Every year, OSHA holds a National Safety Stand-Down in the effort to prevent fall-related accidents in the construction industry. The sixth annual stand-down has been set for May 6 to 10, during which time employers throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S. are encouraged to sit down with their employees and discuss fall hazards, safety policies and employee concerns.
Some Pennsylvania drivers of powered industrial trucks may want to contribute a comment to a request for information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is considering making a change to its standards, which have only been revised once since they were put into place in 1971. The request was made on March 11 and will remain open until June 10.
Cold weather in Pennsylvania might tempt some workers to operate space heaters or portable generators in enclosed spaces. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workers die every year after exposure to carbon monoxide when equipment that combusts fuel is used in such enclosed areas. Incidents of exposure increase during the winter months because workers want to stay warm. That's why OSHA issued a reminder to alert employers to train their employees about the hazards of carbon monoxide.
Utilization review is an important factor in many Pennsylvania workers' compensation cases. An employer, injured worker or insurer can make a utilization review request with the goal of determining whether the medical treatment being provided is in fact necessary and reasonable. Once the request is filed, the case will be sent to a utilization review organization. The URO will request relevant medical records and forward the records to a specialized reviewer.
Certain occupations are more inherently dangerous than others. Pennsylvania's coal mining industry was at one time the cause of many deaths and injuries, but today, the oil and gas drilling industry is regularly listed among the most dangerous. OSHA requires employers to control or mitigate identified hazards. Despite this, deaths and severe injuries in the oil and gas fields continue to increase.
Many workers in Pennsylvania must deal with exposure to diesel exhaust. To help address the dangers of diesel exhaust exposure, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has published a fact sheet for employees in the oil and gas industry.
Employers in Pennsylvania, especially those in construction, should know that OSHA has kicked off one of its National Emphasis Program, this time on trenching and excavation safety. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 130 fatalities in trenching and excavation operations between 2011 and 2016. Eighty percent occurred in the private construction industry.
Workers in Pennsylvania who deal with machinery and electricity are often at a higher risk of a serious on-the-job injury. This is one reason why lockout and tagout, or LOTO, rules are a major priority for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. LOTO is used when a piece of equipment or a power supply needs to be maintained or service or when a guard or other type of safety device needs to be removed or bypassed to allow for repairs or other work. The safety procedure ensures that dangerous equipment is shut off and cannot be accidentally restarted; in many cases, visible red padlocks are used to designate a machine on LOTO.
The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits workers who are 16 or 17 years old from doing certain jobs in Pennsylvania or anywhere else in the country. It allows exemptions for student learners and apprentices in some cases, but these young workers are generally not allowed to work in industries like coal mining and forest fire fighting. The Department of Labor, though, has stated that it plans to propose rulemaking that would expand the industries open to young workers.
Poor maintenance and improper use of machinery are usually to blame for machinery-related injuries in the workplace. Employers in Pennsylvania who want to ensure a safe environment for their employees will want to consider the following five tips. They apply not only to the heavyweight machines but also to the small machines that are relatively easy to operate.