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Tulsa Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Can you refuse to work on an unsafe construction site?

According to the United States Department of Labor, falls are the most common cause of death in the construction industry. In 2016, over 38% of construction worker deaths were due to falls.

You probably think of a fall as falling off of something, like a ladder or scaffolding, but it can also mean falling into something, such as an opening for a skylight on a roof.

Injuries caused by rear end accidents

There are many consequences you could encounter after being involved in a rear end collision. You may be faced with financial decisions to make or legal aftermath.

One effect you may be feeling concerns your physical health. Being in an accident can have a severe impact on you. You may have suffered an injury after your accident.

Negligence of worker safety continues to lead to deaths

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that every worker's death costs a company about $1 million in workers compensation, hospitalization costs, legal costs, property loss and other expenses. As of January 2018, OSHA fines companies exactly $129,336 for workplace accidents caused by willful neglect. Workers in Oklahoma will be dismayed to hear that many employers continue to disregard safety even when it's so clearly to their disadvantage.

National COSH, the Council for Occupational Safety and Health, has recently put together a list of 12 companies that it considers to be the worst safety offenders. Among this "dirty dozen" are Amazon and Tesla: Since 2013, the former has seen seven worker deaths in its warehouses, and the latter is right now under investigation from the California OSHA branch because it misidentified workplace injuries as personal medical cases. Tesla's incident rate is 31 percent higher than the industry average.

Fall prevention at work requires ongoing focus on safety

Workers in Oklahoma usually have a lot on their minds as they go about their daily duties. People tend to overlook safety hazards in familiar surroundings, but the National Safety Council urges workers to recognize fall hazards and take steps to prevent the serious injuries and deaths that could result. In 2014, falls on the same level claimed 138 lives, and falls from height killed 660 people according to the council's report on workplace injuries. Vigilance plays an important role in safety, and every worker should speak up when a safety problem develops.

Falls on the same level happen when people trip over something or slip on a spill. People should pay attention to the floor and avoid walking quickly, wearing inappropriate shoes or talking on a phone while walking. If someone sees a spill, the person should clean it up or inform the person responsible for cleaning immediately.

Workplace safety and the Internet of Things

Injuries and even death are common in workplaces throughout the world. According to research by the International Labor Organization, more than 500 workers are victims of injury on the job every minute. Workplace injuries seriously affect the health and well-being of employees as well as the bottom line of many companies. The Internet of Things, or IoT, may be one of the ways to improve safety for workers in all types of jobs.

Employees who work alone can be particularly vulnerable to dangers. Smart devices help keep these workers connected to their organization and nearby emergency contacts so that they can get assistance quickly if something goes wrong. IoT geolocation technology coupled with audio alerts and group chat abilities can turn ordinary smartphones into comprehensive safety devices for solitary workers out on the job.

Companies striving for compliance with silica rule

Silica dust can be hazardous to people in Oklahoma or anywhere else who breathe it in. Some of the health hazards include scarred lung tissue, silicosis and the possibility of dying from prolonged exposure. While a new OSHA rule limited the amount of silica to which a worker could be exposed by 80 percent, the construction industry is still figuring out ways to comply with the mandate.

There are many ways in which construction companies can keep exposure to appropriate levels. For instance, it may be possible to vacuum dust to make sure that it doesn't fly away or use water to prevent it from getting into the air. Depending on the conditions at a job site, employees are allowed to use respirators if changing tools or tactics doesn't help mitigate silica exposure hazards.

Workplace noise can cause permanent hearing loss

Many Oklahoma employees work in noisy environments. Unfortunately, sustained exposure to loud workplace noise can lead to permanent hearing loss.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that approximately 22 million American workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise each year. As a result, the agency fined employers $1.5 million in 2017 for failing to protect their employees from damaging noise. Meanwhile, insurers paid out around $242 million for hearing loss-related workers' compensation claims last year.

Improving air quality can protect Oklahoma lab workers

Laboratories around the country employ more than 550,000 people according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and these workers face a wide variety of airborne hazards ranging from toxic fumes to deadly pathogens. Exposure to these dangers can cause a variety of debilitating health problems and may even be life-threatening, but the perils of this type of work can be greatly reduced by sophisticated air monitoring and ventilation systems.

Monitoring the air in laboratories is crucial because even inert gases like nitrogen and argon can displace oxygen in sealed areas and asphyxiate workers. Other airborne dangers such as reactive, poisonous, flammable and biological substances pose more immediate threats to worker safety. Research facilities have traditionally relied on variable air volume boxes to manage air flow and regulate air pressure, but Venturi valves have become more common for highly specialized applications.

Construction falls are common reasons for benefits claims

Oklahoma workers may be interested in the results of a Nationwide analysis of workers' compensation claims from businesses involved in construction activities. It looked at more than 10,000 claims over a period of five years and found that over 30 percent were related to falls from heights. A fall from an elevated surface tends to cause more significant injuries compared to other types of accidents. These injuries could keep a person out of work for a longer period of time.

They could also occur to multiple parts of the body, and that could result in a worker who is disabled either temporarily or permanently. Both construction workers and managers on a job site can take steps to prevent accidents from occurring. For instance, managers should develop safety plans, inspect equipment and provide ongoing training to employees. Workers should ask for scaffolds instead of ladders when working on elevated surfaces.

Certain workers more likely to die in job-related accidents

Many Oklahoma workers face serious dangers at their job sites. In fact, worker deaths around the country are on the rise, according to a report from the AFL-CIO. In 2016, 5,190 people were killed on the job, compared to 4,836 the year before.

The report found that transportation accidents were the top cause of worker fatalities in 2016, with 2,083. Those deaths included people who were driving motor vehicles at worksites and people who died in traffic accidents while traveling for their employer. The second most common cause of worker fatalities was workplace violence, with 866. The most hazardous industries for workers were agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, with a fatality rate of 23.3 per 100,000 workers. Meanwhile, the construction industry reported the highest number of worker fatalities, with 991.

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