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Most Common Construction Injuries

06-15-21    

Construction accidents in Columbus

Safety in construction is important to the team here at Rinehardt Injury Attorneys. Below are the top 5 causes of construction injuries in OSHA Construction Reporting and the most important measures for injury prevention:

Cause #1: Falling from Heights

Safety in construction solution: Of course, the most effective way to protect workers from the risk of injury from falls is to work from the ground wherever possible. Complete activities at ground level wherever possible. For example, use prefabrication methods and tools with extendable handles.

When working from steep heights is a necessity, four basic components of fall protection include:

  1. Proper worker training.
  2. Appropriate selection of equipment for the specific work environment.
  3. Ensuring that all equipment is properly fitted.
  4. Having frequent equipment inspections.

Cause #2: Trench Collapse

Safety in construction solution: Plan to place equipment a safe distance away from the trench opening and locate all utilities. Water and soil make mud, so always be extra cautious during and after rainstorms. Beware of low oxygen and toxic fumes. Never assume you have time to move out of the way if a collapse starts.

  1. Move extra excavation materials at least 2 feet away from the trench.
  2. Remove personnel from the edge of the trench who are not working on it.
  3. Keep all equipment away from the site to prevent cave-ins and blunt force trauma.
  4. Do not enter trenches that have not been reinforced or inspected at the start of the day or after a rainstorm.
  5. Do not work under suspended loads.
  6. Never start digging till all underground utilities in the area have been accounted for.
  7. Keep materials and soil piles at least 2 feet away from the edges.
  8. Make sure air tests are carried out if the trench is more than 4 feet deep. Oxygen deprivation is the second leading cause of fatalities in unregulated trenches.
  9. Evacuate the trench immediately if you smell a strange odor or see rainwater accumulating at the bottom.

Cause #3: Collapsed Scaffolding

Safety in construction solution: To prevent scaffolding from falling provide an access ladder. Only use scaffold-grade lumber. Install guardrails and toe boards on all scaffolding 10 or more feet above the ground. Make sure the scaffold can support four times the maximum intended load (including the weight of the scaffold).

  1. Inspect Scaffolding Before Use.
  2. Adhere to Guidelines.
  3. Train Workers Properly.
  4. Ensure Scaffold Stability.
  5. Use the Proper Safety Equipment.
  6. Know the Load Capacity.
  7. Beware of Power Lines.
  8. Stay Organized.

Cause #4: Electric Shock

Safety in construction solution: Use lock-out/tag-out practices to ensure that circuits are de-energized before servicing equipment. Ensure all electrical equipment is properly grounded or double insulated. Inspect tools prior to use and check extension and power cords for wear and tear. If damaged, remove the equipment from service.

The more aware you are, the lesser the risk of danger. Follow these preventative measures to protect yourself from electrocution:

  1. Be aware of overhead power lines and keep a safe distance.
  2. Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).
  3. Check tools and extension cords for cuts, abrasions, and damaged insulation.
  4. Do not use power tools and equipment in a way it was not designed for.
  5. Follow procedures for lockout/tagout.
  6. Receive proper training.

Cause #5: Failure to Use Appropriate Protective Gear

Safety in construction solution: Involve employees in discussions concerning what specific protective gear brands, colors, and models to purchase since they will be the ones using it during the workday. Ask employees how their protective gear is working for them and what recommendations they have for the next time you are purchasing more. Address complaints promptly and keep open communication with employees to provide the most comfortable and appealing equipment possible.

  1. Create a Company Culture of Safety. Creating a company culture in which the health and safety of all employees are a priority will instill an internal motivation in workers to wear protective gear.
  2. Conduct a Hazard Analysis.
  3. Carry out regular protective gear training.
  4. Choose the right protective gear.
  5. Enforce Your Policy.

I Just Got Hit by a Car—What Should I Do?

11-23-20    

Unfortunately, car accidents are common occurrences in Ohio. The most recent car accident statistics for Ohio provide that in just one year there were over 290,000 accidents and 72,000 of which resulted in injury. It is important to know the steps you should take if you are involved in an accident. Our team has gathered information and provided what you should do if you’re placed in this situation.

Safety First

Don’t panic. Try to stay calm and evaluate your surroundings. If your airbags have deployed, the air inside your car will be cloudy with powder from the airbags. Many people think the airbag powder is smoke and then rush to get out of the car fearing their car is on fire. You should only get out of your car when it is safe to do so. As soon as you can, put on your four-way flashers to warn other drivers.

If your car has come to rest in a high traffic area and you are physically able, consider getting out of your car and getting safely to the berm or median while you wait for the police to get there.

Call the Police

Call 911 to alert the police. You should call even if you think someone else may have already called. Stay on the phone with the 911 operator until the police are sure they know your location. You should call even if the other driver suggests just exchanging insurance information instead of calling the police. Sometimes it takes the police a long time to get there and you might be tempted to leave—don’t, because having a police report is going to be important to prove what happened and make sure that you are treated fairly when you submit an insurance claim for your car and your injuries.

Tell the Other Driver not to Leave

assessing damaage after car accidentEven though you may not think you are hurt, you should tell the other driver that you have called the police and that they should stay until the police arrive. If the other driver starts to take off, try to take a quick photo on your phone of the license plate. Ohio law requires the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident to stop and remain at the scene to provide his or her information to the police and the other driver. See Ohio Revised Code Section 4549.02.

When the police get there, make sure the officer takes down your account of what happened and give the officer the names of any witnesses who you have talked to.

Ask anyone who stops to check on you to give you their names and phone numbers so that you can contact them if the other driver makes up a story about what happened. Many times, the driver at fault will apologize at the scene only to later tell his or her insurance company and the police a made-up version of what happened. Use your phone to take a bunch of pictures—of your car, the other driver’s car, and the scene of the crash. Your pictures may end up being important evidence. Remember no one at the scene is looking out for your interests except for you.

Get Medical Help

Even if you only feel shook up, you should get medical treatment at the emergency room or urgent care as soon as possible. After an accident, you are going to have a lot of adrenaline-pumping, which may mask injuries. Lots of times you think you are okay, only to have serious pain later. You may have broken bones, an injury to a disc in your back or neck, a torn rotator cuff, or a tear of the labrum of the hip. Many of these serious injuries start off with relatively little pain. People with serious injuries often start out thinking it’s just a bruise or a minor strain.

After the emergency room or urgent care, if your pain gets worse, you must see your family doctor or go back to the emergency room because a more serious injury may have been missed at your first visit.

Contact the Other Driver’s Insurance Company

You can get the other driver’s insurance information from that police officer at the scene or from the accident report once it is completed. You should then call the other driver’s insurance company to set up your claim. When setting up the claim, only give basic information—your name, where it happened, where your car is now located—so that their adjuster can evaluate the damage.

The insurance company may try to record you while they ask you questions about what happened or what your injuries are. Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company. The insurance company is going to try to get you to say something so it can put all or part of the blame for the accident on you. You shouldn’t let the insurance company record anything until you have spoken to a lawyer. The insurance company will pester you with calls and emails and even threaten not to pay your claim. Don’t cave into these hardball tactics. The insurance company is just trying to increase its profits by trying to invent a reason not to pay your claim.

Get Legal Advice

The insurance company has lots of money and resources. When it is you against the insurance company it is not a fair fight. Contact a lawyer even if you are not sure it is necessary. An attorney specializing in accident cases will be able to stand up to the insurance company and look out for your best interests. A lawyer can make sure that you get paid for everything you are entitled to—things the insurance company won’t tell you about. At Rinehardt Injury Attorneys our team is experienced and has been successful in handling car accident cases. Contact us today for a free consultation.


Statistics Don’t Lie: Bicycle Helmets Save Lives and Reduce Injuries

06-26-20    

mom putting bicycle helmet on kid

Most serious cyclists choose to wear a bike helmet, but many recreational riders think it isn’t necessary if they are just going out for a short ride at a leisurely pace. Before you decide to risk riding without a helmet, remember that helmets are made to do one thing—protect you from head injury, and most importantly, prevent a potentially fatal one. Let’s consider the statistics.

What the Statistics Tell Us

    • Researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [1]
      (NHTSA)found that helmets reduced the likelihood of serious head injury by 60 percent. Additionally, in cases where it was known whether cyclists were wearing helmets, 79 percent of those who were fatally injured between 2010 and 2017 were not wearing them.
    • The NHTSA also said in a 2018 report [2], that 857 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2017. This is the highest number of fatalities since 1990. Cycling trips account for one percent of all trips made in the U.S. each year, and nearly two percent of all traffic fatalities.
    • Cyclists who sustained a head injury while riding without wearing a helmet are three times more likely [3] to die than those who are injured while wearing a helmet. Bicycle helmets also prevent serious brain injury in 88% of serious crashes [4].
    • A February 2017 analysis [7] in the International Journal of Epidemiology reviewed 40 separate studies and found helmet use significantly reduced the odds of head injury. They also found the odds of a fatal head injury to be lower when cyclists wore a helmet.
    • Unfortunately, the risk of concussion is very real for cyclists. In 2013 the New York Times reported [5] that cycling had the highest concussion rate among all sports, including football. Sometimes the effects of a concussion can last for months or even years. Many times, they are permanent.

Given the Statistics, Why Doesn’t Everyone Wear a Helmet?

Despite these shocking statistics, less than half of all bicycle riders wear helmets. Because teens tend to think they are invincible, the percentage of teens who wear a helmet is significantly less than half.

dad and son wearing helmets

Riders give many reasons for not wearing helmets.
These include the belief that helmets are uncomfortable,
not socially acceptable[6], or are unnecessary because they are skilled riders.More education is needed so people are aware of the statistics.In addition, laws requiring bicycle riders to wear a helmet would reduce the number of head injuries and fatalities
Wearing a bicycle helmet is always a good idea no matter what the law has to say, but bicycle helmet laws might also have an impact on an injury claim after a bicycle-car accident[8].

What Does the Law Say?

No U.S. state currently requires helmets for adult cyclists, but just under half of the states require the use of bike helmets by riders under a certain age
bicycle helmets

Ohio has no mandatory bicycle helmet laws However, some cities and townships may have their own ordinances written into their municipal codes. Dayton, for instance, requires all cyclists to wear helmets and to equip their bike with a bell that is audible for up to 100 feet.

Just because the law doesn’t require it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.Being aware of the statistics is key. We hope you will choose to wear a helmet and encourage and educate your friends and family to wear one too.

Sources:


Group Home Abuse

10-18-19    

A group home is defined by dictionary.com as a “home where a small number of unrelated people in need of care, support, or supervision can live together, such as those who are elderly or mentally ill.” Traditionally, a group home is a private residence with specific medical care for those with complex health needs, such as young children or seniors who cannot live with their families. Unfortunately, group homes are not often regulated, and many of the owners are more concerned with money than they are for their residents and the residents’ needs. Group homes are supposed to be a safe haven, but all too often, they are not.

Group homes are ideally supposed to provide a comfortable living environment for a small number of people with similar issues, whether that be elderly persons, developmental disabilities in young children, or people with chemical dependencies that needs support for daily living. The main difference is that these are not medical facilities, but group homes do have staff available to help residents with their daily needs for survival. Unfortunately, many smaller group homes that elderly and disabled persons find themselves living in have limited regulations through both the state and federal laws. Although they must be licensed and adhere to certain rules, because of the smaller size of many of these homes, many problems are often overlooked. In a smaller home, there may be a very small staff, which means that it is easy for abuse to happen and be overlooked.

living in a group home

Group homes can have owners or staff that become abusive to their residents, using their position of power within the home to abuse those that they are trained to care for. Some of the types of abuse that are most often seen in these homes are:

  • Physical—residents of group homes can be subjected to physical abuse such as being restrained or struck by a group home staff member.
  • Emotional—group home staff can be verbally abusive and controlling, causing worsening depression and mental illness among residents.
  • Sexual—sexual predators are drawn to working at group homes where victims are both easily accessible and vulnerable due to lack of supervision and disability.
  • Financial—Caregivers in group homes are easily able to steal checks, credit cards, and more from their residents.

Group homes have an overall goal of helping children and adults gain self-confidence, personal independence, and a better quality of life. A good group home would strive to meet these objectives every day, and there are truly compassionate caretakers at many group homes to look after strangers who have been through traumatic situations, and help those strangers begin to heal. However, there are many workers with ulterior motives who see these people in need as easy prey. According to the Ohio State Bar Association, abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation are the three most common types of criminal incidents in group homes.

Caretakers in group homes who commit these atrocities often have incredibly low rates of prosecution. The Columbus Dispatch did a four-month investigation in 2015 that showed how many of the perpetrators of these crimes slip through the cracks. According to their research, 2,000 reports of sexual abuse were made over a five-year period, and only 25 percent of these reports were substantiated; when it came to physical abuse, over 8,600 reports were made, and only 30 percent of those were considered valid.

The Ohio State Bar Association also advises family members of those living in group homes to know the signs of abuse. If there are sudden changes in behavior, strange marks on his/her body, or anything noticeably different about your loved one, then it should be a red flag that something is going awry.

Rinehardt Injury Attorneys proudly stands up for the rights of the victimized in Ohio. Abuse is becoming too common across the state of Ohio, and our firm uses all of our skills and experience to represent victims and bring them the justice that they deserve. If you or a loved one has been abused in a group home setting, contact the Columbus injury attorneys at Rinehardt Injury Attorneys today.


Understaffing in Nursing Homes

09-24-19    

wheelchair in empty hallThe majority of nursing homes (both across Ohio and across the United States) have staffed fewer nurses and caretakers than what they have reported to the government, proving the long-held suspicions that nursing home staffing is incredibly inadequate across the nation.

According to recent federal data, there are frequent and significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing at nursing homes. On the lowest staffed days at an average facility, each staff member had to care for twice as many patients as s/he would care for on a fully staffed day. However, there are facilities that fall much below this line, leaving staff members to care for many times the number of patients than they are equipped.

This data came from daily payroll records that Medicare recently began gathering and publishing from more than 14,000 nursing homes. Previously, Medicare simply rated each facility’s staffing levels based on each home’s own unverified reports, leading to many homes reporting staffing as being far more adequate than what was reality. These payroll records provide strong evidence that the previous system for rating nursing homes—the five-star rating system—more than often exaggerated staffing levels and rarely identified the daily periods in which inadequate staffing was common.

Nearly 1.4 million people across the United States are cared for in nursing facilities. When nursing homes are short of staff, the nurses and aides are often found scrambling to deliver meals, help residents carry out daily tasks, and answer calls for medication. Essential tasks in a nursing home can be overlooked when the staff is overburdened, which can lead to injuries and hospitalizations that could have been avoided with a proper staff.

In addition to this, in a desperate search for staff in order to meet standards for Medicare’s new reports, homes often find themselves hiring underqualified and undertrained staff. These staff members, untrained and unqualified as nurses and aides, can harm the nursing home patients more than help them. While Medicare does not set a minimum resident-to-staff ratio, it does require the presence of a registered nurse (RN) for eight hours per day, and a licensed nurse (LN) on the home’s property at all times. However, this could lead to one nurse (either RN or LN) becoming responsible for up to dozens of patients at a time.

However, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said that it is “concerned and taking steps to address fluctuations in staffing levels” that have emerged in new data. Recently, it said that it would lower ratings for homes that have gone more than seven days without a registered nurse in the home and on-the-clock.

In April, the federal government started using these daily payroll reports to calculate average staffing ratings in an attempt to put a stop to nursing homes “gaming the system” and covering when they were understaffed. These new records show that at least one day during the last three months of 2017, a quarter of nursing homes reported no registered nurse at work. Furthermore, out of the 14,000 homes that submitted daily payroll reports, 70 percent had lower staffing than they had reported with the previous method of self-reporting.

With all good things comes a downfall, and this new Medicare system is no different. Medicare still assigns stars (on a five-star system) by comparing homes to each other, rather than to a set scale, which leads to a curved grading system. As a result, a vast number of homes have kept their star rating, despite acknowledging the decrease in staffing levels.

The staff members who work at nursing homes who are not trained nurses—namely, the nursing assistants—earn an average of $13.23 per hour. Nursing homes compete for these workers with each other, and with better paying employers such as hospitals and retailers. This leads to an incredibly high turnover rate for both nursing assistants as well as trained nurses. It seems to be a vicious cycle that never ends: understaffing leads to more responsibility for the remaining staff members, which leads to a high turnover rate, et cetera.

One resident at a nursing home claims that he would roam the halls in search for an aide who was not already bombarded with work, seeking assistance with putting on his shirt. He claims that it is “almost like a ghost town.” Obviously, this is unacceptable and if your loved one needs assistance, they should be able to get it. If you suspect that your loved one is not getting the care they need in a nursing home, the Columbus nursing home abuse attorneys of Rinehardt Injury Attorneys are prepped to help you. Contact us at (419) 529-2020 for a free consultation.

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