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El Paso Workers'' Compensation Law Blog

How job quality affects workers' health

Workers in Texas and other states may be interested in the results of a study that analyzed how the work that people do and the way it is organized influence their wealth and health. Employment relationships are complex and determine opportunities for advancement, work schedules, salary and protection against dangerous or adverse working conditions.

In the study, individuals with dead-end jobs, like working in a manufacturing assembly line and having little room for new opportunities, and those with precarious jobs, like retail workers or janitors, were more likely to report poor mental and general health and workplace injury. Individuals in skilled positions with inflexible hours, like physicians, and gig workers had increased injuries and worse mental health when compared to those with standard employment.

OSHA: employers must measure respiratory hazards

Under OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard, all employers must evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace before determining if their workers need respirators. This, as employers in Texas should know, was the decision that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit came to back in September 2019.

The court made its decision after hearing a case about inadequate tests that were being made of respiratory hazards in a marine vessel repair facility. The superintendent, who was designated as the "competent person" to conduct tests, had failed to consider the hazard found in welding fumes. OSHA inspectors also found that the workers there were suffering due to improper ventilation.

Dosimetry limits radiation risks to Texas workplace safety

Though low, the risks of radiation exposure are cumulative and severe. This is due in part to the fact that some types can cause negative health consequences 10 years or longer after exposure. Workers exposed to too much radiation may face an increased risk of several types of cancer and other negative health outcomes. El Paso employees who work around radiation sources will benefit from an understanding of how dosimetry can limit health risks.

The most common exposure threat is found from ionizing radiation devices. These are in widespread use in dental and medical offices. All employees in settings with an X-ray machine are considered to be at risk. OSHA publishes a number of standards regarding radiation exposure. However, one industry author maintains that while workplace safety standards for radiation do exist, none tell "what is too much for each person."

Be aware of new EPA labeling requirements

Texas workers must often be concerned with the safe handling of hazardous materials while on the job. New guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency are designed to increase awareness and improve workplace safety. Becoming familiar with these guidelines is the best way to ensure materials are properly handled, stored and disposed of.

The EPA's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act governs the labeling of hazardous materials. Until recently, waste generators were not required to identify hazardous materials or warn others about their dangers. The latest mandates, however, require labels that clearly state 'hazardous waste" along with a description of what is in the container. The date on which waste began accumulating must be included as well.

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.

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