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Tulsa Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Study finds that mental health may affect work safety for women

Female workers in Oklahoma might be more likely to be injured at work if they are suffering from fatigue or mental health issues. According to a study that appeared in the "Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine," anxiety, depression and fatigue may all increase the likelihood that a woman will be injured at work. Male employees do not appear to be affected in the same way.

Nearly twice as many women who were injured on the job reported suffering from anxiety, poor sleep or similar issues prior to the injury as men; women reported at 60 percent compared to 33 percent for men. However, the study's lead author said it was unclear why this was the case with women and that further research is needed. According to her, the higher injury rate might be attributable in part to other social and cultural factors or to different stresses. She also said the study indicated the need for a more integrated approach to safety that accounted for well-being and health.

Safety survey indicates generation and communication gaps

A survey conducted by Rave Mobile Safety resulted in some statistics that may be helpful to Oklahoma employees and employers alike. The survey provides insight into how workers and companies handle workplace safety communications. Among the conclusions drawn from the survey was that Generation Z and Millennial workers were less informed regarding matters of workplace safety than were Baby Boomers. About 53 percent of Millennials who responded were unaware of their workplace's emergency plans, compared to 34 percent of respondents who were 45 or older.

Only 8 percent of Millennials said they were very likely to report a situation where a worker's safety was a concern. Almost half of the group 45 and older said they were very likely to report a situation like that. The survey included data from 530 people.

New guidelines to reduce EMS worker fatigue

Oklahoma EMS workers may be interested to learn that a new set of guidelines has been established to reduce their on-the-job fatigue levels. The guidelines were created by the National Association of State EMS Officials and the Univesity of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and they were published in the journal Prehospital Emergency Care on Jan. 11.

According to studies, EMS workers suffer from severe physical and mental fatigue during their shifts. This is made worse by limited recovery between shifts, poor sleep quality and overall lack of sleep. In fact, half of all EMS workers report that they get less than six hours of sleep each day.

Reducing work injuries in warehouses

In Oklahoma and elsewhere in the U.S., warehouses and factories tend to have higher injury rates than other workplaces. OSHA has listed 10 of the most common risk factors in warehouses; they include forklifts, electrical wiring, improper lockout/tagout procedures, poor hazard communication and floor wall openings. Fires, explosions and exposure to harmful chemicals are also frequent causes of injury.

Employers know better than anyone else about the risks in their warehouses. Doing something about these hazards will require that employees be prioritized over making profits and even meeting deadlines. Employers should first of all provide adequate training on work procedures, machinery and safe conduct in the workplace.

Remaining safe around backing vehicles

Oklahoma workers should be aware that data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the number of job site deaths caused by backing vehicles has been constant across the country from 2012 to 2015. To remain safe at work and to avoid being injured or killed by vehicles that are traveling in reverse, there are some best practices that can be used.

When a vehicle is in use, a spotter with the right training can be on guard for pedestrians, other vehicles or workers traveling on foot. However, this can also place the spotters in danger of being struck be vehicles or other equipment that are moving in reverse.

OSHA loses inspectors under Trump administration

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal agency responsible for protecting workers, has lost a total of 40 inspectors during President Trump's first year in office. By early October of 2017, the number of OSHA inspectors fell below 1,000. This should be of concern to residents of Oklahoma who work in high-risk industries like construction and manufacturing as the decrease in inspectors has affected regional OSHA offices as well.

The decrease is part of the president's effort to shrink the federal workforce through attrition; over 16,000 federal government employees have been let go with organizations like the IRA and EPA being affected the most. While OSHA has since recruited two dozen new officials to carry out its work, the concern is that OSHA remains understaffed. Offices in the southeast region, including Alabama, Georgia and Florida, lost the most inspectors. Mississippi, which has the highest worker fatality rate in the nation, had 26 percent of its inspectors cut.

Workplace injuries up, with transportation incidents topping list

Workplace fatalities are continuing to increase, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Approximately one out of every four fatal injuries on the job are due to transportation incidents, the top cause of workplace incidents. Employees in Oklahoma and throughout the United States are also at an increased risk of experiencing injuries due to workplace violence and exposure to harmful substances, although injuries attributed to fires and explosions are on the decline.

The BLS report on workplace injuries also notes a sharp increase in overdoses occurring while individuals are on the job. The number of fatalities related to overdoses is also on the rise, reflecting a national trend of issues with drug abuse and misuse. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has stated a commitment to address the rising opiate epidemic in the workplace with education and outreach efforts.

Court tosses industry challenge to silica rule

Oklahoma employees who have to work around silica should be aware of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It rejected the challenges from industry groups regarding the silica rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The court also required the agency to explain why medical surveillance provisions were left out of the silica rule.

The rule was issued in March 2016 and was created to provide protection for the greater than 2 million workers in the United States who are exposed to crystalline silica. It lowers the acceptable exposure limit during an eight-hour work period for multiple industries to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The new limit represents one-fifth of the previous limit for the construction industry and one-half of the former limit for other industries.

Deaths on the job rise for third year straight in 2016

Residents of Oklahoma may be concerned about the danger of workplace injuries, particularly after the release of a report about fatalities related to on-the-job accidents in 2016. During the year, workplace fatalities rose for the third consecutive year in a row, reaching a total of 5,190. This is the highest number of workplace deaths in the United States since 2008, when 5,214 workers were killed on the job. During 2016, workers lost their lives at a rate of 14 per day to workplace injuries and accidents.

Several significant factors led to the increase in workplace injuries and fatalities in 2016. The single most common cause of on-the-job deaths during the year was transportation incidents like auto accidents. Transportation injuries took the lives of 2,083 workers during the year. The causes of the workplace injuries and deaths varied, but slip-and-fall deaths increased by 6 percent and took the lives of 849 workers.

Workplace fatalities increase, according to BLS census

In Oklahoma and across the United States, workplace injuries are a common occurrence. According to a 2016 census by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace accidents led to 5,190 fatalities, a 7 percent increase from 2015 and the highest number since 2008. This amounts to 14 workers being killed every day.

The BLS also stated that the transportation industry had more fatalities than any other industry: One in four worker deaths in 2016 were caused by transportation incidents. Cases of workers being assaulted and killed by other workers also increased by 23 percent. A third major cause of fatalities was linked to the current opioid crisis; the number of worker overdoses increased by 32 percent.

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