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 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.
There are numerous state and federal regulations that employers in Texas and around the country must abide by, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began enforcing a new one on Dec. 1, 2016. OSHA uses workplace accident and injury data to identify areas of concern and develop strategies to address them, and it is crucial that this information accurately reflects what is going on in workplaces around the country.
Texas residents may be interested in an innovation that may revolutionize how companies identify and prevent workplace injuries. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are pioneering a computer algorithm that will analyze video information to give employers more accurate risk assessments than are available through human observations. If the technology works and is widely used, it could greatly help companies lower the costs of workplace injuries and protect their employees.
Employers and managers in Texas may be unclear about their record-keeping obligations when a workplace injury occurs. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule may help clarify the matter. Under the rule, which is scheduled to take effect in mid-January 2017, employers may be subject to citations for not properly reporting workplace illnesses and injuries as mandated.
Texans who work in the manufacturing and construction industries may be required to perform hot work as a regular part of their jobs. Hot work involves welding, burning, grinding, using power tools that produce sparks, soldering and cutting. All of these activities may expose workers to a risk of being severely injured from burns or explosions.
In Texas and throughout the US, cave-ins, also called trench collapses, at construction sites have killed dozens of workers and resulted in hundreds of injuries yearly. It is no surprise, therefore, that trenching and excavation work is one of the most perilous construction projects. Here are some points to help keep construction workers safe as they work at excavation worksites.
Workplaces in Texas and around the country are getting safer. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Oct. 27, the annual number of work-related injuries and illnesses in the United States has been declining for the past 13 years. In 2015, there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal work-related illnesses and injuries reported, or three cases for every 100 full-time employees.
Landscape workers in Texas and around the country face many occupational hazards while they remove dead trees and trim branches from live ones. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published a list of tips for staying safe while doing tree work. According to OSHA, some of the most dangerous hazards faced by tree workers are bad weather, power lines and lack of training with power tools.
Texas workers may wonder about the cost of workers' compensation to employers versus the benefits received by people who are injured on the job. A study conducted by the National Academy of Social Insurance states that employee benefits changed between 2010 and 2014 due to various factors.