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St. Louis Legal Issues Blog

Cellphones less dangerous than daydreaming drivers

Missouri who do not have their minds on the road in front of them could be more likely to cause a fatal accident than cellphone users according to a study by Erie Insurance. The company examined 172,000 fatal accidents over a five-year period and found that of the 10 percent of those accidents that were caused by distracted drivers, daydreaming was a factor in 61 percent. Cellphone usage was in second place but far lower at 14 percent.

Although the distracting nature of cellphones for people behind the wheel gets a lot of attention, Erie has done the study a number of times and found daydreaming while driving to be a consistent problem. Unfortunately, it is a difficult one to solve because driving is generally monotonous, and this causes people's minds to wander.

Radiologists and workplace injuries

Some Missouri residents may be among the almost 33 percent of practicing radiologists in the United States who have lower back pain related to their job. According to a commission workforce survey conducted by the American College of Radiology, lower back and neck pain are some of the most frequently occurring workplace injuries sustained by radiologists. Almost 500 radiology practice leaders were enlisted by the ACR's Human Resources Commission for the survey.

The use of the picture archiving and communication system, or PACS, could be the culprit of musculoskeletal injuries radiologists suffer. Although the radiology industry has been migrating from the legacy, film-based environment to a digital-based communication and archiving system for the last 30 years, radiologists who rely on PACS may be hurting themselves.

Taking medicine generally improves the odds of SSD acceptance

When a Missouri resident submits an application for social security disability benefits, approval won't be based on prior medical history. This means that an applicant doesn't need to be on medication for a condition to receive benefits. However, the disability examiner might ask if taking medication could make it possible for an individual to work.

Failure to take medication to help manage symptoms of a health problem could make it look like an applicant didn't consider it to be a serious issue. It could also appear as if a doctor didn't consider an applicant's depression, asthma or other health problem to be a serious issue. This can be unfortunate for those who don't take medication because they can't afford to pay for it or have other legitimate reasons for not being medicated.

Did your job cause carpal tunnel syndrome?

When you think of a workplace injury, you may think about something that happens immediately due to an accident. For example, someone falling off a ladder at work may break a bone right away. However, not all on-the-job injuries happen like this.

Some injuries develop over a long period of time. One of the most common examples is carpal tunnel syndrome. Here is an overview of how you may get carpal tunnel syndrome at work and what you should do about it.

Trench safety key priority for 2018

Trench safety has been identified as a major priority to protect the safety of construction workers in Missouri and across the country according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Construction workers frequently encounter dangerous or difficult conditions on the job, but laboring in trenches and excavation sites can pose a particularly high risk of serious workplace accidents. The risks associated with unfinished structures, heavy equipment and intense physical labor are intensified when dealing with depressions and cavities underground.

In particular, trenches and excavations created through the removal of vast quantities of earth, stone and other filler pose ongoing risks for collapses, falls, equipment failures or cave-ins. Around two workers have been killed every month since 2011 due to cave-ins in trenches on construction sites, but in 2016, the number of fatalities due to workplace accidents in excavations doubled that average, which had remained steady for five years. In response to the apparently growing danger to construction workers, OSHA is working to raise awareness of actions that employers can take to prevent trench accidents before they happen.

Cargo tank trucks carry higher risk of rollover

Anyone driving next to a tanker truck probably wonders whether such close proximity puts them in danger. The answer is yes: There is the risk of rollover and the flammable or hazardous material being transported. Missouri drivers should know that cargo tank trucks are more likely to flip than other types of tractor-trailers.

Load shifting is a common risk when any cargo is being transferred from point to point. When cargo shifts, it can cause instability and make controlling the vehicle challenging or, in the case of rollover, impossible. Because tanker trucks are transporting liquid, the load is constantly shifting. With each turn, lane change or braking maneuver, the liquid sloshes from side to side or crashes forward to change the dynamics of vehicle stability. Factoring in a higher physical profile than most other trailers makes cargo tanks much more susceptible to a rollover crash than almost any other vehicle on the highway.

OSHA, entertainment industry groups renew safety partnership

In February, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the renewal of its safety partnership with the United States Institute for Theatre Technology and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories and Canada. The partnership is designed to help protect the health and safety of entertainment industry workers in Missouri and across the U.S.

During the partnership, which will last five years, USITT and IATSE members will be provided education and data on common injury hazards among entertainment industry workers. These hazards include falls, ergonomic-related injuries, electrical dangers and more. Meanwhile, USITT and IATSE will provide information to OSHA and other organizations on safety protocols in the entertainment industry, and partnership members will keep up to date on OSHA standards, enforcement, rulemaking and safety initiatives.

The truth about anchor point thresholds

Employers in Missouri and throughout the country may believe that they need a 5,000 pound anchor point to meet OSHA rules. However, this may not be as defined of a standard as employers think it is. The actual rule states that any personal fall arrest system must have a safety factor of at least two. When conducting a fall system test, it must be conducted with a weight of approximately 220 pounds and from a height of at least six feet.

If the test records a force of greater than 2,520 pounds, the test is considered a failure. Therefore, if there needs to be a safety factor of at least two, an anchor point would need to support a force of roughly 5,000 pounds. However, it is possible that a worker would only generate 900 to 1,800 pounds of force in a fall. This is because the system may work to decrease the speed at which a person falls.

Coal miners face escalating black lung threat

For people who have worked in coal mines in Missouri and across the United States, black lung has always been a significant medical concern. However, at the end of the 20th century, it seemed that the respiratory disease caused by exposure to dust in coal mines was on its way to dying out. New cases had reached an all-time low, and experts reported only 31 cases of the most severe form of the illness. However, nearly two decades into the 21st century, the opposite has happened - new cases of black lung have spiked.

Between 2013 and 2017, epidemiologists working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found 416 cases of the most severe form of the disease, complicated black lung, in only three clinics. These reflect similar concerns expressed by a national monitoring program for coal workers. Findings in the clinics reflect the largest cluster of this type of occupational disease ever studied. Black lung is caused when workers inhale coal dust while mining.

Nurse abuse comes from more than just patients

Construction and similar industries may get the most attention for being unsafe, but as you may well know, occupations in health care are just as hazardous. In fact, OSHA reports that employees in health care and social assistance sustain the most workplace injuries. Environmental dangers range from biological hazards to patient violence.

However, one source of harm that some overlook is abuse from other nurses. The culture of bullying in nursing contributes to much workplace harassment and violence. No matter who you are working with as a nurse or what your position is, you deserve respect.

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