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North Carolina law aimed at averting roadside workplace injuries

When we think of workplace accidents in North Carolina, some of the things that come to mind are toxic exposure at a chemical plant, a slip and fall at a grocery store, a piece of material falling at a construction site, or perhaps a forklift accident at a warehouse.

What if we were to consider an employment environment in which a major hazard to the workers consists of large objects, some weighing a ton or more that are sometimes moving at high speeds, being sent along their way by occasionally careless equipment operators?

That work environment is any road in the state. The heavy objects are vehicles, and the workers in jeopardy are city, county and state employees, and even some in the private sector engaged in construction, maintenance and public safety.

The dangers are not hypothetical. Recently a North Carolina state trooper was injured when his parked vehicle was sideswiped by a passing car on an interstate freeway.

There are preventative measures in place around the country to curb these types of workplace accidents, but they still do happen.

North Carolina has what is called a "move over" law requiring drivers who see a vehicle such as a police car, ambulance, fire truck or even a tow truck with its lights flashing to slow down or shift over a lane before passing by. But despite increasing penalties for disregarding that law, the state's Department of Transportation estimates that nearly three of every four drivers do not even know the "move over" requirement exists.

The next time you see, for example, a tow truck driver doing his job on the side of the road, remember to move over a lane if you can safely do so. Not only is it the law, but you can also help to reduce the risk of a work injury to someone else. Victims of such accidents should remember that they do have rights and an attorney may be able to help explain those rights regarding a workers' compensation case.

Source: WRAL, "NC DOT promoting awareness of 'move over' law," June 27, 2014

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