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Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

OSHA aiming to protect workers from refrigeration toxin exposure

The Global Cold Chain Alliance represents roughly 1,650 employers affiliated with the temperature-controlled (or cold chain) products industry. These employers, and the 300,000 or so workers they employ, make significant efforts aimed at ensuring that various perishable products that Americans rely on maintain their quality and are safe when consumers pick them off store shelves or otherwise come into contact with them.

This industry is vitally important. Without the employers and workers that focus on this area of consumer safety, Americans would basically risk food poisoning on a regular basis and would lack access to refrigerated medications and other critical products. Yet, for all the efforts that these workers make to ensure the safety of consumers and patients, they often risk toxic exposure due to the nature of their positions.

Tell OSHA what you think about proposed work safety rule

When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration crafts a proposed rule concerning work safety, it must generally submit the rule to the public for comment before it can finalize the rule. This feedback mechanism allows workers, safety advocates and employers to voice their support, opposition, suggestions and concerns to OSHA directly for its review. Although far fewer Americans take advantage of commenting on proposed rules than they might if they better understood the process, those with access to this information should certainly comment on any proposed rules that they feel strongly about.

For example, OSHA recently extended the comment period in regards to an important proposed rule that would greatly impact the tracking of work-related injuries and illnesses in the U.S. Until October 14 of this year, the public may submit comments and general feedback on this proposed rule to OSHA on its website.

The larger implications of the Ralph Lauren signature scandal

When a well-known company takes a stand on a controversial issue, this action tends to either positively or negatively influence consumers’ perception of that company’s brand. As a result, businesses must often weigh the costs and benefits of taking a stand versus following standard practice. If a company takes a stand, it must generally be worth the ethical and financial risks of doing so.

Sometimes this kind of action directly benefits the company’s employees. For example, when Starbucks became the first major American chain to grant medical benefits to its part-time employees, workers reaped the benefits of this company’s commitments. On the other hand, a company’s stand could also negatively impact workers. Most recently, a scandal involving clothing giant Ralph Lauren stood its ground in ways that signal danger for the safety of factory workers associated with the business and other employees tied to the company as well.

Office safety measures are evolving in interesting ways

We frequently write about the hazards that many New York workers face on a daily basis. Construction workers, dock workers, delivery personnel and even hospital workers must consistently work to avoid being physically harmed on the job. We also note with some regularity that even office workers may be harmed on the job if certain precautions are not taken.

It seems that many employers are embracing the idea that workplace accidents can be prevented in even the most seemingly safe office spaces. These employers are increasingly utilizing a variety of fairly odd measures in order to promote safety in the workplace.

Major American airline cited by OSHA for numerous violations

We frequently write about hazardous occupations and unsafe working conditions. Most of the time, we write about industries with a high rate of worker injury, like construction. However, we do emphasize from time to time that any American workplace can be unsafe and can inspire workplace accidents if employers do not prioritize the wellbeing of workers.

A good illustration of this reality occurred recently at an airport frequented by many New Yorkers. Newark airport in New Jersey plays host to a number of high-profile airlines. Travelers from all over the world frequent this airport, as do airline workers from all over the globe. Unfortunately, this seemingly ultra-safe workspace (rarely do American workplaces employ the kinds of safety-minded checks and balances that airports do) is apparently quite dangerous for workers employed by United Airlines.

OSHA seeks to educate workers on preventing demolition accidents

Sometimes it is necessary to destroy an existing structure before a new one can be created. Especially in cities like New York that have been built up over a number of centuries, demolition work is necessary for development because there is simply no longer any fresh land in the city upon which to build something new.

Demolition crews and demolition work is therefore essential to the city’s growth and evolution. However, this critical work is often extremely dangerous. Because of its important function and because of the hazards associated with this work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently engaged in efforts aimed at making sure that demolition workers are kept as safe as possible despite the dangerous they face while on the job.

Industrial accident kills worker in New York aluminum plant

For all the progress America has made in workplace safety, some jobs remain dangerous. These are jobs in construction and industrial work that still come with a high risk of accidents and a high risk of death or disability when accidents occur.

Sadly, a worker lost his life earlier this month in an aluminum plant in Scriba, New York. Within hours of the fatal workplace accident, investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were on the scene. At this point, details about the incident are somewhat sketchy, and the full investigation could take months to complete. What is known at this point is that a 31-year-old contractor who had worked at the aluminum plant since 2006 was killed in an accident that occurred in the remelt and recycling area.

Keeping workers safe on a reasonable budget

We frequently write about the fact that it is important for both employers and employees to work together in order to cultivate a culture of safety in the workplace. However, employers and employees are often hesitant to initiate certain safety reforms for fear that the costs of implementing them will hurt the company’s bottom-line, the ability for employers to retain qualified employees or both. Thankfully, a number of cost-effective safety-related reforms can help to ensure a safe workplace.

First, it is important for employers to make smart hiring decisions after receiving valuable feedback from existing employees. A number of workplace accidents occur when employees are not as invested in their own safety as they arguably should be. If employers learn from existing employees what characteristics are lending themselves practically to a safe environment and then hire new individuals who exhibit these characteristics, the worksite will almost certainly remain safer as a result than it would be if careless individuals were hired instead.

When truckers are encouraged to break HOS regulations

One of the most talked-about stories this June was the truck accident that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan, a native New Yorker best known for his work on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock. While driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, Morgan’s limousine was struck by a semi-truck operated by a driver who allegedly had not slept in 24 hours.

Like many truck accidents, this one was preventable. Although it is unclear why the driver was behind the wheel despite being so fatigued, other truck drivers can understand the pressures he may have been under. Despite federal regulations meant to decrease fatigue and improve driver safety, the trucking industry continues to focus only on delivery deadlines and miles traveled with little regard for the human limitations of drivers.

Straightforward ways to improve workplace safety

One of the most frequent complaints about government safety regulation in general and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in particular is that many safety-related demands placed on businesses are cost-prohibitive. Critics say that small businesses are forced to choose between complying with OSHA regulations and making a profit.

This is a false choice. Safety compliance does come with costs, but these costs are more than offset by the money saved by preventing workplace injuries and illnesses. Ensuring a safe workplace is largely about creating a culture of workplace safety.

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