Unfortunately, Virginia workplaces can all too often be hazardous for workers. In a recent presentation to the 2018 National Safety Council Congress, a deputy director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) presented a list of the top 10 safety violations that endanger workers on the job. A number of these most frequently cited violations rise to the top of the list year after year. This includes the No. 1 spot: inadequate fall protection.
A deadly scaffolding collapse at an out-of-state construction site for a hotel resort serves as a reminder to workers in Virginia of workplace hazards. Two men, ages 34 and 46, perished at the scene of the accident on Aug. 29 after a scaffold collapsed beneath them during the pouring of concrete. The fatal incident shocked workers. One iron welder told reporters that federal safety inspectors had been at the site every day and that he did not know what could have gone wrong.
When Virginia workers handle chemicals or other dangerous materials, they could face an increased risk of getting hurt. Therefore, it is important to have a safety plan in place that can protect employees while handling such materials. Workers can help themselves by following safety protocols and completing a task as they have been trained to do. They can also help themselves by not handling any container that is not labeled or is not clearly labeled.
Virginia residents who work around machinery, whether heavy duty or smaller and easier to operate, know that there are hazards involved. Improper use of machinery, in addition to poor maintenance and a lack of protective guarding, can raise the risk for an injury. Employees and employers alike should consider the five safety tips below to prevent any machinery-related incidents.
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.