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Which human factors contribute to workplace injuries?

Many preventable occupational accidents and injuries result from human errors. It all boils down to the safety standards of the company and the enforcement of those regulations. Some employers in Oklahoma and elsewhere focus on profits instead of employee safety, often prompting human factors to come into play. It takes only one distracted worker to cause workplace injuries, not only to that person but also to co-workers.

Two of the often-neglected safety risks in all industries are proper planning and good housekeeping. When potential safety risks are addressed in the planning phase, employers can mitigate them. Preplanning can also include time management to prevent workers from taking shortcuts to meet deadlines. In turn, proper housekeeping and supervision can create a safety culture to deal with slip-and-trip hazards before they cause falls.

National Stand-Down focuses on workplace injuries and fatal falls

This is the week of the National Stand-Down of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This year the goal is to remind employers and employees in Oklahoma and across the country of the dangers of working at heights. Numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicate that falls from elevated workplaces remain the primary cause of deaths and workplace injuries in the construction industry.

During this awareness campaign, safety authorities want construction companies to examine and evaluate existing fall protection regulations and analyze unique risks that threaten their employees' safety. The aim is to identify aspects of the existing safety plans that need revision. They must identify the most likely circumstances and locations where falls are likely to happen.

Power tools cause many serious workplace injuries

Hand held power tools are often not used with the necessary care. If the required safety standards are not followed, workplace injuries could even involve severed fingers or worse. Complacency among workers in Oklahoma and elsewhere cause most of these injuries. Safety authorities report that experienced workers are more often victims of power tool injuries than inexperienced workers.

For this reason, revisiting safe power tool handling in safety training is essential. Power saws are frequently the cause of serious injuries, most of which are preventable. Regardless of whether it is a small hand held circular saw or a mounted table saw, their blades could remove a finger in the blink of an eye. Along with safety training, employers must provide the necessary personal protective equipment and other safety devices.

Distractions that cause workplace injuries need more attention

When distractions are mentioned, the image that typically comes to mind is someone walking, driving or eating while texting or talking on a cellphone. Many employers in Oklahoma and other states have strict policies about cellphone use on the job. However, there is an endless list of other distractions that could cause workplace injuries.

The distracting nature of things that happen in the personal lives of workers cannot be ignored. Anyone who focuses on marital problems, financial troubles and other personal matters can lose concentration. Many accidents happen in the blink of an eye, and the slightest loss of focus could have devastating consequences.

Workplace injuries: PPE as important in summer as in winter

Half the human body is water that, among other things, helps with regulate body temperature. In the summertime, the body works extra hard to avoid heat stress. Dehydration is a serious risk during the hotter months, and employers in Oklahoma must provide enough water and shade to protect workers. However, to avoid the discomfort caused by personal protective equipment, some workers go without it, risking workplace injuries.

The heat can affect both indoor and outdoor workers, and removing PPE even for a short time is risky. Workers should keep in mind that the hazards do not magically disappear for the period they work without the necessary protection. During that short time without PPE, workers are at an even higher risk of suffering serious work-related injuries.

Workplace injuries: Inhalation of dust could cause lung disease

Workers in Oklahoma who work in environments where excessive exposure to dust occur can end up with life-threatening lung diseases. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict safety standards in place to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. Sadly, not all employers prioritize profit margins instead of worker safety, and many workers are not provided with personal protective equipment such as respirators.

Pneumoconiosis is the term used for several lung diseases, including silicosis and asbestosis. The dust of asbestos and silica become airborne when disturbed, and inhalation takes it deep into the lungs of workers. Once attached to the inside of the lungs, these diseases as well as cancer become a significant risk. Although there is no cure for pneumoconiosis, it can be prevented.

Excavator operator suffers serious workplace injuries

Construction sites typically have endless lists of safety hazards. Construction company employees risk their lives each day, and compliance with federal and state safety standards is crucial. Employers in Oklahoma and other states are responsible for the safety of workers. Providing adequate safety training is an essential part of the safety protocols on any construction site to avoid preventable workplace injuries.

A recent near-death experience for the operator of an excavator at an Oklahoma City construction site underscores the dangers in this industry. Emergency crews responded to a call at a work site at approximately 3 p.m. on a recent Friday. The call alerted rescue workers to the circumstances that involved a worker trapped underneath an overturned excavator.

Many workplace accidents involve forklifts

Forklifts are essential in various industries in Oklahoma and across the country. Unfortunately, the dangers posed by these vehicles do not always receive the necessary attention. Employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees, and providing adequate safety training forms a part of that responsibility. However, lives continue to be lost in preventable workplace accidents.

A forklift accident that claimed the life of a 32-year-old construction worker in another state underscores the hazards posed by these machines. Reportedly, the man was operating the forklift on a construction site. During an attempt to lower a pallet loaded with steel beams from a tractor-trailer, the forklift pitched to one side, ejecting him from the machine.

What if a workplace injury happens at home?

The amount of inherent risk for injury varies according to what type of work an employee does each day. There are certain industries, such as construction, agriculture or logging, that are known to be among the most dangerous types of work in Oklahoma and elsewhere. If a workplace injury occurs, one of the first questions that needs to be answered is whether the employer may have failed in its obligation to maintain a safe working environment. Things become a bit more complex, however, if the employee in question works from home.

Nowadays, many people work from home. Advanced technology has made mobile employment a convenient and profitable means of earning an income. If a person is on the clock while working from home and an accident occurs that results in injury, is it considered a work accident or a home accident?

Workplace injuries: UV rays can cause eye damage

The sun is an essential element required for all life. However, excessive exposure to UV light can be harmful. In Oklahoma, workers might be aware of the potential workplace injuries of sunburn and skin cancer, but prolonged exposure could also compromise workers' immune systems and damage their eyes and vision. UV light can cause various eye diseases.

Excessive exposure to the sun can cause the natural lens of the eye to become cloudy -- a condition known as cataracts. The conjunctiva or the covering of the eye's white area can develop two types of growths. The first is a yellow bump or spot that can grow in the eye, and the second growth is fleshy and could expand to cover the cornea and limit vision. UV rays reflecting from snow or ice can cause snow blindness, indicated by blurry vision, watery eyes and swelling. Ocular melanoma is a cancer in the eye that can develop from UV light exposure.

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