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El Paso Workers'' Compensation Law Blog

Workplace safety and age

Texas workers should know that a person's age is not as much of a factor as it used to be when it pertains to being employed. This is attributed to the fact that an increasing number of workers are postponing their retirement. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of people in the United States who are 65 years or older and who work either full-time of part-time jumped from 12.8 percent in May 2000 to 18.8 percent in May 2016.

The belief that one has to or is able to retire at 60 or 65 years of age is no longer valid. In fact, there are workers who are 70 or 75 years of age, some of whom are in hazardous industrial positions.

OSHA's report on fatal incident

Texas warehouse workers should be aware of the publication released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding an incident in which a worker who was on a pallet that was elevated by a forklift fell and died from the injuries he incurred. The worker had slipped while he was on the pallet rearranging inventory and fell down 7 feet.

The inventory the warehouse stores was placed on steel racks that had shelves that reached 8 feet high from the concrete floor. The warehouse workers frequently placed one or both feet on a pallet to relocate inventory to the highest shelf as a coworker used the forklift to elevate them to the top shelf. This was despite the fact this was not the intended use of the forklift.

Taking a systematic approach to workplace fall protection

Busy workers in Texas often rely on the safety systems put in place by employers to alert them to workplace hazards. People charged with evaluating risks, especially in distribution centers and warehouses, should consider all three dimensions of the workplace environment. These workplaces often have multiple levels, such as loading docks, mezzanines and elevated platforms, that give workers access to racks of inventory.

Adherence to fall protection rules established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is essential to limit accidents and injuries. Falls represent the leading cause of severe injuries and worker deaths in general industry.

How to safely look at a computer screen

Texas workers can develop blurry vision, back or shoulder pain and dry eyes when they look at a computer screen for too long. This may also occur if they look at a tablet, smartphone or other screen for extended periods of time. These symptoms may be telltale signs of a condition called computer vision syndrome, and the condition may be diagnosed as part of a routine eye exam.

One of the most effective ways to reduce the impact of CVS symptoms is to take a 15-minute break for every two hours spent looking at a screen. On average, an American worker will spend seven hours each day on a screen, which means an average worker would ideally take three or four breaks each day.

Water pipe repair method has previously unknown hazards

Texas workers who repair water pipes might be familiar with a method called cured-in-place pipe repair. A study says that this common method of pipe repair may not be as safe as it is believed to be. The study by Purdue University researchers was published on July 26 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

CIPP involves creating a new pipe by inserting a resin-filled fabric pipe into a damaged pipe and curing it with steam, ultraviolet light or hot water. The researchers did air tests at seven work sites in California and Indiana. They found that during the CIPP work, a substance previously believed to be steam that was emitted actually contained organic compounds, some of which were carcinogenic or endocrine disruptors.

Cracking down on unsafe practices in construction

Trench workers in Texas perform one of the most hazardous jobs in the construction industry. Fatal trenching accidents more than doubled in 2016, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that employers need to comply with safety standards to lower those numbers and make trench work safer.

A trench collapse that happened in April 2015 resulted in the death of a worker and the conviction of a general contractor on charges of manslaughter. After the conviction, a task force was formed by an attorney in Manhattan to investigate corruption and safety issues in the construction industry.

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.

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