A Home-Grown Problem: Air pollution in America

Clean air is something that most of us take for granted—most of us don’t have to worry about whether the air that we breathe will cause health issues for us or not. When we think about the people affected by polluted air, we think of workers in third world countries or people with unique medical conditions that make them uniquely sensitive to dust and smog. However, clean air is a very real concern for regular workers right here in America—and ignoring it could lead to long-term health consequences for thousands, according to experts at Robovent.

Thousands of manufacturing workers work under conditions that could be hazardous to their health. The most notable form of air pollution in manufacturing facilities comes from weld fumes. Weld fumes are produced, as their name would suggest, by welding. The welding process creates microscopic metal particles that are released into the air and can be breathed in by unsuspecting workers or bystanders.

Weld fumes are dangerous in large part due to their microscopic size. They are unnoticeable when ingested, and can collect in lungs, and even move on to the bloodstream. Foreign objects in the lungs and bloodstream is a cause for concern in any context, but these weld fumes become even more dangerous when manufacturing workers are welding certain kinds of metals. Exposure to particulates of hexavalent chromium or manganese, in particular, can cause severe health issues. These two metals are alarmingly prevalent in common metals, such as stainless steel. As it’s very likely that workers will encounter weld fumes containing these dangerous metals, caution is a must in a workplace where welding is taking place.

Manufacturing workers that have developed health issues from weld fumes have reported an array of symptoms. The most immediate and common symptoms are a pain in the eyes and throat, the two areas most immediately vulnerable to metallic particles. More serious exposure could lead to a prolonged illness with flu-like symptoms. Long-term exposure could even lead to permanent damage of the kidney and nervous system. In worst-case scenarios, exposure to the dangerous metals hexavalent chromium or manganese could lead to Parkinson’s-like symptoms or even cancer. The link between cancer and weld fumes is well-established by years of research and must be taken seriously.

With health risks this serious, it’s no surprise that there are stringent regulations surrounding the manufacturing industry, specifically around the emissions of weld fumes. OSHA has limits on the amount of fumes that workers can be exposed to in order to minimize the risks of contracting the myriad health issues associated with them. If facilities don’t abide by these regulations, they run the risk of being fined or sued.

Management at manufacturing facilities has a clear responsibility to their workers. A workplace that has weld fumes in it is by definition a hazardous one and must be managed with the utmost caution. Compliance with OSHA regulations is a must not only because of the consequences that come with breaking them, but also because of the well-being and dignity of the many workers who put their well-being at risk while welding every day.

Clean Air and Ventilation Technology

Recent scientific studies show different kinds of dangers that threaten worker health and safety, especially in manufacturing plants. There are weld fumes, heavy metals, oil mists, silica dust, asbestos fibers and combustible dust, all of which render assuring and maintaining good air quality in these workplaces a really tough challenge.

Manufacturers and plant owners know that eliminating airborne contaminants in order to comply with air quality regulations is their major responsibility. Thus, while a number of them resort to reviewing their engineering processes to see if may be able to remove the obvious sources of contaminants, others have started to implement a dust or weld capture solution.  There are also manufacturers and plant owners who have moved to using clean air technology systems for the collection and filtering of airborne contaminants common in a wide variety of metalworking processes as well as other process systems, particularly those involving wood, paper, chemical, pharmaceutical and food production.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace regulations include, among others, ensuring and maintaining good air quality in the workplace since good air quality is a major contributory factor to worker health and safety. With this, OSHA sees to it that employers, especially manufacturers, are well aware of how important maintaining good air quality in the workplace is. Aside from OSHA regulations, air quality guidelines are also implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). The EPA is a U.S. government agency which was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment, while the ACGIH is a 501(c)(3) charitable scientific organization that advances occupational and environmental health.

Maintaining clean air isn’t just an ethical and functional necessity, it is the law. Failure to comply with air quality regulations opens a business to multiple liabilities. Regulatory agencies can levy serious fines if they find a that facility is out of compliance. Lawsuits stemming from health-related problems are worsened in the case of noncompliance, as well.

 

 

Top Causes of Workplace Injuries

Employers should be responsible enough to make sure that the work place and its conditions are safe enough to avoid accidents. If they fail to take on this responsibility, they can be subject to workplace injury lawsuits.

But for some reason, workplace injuries still occur, as if the law doesn’t have enough restrictions to completely prevent them from happening. The issue is big enough to make legal professionals, like those from the Bruner Law Firm, to take it seriously.

Of course, prevention is always better than having lawsuits and compensations. Below is a list of the common causes of workplace injuries, so you can prevent them from happening to yourself and your colleagues.

Dangerous materials
Chemicals, toxic wastes, and other hazardous substances can cause external injuries such as burns and skin infections and internal injuries such as respiratory diseases. These hazards are not just in liquid form, as there are other materials out there that can cause you harm, like how asbestos has been known to cause a form of cancer. Always make sure that you are using protective gear or limiting your contact with hazardous materials as much as you can.

Poor ergonomics
Sometimes, workplace injuries are not violent and apparent. They can happen slowly without you noticing them until they are already severe. Poor design in the workplace, like when your monitor is too low and you need to crouch and when your station is too small that you need to curve your legs, can lead to injuries. The most common design issues cause injuries to the wrists, neck, back, hips, legs, and feet.

Pushing, pulling, and lifting
Physically demanding activities, particularly those that are done for a huge amount of time, can have a toll in your body. The most common injuries involving physically demanding tasks include the neck, back, arms, hands, hips, legs, knees, and feet. Sometimes, injuries can still occur even if the objects involved are not heavy, especially if the manner of pushing, pulling, and lifting is improper.

Slips, trips, and falls
Slips, trips, and falls are not just exclusive for inherently dangerous work environments like construction sites, where there are a lot of materials lying around that can trip you and a lot of gaps in the area where you can fall. Even office workers can be victims of such accidents, particularly because of spilled drinks, unorganized documents, slippery floors, and defective elevators, escalators, and stairs.

How to File an FLSA Claim for Unpaid Wages or Overtime Violations

The Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA protects employees in the United States from abusive and unfair labor practices with regards to the payment of wages. Part of it covers regulations on overtime pay and requires employees to properly compensate workers with an overtime wage that’s 1.5 times more than their regular rate. When these regulations are violated, employees have the option of filing an FLSA claim to be compensated for unpaid wages.

While it’s certainly possible to navigate an FLSA claim on one’s own, it can get easily complicated without the counsel of a legal professional. Getting an attorney on board at the very start of the process can help you assess the facts of your particular case and work on a plan of action based on your own situation. Employees covered by the FLSA have 2-3 years to file their claims. This timeline starts on the date in which the alleged wage violation was committed. It lasts for 3 years if said violations were willfully committed by an employer, and lasts for 2 years if the violation isn’t found to be a willful act. If the claim is successfully granted by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, you might be able to receive compensation that’s double the amount of unpaid wages owed by the employer. If, however, the clam isn’t successful, you still have the option to file a civil suit against your employer.

Of course, many individuals hesitate to go through this process and file an FLSA claim for their back pay due to fear of retaliation. As such, it should be properly emphasized that it would be illegal for your employer to participate in any discriminatory retaliation acts because of your decision to file an FLSA claim. It would be against the law for any employer to terminate a worker or prohibit them from receiving promotions and similar opportunities due to FLSA claims and other complaints.

Grounds for a Marriage to be Declared Null and/or Void

There are 17 states in the U.S. that are known as “no fault” divorce states. In these states, which include Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Hawaii, Florida, Colorado and California, a spouse may file a petition for divorce with his/her partner without the need of having to cite a reasonable ground, such as adultery or cruelty. Thus, simply stating “irreconcilable differences,” which renders a marriage being beyond repair, as the basis for divorce would already be acceptable. All other remaining states are known as ‘fault” divorce states due to need for the one filing for divorce to cite a valid reason due to which the divorce is being sought.

Divorce, however, may be filed only if the marriage entered into by two individuals is legally binding. If a marriage, from the very start was null or invalid, then termination of the marital union should be through annulment.

An annulment is a legal declaration of the cancellation of a marriage. It has to be canceled and declared canceled to give the spouses, or a spouse who has been offended (based on the second reason below), the right to enter, this time, into a legally binding marital union. A marriage is considered non-legally binding and, therefore, invalid from very start, due to any of the following reasons:

• It was entered into by blood-related individuals (most states outlaw marriages between relatives closer than second cousins). Allowing the union to go on would result to incest;
• One of the individuals is in an existing marriage, thus, making succeeding marriages acts of bigamy;
• One or both of the spouses are under the age of 16 when they entered into marriage.

In certain instances, on the other hand, when a marital union is considered legal but will have to voided or canceled due to the following grounds:

• Fraud, such as when one keeps secret a prior marriage, a felony conviction or addiction, and/or having a child from a previous marriage;
• Coercion, which is the case when one spouse was forced by the other (such as through threats) to enter into marriage;
• Intoxication due to alcohol or drug since this renders either of the spouses lacking the full capacity to consent to marriage;
• Mental incapacitation, since this renders one or both spouses unable to fully grasp the responsibilities and duties with a married life; and,
• Impotence or the inability of one spouse to have sexual intercourse.

For a court to grant a petitioner for annulment, however, Austin divorce attorneys explain that the petitioner for annulment should stop cohabiting with his/her partner after he/she learns of the claimed ground/s for the annulment. If the petitioner does otherwise, then no annulment will be granted by a Texas court.