they may experience vary depending on the job. For example, radiologists are at risk for suffering lower back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries. According to the American College of Radiology, approximately 33 percent of radiologists report lower back pain.

According to a review published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, part of the problem may be the transition from a film-based environment to a PACS environment. While the PACS environment, which features a digital archiving system, offers a number of benefits for both radiologists and their patients, it may exact a physical toll due to the heavy use of computers. For example, radiologists may be required to sit in front of a computer screen for long periods of time, potentially resulting in musculoskeletal injuries that could include "computer back."

Eye injuries can endanger workers

Many workers in Louisiana neglect to consider the danger of eye accidents in the workplace. However, eye injuries take a major economic and personal toll on workers across the country. Every year, over 20,000 workers suffer damage to their eyes while on the job. While the cost in productivity is often estimated at $300 million, the personal cost can be far greater. Employees who suffer workplace injuries that involve eye damage can suffer pain, loss of vision or even blindness.

Safety experts estimate that the vast majority of workplace eye injuries are preventable -- up to 90 percent of these accidents could be avoided through the use of protective eyewear. Some of the most severe eye injuries take place in jobs that involve heavy objects and intense physical work, including mining, manufacturing and construction. These industries account for 40 percent of all workplace eye injuries. At these jobs, workers' eyes are at risk from hot metal, toxic substances, chemical gases and airborne particles.

OSHA alliance with entertainment industry to continue

Louisiana residents who work in the entertainment industry may be interested to learn about the renewed alliance recently announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. By partnering with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, OSHA will be working to improve workplace safety in the entertainment industry. The federal agency will provide the members of the two organizations with informational and educational materials that address industry hazards, such as poor ergonomics, falls and electrical dangers.

As a labor union, the IATSE provides representation for craftspersons, technicians and artisans who are employed in motion picture productions, live theater, television broadcasting and related construction and equipment shops. The USITT is a professional association that provides networking and development opportunities to members.

Increase in black lung cases among coal miners

Although Louisiana does not have an extensive coal mining history, people around the country who are in this industry should be aware that a rising number of black lung cases have been reported. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has discovered that there were 416 instances of complicated black lung, or progressive massive fibrosis, from 2013 to 2017 in just three clinics.

Black lung is used to refer to one of any number of respiratory diseases that are caused by exposure to coal mine dust. By the close of the 20th century, the occurrence of the condition had fallen to an all-time low, as only 31 cases were reported. However, it is now on the rise.

New survey: younger employees lack safety awareness

In a "Workplace Safety and Preparedness" survey from Rave Mobile Safety, 530 employees were asked about various matters like their awareness of safety procedures and their company's use of technology to alert them to emergencies. Employees in Louisiana may find that many of the issues raised in the survey are similar to those they face.

For example, many workplaces are burdened with outdated emergency plans. About 87 percent of respondents said that their companies had a fire drill policy in place, but only 57 percent said that their companies had drills for other threats, such as severe weather, incidents with hazardous materials and shootings.

Worker fatalities increased in 2016

Louisiana workers may be interested to learn that workplace fatalities jumped by 7 percent in 2016, according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the third consecutive year that work-related deaths have increased.

The BLS reports that 5,190 workers died in work-related accidents in 2016, which is 354 more than in 2015. The deadly injury rate in 2016 was 3.6 for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. In comparison, it was 3.4 per 100,000 in 2015. Transportation accidents were the No. 1 cause of death for workers, accounting for about 20 percent of all fatalities. The second most common cause of worker deaths was workplace violence, which spiked by 23 percent last year.

Is workers comp compatible with Social Security Disability?

Workers in Louisiana who suffer potentially debilitating injuries on the job may be concerned not only about their short-term ability to provide income for themselves and their families but also the long-term effects if they cannot return to work for the foreseeable future. Some people may be under the mistaken impression that if one collects benefits under an employer-sponsored workers compensation insurance plan, he or she may be ineligible to collect from Social Security Disability Insurance. The good news is that, in most cases, this is not true.

While Social Security Disability Insurance is administered through the federal government, workers compensation insurance is mandated and stipulated by each state. The two entities do not coincide or conflict with each other directly. However, there are limitations on how much a person can collect from SSDI if workers compensation is also being collected. The combination of the two cannot exceed 80 percent of the person's prior income before becoming injured.

OSHA silica rule withstands judicial scrutiny

Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reveals that about 2 million workers in Louisiana and around the country have jobs that expose them to silica. The federal workplace safety watchdog took action to protect these workers in March by reducing the permissible levels of silica to 50 micrograms in each cubic meter of air during an eight-hour shift, but the revised Crystalline Silica Rule was quickly challenged by trade groups and labor advocates.

Silica crystals can penetrate lungs and have been linked with potentially deadly diseases including lung cancer and silicosis, but trade groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce challenged the revised OSHA silica standard in court claiming that the medical evidence supporting it was unconvincing. The lawsuit also alleged that the revised rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act and that meeting the stricter standard would not be feasible for many businesses.

How Sodexo will address issues with work safety

Sodexo is a provider of quality of life services that help companies better manage themselves and their employees. Business owners in Louisiana who are faced with issues concerning worker safety may want to know what Sodexo's North American branch had to say at the 2017 Safety Leadership Conference, which took place in Atlanta.

The most pressing need, the North American branch's vice president claims, is that of instilling a "zero-harm mindset" among workers and leaders. This means building the shared work culture anew, changing work and interaction habits from day to day.

OSHA reveals top 10 safety violations for 2017

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is in charge of regulating workplace safety. Failing to comply with the agency's guidelines can lead to citations and fines. Every year, OSHA releases a list of the top 10 safety violations based on the number of allocated penalties. The results for fiscal year 2017 (October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017) are similar to those of previous years, but there are some differences that business owners in Louisiana should be aware of.

For the sixth year in a row, violations of fall protection requirements topped the list. In fact, more than 6,000 claims were issued to companies that failed to protect workers and work areas with the proper safety equipment. This equipment ranges from railing for elevated work areas to harnesses and lines for the employees. The rest of the top five includes violations under the hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection and lockout/tagout requirements.