Many Pennsylvania workers use welding as a part of their jobs. They need to understand that welding involves the possible exposure to any number of toxic metals and gas byproducts. These toxic byproducts are produced with all types of welding. Potentially harmful gases that may be released during welding include carbon dioxide, argon, nitrogen, carbon monoxide and hydrogen fluoride. Additionally, workers may also be exposed to metals, including aluminum, beryllium, manganese, lead and arsenic.
Pennsylvania health care workers may already be aware that nurses have a high rate of on-the-job injuries. In fact, direct care professionals are almost twice as likely to suffer injuries compared to workers in private industries including construction. Nurses also incur a high rate of illnesses from causes as varied as needle sticks to contact with others who have infectious diseases.
Pennsylvania workers can take a number of steps to help protect themselves from being injured on the job. Repetitive motions, such as answering phones or stuffing envelopes, cause a number of injuries and can be prevented with frequent breaks and an ergonomic workstation. Overexertion can also cause injuries while a person is lifting, pulling or pushing an item. It is important to use correct lifting techniques and ask colleagues for help if necessary.
Pennsylvania workers might be interested to learn that the preliminary count of worker fatalities in the country for 2014 was estimated at 4,679, but the final count rose to 4,821, the highest since 2008. The rate of fatal work injuries increased from 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent employees in 2013 to 3.4, the first rise since 2010.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule regarding worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica, and various industries in Pennsylvania and around the country, including construction and hydraulic fracturing, have compliance deadlines between one and five years. The recognition of the dangers of silica dust and regulation of worker exposure dates back to the 1930s when the U.S. Department of Labor first became aware of its harmful effects. Kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, silicosis and lung cancer can all be caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica. However, it was not until 1971, upon the creation of OSHA, when the first standards for worker exposure were set.
A common sleep disorder could put workers in Pennsylvania and nationwide at greater risk for on-the-job injuries, according to a Canadian study. The research, which was conducted by University of British Columbia researchers, shows that those with obstructive sleep apnea were twice as likely to be injured at work and three times as likely to suffer a concentration-related accident, such as tripping or being electrocuted, than those without the disorder.
Ergonomics is the study of worker efficiency, but it Is also a field that involves ensuring that people are performing actions correctly. If people are in the habit of performing repetitive actions in the wrong way, such as with bad posture, they put themselves at risk of musculoskeletal disorders, including tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
In January 2016, a NIOSH study regarding occupational health hazards was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. It found that nearly 22 million workers were impacted by hearing loss, and workers most at risk were in the agricultural, fishing and hunting industries. Other industries where workers in Pennsylvania and around the country may be at a higher risk for hearing loss or tinnitus were included the forestry and manufacturing sectors.
Construction workers in Pennsylvania are often asked to perform extremely hazardous tasks, and they rely on innovative safety systems and the latest protective equipment to keep them safe. Excavation work and trench digging may seem far safer than clinging to scaffolding hundreds of feet in the air, but cave-ins, toxic fumes, oxygen deprivation and flooding are constant sources of worry for workers and safety inspectors alike.
Pennsylvania workers may be interested to learn the results of Liberty Mutual's 2016 Workplace Safety Index, which was released on Jan. 14. The report emphasizes that overexertion injuries continue to be a frequent and expensive source of disabling injuries in the workplace. In addition, several other types of injuries are cited that are worth taking the time to understand.