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Tulsa Workers' Compensation Law Blog

OSHA announced another delay to crane certification enforcement

An OSHA announcement has consequences for some Oklahoma construction companies and workers. OSHA put forth a certification requirement for crane operators in 2010 but then received two consecutive three-year extensions for the enforcement of this requirement. The most recent extension is the third in this series, giving OSHA until November 2018 to oversee the crane certification requirement and enforce compliance.

Many crane operators have dissenting opinions about this third extension. A member of the Crane Institute of America stated that the extensions have led to preventable deaths because crane operators must be trained in order to receive their certification, and trained operators have fewer accidents. An employee of Florida Crane Inspections, LLC also does not agree with the most recent extension because, according to him, if the people operating cranes without certification have not learned to operate them safely and correctly by now, they never will.

Inexperience could be hazardous in coal mines

For Oklahoma miners, a lack of training and a lack of experience can lead to serious injuries or death. According to a division of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, six of seven coal miners who have died in 2017 were at their current workplaces for less than a year. Furthermore, five of those workers had less than a year of experience in their current roles at the time of their death.

One man died when he hit his head on a mine roof or roof support while riding in a supply locomotive. Another died when he made contact with a conveyor belt safety guard drive. At the time of his death, the man was positioned between the conveyor belt and the safety guard drive. According to a representative from the agency, an initiative will begin that seeks to determine if there are issues with how workers are trained.

Lifting and carrying objects while on the job

For Many Oklahoma workers, lifting and carrying heavy objects is often part of the job description. However, if someone lifts a heavy item improperly, he or she is at risk for suffering injuries that could include back strains, fractures, cuts and bruises.

According to the National Safety Council, approximately 25 percent of all work-related accidents involved the manual handling of objects. Therefore, there are certain steps employees should take to keep themselves safe while lifting and handling objects. For example, individuals that regularly lift and move heavy objects should try to stay in good shape. If something is too heavy to be easily moved, employees should use mechanical lifting aids or get help from coworkers. In fact, manual lifting should be avoided whenever possible.

Employees at Telsa plants fainting on the job

As Tesla is set to commence mass production of its first electric vehicle, the $35,000 Model 3, Oklahoma residents may have heard about employees at the California car factory suffering fainting spells on the job. As a result, many of the company's workers have had to go to the hospital for treatment.

According to a May 18 report published in the Guardian newspaper, lengthy hours and stringent productivity goals caused Tesla's assembly-line employees to feel stressed and exhausted in their efforts to accomplish the manufacturing plant's goals. In fact, since 2014, workers have suffered multiple work-related symptoms, including seizures, dizziness and fainting spells, which has led to more than 100 emergency calls for ambulances.

Warning signs play an important workplace safety role

It is probably safe to assume that most Oklahoma employees pay little attention to the safety signs scattered about their workplaces, but a great deal of research has been done into how best to warn them about hazardous conditions and machinery. The standards for safety signs are set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but many of the warning notices at workplaces around the country are out of step with the latest best practices.

Most of these signs provide warnings to workers using words only, and OSHA rules still reference decades-old sign standards. The latest guidelines from the American National Standards Institute recommend signs that communicate information graphically and provide workers with more details about the hazard and what they should do to protect themselves. ANSI has been publishing safety sign standards since 1941 when most workplaces relied on crude arrows to point out dangerous conditions to workers.

Alert issued by mine safety agency

Tractor-trailer truck drivers on Oklahoma job sites should be careful around power lines. After a tractor-trailer that was dumping gravel made contact with an overhead power line, leading to some damage but no injuries, the Mine Safety and Health Administration put out what is known as a "close call alert". This included a list of best practices for safety when working near an active power line.

When possible, the area near the power line should be avoided. If equipment will be operated within 10 feet of the lines, the lines should be de-energized. In the accident that occurred, the truck did not allow the 10 feet of clearance that is recommended. The best practices warned that during transport, some equipment might be higher than usual.

Union report highlights dangers workers face

Oklahoma residents may be interested to know that 150 American workers die each day from preventable work-related injuries and illnesses. This was according to a report released by the AFL-CIO. This translates to 4,836 workers who died from workplace injuries while another 50,000-60,000 died from occupational diseases. Furthermore, the number of immigrant workers who died on the job was at its highest levels in almost a decade. In 2015, 943 immigrant workers were killed, which was the most since 2007.

The union cited both negligence on behalf of corporations as well as safety laws that they considered to be weak. It also warned that the Trump administration could threaten worker safety gains made when Barack Obama was in the White House. A representative from the AFL-CIO said that the people who are impacted by possible safety rollbacks are more than numbers. Therefore, the issue of worker safety needs to be a top priority at all times.

OSHA campaigns to prevent fall fatalities in the workplace

For Oklahoma construction workers, falls are still one of the leading causes of fatalities in their occupation. Many employees and employers still fail to use proper fall protection equipment. In an effort to reduce the number of tragic incidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an annual campaign to raise awareness about workplace fall hazards.

During the week-long event, employers can voluntarily take the time to hold a stand-down, during which they go over fall protection safety with their employees. In addition to talking about fall hazards, the employers can reinforce safety by discussing protection methods and reminding employees what the company's safety policies are. These campaigns also provide potential opportunities for the employees to talk about the fall hazards that they encounter while on the clock.

Tips for keeping chemical manufacturing workers safer

Employees working at chemical manufacturing plants in Oklahoma and around the country face possible threats to their safety each workday. An accident with a hazardous chemical could result in catastrophic and life-threatening injuries. There are strategies, however, that could reduce or prevent these injuries from occurring.

The common types of injuries at these plants are chemical burns, inhalation of chemicals and chemical exposure. Employees can also suffer injuries from overexertion, trips and falls and scrapes and cuts. The causes of accidents at these plants include incorrectly maintaining safety equipment, improper training, and complacency or human error. Safety equipment that is incorrectly maintained could malfunction, possibly leading to serious accidents that could put employees in harm's way. Likewise, employees who are improperly trained are more susceptible to injuries, since they may not know the right procedures regarding the operation of safety equipment as well as loading and unloading materials. Proper training can also prepare employees to know what to do in the event of an emergency. However, most accidents in chemical manufacturing plants happen because employees fail to follow their company's safety procedures or because they took shortcuts.

Mining industry sees vast improvement in safety

Oklahoma miners and their family members are likely aware of just how dangerous the industry can be. For example, it was not uncommon for there to be several hundred fatalities every single year in the 1970s. Thanks to the work of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, however, mines have become safer and the number of fatalities have been reduced.

The MSHA began operation following the implementation of the Mine Act of 1977. The goal of the administration was to prevent illnesses, injuries and deaths for those working in the mining industry while making the workplace healthier for all involved. The MSHA is responsible for inspecting every mine to ensure that it is following proper protocols under the act.

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