Six hazards that can result in a fall on the stairs

Six hazards that can result in a fall on the stairs

When you are walking up or down a flight of stairs, do you watch your feet take every step? Probably not. If you are like most people, you scan the first few steps and the last few steps, but you allow your feet to do the rest. Even on stairs other than the ones in your own home, your brain assumes the next stair will be where it should be when you take the next step.

Unfortunately, a misstep on the stairs can lead to serious injuries. It is not unusual for fall victims to suffer broken bones, internal injuries, brain trauma or even spinal cord injuries that leave them partially or totally paralyzed. While you may be able to catch yourself if you trip over your own two feet, you may not be so fortunate if you stumble over an unexpected hazard.

Unpredictable risks

The owner or manager of a public building has a responsibility for keeping the property safe for visitors like you. If you are in the building conducting business, shopping, keeping an appointment or for another legitimate purpose, you have a reasonable expectation of safety, including when using the stairs. Hazards that make stairs unsafe to use can include many things, for example:

  • The stairs have a poor design, such as being too steep or too narrow.
  • There is no landing, which is necessary to allow you a rest between flights and to help slow or stop your fall so you do not tumble all the way to the bottom of the staircase.
  • The stairs do not have treads to prevent slipping, especially if the weather is damp, or the treads do not have contrasting colors to bring your attention to them.
  • The building owner has not properly installed railings so that they are secured to a wall or other surface.
  • The lighting in the stairway is poor either because the owner has not installed lights or no one has changed burned out bulbs.
  • The building owner leaves clutter or other hazards on the stairs or landing, creating a tripping hazard.

Most commonly, stair accidents occur on stairways of only a few steps. These low stairways are difficult to see if they do not contain contrasting colors or signs to draw your attention to them. You may fall forward and suffer serious injuries.

If you have fallen on stairs in a public or government building, you do not have to suffer in silence from your injuries. A skilled attorney can assist you in filing a claim for compensation based on the negligence of the building owner to provide for your safety on the stairs.


There are more than dogs to fear if you are a postal worker

There are more than dogs to fear if you are a postal worker

If you are a U.S. postal worker in Ohio, you risk your safety whenever you are out on your mail-delivery rounds. Did you know that your job is one of the most hazardous occupations in the country? Each of the various locations in which you deliver pieces of mail poses unique hazards that require safety precautions.

When you walk up to a home and slide a piece of mail through the slot on the door, you probably consider the possibility of having a not-so-friendly dog on the other side. Yours would not be the first index finger severed by a dog. However, canines are not the only hazards of your job.

Bites and stings

According to the rules of the United States Postal Service, you can refuse to deliver mail to an address where an animal threatens your safety. However, keeping the following in mind may prevent bites:

  • Do not lose sight of the possibility of insects or even wasps in outside mailboxes. Insect repellent could help one avoid bites and stings.
  • Remember that most dogs protect their owners, and handing the dog owner a piece of mail might seem threatening. Instead, placing the mail in the box will be safer.
  • Although pepper spray might deter a dog that attacks you, preventing an attack is better. Back away and avoid eye contact with a threatening dog.

Driving hazards

Regardless of whether you use your personal vehicle or a USPS vehicle to deliver mail, the following precautions can keep you out of the hospital:

  • Check your vehicle at the start of each shift to ensure its safety and avoid breakdowns.
  • Be vigilant while you drive, and look out for pedestrians. Be mindful of child pedestrians when you work in residential areas.
  • Always keep a safe following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Use particular caution when you pull away after stopping at mailboxes.
  • Avoid handling pieces of mail while you are driving.
  • Never spend extended periods, such as rest breaks, inside your parked vehicle on summer days. Heatstroke remains a significant hazard.

Slip-and-fall hazards

Falls caused by slips and trips are leading causes of occupational injuries in all industries. However, the following steps could prevent such accidents:

  • Avoid taking shortcuts, and do not rush.
  • Avoid distractions while you walk.
  • Observe the environment, and watch your step.
  • Wear proper shoes, and be particularly careful in inclement weather.
  • Always use handrails when they are available.

Lifting hazards

Your job will often have you lifting and carrying large or heavy objects. Take note of safe lifting techniques to avoid musculoskeletal injuries:

  • Make sure you have one foot behind the object and one foot beside it before starting the lift.
  • Use your leg muscles instead of your back muscles by keeping a straight back and bending your knees when you lift the object.
  • Always make a point of holding your elbows and the item close to your body when you carry large or heavy objects.
  • If the object slips, do not try to prevent it from falling. Instead, let it fall to avoid injuring yourself.
  • Never hesitate to ask for help with lifting an object that is too heavy for you to handle by yourself.

How will you cope with the financial consequences of a work-related injury?

Having to deal with mounting medical bills, along with lost wages, can cause anxiety and lead to additional health problems. The Ohio workers' compensation insurance system is a no-fault program, and even if your injuries resulted from your own error, you remain entitled to compensation. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can navigate your benefits claim while you recover and prepare to return to work. Your medical expenses and a percentage of your lost wages will likely form a part of your compensation.


Understand the risks of distracted driving this summer

Understand the risks of distracted driving this summer

In 2018, Ohio introduced a new law combatting distracted drivers. The law requires drivers to pay enhanced financial penalties or complete a distracted driver course, in addition to paying existing fines.

Despite this progress, the threat of distracted driving is as prominent as ever across Hamilton County and the rest of the country. Summer is an especially dangerous time, with more cars on the roads, teenage drivers out of school and the potential for long road trips over holiday weekends. What do you need to know to stay safe?

Defining distracted driving

While many drivers understand the dangers of distracted driving, many fail to understand that distractions can come in forms other than texting. Refrain from being a distracted driver yourself by learning the CDC’s three main categories of distractions:

  • Manual. This involves taking your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive. This involves diverting your attention from the task of driving.
  • Visual. This involves taking your eyes off the road ahead of you.

Because texting encompasses all three of these categories, it is one of the most dangerous distractions. However, drivers should also refrain from other distracted habits like eating, putting on makeup or even fidgeting with the radio or navigation system.

Talking with your teenagers

Teenagers are at an elevated risk of driving while distracted, especially over the summer months. The AAA recently released an alarming new study stating that crashes involving teen drivers have killed nearly 3,500 in the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 2013-2017.

Of these fatalities, 9% were due to distracted driving. However, the AAA reports that distractions behind the wheel are an underreported problem. Another AAA study states that 52% of teen drivers reported reading a text while driving within just the past 30 days, while 40% reported sending a text or an email. Because it can be difficult for law enforcement to prove the role of distractions after a crash, the exact data linking distractions to fatalities may be erroneous.

If you have teenagers at home, having discussions about the dangers of distracted driving and the necessities of giving full attention on the roads can be beneficial. Enhance the safety of yourself, your children and others on Ohio roadways by understanding the nature of distracted driving and having honest, frequent discussions about the risks involved.


Understanding the role of power in sexual harassment cases

Understanding the role of power in sexual harassment cases

You may have heard that sexual harassment is about power, not about sex. This is especially important when the harassment or abuse occurs in a workplace. Companies need to distribute power to maintain order and organization. However, this power must be balanced with the needs and safety of their followers.

For those in power at a workplace, it can be confusing to understand why victims might stay silent. For those who are not in a position of power, it can be frustrating to wonder why you don’t feel like you can voice your concerns.

How does power affect leaders?

Good leaders and bad leaders can be easy to remember, but hard to define. Every culture adjusts their expectations of their leaders to fit current beliefs. Leaders must take responsibility for the impact their actions have on their supporters.

The following are observed ways that power affects a leader:

  • Creates social distance that lowers empathy and sensitivity from both leader and follower.
  • Lowers social inhibition.
  • Encourages an echo-chamber where leaders only hear support.
  • Disrupts their understanding of intent versus the real-world impact.

Power affects every individual differently. However, even leaders with good intentions can affect their followers in negative ways. Sticking with tried and true leadership styles might only keep a flawed system in place.

How can power be used to help?

Anyone can help change their company, employees and CEOs alike. If you notice that your company’s model leaves someone vulnerable, you could have the power to make it right. A person who has power can also help their coworkers in the following ways:

  • Be honest about your position’s potential impact on others.
  • Exercise your skills in empathy.
  • Create safe areas for discussion. Include people with different amounts of power than you.
  • Stay up-to-date on new laws and training opportunities.
  • Speak up when you notice something wrong.

When employees or followers do not feel they are able to speak against an injustice, there is little opportunity for change. This creates a system where the vulnerable and the powerful are locked in a cycle that cannot change. However, with a few courageous and kind people, every workplace can improve the way they use power to protect their employees.


Beware of these workplace sexual harassment myths

Beware of these workplace sexual harassment myths

It is unfortunate, but sexual harassment in the workplace still causes confusion - with people of both sexes scrambling to determine how actions are perceived. These misunderstandings can be blamed on the myths that many people still believe without knowing how damaging this can be.

As an employee, you should fully understand what these myths are and why these misconceptions still exist. In 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 6,796 sexual harassment charges which may suggest that workplaces and employers do not fully comprehend what sexual harassment is. Many times, a harasser believes they have done nothing wrong. However, that is not the case. Here are four key myths about sexual harassment that you should know.

4 Key Myths That Must Be Busted

  1. It was just a joke - This explanation is commonly used in the hope that a situation that may have turned tense or uncomfortable can suddenly be explained as a light-hearted comment. Regardless of how an action is interpreted, harassment is harassment and sexual jokes are one of the leading causes of harassment complaints.
  2. You could have stopped the harassment - Victims are often blamed for not doing more to stop harassment that they are suffering. The fact is, victims usually feel intimidated or powerless at the time of the harassment. They may fear losing their job or being retaliated against since the harasser may hold power over them.
  3. They were asking for it - A harasser may say that their actions were brought on because of signals they were getting from the victim. These signals can range from having casual conversations, being nice or how the victim was dressed. Daily workplace behavior should not be used as an excuse to perpetrate harassment.
  4. Sexual harassment does not happen to men - Victims of harassment can be either men or women. If people believe that sexual harassment can come from only one sex, there will be a good chance a male victim will not come forward.

Myths have sneaky ways of finding their way into daily life and becoming a firmly held belief. Unfortunately, many times myths are used to cover-up the truth.

If you feel you are a victim of sexual harassment and have been met with any of the arguments listed above, you should contact an attorney who can answer all your questions and be an advocate on your behalf.


Dog bite liability in Ohio

Dog bite liability in Ohio

They say that dogs are man's best friend. Though this may be true, sometimes dogs that are ill-tempered can pose a threat to humans. Your initial thought after a dog bite may be shock as dog bites can result in severe injury. Another worry you may have is liability. Who is liable if I face medical bills, time off work, or emotional distress?

Ohio is a strict liability state regarding dog bites. If you or someone you know experience a dog bite in Ohio, the owner, harborer or keeper of that dog will be held liable for any injuries or damages. You as the victim do not have to prove the owner was negligent, but prove the bite happened and that it was the cause of an injury. It is important to know the dog bite laws in Ohio whether you are the victim or owner in the scenario.

Dangerous Dogs

Ohio requires registration for a dog that has bitten or otherwise attacked or harmed another person. Dangerous dogs are subject to serious restrictions. They must be on a leash shorter than six feet and kept in a locked cage or yard. The exception to this leash restriction is while hunting.

You must register your dog with the county auditor and they must always wear a tag designating them as dangerous. When selling a dangerous dog, you must notify the buyer of the dog's status and let the county auditor know of the sale. If you fail to control your dangerous dog three times, you will need to get liability insurance to cover the chance that a bite happens again. You will also need to quarantine your dog for 10 days following a bite. This is to allow you to observe the dog to determine if they have rabies. The victim of the bite needs treatment as soon as possible if the dog has rabies.

Exceptions to the law

Chapter 955 of the Ohio Revised Code says that the owner of the dog is liable unless the injury, death, or loss resulted from the person "who, at the time, was committing or attempting to commit criminal trespass or another criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor on the property of the owner." Additionally, if the dog was teased, tormented or abused prior to the bite, the owner will not be accountable.

If you have been bitten by a dog, or if your dog bites someone, you may want to speak with an attorney to discuss Ohio dog bite laws further.


Repetitive strain injuries among U.S. Postal workers

Repetitive strain injuries among U.S. Postal workers

The surge in online shopping has brought thousands of more packages through the doors of the U.S. Postal Service, meaning – in some cases – more job security, but also a potential for an increase in repetitive strain injuries. Lifting, sorting, bending and reaching for packages that may weigh 50 pounds or more can take a toll on the human body.

Due to the physical demands of their job, postal workers may be overcome by exhaustion and fatigue, especially with an understaffed workplace. It’s not only postal clerks susceptible to lower back pain, musculoskeletal injuries, sprains and strains, but package deliverers and mail truck drivers, too.

Fifty-pound bags of dog food and furniture parts are common packages that flow through post offices, and they’re not easy to lift. And those overwhelming number of packages aren’t about to let up. Last year, package volume at the post office grew by 589 million pieces. That same year, 5.7 billion packages comprised about 28 percent of the postal service’s revenue.

Guidelines to prevent injuries

The result? More injuries at work. That’s why it’s important to do your utmost to avoid repetitive strain injuries. Here are some guidelines for any worker who lifts heavy objects in the workplace:

  • Bend your knees. By doing this, you will limit the strain on your back.
  • When lifting heavy objects, work with a team. Don’t go it alone or use a cart or a dolly to move it.
  • Wear proper footwear that has a good thick sole and consider adding insoles. A good shoe may help you avoid a slip-and-fall injury.
  • Daily and nightly stretching exercises will help, too. Doing so may strengthen your back, make your muscles more flexible and prevent injury.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. This can help you stay in good condition and prepare you for any additional physical on-the-job challenges.

Repetitive motion injuries are more common than you think, especially in the workplace. By being prepared and doing some physical preparation beforehand, you may be able to prevent serious injury.


Strategies to combat sexual harassment in the workplace

Strategies to combat sexual harassment in the workplace

It’s not your fault. If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, always remember that it’s not your fault. Sexual harassment has gained a great deal of attention lately in the high-profile white-collar world, but this crisis is also prevalent among blue-collar workplaces such as in the hotel and food industries.

The restaurant industry in particular has been notorious for its widespread tolerance of sexual harassment, but this is changing. Still, some of the industry’s workers don’t know what is considered sexual harassment in the workplace or even how to report it.

 

Signs of sexual harassment

For starters, incidents of sexual harassment can be:

  • Sexually-charged comments
  • Inappropriate stares
  • Unwanted touching
  • Open hostility
  • Verbal abuse
  • Violence
  • Rape and assault

A number of sexual harassment incidents go unreported because victims fear retaliation. In the cases of some workers, their paycheck may be the only one being brought home for the family. They may fear losing their jobs, getting demoted or being scheduled fewer hours.

Strategies for dealing with sexual harassment

Here are some strategies that will help you if ever faced with sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Confront the harasser if it's safe to do so and assertively tell them to stop his or her behavior.
  • Keep records of what happened. Include the time, location, description of incident, and names of witnesses.
  • Confide in someone. It’s likely that you are not the only victim in this workplace.
  • Follow your company’s guidelines for reporting harassment and seek outside help if your claim falls on deaf ears.

Yes, you will need courage to get through such trying times. There may be struggles. There may be tears, but you eventually will overcome being the victim of sexual harassment. Society is becoming more aware of this problem, and we know that there’s no room for sexual harassment in the workplace or anywhere else.