A national project is aiming to eliminate construction worker injuries in Pennsylvania and across the country. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is holding its sixth annual National Safety Stand-Down against construction falls from May 6-10, 2019. The project focuses on falls because they continue to pose a serious threat to construction worker safety. In 2016, 891 construction workers lost their lives due to workplace accidents. Of those, 370 were related to falls from heights. OSHA emphasizes that all of these deaths are preventable.
Toxic gasses are the primary threat to workers in Pennsylvania and around the country who perform their duties in confined spaces. After investigating the circumstances surrounding 670 confined space workplace deaths, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that atmospheric hazards played a role in about 56 percent of them. The most common dangerous gases found in confined spaces include carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide according to NIOSH.
There is no specific OSHA standard that protects Pennsylvania workers against winter weather hazards. However, employers are required to provide employees with protection against hazards that they may face. For instance, they must be trained in how to handle driving on slick roads or working on slick surfaces. They should also learn how to recognize cold stress and the problems that it could cause. Ideally, workers will have clothing designed for cold, windy or wet weather.
Construction workers in Pennsylvania face unique dangers on the job during the winter months. Freezing temperatures and slippery surfaces from ice and snow compel workers and employers to take extra safety precautions during winter, according to experts. Preparation for the oncoming cold can begin before winter.
Work can be a dangerous place for construction workers in Pennsylvania and across the country. Because employees in construction handle heavy equipment and deal with incomplete structures, workplace accidents can be devastating. One area of construction is particularly dangerous for employees: trenching and excavation projects. The nature of these projects makes them vulnerable to cave-in and collapse, and too many employers don't abide by safety regulations. The number of fatalities on the job related to trenching projects has drawn concern at a federal level.
It is not uncommon for workers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to feel tired on the job. According to a study from the National Safety Council, 69 percent of respondents said that they were fatigued while at work. It also found that all respondents who worked in construction said that they were at risk for being tired. Transportation workers often said that a lack of sleep and long hours at work lead to their fatigue.
In January 2015, some revisions that OSHA made to its injury and fatality reporting rule went into effect. Between that month and April 2017, employers reported 4,185 fatalities and 23,282 severe injuries. They conducted nearly 15,000 investigations to evaluate the causes of those injuries or deaths, and OSHA conducted over 10,000 of its own onsite investigations. Employers in Pennsylvania may think that these numbers are mostly accurate.
Construction employees and employers in Pennsylvania are probably already aware of the "fatal four" hazards in their industry. For others who are interested, they are: falls, electrocution, caught-in-between incidents and struck-by incidents. Minimizing these is essential because the construction industry is among the most hazardous in the U.S. One in five worker fatalities in 2016 were on construction sites, according to OSHA.
Workers in Pennsylvania can face real hazards on the job that put them at risk for sustaining serious, long-term injuries. A lack of safety training and knowledge can lead to severe accidents and even deaths in some cases. For example, people who work on aerial lifts can be seriously hurt if they do not know how to operate them properly and in a safe manner. Every year across the country, around 26 workers lose their lives while using the lifts. There are many issues linked to these deaths on the job, including falls, electrocutions and tip-over incidents. In addition, workers have been trapped or crushed between the bucket or guardrail and another object.
Working around machinery on Pennsylvania job sites can be dangerous due to how fast machines are capable of moving. If an accident involving heavy machinery does occur, any employees involved are at risk for experiencing severe injuries. However, there are some steps employers can take to reduce the risk.