My First, Unfortunate, Job

For the summer, my parents suggested that I get a summer job.  I am 16 years old, which, as my dad will happily tell you, is much older than when he had his first real, big boy job.  I didn’t want a job, nor did I ask for a job.  I didn’t even ask my parents what they thought I should do for the summer.  And, of course, when one parent says something not too outrageous, the other one, if they are a good parent, feels obliged to agree with them, as a part of that whole presenting a united front silliness that parents are always going on about.

So, I got a job at our local grocery stores or supermarket, whichever floats your boat.  The people were nice, and the job seemed easy enough.  I was a stocker.  I stocked the empty parts of the aisles with new products and extra products.  Occasionally, a customer will see me and either frown at me or make some not so subtle noise to indicate that I am unintentionally blocking their path to something that they want off of one of the shelves.

I would, of course, move out of their way, if they asked, or even retrieve what they wanted from the shelf, seeing as how I am already closer than they are, but unfortunately for both of us, I am not, nor have ever been or ever will be or even want to be, a mind reader.

It’s usually in the cereal aisle.

On no remarkable day whatsoever, I was stalking the shelves in the candy aisle.  While some people may daydream in this job about whatever job they wish they had instead of this or what they could be doing on this bright summer day instead of this, I do not that because I am busy stacking and organizing shelves.  I have always taken an unusual pride in being neat and tidy and having everything in perfectly organized stacks, which is why, and don’t tell my parents this or I will deny it until the cows come home, I actually like doing this.  And, the answer is a firm “no” in that I would not rather be out in the sun because it only takes a minute of me being out there for me to get sunburned.

Stalking the candy aisle is fun because of all the new candy that I see and think that I’ll come back later and buy for myself.  There were some kids, maybe 8 or 9 years old, climbing on the shelves.  Before I realized what exactly what they were doing and get them to stop, their weight tipped the shelves and, like a domino effect, every other shelf in the store tipped over because the shelves were just that close together, very similar to the scene in the library in The Mummy(1999).

Everybody was mostly fine, except for a few broken bones, but it’s not like anyone died.  The store did shut down for a few days and vowed to have the aisles farther apart from one another.  A lot of people are threatening lawsuits. I, personally, almost enjoyed being stuck in the candy aisle because I felt as though I could eat whatever I wanted within reach, even if my collarbone was broken.

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“Slip and fall” or “trip and fall” is one of the most common types of accident that injure many people. Injuries resulting from slip and fall accidents include minor bruises, head injuries, neck, back and spine injuries, broken hips or broken pelvis, and torn tendons and ligaments.

According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), a 501(c)(3) non-for-profit organization, slip and fall accidents:

  • are the number one cause of accidental injury;
  • account for over 1 million hospital emergency room visits (records from the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Injury Facts show more than 8 million slip and fall accidents in the U.S. every year, though);
  • result in more than 31 days away from work, making these the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and are the leading cause of occupational injury for people aged 55 years and older (based on records from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics );
  • cause half of all accidental deaths in the home (these falls are at ground level, not from an elevation);
  • often result to hip fractures, which are the most serious slip and fall injuries. These injuries lead to the greatest health problems and most number of deaths;
  • caused the death of more than 15,000 people (over the age of 65) in 2005 (in 2004, fatal slip and fall accidents was only 7,700, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention);

Floors and flooring materials, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), also contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries each year.

Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere, including in stores, restaurants, churches, malls, supermarkets, theaters / arenas / stadiums, parks and playgrounds, food courts, swimming pool areas, retirement homes, parking lots, workplaces and private homes.

These can be caused by wet and slippery floors, cluttered floors, icy walkways, torn carpet or mats, loose floor tiles, floorboards or broken or loose stair treads or handrails, damaged sidewalks, ditches and potholes, or inadequate lighting.

In its website, the law firm Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., makes emphasis on the fact that “property owners are required by law to warn guests and visitors of anything that could cause them harm on their property, and to then reasonably address those dangerous conditions. Unfortunately, there are far too many property owners who fail to maintain safety on their estate or warn guests of any dangers that may be present, resulting in unsuspecting visitors suffering serious and sometimes fatal injuries.

When property owners fail to uphold their responsibilities and others suffer harm as a result, they can be held accountable for the effects of their negligence and carelessness.

individuals have a right to safety whenever they visit another person’s or company’s property, and when property owners fail to provide for the safety of guests and visitors,” then visitors can pursue legal actions to seek compensation for their sufferings, injuries and other damages.

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Landlords have a lot of responsibility when it comes to maintaining the safety of their rented property. Among the newest environmental danger that is causing significant concern to tenants or renters is molds and “toxic molds”, with a number of tenants filing for lawsuits amidst the growing health concerns. Many people don’t really understand the technical and complicated scientific definitions of mold, giving way to a number of misconceptions about toxic molds and its real dangers. Not all molds are a danger to the health, and knowing which ones are is vital in knowing whether your health is in danger and if you have the legal basis for a personal injury claim. Molds are a type of fungus that grows in warm, damp, and humid setting. It can grow inside or outside and they are considered a health risk if there is high concentrations in an area. Any type of molds, regardless of whether toxic or not, if they are in high concentrations can be detrimental to the health. Among the most common “toxic molds” are the Strachybotrys chartarum (S. chartarum) also called the black mold, and the Aspergillis. Having molds in the home does not mean immediate health dangers, but when a mold infestation is determined to be dangerous, the property owner has the responsibility of removing the mold infestation before it becomes a danger to the wellbeing of the tenants. Mold remediation (the removal and clean-up of the mold infestation) is necessary even if the molds are not toxic. Many property owners tend to disregard mold infestations because their clean-up and removal are often expensive and laborious; the area should be thoroughly cleaned to avoid mold spores from being released, otherwise they might simply grow back. If these safety responsibilities are disregarded by the property owner and you as a tenant suffered damages (health or otherwise) due to mold infestation, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against the property owner to recover compensation.

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Detecting a Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries can be life altering. Whether they are acquired from a car accident, slip and fall, or any other incident at the fault of another, they can be held accountable. When injured on another person’s behalf, you can receive financial compensation. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a serious spinal injury because the injuries can worsen with time, and getting to a hospital quickly can be crucial.

The website of The Sampson Law Firm speaks of two permanent disabilities that can result from spinal cord injuries: partial paralysis and total paralysis. Sings and symptoms of these two instances may be hard to detect when first in an accident. Neck and back pain, loss of bladder control, numbness or loss of movement are all indications that the situation is serious.

If any of these symptoms are apparent, taking the patient to an emergency room is pivotal. Time is of the essence in these cases, because internal bleeding and swelling can increase complications and problems exponentially. Until help arrives, the person should be kept still. The neck and back need to stay in the same position to prevent further injury.

Once the current situation is taken care of, doctors will perform a serious of tests to determine if the patient is partially paralyzed or totally paralyzed. Detecting symptoms and taking precautionary action at the site of the accident is of utmost importance because proper actions can aid to the extent to which the paralysis persists. Lacking basic knowledge about what to do can cause further damage, and set back the rate of recovery.

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Construction workers are the ones who probably face the greatest risk of job-related accidents, considering the fact that they are surrounded by dangerous and heavy construction tools, large equipment and, sometimes, hazardous chemicals. Adding to the daily dangers that these workers face is the height that they often need to ascend, such being the place where their work needs to be done.

During the early part of the 20th century, job-related accidents involving construction workers increased in number and those injured, to be able to receive compensation from their employers, had to resort to filing a lawsuit. The argument that danger was actually associated with the work, though, or that the employer had nothing to do with the accident, was often enough to judge the injured worker’s claim as baseless.

Federal regulations on safety in workplaces were enforced only in 1971, when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was formed. OSHA’s main concern was the regulation and enforcement of safety standards in the work place. The rules enforced by the administration were definitely of great importance in industrial and construction sites, where the level and instances of danger were always greater compared to other places of work.

Record of accidents in construction sites show that the four leading causes of injuries are electrocution, being struck by construction vehicles or equipment, being caught or pinned between equipment and a solid object, and falls.

Falls, particularly, present greater danger since by working from great heights, a worker has nowhere to run during emergencies, except on the limited space of the scaffold which he/she occupies. And figures show that more than a million workers work on scaffolds daily, in high-rise constructions sites and around the exterior of old, tall buildings that necessitate restoration of their aesthetic look.

Included in OSHA’s concerns was the recognition of certain types of scaffolds that ought to be used in construction sites. The safety of these scaffoldings have been considered, taking into account the reliability and sturdiness of these equipment under specific weather conditions and the materials loaded on these. OSHA reminds workers, however, that these construction equipment need to be competently assembled, the assembly double-checked and guardrails installed for extra protection against slips, before being boarded or used.

Any careless or negligent act that will affect the safe use of any equipment will have to be reported to site supervisors or to the employer who, in turn, should make sure that the equipment is checked before use so as not to put any lives at risk.

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Preventing Workplace Injuries

The workplace is not a one-way street. Measures aimed at preventing workplace injuries can only be effective if both employers and employees are involved. When an employee is seriously injured at work, it not only adversely affects the ability of the worker to earn, but also impacts on the productivity of the company, which eventually trickles down to profitability. Therefore, it is in the interest of both employers and employees to promote a safe working environment.

Of course, workers’ compensation insurance, which is required for most employers in the U.S., can make it a little easier for an injured employee to recover some of the costs for loss of income and medical bills. There is also Social Security to provide permanent disability benefits for eligible workers. Employers are also free from liability for workplace injuries, although workers’ comp claims tend to increase premiums that the employers have to pay. Overall, however, it is much better to keep the worker working and the employer paying a salary.

One way that employers have used to keep workplace injuries down and worker productivity up is to due functional employment testing. This is a way for employers to ensure that eligible applicants have the skills and capability to perform the essential functions of a job prior to hiring. It is also a way for employers to find out if a workplace injury claim is authentic, and if an employee is fit to go back to work after an injury.

Functional employment testing is typically outsourced to a firm specializing in employment evaluation geared towards improving productivity, measuring functional ability and reducing injury, absenteeism, and employee turnover. This can translate to increased profitability from reduced premiums for workers’ compensation and employee health insurance, lower attrition, and better worker attendance and efficiency. Because of these improvements, it is well worth the time, effort and money to have the functional capacities evaluation program in place where appropriate.

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