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Many employees fear productivity more important than safety

According to a survey from the National Safety Council, a majority of construction workers believe that workplace productivity takes priority over workplace safety. Further, many employees in Pennsylvania and around the country also feel that employers do only the minimum required by law when it comes to keeping employees safe while they are on the clock.

Based on the results of the survey, 58 percent of construction workers reported that they feel that productivity takes a higher priority than workplace safety. Approximately 47 percent reported that they were afraid to report safety issues to their management. Fifty-one percent reported that their management did the minimum they were required to do by law to prevent workplace injuries from occurring.

Seeking help for musculoskeletal disorders

Most employers understand the importance of providing protective eyewear, back braces, personal fall prevention devices and hard hats to protect their employees from injury on the job. Studies show that employees can avoid many injuries if they use the appropriate safety gear and follow protocol for their own protection.

However, most lost work time does not result from flying debris, back injuries or even falling. Approximately one-third of all worker injuries are musculoskeletal disorders resulting from over exertion and repetitive strain.

Poultry processing is a hazardous job

Employers in Pennsylvania and around the country must submit reports about any severe work-related injuries to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Accident and injury reports submitted by employers in 29 states between January 2015 and September 2016 were analyzed by researchers from the National Employment Law Project and used to create a list of the nation's most dangerous occupations. The NELP research team also used the information to identify companies that may not be doing all that they can to keep their workers safe.

The data analysis revealed some disturbing trends in the poultry processing sector. The researchers discovered that workers in poultry processing facilities suffered severe injuries more often than workers in high-risk occupations like automobile production, steel manufacturing and lumber processing. Poultry processing firms also featured prominently when NELP researchers made a list of the companies that reported the most serious accidents despite employing far fewer workers than the other organizations on the list.

Report says worker deaths still too high

According to a report issued by the AFL-CIO, workers in Pennsylvania might be less safe under the Trump administration than they were under the Obama administration. The president of the union stated that while the Obama administration's commitment to worker safety had led to tightening regulations and strengthening protections against retaliation, the aims of the Trump administration were to roll regulations back.

In 2015, the report stated, more than 4,800 workers died because of on-the-job injuries, and another 50,000 to 60,000 died of job-related illnesses. Injuries and illnesses cost billions of dollars annually. Workers 65 and older and Latino workers appear to be among the most vulnerable. Older workers were 2.5 times more likely to be killed, and the fatality rate for Latino workers was 18 percent higher than the national average.

Lead poisoning in the workplace

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has estimated that around 838,000 construction workers and about 804,000 workers in general industry might be exposed to lead. This likely includes many Pennsylvania workers. OSHA has a minimum permissible level of lead exposure, and employers must also take certain steps to protect workers who are exposed to lead.

Employers are required to test both workers and the air for lead. Workers must be informed and trained if their job involves lead exposure, and they must also be provided with protective equipment. They need a place to wash and change clothes after finishing a shift, and there must be controls in the workplace for lead dust and fumes.

Workplace safety in Pennsylvania chemical plants

There are a number of potential injuries that someone working in a chemical plant may sustain. Along with getting chemical burns from direct exposure to hazardous substances, people may also inhale dangerous fumes they give off. Additionally, as is the case in most workplaces that contain a lot of equipment, workers may be hurt by machinery or simply trip and fall.

With so much potential for physical harm, it's essential that organizations do everything possible to ensure employee safety. One of the most effective ways of making a workplace safer is to be aware of the most common causes of accidents that cause harm to workers. In chemical plants, injuries most often result from employees becoming too complacent, lack of proper training and machinery that isn't working properly.

Are spinal cord injuries covered under workers' comp?

In Pennsylvania and elsewhere, work-related neck and back injuries are quite common. When such injuries damage the spinal cord, the consequences can be rather serious. While there are those who may only require medication, rehabilitation and rest in order to recover, others injuries may cause permanent damage resulting in the need for life-long care. If you suffered such an injury while on the job, workers' comp benefits may be available to help you get the care and financial help you need.

The treatments for spinal cord injuries can be both extensive and expensive. This, of course, all really depends on the severity of the injury.

Surgical smoke safety

Individuals who work in healthcare are routinely exposed to hazardous materials and dangerous medical conditions. Medical personnel in Pennsylvania who work in the operating room are at particular risk of acquiring the infectious diseases that are transmitted by surgical smoke.

Devices that emit some form of energy during their use release viruses, bacteria, chemicals and a range of other toxins when they are used on human tissue. If the surgical smoke caused by ultrasonic scalpels, electrosurgery devices, lasers and other energy-generating devices is not evacuated, the microscopic particles that carry possible infectious pathogens in the smoke can be easily inhaled by adjacent individuals directly into their respiratory system.

Trump administration delays silica dust rule

Pennsylvania construction workers and others who work in industries where they may be exposed to silica dust may have to wait longer than anticipated for rules to protect them from exposure to the substance. On April 7, the Trump administration announced that it would delay the deployment of such a rule for a minimum of three more months. However, it is possible that it might be scrapped entirely. Enforcement of the rule was set to begin in late June and has been pushed back to September, but with a review of agency regulations underway, it could be repealed.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had estimated that the lives of hundreds of workers would be saved each year, and the rule was hailed as the most significant workplace safety reform from the Obama administration. More than 2 million workers are exposed to silica dust annually, and it can lead to a disease called silicosis that may cause lung cancer and other lung problems.

Entrapments, fatalities on rise at grain handling facilities

Since 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reportedly scaled back federal inspections of bean and grain wholesalers. Now, workers in Pennsylvania may want to be aware that groups within the agriculture industry may soon ask agency officials to consider ending additional programs at the regional level. This news comes as study results show that grain silos have been and may continue to be dangerous places to work.

The year 2016 saw the highest number of entrapment incidents recorded in six years. According to Purdue University's annual survey concerning grain-handling accidents, 29 entrapment incidents were reported in which 18 people died. This indicates a rise of about 21 percent over the number of incidents that were reported during the previous year. Study results also indicate that an additional 22 lives were lost during this period of time due to entanglement with machinery, falls, asphyxiation and other grain-related accidents.

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Law Office Of Deborah M. Truscello
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Media, PA 19063

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