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Pittsburgh Workers' Compensation And Personal Injury Blog

Following procedures not enough to reduce risk in workplaces

Many business owners in Pennsylvania believe that they can keep their risk of workplace accidents down as long as employees follow established procedures. However, simply complying with procedures, as if one were checking items off a list, does not address the actual risks that are present in the workplace. This is why experts recommend a transition from a safety-minded culture to a risk-minded culture.

For example, instead of emphasizing the fact that all accidents are preventable, employers should think about how risk can never be eliminated. Instead of thinking, as workers themselves do, that safety is the responsibility of the company, employers should highlight the responsibility of every worker to recognize and communicate risks.

Tips for preventing ladder-related accidents

The American Ladder Institute designated March 2019 as National Ladder Safety Month, and it can serve as a good reminder to many in Pennsylvania, whether employers or employees, of the dangers associated with ladders. More than 300 people die in ladder-related accidents every year. The following are some tips for reducing the number of fatalities and injuries involving ladders.

The first tip is to reduce the weight of ladders. This is because the most common ladder-related injuries are strains and sprains caused by moving and setting ladders. Advances in engineering design and in the use of fiberglass-resin composites has allowed the weight of extension ladders, for example, to be reduced by up to 25 percent without compromising their strength.

Drowsy drivers cause more auto accidents than previously thought

Most people know the importance of a good night's sleep. Despite that, many people will try to accomplish tasks when they've had very little rest. The fast pace of modern life means that some people will push themselves beyond their reasonable limits, leading to potentially dangerous consequences.

If you've ever tried to drive after a night of poor sleep, you know how important it is to feel rested and alert when operating a vehicle. Still, far too many people in Pennsylvania feel they have no choice but to drive drowsy, and it can have disastrous results. A recent study conducted by the auto and travel company AAA found that drowsy driving may account for more accidents than experts previously believed.

Wearable technology could reduce workplace accidents

Pennsylvania construction workers may soon be wearing hard hats with sensors and similar "wearables." The purpose of this type of technology is to improve the safety and health of employees. However, some workers may not be so thrilled about technology that can track their movements because of concerns about too much oversight by watchful employers.

Such technology may reduce workers' compensation claims and keep workers safer, but experts point out that it's also important to gain the trust of employees first before unleashing a slew of high-tech wearables on them. A civil and environmental engineer commenting on this issue notes that workers are more likely to be open to wearable technology if they see that it's primarily for health and safety reasons, not to measure their productivity. Some wearables use devices already in use, like personal gas monitors, and add data monitoring capabilities. In 2017, a security and infrastructure firm began looking at interactions between workers and machines. Also, one job site where wearables were used reported fewer instances of unwanted interactions between humans and machines and vice-versa. One study looked at electroencephalogram (EEG) devices to track employee stress at construction sites while another study determined that wearable biosensors that measure risk perception and other physical factors for construction workers could be a practical possibility.

The odds of being hurt while hunting

When a person goes hunting in Pennsylvania, there is a chance that he or she could be accidentally shot. However, fewer than 1,000 hunters in the United States and Canada are shot in a given year.

Of those who are shot, less than 75 will die from their injuries. Those deaths tend to be due to falls or other unintended actions.

Cranking technique may help truckers avoid shoulder injuries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were more than 70,000 on-the-job shoulder injuries in 2016. Truck drivers in Pennsylvania may be especially vulnerable to shoulder injury when lowering or raising their trailers, a task known as cranking. A study published by the journal Applied Ergonomics on Oct. 3 examined the technique of 12 male drivers to determine the ideal cranking position for avoiding injury.

The study was conducted by researchers from North Carolina State University and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Researchers focused on 16 muscles involved in the act of cranking landing gear. They measured muscle activity while cranking as well as the scapular range of motion of all the drivers.

Questions abound about OSHA drones

In certain cases, OHSA is allowed to use drones to assist in investigations that take place in Pennsylvania and other states. However, contractors have many different concerns related to this practice. For instance, there may be many different employers working on a construction site.

OSHA requires that an employer give permission before a drone is released over a job site. However, it is unclear if obtaining the permission of a single employer means that all employers in the area can be monitored. Employers have also questioned how they would be able to object to any videos or photos that the drone takes. So far, OSHA has used drones for nine inspections. A representative from the Associated General Contractors of America said that the group doesn't have an opinion on drone use yet. However, that person did say that the group wants the technology to be implemented with an eye toward accuracy.

A fatigued truck driver is a dangerous truck driver

Just about everyone with a driver's license has gotten behind the wheel after not getting enough sleep. With the fast pace of life in this technological world, sleep may feel like a luxury. You may realize that it's not the safest way to drive, but you figure that you aren't far from your destination, so you can make it.

Sadly, some long haul truck drivers feel the same way. They see nothing wrong with driving while fatigued. It's not like they are drunk, right? Wrong. It actually does resemble drunk driving, and it is dangerous.

Electrocution deaths high among construction contract workers

A majority of the contract workers who die in electrocution accidents are construction workers. This was the conclusion of the National Fire Protection Association after researchers studied U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on electrocution deaths from 2012 to 2016. Contract workers in Pennsylvania, whether self-employed or not, should know that they composed 13 percent of all electrocution deaths in that period.

Of those 13 percent, a startling 68 percent were in the construction and extraction field. Thirty percent of construction contract worker electrocution deaths took place on a construction site. Construction trade workers made up 57 percent of the fatalities, followed by electricians at 31 percent and construction laborers at 11 percent. Roofers and supervisors each made up 5 percent of the total.

Improving outdoor worker safety in winter

Winter weather in Pennsylvania can be more than just a temporary inconvenience for outdoor workers. Other than cooler temps, winter also brings with it a slew of potentially risky conditions. For this reason, employers are urged to recognize common winter weather hazards and provide their workers with properly maintained vehicles and the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes appropriate personal fall protection systems for employees regularly working from heights.

One of the top winter occupation-related hazards that could lead to workers' compensation claims is rooftop snow removal, which is a task that results in multiple injuries and other serious incidents each year. OSHA doesn't have specific rooftop snow removal standards, but the agency does have standards for ladders, aerial lifts and fall prevention devices and systems employers need to be mindful of. There's also a general duty clause in the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act that compels employers to recognize hazards unique to weather conditions.

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