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Groups petition OSHA for a heat protection standard

Workers across the state of Pennsylvania often must work in adverse weather conditions, including high outdoor temperatures. Over 130 organizations have joined a collaborative effort to request that OSHA establish a heat protection standard.

The petitioners are requesting multiple protections for workers, including frequent rest breaks, availability of shade, access to water, medical monitoring and personal protective equipment, such as cooling vests. They are also requesting more education and training to prevent heat-exposure related incidents, record keeping of injuries and deaths related to heat exposure and protection for workers who report violations of the heat protection standard.

Come rain or sun, landscapers will be at risk

A significant percentage of the Pennsylvania workforce spend most of their time outdoors. If you work in the landscaping industry, you will face some of the same hazards as those that outdoor workers in sectors like construction face. If your employer does not have a proactive safety approach, you might have to come up with your own precautions to stay out of harm's way.

If you become familiar with the most common safety concerns, you can learn how to protect yourself. The first step would be to make sure you never miss training sessions that can inform you about potential injuries and illnesses in your industry.

5 leading causes of construction worker deaths

Pennsylvania construction workers should know the most common hazards in their industry. Though construction workers make up 6 percent of the population, construction fatalities actually account for over 20 percent of all private sector employee deaths. Falls are the first of five leading causes of death in the construction industry.

Falls can be avoided if employers provide the right protective equipment, such as hard hats and non-slip boots, and follow the fall prevention guidelines by installing guardrails and safety nets. With proper training, employees could also avoid accidents on ladders and scaffolding. The second leading cause of death is "struck by incidents." Workers can avoid being struck by forklifts and other vehicles if there are clear vehicle routes.

Construction workers face serious threats on the job

Construction workers in Pennsylvania can be at risk of serious injuries or even death each day on the job. Unfortunately, this fact was underlined by an Aug. 29 incident in which two construction workers lost their lives. The two men were part of the team building the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort, a prominent project with 516 hotel rooms that is under construction. Scaffolding at the build site collapsed, taking the lives of the two men.

A third worker reportedly had a near-miss as well; his life was saved when he was able to grab hold of something and was assisted by other workers. The men were working between the sixth and seventh floors of the building at the time of the collapse. There were around 20 workers on the job when the fatal construction accident took place; the incident occurred while workers poured concrete. The local sheriff's office announced that it was also investigating the incident, noting that they wanted to ensure that it was an accident. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the fatalities.

Amazon investigated for improper treatment of workers

Amazon has been facing increased scrutiny over alleged workplace safety issues. For example, a former employee at an Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania was reportedly fired five weeks after being hurt on the job. She was refused the paperwork for a workers' compensation claim and had her short-term disability benefits cut short. This is just one instance of the alleged improper treatment of workers in Amazon warehouses. There are more than 140 fulfillment centers across the U.S. and approximately 560,000 Amazon employees worldwide.

That Amazon warehouses are dangerous has been known for a while now. In April 2018, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health compiled a "dirty dozen" list of the most dangerous workplaces in the U.S., and Amazon was among those listed. A total of seven workers have died in Amazon warehouses since 2013, with three of those fatalities occurring within five weeks of each other in 2017.

OSHA addresses noise, respiratory hazards faced by temp workers

As part of its Temporary Worker Initiative, OSHA has released two bulletins on noise exposure and respiratory hazards faced by temp workers. Staffing agencies and host employers in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. will want to take note of these bulletins, as they enforce existing regulations found in OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard and Occupational Noise Standard.

Under the former standard, host employers in the general, construction and maritime industries must provide respirators for their employees. The correct respirators are determined after a thorough workplace hazard assessment. Neither employers nor staffing agencies can require workers to provide or pay for this equipment. Wherever respirators are needed, there should be a respirator protection program in place.

Safe chemical handling with 11 basic rules

Whether in Pennsylvania or another state, facilities with hazardous chemicals have the same priorities, so chemical handlers and employers alike will want to consider and incorporate the following 11 safety rules. They are basic and given in no particular order.

Assuming that employers provide adequate training, employees must follow all established practices. Before working, they should be able to think ahead to any potential risks. Since fires and spills can occur, employers should have emergency procedures in place. These procedures should cover the treating of injuries, the evacuation of workers and the process of incident reporting.

Never underestimate the dangers posed by forklifts

Forklifts have become essential tools in various industries. However, many employers and employees do not give lift trucks the respect they deserve. Thousands of forklift accidents cause injuries and fatalities every year because employers and employees underestimate the dangers they pose.

Regardless of whether you work on a construction site, in a warehouse, fulfillment center or factory in Pennsylvania, forklifts can be a safety hazard — whether you are the operator or a pedestrian. Negligent operators and pedestrian workers or inadequate maintenance can cause forklift accidents, and they are almost always preventable.

How employers can reduce injury risks from heavy machinery

In the Pennsylvania manufacturing industry, heavy machinery can help complete labor-intensive tasks quickly and correctly. However, when the machines are not used correctly, employees can be put at serious risk for injuries. As such, employers should take certain measures to ensure that employees are safe.

One way that employers can do so is to ensure that proper machine guarding has been put into place. Machine guarding can protect employees from machinery injuries that may be caused by rotating parts and sparks. Employees should also be trained to focus or allow others to focus when heavy, dangerous machinery is in use. This may mean training employees to avoid causing distractions for others and to be on guard when working around potentially dangerous machinery.

Silica standard now in full effect

Until July 23, companies in Pennsylvania and throughout the country were not cited for making good faith efforts to comply with the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard. However, companies are now being cited for violations regardless of their efforts to comply with it. To be considered in compliance, employers must have a written silica control plan as well as evidence that it has been implemented.

They must also take air samples and routinely assess the level to which their workers have been exposed to airborne silica. Furthermore, an employer must take steps to provide medical surveillance if certain criteria are met. For instance, if a worker is exposed to more than the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for more than 30 days a year, surveillance is necessary. However, this does not apply if exposure occurred while working for another employer.

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Law Office Of Deborah M. Truscello
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