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Greenville Personal Injury Law Blog

The health of commercial truck drivers

South Carolina motorists may benefit from knowing that commercial truck drivers with at least three health conditions have four times the chances of getting into a crash than healthier ones. This conclusion is based on the results of a study conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine. The study also found that truck drivers have trouble staying in good health because of their poor eating and sleeping habits and the long periods of time they tend to be in a sitting position.

The medical records for almost 50,000 commercial truck drivers were examined for the study. The researchers found that slightly more than a third of the drivers had indications of one or more health issues linked to poor driving. This included low back pain, diabetes and heart disease. Also, when the traffic records of the drivers were examined, it was discovered that those with at least three of the flagged medical conditions had a greater chance of having had been in a crash.

OSHA updates fall protection rules for general industry

South Carolina workers in construction and other industries have updated rules to follow to prevent falls. The regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration became effective in January 2017, and they describe when fall protection measures need to be used and when they can be deemed unnecessary.

Fall protection systems will not be legally required for work performed on roofs with low slopes and done between 6 and 15 feet from the edge if the task is relatively infrequent or temporary. This designation refers to annual maintenance and repairs. For example, someone fixing a roof-mounted air conditioner unit or cleaning a chimney might not need fall protection. Although the regulatory language does not specify a time limit for a temporary task, the agency offered some clarification by stating that jobs of no more than one to two hours fell under the designation of temporary. This is in accord with the position held by the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association.

Fourth of July a deadly holiday for motorists

Based on figures from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Fourth of July may be the most dangerous day for South Carolina drivers. The IIHS says that nationwide, it has been the deadliest day of the year for the past 10 years on average. The insurance company Travelers says that for the days leading up to the holiday and on the day itself, insurance claims are 7 percent higher than they are for the Labor Day and Memorial Day holiday weekends.

Travelers has issued a list of recommendations for holiday driving that may help keep drivers safer. One is to make sure the car is up to date on all inspections and have it serviced before the holiday. Another is to bring an emergency roadside kit stocked with items such as nonperishable food, water, blankets, jumper cables, road flares and more.

Safety issues at nuclear weapons lab

People in South Carolina may be interested to learn that the laboratory where the atomic bomb was created is facing criticism for safety violations. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has had a number of safety lapses over the years. An independent federal oversight panel has also raised concerns.

One incident mentioned by the Center for Public Integrity was the cleaning of spilled plutonium with cheesecloth that was then placed in a waste receptacle that held other nuclear materials. Federal regulations prohibit the use of cheesecloth to clean up plutonium because of the risk of fire or chemical reactions. Furthermore, in 2011, there was an incident in which eight rods of plutonium were placed next to one another. When plutonium is kept together, a nuclear chain reaction could occur. In 2014, the facility packaged a barrel of radioactive waste improperly, and this resulted in an underground radiation leak. The company managing the lab is losing its contract partially because of these safety lapses.

Preventing chemical hazards caused by spray paint

South Carolina shipyard workers who are required to spray paint objects as part of their job face serious hazards. Spray paint is not only flammable and poses a fire risk, but the chemicals and toxic substances in the paint and spray mechanism can also cause sickness or death if not used properly, As such, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provided a fact sheet that could help employers protect workers against the hazards.

The primary hazards for those who work with spray paint include exposure to chemical hazards and exposure to toxic substances. If an employee is using the hazardous chemicals in an area that is not properly ventilated, there is an additional risk for illness or even death. As such, employers are responsible for identifying hazards and protecting employees from exposure risks.

Federal trucker training rules seek safety improvement

The federal government is taking steps to ensure that new truck drivers in South Carolina and across the United States have received more training. However, the new rules fail to create a mandatory minimum for behind-the-wheel training hours, instead using a controversial proficiency standard.

The rule is going into effect at the federal level after five months of delays caused by regulatory reviews by the Trump administration. It is effective as of June 5; however, there is a compliance period of nearly three years. Carriers and trainers have until February 2020 to implement the rule; it will apply to all applicants who receive their commercial driver's licenses (CDL) on or after February 7, 2020.

Cargo securement inspection event

Truckers in South Carolina have most likely prepared for the annual International Roadcheck inspection event. The event, which is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is being held from Tuesday, June 6, 2017, through Thursday, June 8, 2017, in the U.S. and Canada.

The annual 72-hour event is designed to implement initiatives that focus on commercial truck safety enforcement, compliance and education. For this year, the focus will be on cargo securement. Even though verifying the securement of cargo is a part of the separate Level I inspections, the CVSA states that it is being highlighted so that drivers and fleets are reminded of its importance.

Survey finds construction industry lax on safety

According to a recent study by the National Safety Council, nearly 60 percent of those who work in the construction industry said that safety is not considered as important as getting the job completed. In response, the NSC is saying that construction employers in South Carolina and across the nation should renew a commitment to workplace safety.

The NSC conducted the survey on 2,000 employees from 14 industries. In the survey, more than half who work in the construction industry said that those in charge only fulfill the minimum requirements pertaining to safety laws. More than 45 percent said employees are fearful of reporting safety issues.

Widespread support for hair testing of truck drivers

A new drug testing standard for the commercial trucking industry has significant support from numerous stakeholders and may lead to safer highways for South Carolina residents. Congress passed legislation in 2015 requiring that the Department of Health and Human Services provide guidelines for Department of Transportation implementation of hair testing of truck drivers. HHS has failed to act, which has prompted regulators, industry stakeholders and legislators to call for "swift action" and attempt to sidestep HHS.

Hair testing is seen by the various groups pushing for its use as a far more reliable means of identifying drivers most likely to cause semi truck accidents while under the influence of drugs. Hair testing is superior to urine testing, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Five senators wrote a letter to HHS in May 2017 asking for the completion of guidelines. They stated that the delay has prevented the DOT from enacting its own standards. The letter received support from the American Trucking Association.

Poultry workers face high risks on the job

South Carolina residents may understand how difficult it can be to work in a meat processing plant. According to OSHA severe injury data, chicken and meat processing workers were at a high risk of getting hurt on the job. From January 2015 to September 2016, there were 180 severe injuries reported to OSHA from poultry processing companies. That put the poultry industry 12th overall when it came to the number of such injuries.

There were 14,000 companies that reported severe injuries to OSHA during those 21 months. Of those companies, Tyson had the fourth-highest number of reports while JBS/Pilgrim's Pride was number six on that list. Cargill was 14th on the list according to a report from the National Employment Law Project. According to NELP, many of these injuries could be prevented by following basic OSHA safety protocols.

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