Workers in Virginia can face serious risks on the job, especially when companies fail to prioritize workplace safety. While many work sites proclaim their commitment to safety, this does not mean that all companies regularly place the health of workers above other concerns, such as saving money or increasing profits. Instead, they may consider the cost of paying for worker injuries to be just another cost of doing business.
In 2014, 660 workers died after a fall from heights while another 138 died after a fall from the same level. Virginia residents may be prone to falling if they work in the same area for a long period of time. Workers can become complacent and not stay vigilant about potential hazards. Ideally, individuals will walk in a controlled manner and avoid using a cellphone.
Construction workers in Virginia may have good reason to worry about the safety of the very air they breathe on the job. Silica dust can be a significant contaminant at construction sites, generated when cutting, sanding or grinding concrete, brick, drywall and other standard construction materials. While silica is very common at construction sites, it can also carry grave dangers. However, enforcement of federal regulation has only been in place for six months, and many sites report that compliance continues to be weak and limited.
Warehouses in Virginia have become busy workplaces as more retail shopping shifts to online outlets. Workers must store and move large amounts of inventory, often in close quarters. Boxes on high shelves, forklifts and slippery floors routinely create workplace hazards. Warehouse managers have the ability to reduce the chances of accidents by training workers and installing barriers and automation equipment designed to protect people from injury and potential death.
On-the-job injuries are all too common in Virginia, especially in fast-paced work environments. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that approximately 2,000 workers suffer eye injuries every day. When both employers and employees neglect to enforce safety guidelines, injury rates increase, which causes more workers' compensation costs and medical expenses. Productivity goes down as does employee morale and retention.
According to some safety advocates, regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fall short of what is necessary to protect workers in Virginia. Since the creation of the agency, OSHA has created only about 30 guidelines for chemical exposures on top of the original 470 rules inherited from industry standards in the 1960s. The agency must overcome significant hurdles to establish even one chemical exposure limit. Studies that involve dozens of researchers and millions of dollars must take place to gather data proving a chemical is dangerous.
Virginia workers who work near machinery have to be wary of pinch points. According to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a pinch point is a point at which a person or some part of their body can be wedged between the movable parts of a machine. A pinch point can also result in a person being caught between the stationary and movable pieces of a machine or between any parts of a machine and material.
Construction sites in Virginia are typically noisy and dusty with people and machinery in constant motion. Advances in technology have added tools that can be used on heavy machinery to help operators and people on the ground avoid accidental injury or death.
The most effective thing the government can do to help protect workers in Virginia and across the country is to strictly enforce regulations, said the former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. He stated that voluntary employer programs tend to have only limited benefits for workplace safety, because the companies involved in these programs often start out with some of the safest workplaces in the country.
Workers in Virginia who use electronic gas detectors in order to ensure a job safe environment often utilize pumps with those devices. The choice to use a monitor with or without a pump can have major implications for workplace safety and avoiding dangerous incidents. Using a gas monitor with a pump can help to increase safety for tasks involving the measurement or detection of combustible or toxic gases in the atmosphere. This is because a pump can help workers collect air from the environment in one place and assess it with the monitor in an area that is already known to be safe.