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Preventing eye injuries in the workplace

Many Connecticut residents spend a good portion of their time at work. Unfortunately, each year, around 700,000 Americans experience an eye injury that impairs their vision in the workplace. Since so much time is spent in the workplace, it is imperative that emphasis is put on eye safety.

Almost all occupations can expose workers to eye injury risks. This is true whether a person works in an office or if they have a physically demanding outdoor job. Work-related eye injuries occur because of chemical burns, punctures or cuts to the eye, or damage that results from exposure to bright ultraviolet lights. This means that eye injury risks are especially high in jobs that involve handling chemicals or that use tools for welding.

NSC: drivers are more distracted around emergency vehicles

Many drivers in Connecticut and across the U.S. become distracted whenever they pass an emergency vehicle on the street. In a survey conducted by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 60 percent said they post on social media whenever they see such a vehicle. Just over 65 percent said they send an email about it. Seventy-one percent take photos or videos, and 80 percent slow down to get a better look.

This negligence can put first responders at risk for a collision. Already, in the first four months of 2019, 16 first responders have been hit and killed by cars. In 2013, there were 37 deaths and over 17,000 injury cases related to crashes with fire trucks, police cars and ambulances. In the survey, 16 percent admitted to hitting or nearly hitting either a first responder or the emergency vehicle when driving by it.

Less emphasis on procedure reduces risk in the workplace

For business owners in Connecticut who wish to reduce safety risks in the workplace, the most important thing is to create a work culture that is more risk-minded than safety-minded. Many employers, unfortunately, believe that employees will be safe as long as they follow established procedures. Employees, for their part, often think of safety as the responsibility of the company and are not told to be proactive in recognizing and communicating risk.

Employers should try to instill more risk thinking into the employees. Rather than emphasizing that all safety incidents are preventable, employers should focus on the fact that one cannot completely eliminate risk.

Inspection blitz aims to identify unsafe trucks

Every year, vehicle inspectors in Connecticut and across the country focus on trucking safety as part of the Roadcheck inspection program. The 72-hour inspection blitz, which is organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, often focuses on different aspects of commercial vehicle maintenance and safety on the roads. These inspection blitzes aim to identify and address safety issues that could lead to dangerous or even deadly trucking accidents. The 2019 International Roadcheck will center on steering and suspension systems found in large trucks.

According to the CVSA, steering and suspension are vital for maintaining control of a truck during acceleration or braking. In addition, these systems help to maintain tire alignment and avert tire failure. This means that a well-maintained steering or suspension system can help prevent a catastrophic truck crash.

Abuse in nursing homes has devastating effects

When Connecticut residents hear stories of elderly individuals being abused in nursing homes, they likely agree that it is heartbreaking. There is outrage over mistreatment, health violations, and neglect. For years the government has worked to enact reforms as well as supervise what happens in nursing homes.

The fact that stories of nursing home abuse are commonplace in the news leads many to see this as a pattern as opposed to isolated cases. The Inspector General of the United States has shown that more than 33 percent of nursing home residents are harmed in one way or another while they are in the care of facilities that receive federal funds. In more than 50 percent of the cases, the harm could have been prevented.

Farm machinery can cause potentially dangerous vibrations

Workers on farms in Connecticut may be at risk of serious workplace injuries and accidents. Farm work often involves large, complex machinery that can pose a significant risk of an acute injury. However, other types of injuries can develop over time due to repetitive exposure to certain types of physical stress. According to a study funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, many operators of farm machinery experienced vibrations that reached a limit set by the European Union for exposure in only two hours of operation. This is particularly concerning for workers operating these vehicles daily.

These results applied to almost 30 percent of the farm machinery tested, including combines, tractors, forklifts and all-terrain vehicles. Fifty-five farm workers participated in the University of Iowa study where sensors were attached to the seats and floors of the equipment. These sensors allowed scientists to assess the level of protection provided by the seats. Over half of the pieces of equipment met the action level, a term referring to the point at which workers face a greater risk of health problems, within eight hours.

Bipartisan push for front and side underride guard regulations

More than 300 U.S. road users are killed each year by underride accidents. This is when a passenger vehicle slides under a semi-tractor trailer. Road safety groups throughout Connecticut and the rest of the country have been calling for more comprehensive underride guard regulations for some time. Lawmakers from both chambers of Congress and both political parties have recently answered those calls by introducing bills that would mandate the installation of these possibly life-saving safety features on the fronts, sides and rears of trucks. The proposed legislation also updates the current rear underride guard standards.

Safety groups are particularly concerned about underride crashes because the passenger vehicles involved are offered little protection by even the most sophisticated automobile safety systems. Organizations supporting the bipartisan proposals include the National Safety Council Road to Zero Coalition, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Truck Safety Coalition, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Consumer Reports.

Most common ladder-related accidents

The American Ladder Institute designated March 2019 as National Ladder Safety Month as a way to spread the awareness of how ladders play a role in so many workplace accidents. Not just workers but everyone in Connecticut should know that more than 300 people die every year in ladder-related accidents, and there are a few common causes.

Strains and sprains caused by the careless handling of heavy ladders are the most frequently reported injuries. Extension ladders can have their weight reduced by up to 25 percent, though, thanks to advances in fiberglass-resin composites and engineering design. This does not compromise their strength either, so employers could consider it.

Senate hearing focuses on reports of nursing home abuse

Connecticut residents who have loved ones in nursing homes should know that the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing to discuss reports of abuse and neglect from some of the nation's nursing homes. One case of fatal neglect occurred at a nursing home with the highest possible ranking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The CMS, for its part, announced that it will update its Nursing Home Compare database, its online tools for researching nursing home quality and its Five-Star Quality Rating System. It is clear that nursing homes serving Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries need to be held to a higher standard as well.

NIOSH: tow truck drivers see high injury, fatality rates

The risk for an on-the-job fatality is nearly 15 times greater for those in the motor vehicle towing industry than for those in any other private industry. This is according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which released a report on the issue after analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Connecticut residents may want to know why the fatality rate is so high.

From 2011 to 2016, a total of 191 tow truck workers were killed. This came to an annual rate of 42.9 deaths for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. In all other private industries, the annual rate is 2.9 per 100,000 FTE workers. In addition, the non-fatal injury rate among tow truck drivers came out to be double that of the rate in all other industries: 204.2 per 10,000 compared to an average of 98.2.

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