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Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

4 primary hazards that cause workplace illness and injury

Employees in New York may face a variety of dangerous situations every day. Safety authorities expect employers to protect workers against workplace illness or injury. However, regardless of the industry in which a person is employed, he or she may be exposed to any of the four common types of occupational hazards.

Chemical hazards are typically posed by flammable, toxic or carcinogenic products that can damage organs and tissues. Biological hazards include parasites and microorganisms that can cause allergies and infections. Both these hazards can affect workers through skin contact, open wounds, inhalation and consumption. Employers must protect workers by providing the necessary personal protective equipment such as gloves and other protective clothing, safety glasses and respirators.

Construction accidents: Worker survives fall down elevator shaft

Exposure to height hazards is par for the course in the construction industry, and employers must protect workers from all known dangers. Falls remain the cause of a significant percentage of severe injuries and fatalities in construction accidents in New York and elsewhere. In many cases, victims were not equipped with fall protection.

A fall on a construction site in a neighboring state will likely be investigated by safety authorities to determine whether the injured worker wore a safety harness to arrest a fall. The incident occurred shortly after 7 a.m. on Jan. 2 at the site of a casino under construction. A spokesperson for the project said no information about the circumstances that led to the fall were available.

New York workplace accidents prevalent during snow removal

New York experienced an excessively cold December, and with large amounts of snow comes the dangers associated with snow removal. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminded employers and workers of the necessary precautions to prevent workplace accidents. This is a task that can cause serious injuries or worse without the proper safeguards. Violations of safety regulations may lead to entrapment under snow that may cause suffocation, and damaged power lines could cause electrocution.

Elevated surfaces such as rooftops are particularly perilous because the additional weight of the snow, and the workers' weights may be too much for the structure to bear. For this reason, the snow load must be evaluated before workers access the roof. Appropriate snow removal techniques must be followed, such as the uniform removal across the roof area to avoid piles of snow that may cause too much weight in small areas.

Every fatal work injury in New York is one too many

The latest report of occupational injuries show that the number of workplace fatalities in New York was 15 percent higher in 2016 than in 2015. Every work injury that happens is one too many -- fatal or nonfatal. Data was broken down into categories to give a clearer picture of the types of injuries that caused fatalities to assist in safety agencies to devise improved safety regulations.

The analysis shows that 30 percent of 2016 workplace fatalities occurred in transportation accidents. Although that number is slightly lower than transportation deaths in 2015, other categories such as slips, trips and falls show significant increases. The total number of New York workers who died in 2016 was 272.

Adequate precautions may prevent wastewater plant work injury

Following up on our blog post about a fatality at a New York wastewater plant from Dec. 12 ("Workplace accident kills wastewater plant worker"), emphasizing the hazards present at these facilities may help prevent more such tragedies. The most important part of any company's quest to avoid fatalities is proper safety training. Such training must inform every employee of potential hazards and how to protect him or herself from suffering a work injury.

Wastewater plants have unique safety hazards and demanding conditions that require equipment and machinery that are properly maintained at all times. Any incident of equipment failure can have devastating consequences. Maintenance includes the appropriate labeling to indicate outlet and intake pipes along with any pieces of equipment that pose electric flash risks. Wearing the necessary protective gear and safety devices to de-energize equipment during maintenance procedures are essential precautions.

Workplace accident kills wastewater plant worker

The Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH), which is the New York State's version of the federal safety agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is collaborating with police detectives in an investigation into the recent death of a worker. The incident, which police say was a workplace accident, happened on Nov. 20. Emergency services say they received a 911 call reporting an incident in Watertown.

A report indicates that a process worker suffered critical injuries under undisclosed circumstances at the wastewater treatment plant. Emergency workers responded to the work site, and the injured employee was rushed to a medical center by ambulance. Sadly, he did not survive, and authorities say he died at the hospital. Reportedly, the deceased worker was a 54-year-old man, born and bred in Watertown, who worked for the New York Upstate wastewater plant for the past 10 years.

Employee dies in workplace accident at New York propane company

The reconstruction unit and the motor carrier unit of the New York State Police, along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently responded after receiving an emergency call. The caller reported a workplace accident that took place at a propane company in Calverton. Paramedics also rushed to the scene.

An incident report that was prepared by the local police indicates that the accident occurred shortly after 1 p.m. on a recent Tuesday. Reportedly, a 43-year-old employee who was the operator of a tank truck that belongs to the propane company accidentally knocked down a co-worker. Paramedics rendered aid to the 35-year-old employee who was struck.

Workplace accident at cosmetics factory kills 1 injures many

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently initiated an investigation in which multiple agencies will take part to determine various aspects of a devastating explosion that took place at a cosmetics manufacturing plant in the town of New Windsor. Reportedly, the workplace accident occurred shortly after 10 a.m. on Nov. 20. Hazmat teams and firefighters rushed to the scene, and a second explosion rocked the facility while rescue workers were inside the burning building.

Authorities say one employee was killed while between 25 and 30 others were injured. During the second explosion, seven firefighters suffered injuries, two of whom had to be rushed to a burn unit. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, this company has been the subject of three investigations in 2012, 2013 and 2016. All those inquiries involved violations related to mismanagement of hazardous energy and flammable liquids, among other safety violations.

Safety violations at supermarkets can cause workplace accidents

Employers in New York and other states must prioritize employee safety at all times. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently reported its concern over the ongoing noncompliance with safety regulations that inspectors found at three Fair Trades Supermarkets in New York. An OSHA area director said the employees at these stores were exposed to several unaddressed safety hazards that could result in workplace accidents.

During safety inspections at these locations, compliance officers found that workers were at risk of suffering eye injuries because they were not provided with safety information about the hazardous chemicals with which they work. Furthermore, there were no eyewash stations for incidents in which they were exposed to corrosive substances. Exit routes were not accessible, and employees were also exposed to several blades that were not protected by safety guards.

Workplace illness: Cold stress threatens outdoor workers

At the start of every winter, New York workers who have to work outdoors will likely feel anxious about the impact their work environments will have on their health. Cold stress is a workplace illness that can be fatal if not treated promptly. This condition is caused by the environmental cold that affects workers who are exposed to air temperatures that are also cold. Cold stress risks are even higher when wind speeds increase because it increases the chill factor by making the air temperature feel colder against the skin.

Workers who are frequently at risk of suffering cold stress include snow cleanup crews, recreational workers, construction crews, firefighters and police officers. Other occupations in which workers are typically exposed to extreme cold include transportation, baggage handlers, transit workers, oil and gas industry support workers and landscapers. However, many other workers spend long hours exposed to environmentally cold conditions.

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