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St. Louis Legal Blog

How to safely handle chemicals in the workplace

Missouri workers know that handling hazardous chemicals can be very dangerous. However, by following a series of basic rules, they and their employers can prevent workplace accidents and stay safe.

First, workers should never cut corners regarding safety procedures. Instead, they should always follow established safety procedures and perform duties the way they were trained. Second, workers should always remain alert and anticipate things that could go wrong while performing certain tasks. They should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment and regularly inspect this equipment for defects or excessive wear.

Stopping distracted driving

Drivers in Missouri and the rest of the nation are susceptible to being distracted while they are behind the wheel of their vehicle. Certain forms of technology can do this, as well as something as simple as allowing the mind to wander. Because driving while distracted can result in significant losses and costs, it is important that a solution is found.

For over 10 years, fleet companies have been collecting vehicle data to identify the adverse events, such as hard acceleration and braking, that occur in their trucks. Fleet management devices and analytics can be used to combine the adverse events with driver coaching. They can also use the events to turn on certain devices, like video cameras. However, and probably more importantly, the data that is being collected by the fleets can be used to forecast the conditions that are likely to result in collisions or situations in which drivers may be fatigued or distracted.

An overview of the top 10 unsafe jobs in the U.S.

In late 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published its 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, but the data found in it should still be of interest to employers and employees in Missouri. It ranks the 10 most hazardous jobs in the U.S., and while some of the inclusions are to be expected, others may be surprising.

The top five positions on the list go to logging workers, fishers and fishing workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, roofers and trash and recycling collectors. The ranking is based not on the total number of deaths that each industry incurred but on its fatal work injury rate. Ninety-one logging workers died in 2016, but the industry's fatal work injury rate was a startling 135.9 per 100,000 workers (either full-time or the equivalent). The fishing industry had a fatality rate of 86.

CVSA announces dates for Brake Safety Week

Commercial vehicle drivers in Missouri and around the country can expect more scrutiny from law enforcement and safety officials during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Brake Safety Week, which begins on Sept. 16. Faulty braking systems on tractor-trailers weighing as much as 40 tons are a threat to all road users, and data from both the CVSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suggest that the problem is widespread.

The FMCSA looked at the violation histories of commercial trucks involved in almost 1,000 accidents, and they discovered that almost a third of them had been cited for brake-related issues. Braking problems are also the most common reason for trucks being ordered off the road during the CVSA's annual International Roadcheck safety effort. When Brake Safety Week was shortened to a single day in 2017, vehicle inspectors issued out of service orders for brake problems 14 percent of the time.

Types of distracted driving and how to avoid this behavior

Distracted driving has always been a concern, but this is even more so the case in today's world with access to so much technology.

As a driver, you have full control over every decision you make when you're behind the wheel. So, if you don't want to pick up your cellphone and send a text, you don't have to.

Slips and falls can be dangerous on the job

Workers in Missouri can face a range of workplace safety hazards on the job, even in unexpected places. While workers in industries like construction may be very aware of the threat of workplace accidents, office employees or others with less physical jobs may be unaware of the risks they also face on the job. For example, slip-and-fall accidents can have serious consequences that can even be fatal. In 2014 alone, 660 workers lost their lives after falling from a height. Perhaps more shockingly, 138 workers were killed when they fell at the same level.

Many hazards can easily lead to workplace accidents from slipping, tripping or falling. People can take action to make a safer area, including cleaning up liquid spills and removing obstacles as soon as they appear. Taking these steps can prevent the hazard from affecting more people later on.

What to do when you are in a crash with an uninsured driver

In the state of Missouri, same as any other state in the country, drivers need to carry auto insurance at all times. The Missouri Department of Insurance states drivers need to carry liability insurance of at least $10,000 in property damage, $50,000 in accident coverage and $25,000 per person. 

However, there are plenty of people out there right now on Missouri roadways who do not have any coverage. You will experience extreme headaches if you find out an uninsured driver caused the auto accident. This is why it is always a good idea to retain uninsured motorist coverage. You will have to pay a little more for it, but in these instances, it is a huge asset. In the event you do not have this coverage, here are the steps you can take. 

Keep track of important details after a car crash

Missouri drivers can take action after a car accident to help to protect themselves and their ability to pursue compensation after the crash. This is especially important for people who have been injured or had their vehicle damaged after an auto accident caused by another driver's dangerous, distracted or negligent driving. Of course, the most important immediate task after stopping at the accident scene is pursuing emergency medical care; when no urgent treatment is necessary, it is still important to visit the doctor later.

There are some key pieces of information that it can be important to gather immediately following a car accident that can help with the process moving forward. These details include the personal information of other drivers involved, such as their names, addresses and telephone numbers. Insurance details are also key, including the name and policy number for the cars involved. In addition, it is important to document the vehicles involved in the crash.

How new tech from software startup can keep workers safe

Worldwide, more than 1,000 people die every day in workplace accidents, which is why it's so important to assess and prevent as many risks in the workplace as possible. Employers and safety managers in Missouri now have new technology they can depend on for this purpose. Based in Des Moines and specializing in SaaS, MākuSafe is a startup that has developed wearable bands capable of recording environmental and motion data.

If employees wear this band during the workday, it can record changes in lighting and temperature, changes in radiation levels if applicable and even near-misses and hazardous situations. All of this data is automatically stored in a cloud platform where safety managers can use it to determine what preventative measures should be taken. They could, for example, set up emergency equipment and supplies in areas with a high safety risk.

Improving worker safety: five tips for employers

Improving worker safety in Missouri starts with one employer at a time. Unfortunately, many employers become distracted by tight deadlines and the fast pace of their work environments, paying little attention to safety guidelines. Not only will this make workers more vulnerable to injuries, but it will also lower their morale as they realize their employers are not concerned. This means low productivity, high turnover rates and weaker employer branding.

Creating a safety-minded culture benefits both employees and employers. The latter group should remember, though, that any effort at organization must begin with them. Strong leadership is the first tip that employers should take to heart. The second suggestion is for site managers or safety coaches to pass out an anonymous survey. This can gauge what employees know about federal and corporate safety guidelines as well as what they feel about their responsibilities or others' expectations of them.

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