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Harrisburg Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Is new entry on OSHA top 10 violations list cause for concern?

Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's list of top 10 violations remains largely unchanged. However, a new entry has emerged in the fiscal year 2017. According to online resources, 1,523 citations were issued in connection with fall protection training between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017. In light of this development, workers in Pennsylvania and other states across the nation who are at risk for fall-related injuries may want to know more.

Assessment of the Top 10 Violations List for 2017 indicates that employees who perform job duties at heights of 6 or more feet above lower levels may be particularly at risk for serious injury or death in some situations. With violations under 'Fall Protection - Training Requirements' assuming the ninth position on the annual OSHA list, some construction, bulk transportation and logistics industry insiders might be concerned about the recent uptick in related citations. In response to OSHA's announcement, officials are urging employers to address the training of workers in the areas of both fall and equipment hazards and fall protection equipment use and maintenance.

OSHA enforcement action to uphold BBP standards

Workers in Pennsylvania, especially those in the solid waste collection and recycling industry, should know about the corporate-wide settlement agreement that OSHA has entered into with TOMRA NY Recycling LLC, a recycling company in New York. In it, TOMRA has agreed to revise its current standards regarding the determination and control of bloodborne pathogen exposure.

Bloodborne pathogens are often transferred through syringe needles since these, if used to inject someone with a drug or medication, are contaminated with blood. Lancets and other sharps can carry these infectious microorganisms, the most common of which are hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. TOMRA has specifically agreed to provide its sorters with puncture-resistant gloves, tongs, and other engineering controls; annual training on OSHA's BBP standards; and vaccinations for hepatitis B.

Keeping things simple may keep workers safe

Pennsylvania employers may be better off by creating simplified safety plans for their employers. The goal should be to create guiding principles instead of trying to account for every situation that may occur. This may make it easier for employees to take ownership of their safety as opposed to having decisions made for them. Of course, different people may have different ideas as it relates to staying safe on the job.

Some may believe that going too fast may increase the odds of making a mistake. However, it is possible to work slowly and cause an accident as well because of a lack of planning for potential hazards or a lack of oversight from management. Workers may believe that accidents happen when employees don't follow the rules or wear the right type of safety equipment. It is also common for workers to say that they have gotten hurt while following those rules.

Custom mirrors can prevent blind spot accidents

Loading docks and warehouses across Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S. see their fair share of accidents, many of which lead to serious injuries which can be fatal. They can additionally slow down productivity and increase insurance rates. Some of the most common accidents are caused by blind spots, where forklifts collide with workers who are on foot.

While forklifts may, as a safety precaution, beep loudly when they are in reverse, the sound is liable to be muffled in a noisy work environment. Even more crucially, the forklift operators may look the other way, become distracted by the noise, or become confused by inadequate mirrors. For these reasons, experts believe that one of the most effective, most economical ways to prevent accidents is to install custom convex mirrors.

Symptoms and treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome

Pennsylvania workers who have jobs that require repeated motions of the wrist are at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This can cause tingling, numbness and weakness, making it difficult and painful for employees to complete their tasks.

In addition to the tingling and weakness, other symptoms can include pain in the fingers and hand. Occasionally, some workers may experience pain in their arm; however, the symptoms most often occur in the index finger, thumb, middle finger and half of the ring finger. In many cases, the symptoms first make an appearance at night when employees are not at work.

Lax safety rules lead to warehouse worker death

Pennsylvania warehouse workers understand how important it is to follow all safety rules while on the job. If certain standards are not met, serious injuries can occur. For example, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that a warehouse worker fell 7 feet to his death while standing on a platform elevated by a forklift.

According to the report, the warehouse stored inventory on steel storage racks. In order to reach the top racks, workers commonly stood on a pallet and had a coworker elevate them with a forklift, which is not what the equipment is designed for. The fatal accident occurred when a worker slipped from the pallet and fell to the ground below. OSHA points out that the incident likely happened because the employer failed to provide proper equipment for workers to reach upper storage racks. It also failed to follow manufacturer instructions and allowed workers to improperly use the forklift. Finally, it failed to provide employees with proper forklift training and certification.

Hazard prevention in distribution centers and warehouses

Pennsylvanians who work in warehouses, distribution centers and production facilities face numerous dangers. These risks are not unidirectional, making it important for facility managers to conduct careful evaluations of the facilities and to implement the appropriate safety measures.

Falls are a leading cause of serious injuries and fatalities in workplaces The falls may occur on the same level or from one level to the floor below. Workers may fall from platforms or off of unprotected loading docks. Because of the risks of falls in these types of workplaces, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has standards in place that the workplaces are supposed to follow to prevent them.

Computer workers at risk for eyestrain and headaches

Office workers in Pennsylvania might assume that their workplaces do not present any serious health hazards. However, all of those hours looking at a computer screen could injure the eyes. The American Optometric Association labels the problem as computer vision syndrome. The strain of viewing digital screens for prolonged periods produces problems like eyestrain, blurry vision, headaches and neck and shoulder pain.

The average American worker looks at a screen seven hours a day. When symptoms develop, a worker should obtain a thorough eye exam. To alleviate the problems, an eye doctor might prescribe corrective lenses or vision exercise therapies.

Water pipe repairs could be hazardous to workers

According to researchers, a common water pipe repair method used by Pennsylvania construction workers could be hazardous. The method, called the cured-in-place method, releases a plume of what was thought to be steam during the curation process. However, air test studies found that these plumes may actually contain known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

The cured-in-place water pipe repair method requires workers to place a fabric tube that has been impregnated with resin into the damaged pipe. Pressurized steam, hot water or ultraviolet light is then used to cure the resin. During this process, a plume is released into the air. Once the curation is complete, a new plastic pipe is formed. This method is used for a variety of different water pipes and is used in about 50 percent of all water pipe repairs around the country.

Fatal trenching accidents and industry safety standards

With more than 20 trenching deaths around the country reported in 2016, Pennsylvania construction workers may want to know more about this high-risk job. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, fatal trench-related incidents are preventable when safe operating procedures are in place and contractors comply with industry safety standards. However, criminal convictions in trench-collapse cases indicate that safety may sometimes be overlooked.

In some cases, quick completion of the project may be a higher priority than compliance with OSHA and other safety guidelines. The president of operations at one insurance and risk management firm suggests that cutting corners may give contractors an edge in finishing a job on time and budget. In some situations, supervisors and managers who are interested in protecting their bonuses for meeting schedule and budget goals may be inclined to pass on safety considerations. A careless safety culture and inadequately trained workers are also believed to contribute to the high number of fatalities in the construction industry.

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