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South Carolina Personal Injury & Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Improving worker safety with startup's new tech

Every year in South Carolina and across the U.S., companies and insurers pay out hundreds of billions of dollars in workers compensation claims. Reviewing these claims can be a drawn-out process wherever accurate data is lacking. Worldwide, workplace accidents take the lives of more than 1,000 people every day and injure over 500 people every minute.

A software startup in Iowa may have a solution. Workplace safety managers could reduce workplace accidents and streamline the claims investigation process with wearable technology, specifically wearable bands for employees. MākuSmart has developed bands that can record environmental and motion data while employees are working and transmit it all to a cloud platform.

Avoiding construction claims for falls

Construction employers in South Carolina are likely aware that falls from elevated surfaces are a frequent cause of injury in this field. Over the past five years, Nationwide Insurance has processed over 10,000 workers' compensation claims among construction companies, and 30 percent of them involved falls.

This was part of the reason why Nationwide joined several other organizations in supporting the OSHA Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. From May 7 to 11, construction companies across the U.S. shut down operations in order to train employees and raise their awareness of hazards in the workplace. Nationwide has stated that these stand-downs can be a great way for employers to show workers that their safety matters. It can also help ease workers into ongoing safety training.

Seat belts lower chance of severe liver injuries

If drivers in South Carolina are looking for one more reason to wear their seat belts, they can consider the results of a new study. Researchers at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn studied crash data in the National Trauma Data Bank spanning from 2010 to 2015. All of the cases involved patients aged 18 and over who either went to the hospital or died en route in the aftermath of a vehicle crash.

Their results showed how seat belts reduce the risk for severe liver injuries. The liver and spleen are the two internal organs that are most often injured in car accidents. While a bleeding spleen can be surgically removed if necessary, severe liver bleeding cannot be treated in such a way.

How business owners can keep their workers safe

With tight deadlines and a fast-paced work environment, employers may find it hard to enforce safety guidelines here in South Carolina. This can mean an increase in worker injuries, higher workers' compensation costs, higher medical expenses and a decrease in productivity. If employers show little concern about worker safety, employee morale can decline and the company can become less desirable in the eyes of new job seekers.

Even everyday actions can open up workers to a variety of safety hazards, so employers, site managers and safety coaches should be wondering how to improve their work environment. This is where the following five tips can come in handy. The first step is for those in leadership positions to champion a safety-minded culture. Once this is clear, they should distribute anonymous surveys to their employees to determine what they know of corporate safety policies, what they think is expected of them and what their idea is of their own responsibilities.

Parkland shooting gives rise to wrongful death suit

The Parkland school shooting that took place on Feb. 14 led to the deaths of 17 people. Residents of South Carolina should know that the father of one of the victims, who was a student, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several defendants. One of them happens to be a deputy sheriff who was assigned to the school.

The deputy was an armed resource officer and thus had a duty to protect Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. According to the plaintiff, the deputy failed in this duty by not entering the building and killing the shooter upon hearing the gunshots. Instead, the deputy hid between two concrete walls and called dispatch several times to lock down the school.

Campaign aims to cut out traffic fatalities

Drivers in South Carolina often worry about the dangers that they could face when they get behind the wheel. A new project, called the Road to Zero Coalition, has been formed in order to make driving a safer proposition by achieving a dramatic reduction in traffic fatalities. Over 100 people die across the United States on the roadways every day, and car and truck accident deaths are preventable.

The transportation safety coalition includes 675 members, including trucking companies, associations, suppliers and others. It emphasizes that leadership, investment and technology can work together to improve roadway safety and prevent truck accidents. In a report released in April 2018, the grop laid out a roadmap toward safer roadways by 2050, set as the target goal to achieve zero traffic fatalities.

Daydreaming is more dangerous than texting and driving

While many South Carolina drivers are aware of the dangers of texting and driving, they may not be aware that inattention and boredom when driving can be just as dangerous. In fact, a study found that 61 percent of fatal distracted driving accidents were actually caused by inattention to the road and not by technology.

Erie Insurance analyzed a nationwide database that records car accidents to determine what the causes were. Of the 172,000 fatal accidents that were included from the last five years, it was determined that about 10 percent of them were caused by distracted driving. When the numbers were analyzed even further, it was discovered that 61 percent of the distracted accidents were caused by drivers who were daydreaming and not paying attention to the road and their surroundings. Only about 14 percent of the fatal distracted driving accidents were attributed to using cellphones while driving.

Stand-down to prevent construction falls slated for May

For the fifth year in a row, OSHA is hosting its National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Together with NIOSH and the Center for Construction Research and Training, OSHA encourages all employers in the construction industry to shut down operations at some point between May 7 and May 11 and address whatever factors put their workers at risk for falls. This is important since in South Carolina, as elsewhere in the U.S., falls are the leading cause of death in the industry.

According to NIOSH, one-third of construction fatalities are caused by falls. By participating in the fifth annual stand-down, however, employers and their workers can work toward reducing the number through focus sessions. There is no right method for conducting the event as employers should be able to adapt the stand-down to their particular work environments. However, training is one possibly essential component. Employers could also hold demonstrations, play videos and give toolbox talks.

Radiology computers may be causing workplace injuries

According to a new review article, the modernization of radiology may be causing some South Carolina radiologists to experience neck and back pain. The article was published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology in March.

An ACR survey of almost 500 radiology practice leaders found that nearly a third of all practicing radiologists in the U.S. experience lower back pain, and 25 percent of those surveyed experience neck pain. Repetitive stress injuries afflict 16 percent of the radiologists. The author of the review said that one of the reasons that individuals who work in radiology could be suffering from these ailments is the profession's transition from film to PACS, or a picture archiving and communication system.

Distracted driving a serious hazard

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that in 2015, 3,477 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving. The same year also saw 391,000 people injured in similar crashes. With the development of new technologies, distracted driving is becoming more prevalent across South Carolina and the rest of the U.S., which is why it's important to raise awareness of it and keep others from engaging in it.

NHTSA defines distracted driving as any activity that takes one's attention from the road. This includes texting and talking on the phone, talking with other passengers, eating and drinking, and playing with the radio or navigation system. Sending and reading texts is especially dangerous, as it can take a driver's eyes off the road for up to five seconds. In a car traveling 55 mph, that would be like driving the length of a football field with one's eyes closed.

Smith & Griffith, LLP
1102 North Main Street
Anderson, SC 29621

Phone: 864-261-1571 (Personal injury)
Phone: 864-261-1912 (Workers' compensation)
Fax: 864-222-2257
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