Articles Posted in Construction

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in a news release that it has issued a “serious citation” to Stalwart Films LLC. OSHA said it proposed the maximum allowable fine of $12,675 for “failure to provide adequate protection from fall hazards” while filming the popular television show, “The Walking Dead.”

John Bernecker, the 33 year old stuntman, died last summer from injuries suffered in a 20 foot fall on the set in Georgia.

The citation read that “the employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which was free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm in that employees were exposed to a fall hazard.”  The citation also gave some feasible and acceptable means of reducing the fall hazard including reducing the fall distance, using a freefall catch system, and providing and requiring the use of appropriate personal protective equipment.

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Earlier this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ released their annual census on fatal occupational injuries for 2016.  According to the report, there were 5,190 workplace fatalities in 2016, a 7% increase from 2015 and the highest since 2008. The fatal injury rate also increased from 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2015 to 3.6 in 2016.

Transportation incidents were once again the leading cause of workplace fatalities.  They were responsible for 40% of worker deaths (2,083). Workplace violence injuries were the second most common cause of workplace deaths with 866 (up 23% from last year).  The third most common was injuries from falls, slips, or trips with 849 (6% increase).  Fatal falls, slips, and trips have seen a continued upward trend since 2011.  Arguably the most alarming trend is that the number of overdoses on the job increased by 32% in 2016, and the number of fatalities has increased by at least 25% annually since 2012.

Two other workplace injuries that saw drastic changes in fatalities between 2015 and 2016 were exposure to harmful substances or environment (22% increase) and fires and explosions (27% decrease).

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The winter season has arrived in Pennsylvania and the nasty weather that it brings.  Winter weather presents many hazards for workers including slippery roads/surfaces, strong winds and low temperatures.  The dangers are significantly more prevalent for those employees who work outdoors in the winter season.  However, you don’t need to work outside to suffer a winter related workplace injury.  Slip and falls can happen in numerous places including the parking lot or walkways coming into your building.

It may be tempting for workers to “work through it” or “gut it out” but lengthy exposure to wet, cold, and windy conditions, can be hazardous, even if the temperatures aren’t below freezing.

150204-F-ZB121-001According to the U.S. Department of Labor there were 42,480 work injuries involving ice, sleet, or snow in the United States in 2014.  Pennsylvania was the 2nd highest state in terms of those injuries with 2,390 (behind only New York).

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The summer heat is in full force and every year dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in extreme heat and/or humid conditions.  The construction industry is the occupation that is the most affected by the summer heat accounting for more than 40% of heat-related worker deaths.  However, workers in every field are vulnerable to heat related illness, injury, or death.  In 2011, OSHA launched a Heat Illness Prevention campaign which educates employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat.  OSHA, through training sessions, outreach events, informational sessions, publications, social media messaging and media appearances have informed millions of workers and employers on how to protect from the extreme heat on the job.  OSHA’s safety message comes down to 3 key words: Water. Rest. Shade.

The reason the heat is so dangerous to workers is because when you’re working in a hot environment, the body must work harder than normal to get rid of the excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. This is mainly done through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.  If the fluids and salts that are lost are not adequately replaced it results in dehydration.  If the body is unable to remove the excess heat, it will be forced to store it. If the body starts storing heat it will raise the body’s core temperature and the heart rate will increase.   The worker will then begin to lose concentration, have difficulty focusing on the work, and may become irritable or sick.  The next stage will often be fainting and even death if the person is does not cool down.170627-F-LR947-1022

Dangers of Working in the Heat