Workplace injury is not an uncommon occurrence in Pennsylvania, though some industries involve greater risk than others. When it comes to industrial sites and facilities, such as nuclear power plants, the risk of injury is certainly greater than it is in an office environment.
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.
According to new information from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of fatal injuries in the workplace decreased 5 percent from 2012 to 2013. That is obviously a good thing, though the need for improvement remains, particularly in certain categories of accidents. Last year, 3.2 out of 100,000 full-time employees die, which is still too many.
Employers are not always cooperative when it comes to compensating injured employees. This is evident from a recent case in Pennsylvania. The case involved a former employee who apparently injured his eye during a fall which occurred as he was in the process of removing personal belongings from a company vehicle after having quit. The fall occurred on company premises and was witnessed by a manager who later refused to approve a physician referral request because the injury allegedly occurred when the man was no longer an active employee.
Those who work in the coal mining industry experience unique risks that those in other industries do not face. One of these risks is that of developing a condition called "black lung disease," which is a generic name for any lung disease stemming from inhalation of coal dust. The condition involves symptoms of coughing, airway obstruction and shortness of breath, and it is incurable.
Workplace injuries occur every day. In fact, the AFL-CIO reports that an average day sees more than 10,000 work-related injuries and nearly 150 workers die as a result. Though new workplace laws and regulations coupled with OSHA inspections aim to keep workers safe, these statistics show that not enough is being done. Unfortunately, this means workers will continue to lose their health and their lives, making memorials necessary.
A Pennsylvania-based company is working to modernize fracking; the process by which natural resources like gas and oil are extracted from the ground after surrounding rock is fractured by pressurized liquid, sand or other chemicals. Schramm Inc. has created the T500XD, a drilling rig that utilizes touchscreens and joysticks to allow the machine to walk, rotate in a full circle, and load pipe. The new device is believed to increase worker safety, including those in Pennsylvania. Dangerous oil jobs that once had to be performed by humans may now be carried out by remote control machines like the T500XD.
There is some good news for Pennsylvania workers. According to a recent survey, workplace safety is the number one concern for small business owners, outranking cyber-security, professional liability and natural disaster risks. Some say the survey's results show that employers value their workers and want to maintain productivity and morale while avoiding workers' compensation costs. In an attempt to protect workers, small business owners hope to address slip-and-falls, which account for almost 25 percent of workplace injuries.
Nearly every job in Pennsylvania poses risk of injury. Some of these risks are foreseeable and preventable while others are not. If an employee is injured in a workplace accident, then he or she may need compensation to help cover his or her lost wages and medical expenses. Workers' compensation, provided by an employer's insurance, is meant to help cover these costs. Yet, sometimes claims are denied and injured workers are left out to dry. For this reason, it is important Pennsylvania workers familiarize themselves with how and when workers' compensation can be recovered.