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El Paso Workers'' Compensation Law Blog

New hard hats may prevent fatal injuries

Texas workers may benefit from new safety helmets that offer better protection in the event of falls. From 2003 to 2010, there were 2,210 fatal traumatic brain injuries resulting from construction industry accidents. Falls were the most common cause of such injuries, and those who were 65 and older had the highest death rates from TBI. Overall, there were 2.6 deaths for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

One of the advantages of the new helmet design is that it is less likely to fall off of a worker's head. Research into the design has been undertaken by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health since the early 1970s. OSHA stipulates that all workers who face an increased risk of a head injury be given protective headgear. They must meet or exceed American National Standards Institute Z89.1-2009 standards.

Young workers at greater risk of workplace injury

Many teens and young adults in Texas find employment during the summer months. While summer employment is very beneficial to young workers, it also carries with it a variety of workplace hazards. It is important for even younger workers to be safe on the job and understand what to do if a workplace injury does occur.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration also reported that serious accidents are higher among workers aged 24 and younger compared to older workers. The occurrence of these accidents may even be as much as two times higher. Injuries to teens have also increased over the years. While most of these are relatively minor, strains and sprains being the most common, serious and even fatal accidents do occur. In 2015, 403 young workers died due to work-related injuries, with 24 of those workers being under the age of 18.

Crane certification rule delayed again

Texas construction workers should be aware that, on June 20, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced its proposal to extend the crane certification requirement enforcement date to Nov. 10, 2018. Additionally, the existing employer duty to ensure that crane operators are properly trained will also have a proposed extension to the same date.

The operator certification requirement was implemented in 2010 by OSHA. At that time, however, a three-year extension was granted. As the extension deadline for crane certification was approaching, the requirement received a second three-year extension. This extension was reportedly set to expire in November 2017.

How to lift safely

According to the National Safety Council, improper lifting accounts for 25 percent of all occupational injuries around the country. Injuries usually consist of sprains and strains that occur mostly in the back, cuts and fractures. While there is no way to completely eliminate injuries related to lifting, there are ways that Texas workers can reduce the likelihood of getting hurt.

For instance, those who lift items on a regular basis may benefit by staying in good physical shape. Companies may make a worker's job easier by getting rid of manual lifting whenever possible. When lifting is necessary, it is important to have a good grip on whatever it being moved. If an item is too heavy or awkward to lift alone, workers should ask their colleagues for help or use a mechanical lifting device instead.

What employers should know about safety signs

Texas employers that have not yet adopted the current American National Standards Institute workplace safety poster designs may be unwittingly putting their people in danger. This is because the old signs were written in English only, which means that those who are not fluent in that language may not benefit from them. Furthermore, they only identify what the danger is while neglecting to mention the consequences of such a hazard. These signs also do nothing to help a person avoid the hazard.

Older signs may not stand out from other objects on the wall, which may render them useless. As the newer signs are better at communicating what a person can do to avoid a hazard, it may protect a company from financial loss if an accident occurs that leads to injury. In addition, employers are encouraged to use these signs because doing so puts them in compliance with OSHA standards while also working to improve worker safety.

Hazardous working conditions cause 150 deaths daily

Texas workers may be dismayed to learn that about 150 employees lose their lives daily because of a preventable occupational injury or illness, according to a report compiled by the AFL-CIO. However, the report also noted that since the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed, the lives of roughly 553,000 employees have been saved.

In its report, the labor union said that 50,000 to 60,000 employees lost their lives because of a work-related disease in 2015, and nearly 5,000 employee fatalities occurred because of on-the-job injuries in that year. In regards to immigrant workers, the amount who suffered a fatal workplace injury or illness was the highest within about a decade. The AFL-CIO report states that weak safety laws and corporate negligence are to blame for the workplace tragedies.

Stopping chemical plant injuries

Workers in Texas who are employed at chemical manufacturing plants are exposed to many dangers. Understanding the different types of injuries that can occur and why they take place is necessary to learning how to limit accident hazards.

The flammable nature and toxicity of chemicals are two of the reasons chemical plants are so dangerous. Employees can be exposed to the harmful chemical via inhalation or skin contact. They can also trip and fall, overexert themselves or incur cuts and abrasions. In order to prevent accidents in chemical manufacturing plants, it is important to know why and how they occur. Even when safeguards are in place to limit accidents, the workers can still sustain injuries.

Texas lawmakers introduce workers' compensation bills

In Texas, two bills have been introduced to help firefighters and law enforcement personnel. One bill would help first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder related to their jobs to get workers' compensation for PTSD if they can present evidence showing that their condition was largely caused by their job. The existing law states only that compensation can be obtained in the case of mental impairment. According to the representative who introduced the bill, this introduces financial obstacles and a stigma that could prevent some from seeking help. Another bill will create a liaison that assists first responders whose disputes over workers' compensation claims has caused them distress.

A number of specific examples were cited to support the bills. For example, in 2016, five officers died in a shooting and another nine were wounded. Law enforcement and firefighting also has a high incidence of suicide. More officers committed suicide in 2015 than died in motor vehicle accidents or in the line of duty.

Training key to construction safety

The construction industry is set to boom in 2017. While this is good for construction employment in Texas and shows a positive trend in the economy, construction firms must keep a keen eye on the safety of their employees. Construction safety has increased dramatically in the last few decades, but 2015 was still one of the most dangerous years for construction work compared to nearly all other professions, including manufacturing. Professionals specializing in safety report that training and experience of employees are essential.

According to OSHA, there are four important types of construction accidents: caught-in or caught-between, electrocution, falls and struck by. The good news is that this means workers and managers can be specially trained to avoid these high-risk accidents so the workplace is safer.

Solicitor's office voices commitment to employee safety

Texas workers may be interested to learn that the U.S. Department of Labor is fully committed to workplace safety. It accomplishes this through legal actions and by participating in alternative resolution options with employers and developing new regulations that could help keep the workplace safe for both workers and employers.

The deputy solicitor of labor stated that the main priority was to ensure that the workplace was safe for workers. This goal was to be accomplished by enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Act. When a workplace violation is found, investigators will examine the entire business to determine if the problem can be found in other parts of the enterprise. If this is the case, employers are able to fix the issues.

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