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National Crisis in the Workplace

by: Allison Theresa

Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports 14 people die every day from work related injuries. President of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations calls workplace injuries and deaths “a national crisis.” Though agencies like OSHA work to regulate and enforce workplace safety, employers continue to put employees at risk in six major areas.

Transportation Incidents

Transportation incidents accounted for 2,083 workplace deaths in 2016, the highest death toll of any incident type. Compounding the unpredictability of road and motor conditions, employers put their employees at high risk by pushing them to fatigue through unrealistic expectations, distracting them while operating a motor vehicle through company notifications, and encouraging reckless behaviors by prioritizing quick turnaround. Additionally, a lack of communication or supervision on a worksite can result in dangerous back over, or backing up, accidents. If a job requires employees to operate or use motor vehicles, employers are required protect workers from dangerous conditions.

Violence in the Workplace

An increasing number of incidences of violence are occurring in workplaces across the country. Now the second leading cause of death in the workplace, workplace violence claimed 866 lives in 2016. Women are disproportionally victims of this type of workplace risk. These incidents result from an often overlooked feature of workplace safety: protection from violent co-workers. All people deserve the right to earn a living wage, but if a person displays violent tendencies an employer should investigate and possibly terminate their employment immediately. Their employee’s safety could be at risk.

Falls, Slips, Trips

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace fatalities due to falls, slips, and trips has been on a steady uptick since 2011. The same report finds that in a number of common industries (roofing, carpentry, landscaping, and truck driving), falls increased more than 25 percent in 2016. It’s no coincidence that fall protection ranked number one on OSHA’s list of most frequently violated standards. For nearly all workplaces, OSHA issues regulations to keep workers safe from these kind of injuries and fatalities. Following these regulations is the responsibility of the employer.

Contact with Objects and Equipment

Accidents from contact with objects and equipment refers to the number of cases where a worker is struck by an object, struck against an object, caught in an object or equipment, and caught in collapsing material. The number of incidents resulting in death increased over the past year by over 5 percent. Jobs requiring heavy machinery are at a higher risk for injuries and fatalities of this nature but any heavy and/or sharp object at a work place contains risk. Employees should be trained on how to operate and store dangerous machinery and tools to keep themselves and their coworkers safe.

Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments

Over the past year, the number of fatalities from exposure to harmful substances or environments jumped from 424 cases in 2015 to 518 cases in 2016. Some industry professionals speculate that dangerous incidents of this nature will increase as regulations of hazardous and toxic material decrease to make way for greater profit. Exposure in a workplace can occur through skin contact, but it can also occur through inhalation and ingestion if the work environment is harmful. Employers that deal with potentially hazardous substances, like chemicals and pollutants, must follow specific industry guidelines to keep their employees safe.

Fires and Explosions

Of the types of accidents, fatal incidents of fires and explosions is the only one to experience a decrease in recent years. Down by nearly 30 percent, fatal fires and explosions are becoming less common but no less dangerous. Workplaces like kitchens, factory floors, and welding workshops continue to be hazards for workers who are not adequately protected or trained.

Unfortunately, workplace injuries and fatalities can happen at any workplace. By law, workers have a right to a workplace that is free of known dangers, whose floors are as clean and dry as possible, to personal protective equipment and gear, and to training about hazards on the job. If you or a loved one has suffered from a hazardous work environment, you may be entitled to compensation. With 30 years of experience, Deliso Law can fight for you to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation at &18-238-3100 or email us at delisolaw@gmail.com.

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf