Electrical injuries are on the rise in the workforce. Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 35 percent increase in electrical injuries. An estimated 54 percent of these injuries occurred in construction workers. Electrical hazards, such as arc flashes, can not only cause fatalities, but they are also responsible for severe injuries that can cost over $1 million to treat. Preventing electrical injuries by exceeding minimal code requirements is the best way to prevent them from occurring in Pennsylvania and across the United States.
In a NIOSH-funded study, researchers attached seat and floor sensors to 112 pieces of farm machinery, including tractors, combines, forklifts, skid loaders and ATVs, in order to measure their vibration levels. These machines were operated by 55 workers. The study found that many of the machines can negatively affect workers' health through the intensity of the vibrations. Pennsylvania workers may want to know more.
In Pennsylvania, falling off ladders at work causes many workers to experience severe workplace injuries. More than 300 individuals die because of accidents related to ladders. Thousands of people incur serious disabilities, including traumatic brain injuries. The National Ladder Safety Month, an annual event sponsored by the nonprofit American Ladder Institute (ALI) advocates using ladders safely. National Ladder Safety Month provides information and classes teaching people how to have safer environments. People who sign up to receive emails from the ALI have access to various topics.
Advances in technology continue to make common, everyday occurrences out of what not so long ago seemed impossible to comprehend. Increasingly, wearable technology is becoming available with the intended purpose of improving worker safety. While everyone supports a reduction of workplace injuries and accidents, many believe that wearable technology has some inherent negatives. Among the concerns of some Pennsylvania employees being asked to utilize wearable technology is that a 'big brother" type of monitoring system will intrude on their right to privacy.
Construction contractors in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. are concerned over the implications of a 2018 OSHA memorandum that authorizes investigators to use drones in job site inspections. One concern is that the drones, which are equipped with cameras to take pictures and video recordings, will go beyond the limited scope of an inspection and infringe upon employers' privacy.
The National Fire Protection Association has found that out of the 8 percent of contract workers who die from electrocution, 68 percent worked in construction and extraction. Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics spanning the years 2012 to 2016. Contract workers in Pennsylvania, whether independent contractors or affiliated with a particular firm, should take notice of this trend.
A fact sheet published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lists diesel exhaust exposure as a hazard faced by oil and gas extraction workers in Pennsylvania and all over the U.S. Diesel engines are common in many different industries; they are found in earth-moving equipment, trucks, generators, compressors and other equipment. According to NIOSH, a research paper on the subject found that every worker in oil and gas is potentially subject to harm caused by diesel exhaust.
Pennsylvania residents who work on a temporary basis may be interested to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is recommending that temporary staffing firms and host employers detail in their contracts their obligations for complying with OSHA standards. The inclusion of the terms in the contract can help prevent confusion about the responsibilities of employers and help guarantee that the employers will be in compliance with any applicable regulatory requirements.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is tasked with ensuring that employers in Pennsylvania and around the country obey safety regulations and provide their workers with the safety training and equipment they need. The violations handed out by OSHA inspectors reveal how seriously these responsibilities are taken by employers and the kind of infractions the agency is primarily concerned about, and the 10 most common OSHA citations were recently discussed during the National Safety Council Congress and Expo.
OSHA has updated its National Emphasis Program on trenching and excavation for the first time since 1985, mainly as a response to the increase in worker injuries and fatalities. Pennsylvania workers should know that the private construction industry accounted for 104 out of the 130 fatalities in trenching and excavation between 2011 and 2016. Approximately 49 percent of those fatalities occurred between 2015 and 2016 alone.