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Media Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Grain engulfment and how to prevent it

Anyone in Pennsylvania who works in or around a grain storage facility should know that grain engulfment is a safety risk. Flowing grain can trap workers in 6 to 8 seconds, completely burying them in a matter of 22 seconds. In the effort to prevent suffocation in grain, OSHA has teamed up with the National Grain and Feed Association, the American Feed Industry Association and other organizations to raise awareness of this danger.

Grain engulfment can occur in one of three ways: It could surround workers during unloading, trap workers in the space created by bridging or come down in an avalanche when piled up in one area. Preventing these requires intervention outside of the facility. OSHA, for its part, has long had safety measures in place, but these only pertain to commercial facilities, not farms.

An electric shock can change your life forever

Working in most of Pennsylvania's industries comes with certain hazards that endanger your health and possibly even your life. Some of those industries involve working with electricity in voltages that could cause significant electrical shocks.

More than likely, you and your employer take measures to ensure your safety when you work with electricity. Even so, accidents still happen, and you could suffer an electric shock that causes you serious injuries.

Loud noise can lead to occupational disease

While many Pennsylvania workers know that excessive exposure to loud noise in the workplace can cause hearing loss, the effects of a noisy workplace can extend far beyond a worker's ears. One study produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a strong link between noisy, loud workplaces and high blood pressure and high cholesterol among frequently exposed workers. In some cases, the noisy workplaces themselves were found to be responsible for these conditions, which pose a major risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading killer of people across the United States.

Approximately 25 percent of the nation's workforce, or 41 million people, report that they are regularly exposed to loud sounds and noises on the job. Besides hearing loss and damage, there are other well-known risks to workplace noise exposure, including sleep problems, migraine headaches and reductions in cognitive function. Safety equipment and precautions to protect hearing and reduce loud noises can be important not only for traditional ear protection but also to help avoid the development of occupational disease.

Pinch points in the workplace

Pinch points are a major hazard in workplaces across Pennsylvania, especially in the construction and manufacturing industry. Pinch points, according to OSHA, are areas in machinery where workers, or parts of their body, can get caught. These can be the areas between two moving parts of machinery, between a moving and a stationary part, or between material and some part of the machine.

Pinch points can lead to injuries with victims getting caught in conveyor belts, printing presses, powered rollers and doors, covers and hatches. Power presses and power transmission equipment also present pinch points. The same risk is there in robotic machinery, injection molding machines, metal forming machines and assembling machines.

New tech may reduce construction accidents

Construction workers in Pennsylvania are probably aware that they work in one of the most dangerous industries. In 2015, for instance, the U.S. saw 937 fatalities in the private construction industry. With 5.6 million employees in the field, it can be alarming to know that 1 out of every 10 is injured on site annually. This is why many employers are looking to the latest safety equipment in the effort to prevent accidents.

Advances in technology have allowed safety firms to produce a new reversing alarm, for instance, that emits the sound of white noise rather than the traditional beeping sound. Brigade Electronic, a global firm, calls its product the White Sound BBS-TEK reversing alarm. The reason why these are so important is that workers are often unable to tell where similar-sounding alarms are coming from, increasing their risk for injury.

Preventing work-related eye injuries

Some Pennsylvania workers receive eye injuries on the job, making it important for them to follow eye safety practices. These injuries may range in severity from eyestrain to eye traumas that may result in blindness or the loss of the eyes. By adhering to eye safety practices, people may be able to prevent these types of injuries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in excess of 20,000 work-related eye injuries occur each year. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, they cost an estimated $300 million each year in workers' compensation, medical treatment costs and lost productivity. Experts report that as much as 90 percent of them could be prevented if workers used the proper protective eyewear.

Staying safe in a hotel kitchen is like a double-edged knife

If you work in the kitchen of a Pennsylvania hotel or restaurant, you might feel disgruntled at times because all the credit goes to the front-of-house staff. The compliments of friendly service and excellent food hardly ever reach you and your co-workers in the hot kitchen where you face multiple hazards. While it is vital for kitchen practices to ensure customer safety, employee safety is as important.

Staying safe in the kitchen works like a double-edged knife — involving both you and your boss. Your employer must provide the necessary safety training and ensure compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regulations. In turn, you must pay attention to your surroundings, take note of potential hazards and practice what you learned in training.

OSHA renews alliance with entertainment industry groups

Pennsylvania readers may be interested to learn that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has renewed its alliance with two leading entertainment groups in an effort to promote health and safety among workers in the entertainment industry. The new alliance will last five years and involves members of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories and Canada.

As part of the agreement, OSHA will give USITT and IATSE members data and educational materials on common industry hazards, including falls, electrical dangers and ergonomic issues. In return, USITT and IATSE will educate OSHA and others on important industry safety topics. In addition, alliance members will exchange data on OSHA rulemaking, outreach campaigns, enforcement initiatives and more.

OSHA standards do most to protect workers

Federal laws require Pennsylvania employers to maintain safe work environments for their employees. According to David Michaels, the former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the best way to accomplish that goal is for the federal government to concentrate its efforts on safety standards, inspection and enforcement.

Speaking before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, Michaels said that safety standards are the most effective tool OSHA has to reduce workplace injuries and hazards. He explained that most employers want to protect their workers and want to obey the law, so they do their best to follow all OSHA standards that apply to their industry. This is true even if a company is not inspected.

Technological advances could help reduce workplace injuries

New technologies could potentially help create a path to safer workplaces for Pennsylvania construction workers. The construction industry can be one of the most dangerous globally. From machinery accidents to falls from heights, there are a number of risks that construction workers face every day on the job.

In 2015, 937 workers' lives were lost in the construction industry due to workplace accidents. One out of every 10 construction workers is injured on the job each year. There are a number of health and safety regulations that help to prevent additional tragedies from striking workers, but more must be done.

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Law Office Of Deborah M. Truscello
206 West State Street Suite 300
Media, PA 19063

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