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El Paso Workers'' Compensation Law Blog

How to be proactive about worker safety

All Texas employees face the risk of getting hurt on the job, even if they work indoors. For those who work in office settings, they could experience neck, back or leg injuries if they don't sit at their desks properly. Ideally, individuals who work at their desks will make sure that their feet are firmly on the floor. Furthermore, their arms and back should be fully supported.

If a person is working at a computer, the computer screen should be at eye level. This eliminates the need for that individual to crane their neck. Those who work inside could also get hurt or sick because of air quality within a building. Some workers experience nosebleeds, fatigue or dizziness because of airborne contaminants.

Keeping flaggers safe in work zones

Roadway work zones can be a dangerous place for flaggers, the ones who control the flow of traffic. Car crashes in work zones are nothing new in Texas. According to WorkZoneSafety.org, 2017 alone saw a total of 132 crash fatalities in roadway work zones. The Center for Construction Research and Training states that most of these crashes occur because of aggressive or speeding drivers.

The CPWR has a host of safety tips that flaggers will want to take into account. Some of the most important tips involve clothing. To prepare for adverse weather, flaggers should wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and hard hats. Their clothing should be high-visibility, and when they work at night, they should wear a reflective vest over it.

Addressing the top five summer safety risks in construction

It's important for construction workers and their employers in Texas to be aware of the dangers of summer work. Below is a summary of the top five hazards in summer and what can be done to mitigate them. The list was compiled by a representative of Honeywell Industrial Safety.

First, there is heat-related fatigue. Being out in the sun too long can lead to impaired judgment and concentration, slower response times and a lack of motivation. Employers should ensure plenty of rest breaks in the shade, provide hard hats if appropriate and have a good supply of liquids and salty snacks.

OSHA highlights hazards of electrical industry

Engineers, electricians and others who work with electricity, especially with overhead lines and circuit assemblies, know that their industry is fraught with hazards. OSHA is now trying to raise awareness of these hazards so that both employers and employees in Texas and across the U.S. can work together to prevent serious injuries, illnesses and fatalities in this industry.

OSHA already has numerous resources to this end, including the Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs that can help employers identify and remove or fix electrical hazards. But OSHA is focusing on the electrical industry in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska after a series of inspections between January 2015 and September 2018.

OSHA may revise Lockout/Tagout Standard, faces challenges

Workers in Texas, especially construction workers, know that some machines and equipment are liable to start up on their own or release stored-up energy, causing harm. This is why OSHA has developed what is called the Lockout/Tagout Standard. In May 2019, OSHA issued a Request for Information that would help modernize this standard in two ways.

The first is to use control circuit type devices as an alternative to full energy isolation. OSHA wants to find out, then, what control circuit type devices would be reasonably safe in this role. This will clear up any legal concerns for those employers who already use such devices. With OSHA requesting information on control circuits, they could become more widely used across various industries. Then, the second way to update the standard is through robotics.

Five steps to improving loading dock safety

Texas residents who work in manufacturing plants or warehouses are probably aware that the loading dock is the center of the action. For this reason, many accidents can take place around the loading dock. Slips, trips and falls, which account for more than 25% of workplace injuries every year, are especially common. By following five easy tips, though, employers can improve loading dock safety and reduce injury risk.

To begin with, preventing slips, trips and falls is not so hard; employers simply need to ensure regular repairs and inspections for the loading dock. Worn bumpers, potholes and other noticeable damage should be addressed as soon as possible. Employees should be trained to sweep up debris and mop up spills. Signs and cones should be placed around spills.

OSHA's requirements for machine guarding

Plant employees in Texas often spend a lot of their time operating machinery. For this reason, OSHA has machine guarding requirements meant to keep industrial workers safe while on the job. With movable machines, employers are required to provide some type of guard. Barrier guards, electronic safety devices and two-hand tripping devices are among the many options available.

Proper machine guarding doesn't prevent all potential hazards, but it may provide added protection against injury risks related to sparks, rotating parts and flying chips. OHSA requires many different types of machines to be fitted with appropriate guarding devices. In addition to milling machines and power saws, guillotine cutters, shears, portable power tools, jointers and foaming rolls are some of the many machines that need to sufficiently guarded where specific tasks are performed, referred to as the point of operation.

NIOSH fact sheet may help prevent falls in construction

Construction workers in Texas and elsewhere are often injured in falls from scaffolds, roofs and ladders. In fact, the majority of such falls (86%, 81% and 57% respectively) occur in the construction industry. Falls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are the leading cause of death in the industry. They are behind an average of 310 deaths and 10,350 serious injuries every year.

NIOSH hopes to prevent falls in construction with its new fact sheet, which comes with several recommendations. Together with OSHA and the CPWR, the organization is also helped employers prepare for the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, which took place May 6 to 10, with free online resources.

Workplace safety rules can also boost efficiency

Electrical accidents can cause serious injuries or even fatalities to Texas workers, which is one reason why a standard has been developed to help enhance workplace safety for employees dealing with electricity. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), charged with regulating safety on a federal level, requested industry itself develop a standard for electrical safety on the job. The result has become known as NFPA 70E and provides a framework for safer dealings with electricity at work.

NFPA 70E can provide guidelines for workplace safety around electricity as well as a series of rules and procedures that also make the job more efficient. Even those employers who begin with the premise of safety find that following these rules can enhance productivity. Most importantly, following these safety guidelines can prevent the most severe impacts to productivity on the job: serious workplace injuries and deaths related to electricity.

Analyzing risk versus safety at work

Simply creating safety rules and procedures may not be enough for Texas companies to keep workers from getting hurt. Instead, it may be better to consider strategies that favor specific outcomes as opposed to completing tasks. It is also a good idea for companies to think of ways to remain productive without putting their employees in danger. Often times, companies will try to prioritize safety or production as opposed to focusing on how to do both.

It is important to note that a lack of reported accidents doesn't mean that employees are safe. Ideally, employees and managers will continually be on the lookout for hazards as they emerge. This can put everyone within an organization in a proactive mindset as it relates to reducing risk. By eliminating or managing known risks within an organization, it can result in a better safety record.

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