People employed in the retail sector in Pennsylvania know that the holiday shopping season will bring longer hours and heavier workloads. Although some workers welcome the opportunity to earn more money, the increased demands of stocking, packing, selling and delivering merchandise raise stress levels among workers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health warns that the health and well-being of workers could suffer under these circumstances and distract them from safety practices. As a result, workers become more prone to slips, falls and back injuries when their hours and duties expand.
When snow or ice covers the ground in Pennsylvania, it can make work perilous. For instance, those who are in work vehicles are at a greater risk of skidding or losing control in poor road conditions. Workers should receive training about how to handle being stuck in a vehicle with no way to get out. Ideally, they will learn how to stay warm without getting sick from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is taking a step to ensure that Pennsylvania employers fulfill their responsibilities to protect temporary workers. The agency is recommending that host employers as well as temporary staffing agencies detail in their contracts with one another their respective responsibilities regarding compliance with relevant OSHA standards. Having a contract that includes these terms can prevent confusion and noncompliance.
Winter weather can make it harder to work safely on a Pennsylvania construction site. This is because surfaces that are coated in snow and ice can be too slick to walk or climb on safely. Ideally, scaffolding, ladders or other tools that a worker will climb on will be built from materials designed to withstand cold temperatures. Any surface that can't be properly treated should be made off-limits until the weather improves.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently announced its annual top 10 list of workplace safety violations reported in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. The list includes violations cited by inspectors between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018. All but one of the violations has appeared on the list in previous years.
Many construction workers in Pennsylvania understand just how dangerous it can be to work in a trench or on an excavation site. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 130 deaths on such sites between 2011 and 2016. That's why OSHA has begun a National Emphasis Program (NEP) related to excavation and trenching. The program began on Oct. 1, and it features both prevention and employer outreach efforts.
Pennsylvania's construction industry is an important part of the state's economy, but sobering statistics reveal that construction professionals are facing increasing workplace accidents, injuries and fatalities when trenching and excavating. From 2011 to 2016, 104 deaths have been attributed to cave-ins related to trenching across the United States according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number has grown over time with 2015 and 2016 seeing spikes in workplace deaths connected to trenching accidents. Unofficial union data also points to dozens of deaths being attributed to trenching cave-ins during 2017.
Many workplace injuries in Pennsylvania could potentially be prevented with better employer understanding and responses to previous incidents. The principle that most workplace accidents are actually predictable and preventable underlies the approach of OSHA. This agency refers to workplace injuries as "incidents" rather than "accidents," because an accident is something unexpected that could not be foreseen. While some workplace accidents may indeed be caused by sudden and unpredictable external factors, most injuries or even deaths are caused by the situation at the work site, where employers can take action to reduce the risk of injury.
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.
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.