According to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal workplace accidents are more common than they should be. In 2013, a total of 4,405 workers died on the job in the United States. Earlier this month, shortly after the release of that data, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration passed new regulations that aim to crack down on employers who do not adequately document workplace injuries.
When workers are on the job they are often pressed to focus on their tasks. Safety should be a major concern, too, but the steps to prevent workplace injuries from occurring too often get missed and many Pennsylvania employers fail to take even rudimentary safety precautions the way they should. The result can be debilitating injury. Fatal accidents occur, too.
Last month on our Philadelphia blog we noted that the families of workers who were injured or killed on the job expressed disappointment that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was not coming down harder on companies where safety violations had occurred. Now it appears that it is the federal government's turn to express its dissatisfaction with some of the state-run occupational safety programs.
A number of prior posts on our Pennsylvania blog have discussed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in connection with a variety of workplace injuries and accidents. When an employee is injured or killed on the job, OSHA's responsibility is to discover whether the company followed proper safety procedures during the incident in question. And a recent study has revealed that OSHA inspections do in fact reduce the number of workplace hazards.
Last month, we posted about the dangers posed to workers by exposure to silica. While silica can harm workers in a wide variety of industries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently indicated that those who work around hydraulic fracturing equipment could risk excessive exposure to silica dust. OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have cautioned that fracking companies need to prevent their employees from being exposed to the substance.
Pennsylvania and federal workplace laws have been instituted to protect employees from accidents and injuries while on the job. Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will visit companies from time to time to ensure that they are complying with all applicable regulations.
The calendar is nearly ready to turn to June, and hot and humid summer-like weather will soon reach Philadelphia and other parts of Pennsylvania. That can mean dangerous conditions for employees who spend their working hours outdoors. According to one U.S. Labor Department doctor, some of the jobs that have the greatest risk for illness brought on by exposure to the heat are roofers, construction workers and those involved in farming.
Employers in our state must abide by workplace safety laws enacted by the federal government and by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. But laws vary to certain degrees among the states, and a recent study of workplace accidents suggests that these differences are linked to the number of fatal accidents reported in a state.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun an investigation into a workplace accident that occurred across the border from Pennsylvania. Reports indicate that a roofer is in critical condition after he fell through the roof on which he was working and landed in a large vat of nitric acid.
Some prior posts on this blog have mentioned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in its role as investigator of workplace accidents in Pennsylvania and around the country. But the agency does more than that. It also creates new safety regulations in response to workplace hazards. A new study performed by the Government Accountability Office, however, has revealed that OSHA can be inefficient in the latter role, potentially placing employees' lives in danger.