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Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

OSHA launches interactive work hazard identification tool

We frequently write about the numerous hazards that many American workers encounter at their work sites on a daily basis. Some of these hazards are obvious, like the heights from which many New York construction workers must navigate their tasks. However, other hazards may be hidden. These hidden hazards cannot be properly addressed until they are identified. When hazards remain hidden, they may cause workplace accidents which could have been prevented had employees and employers identified them and responded to them appropriately.

In an effort to prevent countless workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released an interactive training tool aimed specifically at preventing accidents at work sites run by small business owners. This virtual tool will help small businesses in the construction and manufacturing industries specifically to identify, abate and eventually control workplace safety hazards.

Workers: Heed these warnings before stepping onto ladders

We frequently write about the hazards that New York construction workers face when they are working on skyscrapers and high-rises. However, construction workers and other outdoor laborers also regularly face danger even when they are only working a story or two off the ground. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, more than 40 percent of all fatal workplace accidents caused by falls involve ladders. An additional 20 percent of non-fatal fall injuries involve these seemingly simple tools.

Thankfully, the majority of ladder injuries may be prevented if certain safety measures are taken thoughtfully and consistently. As a result, it is critically important that both employers and workers alike take ladder safety seriously. It is important to avoid using ladders when a safer alternative is available. However, when ladders are necessary to complete a job, embracing ladder-fall safety prevention measures is essential to maintaining a safe worksite.

Worker's death illustrates limitations of OSHA penalties

The Boston Globe recently published a piece profiling the death of an American worker employed at an East Coast hummus plant. The man became caught in rotating nine-inch blades that function to blend the hummus product made at the plant. After being crushed by the blades, he perished as a result of his injuries as an ambulance transported him to a local hospital.

Company records indicate that a safety consultant employed by the owner of the hummus plant had warned the plant owner that if workers who cleaned the plant were not properly trained in a process known as “lock out/tag out” that the probability that a fatality could occur is likely certain within a year’s timeframe.” Two years before the worker’s death OSHA fined the owner of the hummus plant for failure to observe that very procedure in another one of its plants. Ultimately, it was determined that the worker’s life could have been spared if he had followed that procedure.

NIOSH is investigating fracking-related safety risks for workers

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is occurring in numerous states across the country. New York legislators have yet to determine whether high-volume fracking will be allowed within the state’s borders. However, companies are currently engaging in fracking from Pennsylvania to Montana.

As New York considers whether or not to allow fracking, it is important to consider all relevant information available about the practice, the effects it has on the environment and the risks it poses to workers operating on fracking sites. For example, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently began an investigation into fracking risks after it learned that numerous workers on fracking sites have died as a result of workplace accidents and occupational illness.

Will prescription narcotics affect your workers' comp claim?

If you have been injured on the job, you have likely been examined by a physician. Depending on the nature of your injury, your physician may have prescribed you painkillers. There is absolutely no shame in taking prescription painkillers if you truly need them. However, because narcotic pain killers can be addictive, you must be extremely careful when taking them.

If you are informed about proper dosages and do not exceed them, you will hopefully not develop an addition to these medications. However, it is possible that narcotic prescription pain killers could harm you even if you remain free of addiction. A new study indicates that taking prescription narcotic painkillers may negatively affect your workers’ compensation claim.

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