Local: 915-838-1100

Davie, Valdez & McElroy, P.C.

free consultation | no fee if no recovery

El Paso Workers'' Compensation Law Blog

How to guard against burn injuries at work

Those working in the oil and gas industry in Texas and throughout the country need to be aware of the risks related to fires. In 2017, three workers in Colorado were injured when an oilfield pipeline fire broke out. One of the men later died from his injuries. To protect against fire and other burn injuries, workers should be outfitted with proper flame-resistant (FR) clothing. In addition to keeping workers safe, it can offer financial protection for employers.

According to the American Burn Association, an individual could need to spend 54 days in the hospital to recover from burns covering up to 60 percent of his or her body. That could cost a company $780,000 in hospital bills in addition to OSHA fines and other costs related to the accident. As stated in OHSA rule 1910.132, employers are required to be on the lookout for potential hazards and ways to prevent accidents from happening.

Pinch points pose a danger in the workplace

Texas workers could find various parts of their body at risk from exposure to machinery in the workplace. The term "pinch point" is used to define any part of a machine that could catch a person or a part of their body between moving parts, between moving and stationary parts or between materials and the machine itself. There can be a number of different pinch points that workers encounter when dealing with machinery on the job, including robotic machines, conveyor belts, power presses, metal forming and construction machines, rollers, assembly devices, power doors and hatches, plastic molding mechanisms, printing presses and power transmission equipment.

Employers have a responsibility to evaluate the machinery in use in the workplace and identify potential hazards where they appear in order to prevent employees from experiencing workplace injuries as a result of pinch points. Identification of the danger is only the first step, however; the employer should use protective devices or eliminate the potential that workers could face an injury in those locations. For example, guards can be installed to prevent workers from reaching into, under or around the dangerous area of the machine.

OSHA renews alliance with entertainment industry groups

According to a recent press release, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has renewed its partnership with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT). This announcement is good news for Texas residents that work in the entertainment industry.

USITT is a professional organization for workers in the entertainment industry. Their goal is to give development opportunities to its members. The IATSE is a labor union representing the interests of entertainment industry workers, including craftspersons, technicians and artisans.

OSHA updates employers on crystalline silica rule

Texas general industry and maritime employers have until June 23 of this year to comply with much of the OSHA standard for respirable crystalline silica. Employers in the construction industry have had to comply with the rule since it went into effect in June 2016. The standard prohibits workers from being exposed to more than an average of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air of crystalline silica for an eight-hour shift.

Crystalline silica is found in both real and artificial stone as well as in sand, and roughly 2 million construction workers are exposed to it. Too much exposure to the substance could result in scarring of the lungs. Employers are required to create written plans to limit worker exposure as well as establish worker training programs as part of the standard. Furthermore, employers are required to assess the ways in which workers may be exposed to crystalline silica on the job.

Workplace survey reveals need to update safety planning

When people go to work in Texas, they anticipate a routine experience, but if an emergency occurs at work, they might not know what to do. A survey conducted by Rave Mobile Safety collected answers from 530 people about emergency planning and workplace safety. The results showed a need to update emergency plans beyond fire drills and generational differences about awareness of workplace safety.

Approximately 87 percent of respondents indicated that they knew their employers' escape plan during a fire and had practiced it. Only 57 percent of workers, however, said that their workplaces had plans for other types of threats like a hazardous materials release, severe weather or an active shooter. A security consultant commenting on the survey said that companies need to prepare for the possibility of workplace violence.

Report urges closer cooperation between workplace safety agencies

A report detailing the results of a yearlong study commissioned by the National Institute for Occupational Safety, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that workers in Texas and around the country would be better protected if the three federal agencies were shared more data and worked together more closely to regulate employers and enforce workplace safety regulations. The conclusions were announced in a statement released to the press on Jan. 9.

According to the report, the nation's workplaces have changed greatly in recent years, and new safety issues have emerged, but federal agencies have been slow to respond to these developments. In addition to more cooperation between NIOSH, OSHA and BLS, the chair of the report has called for employers and workers to play a more active role in improving workplace safety.

OSHA workplace safety staffing decreases in Trump's first year

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration may have a tougher job monitoring workplace safety in Texas due to a reported 4 percent decline in the number of OSHA inspectors across the country. Data reported from the Office of Personnel Management showed that the first year of the Trump Administration has seen a loss of 40 inspectors to attrition, who have not yet been replaced. OSHA's total health and safety inspection force was 1,000 workers strong as of 2016.

The mission of OSHA is fulfilled through a system of federal safety laws and regulations that can require employers to receive citations for violations, pay fines and take steps to prevent worker injuries and illness. OSHA was chartered in 1970 through the Occupational Safety and Health Act's enactment during the Nixon Administration to help prevent accidents from occurring at workplaces. The OSH Act ensures that recognized hazards that threaten the safety or health of employees at workplaces are removed with OSHA as its administration and enforcement arm. An injured worker may also pursue compensation after a work accident under the law.

Making work safer for women in construction

The number of women who work in construction is increasing in Texas and in other areas. The National Association of Women in Construction has teamed up with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to try to make working conditions safer for women.

During the five-year initiative, the organizations will focus on workplace hazards that affect women working in construction, such as sanitation, selection of personal safety equipment, and reduction of workplace harassment and violence. Part of the joint plan includes educating workers and supervisors about workplace safety hazards.

Plant shutdowns may require special worker training

Scheduled plant shutdowns provide Texas companies with opportunities to perform preventative maintenance and improve work processes. Shutdowns may in some cases increase plant productivity rates and lessen production downtime. Businesses that properly prepare for scheduled shutdowns are more effective at keeping projects moving and preventing workplace injuries. However, operators and management should be aware of some safety concerns unique to plant shutdown tasks.

When a company's everyday staff is used to conduct plant shutdown tasks, they may be presented with safety hazards that they've not seen during normal work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires special permits before workers may enter hazardous confined spaces, for example. OSHA defines a confined space as one that is not intended for continuous occupancy but is large enough for a person to enter, with limited means of exit and entry. Conditions that may make such a space hazardous include limited oxygen or the presence of toxic vapor. Employees working in confined spaces during plant shutdowns may need special training prior to entry.

Winter season brings new safety issues for outdoor workers

Although Texas does not experience the extreme winter weather of other regions, the season still brings cooler temperatures that could expose workers to hazards. Outdoor workers should take precautions to avoid injury or illness when the temperatures dip.

Employers also have an obligation to protect employees from cold conditions and provide training regarding the prevention of cold stress. Workers should learn how to recognize symptoms of cold weather problems like frostbite, hypothermia, chilblains and trench foot. Outdoor workers may need warm and dry shelters set up for their use during breaks. Depending on the temperature, workers might need access to a warm shelter every 15 minutes out of an hour of labor.

Experience That Matters. More Than 65 Years Of Combined Legal Practice.