The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not published specific steps that employers must take to protect workers from heat stress on hot days. OSHA does, though, have a General Duty Clause that applies to protect workers in Pennsylvania from working in hazardous environments. On some days, the heat may rise to the level of presenting a hazard. Additionally, OSHA has published recommendations to protect workers from heat stress. Among the recommendations are providing breaks for rest and ensuring workers maintain healthy levels of hydration.
Employers in Pennsylvania have a duty to protect their workers from inorganic lead exposure. OSHA's lead standards cover general industries as well as construction sites and shipyards in particular. Most workers are exposed to this material by inhaling lead-containing dust and fumes or by ingestion via lead-contaminated hands or clothing. Therefore, it's important for employers to first identify these safety risks.
A wide range of industries in Pennsylvania are seeing an increase in the number of employees with some form of hearing loss. Such employees are at a higher risk for injury because they have difficulty communicating and hearing alarms and other warning sounds, especially when they are wearing hearing protection. While they are subject to the same OSHA regulations as other workers, OSHA does have recommendations when it comes to hearing protectors.
There were 23,282 severe injuries reported to OSHA between January 2015 and April 2017. However, the true number of severe injuries during that period may be much higher according to the former assistant secretary for OSHA. Companies in Pennsylvania and elsewhere may be concerned about what could happen if they accurately report all severe injuries. For instance, they could be worried that an inspection will occur and uncover other safety violations.
Pennsylvania companies have a legal obligation to provide employees with a safe place to work. That means heeding regulations published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, among other requirements. OSHA has issued reminders for companies that have employees working in hot conditions to prevent heat illness. Employers are required by OSHA standards to establish heat illness prevention programs. The key elements of such programs are rest, water, and shade.
In Pennsylvania and across the U.S., the summer brings with it extreme heat and the risk of developing heat-related illnesses. Both indoor and outdoor workers run this risk, so employers should have a plan in place to address it. After all, more than 1,300 workers die every year in this country from extreme heat.
It is not uncommon to hear about McDonald's employees having to deal with angry customers while at work. Recently, employees have asked OSHA to look into these incidents and how the company has handled them. The workers want the workplace watchdog organization to assess how McDonald's responds to workplace violence in stores throughout Pennsylvania and rest the country. According to the National Employment Law Project, there have been 271 media reports of violence at various locations in the past three years.
Workers in Pennsylvania, especially construction workers, know that there is a danger in being struck by falling objects. OSHA has called falling objects the third leading cause of deaths in construction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has said that 5.2% of all workplace injuries are the result of falling objects striking workers. In 2017, there were 45,940 such injuries.
Falls are the No. 1 cause of fatalities among construction workers throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Every year, an average of 310 construction workers die in falls. Another 10,350 fall victim to fall-related injuries. The majority of falls from scaffolding, roofs and ladders occur in the construction industry.
Liberty Mutual has released its Workplace Safety Index for 2019, and the results may be of interest to workers in Pennsylvania, especially those in construction and other blue-collar industries. Every year, the index documents the top 10 causes of the most serious workplace injuries and ranks them according to their direct cost to employers.