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.
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.
As many as 13 million workers in Oklahoma and throughout the country may be exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. Although many chemical safety programs have focused on preventing chemicals from being inhaled, less has been done about preventing absorption through the skin. If a chemical does make contact with a worker's skin, he or she could be at risk for developing conditions such as infections or skin cancer.
Workers in Oklahoma should be aware of the most frequently occurring workplace safety violations that may result in injury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, violations related to fall protection-general requirements topped of the list for the sixth consecutive year. The list details the top 10 most common workplace safety violations that occurred from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017.
In the waste collection and recycling industry, there's always the risk of bloodborne pathogen exposure due to the presence of needles and other sharps, which are often contaminated with blood. Residents of Oklahoma who work in this industry should know that OSHA has been doing a lot to uphold its standards regarding BBP determination and control.
The gig economy has become a common phrase for Oklahoma workers and others throughout the country. While there is no set definition, it generally refers to work that is paid per job as opposed to per a given amount of time. In most cases, those who do gig work are classified as independent contractors, which may pose health and safety issues.
Business owners in Oklahoma may be wondering how they can prevent accidents in the workplace. After all, in 2016, employers in the U.S. paid out nearly $62 billion on injury claims for employees missing six or more days of work. Private industry employers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, reported nearly 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries in the same year.
Oklahomans who work in industrial settings are likely aware of the lockout procedures that are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Under these standards, machines that might release energy that could injure workers are supposed to have their energy sources turned off before the workers can work on them. The lockout standards also mandate that employers block off dangerous machinery from workers so that they do not accidentally come into contact with the machines while they are working.
Oklahoma employees who perform electrical work can be at risk for arc flash injures. Every year, 2,000 people around the country are treated in hospitals due to injuries sustained by arc flashes. However, electrical workers can minimize their risk to the workplace hazard by wearing the proper personal protective equipment.
Oklahoma is famous for severe storms, and employers have an obligation during natural disasters to maintain safe work environments. Ideally, an organization prepares a crisis management plan during good times so that everyone will understand safety protocols during bad weather or other dangerous events. Good planning could prevent endangering employees and subsequent litigation.