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Workplace injuries are not unusual in construction zones

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation recently urged drivers to be cautious when they travel through the construction zones of the project at the interchange of the I-235 and I-44. In an attempt to cut down on the number of workplace injuries that happen all too often in construction zones, safety authorities are asking vehicle operators to look out for workers and not to exceed the posted speed limits. One construction worker likened working in a construction zone to having a big rig drive through an office or another workplace at 75 mph.

This man says a co-worker was killed in a construction zone in 2015, and most workers have experienced near misses. He says workers never know whether they will return home safely every night. They are vulnerable and exposed to the negligence of vehicle operators who travel through the construction zones.

Workplace injuries to the hands can be life-changing

Strangely, most people will take precautions to prevent all kinds of workplace accidents without protecting their hands, which are essential for almost every job they do. Severe workplace injuries to a person's fingers or hands will not only limit his or her ability to continue working but also affect the individual's quality of life. Safety authorities say that as many as one million work-related hand injuries are treated nationwide every year, including in Oklahoma.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that approximately 70 percent of workers with hand injuries wore no gloves or other hand protection. The other 30 percent wore damaged or inappropriate gloves. Lacerations are the most frequently reported hand injuries, and in many cases, adequate gloves could have prevented the injury. Gloves that can avoid damage by slicing motions of a sharp knife or tool might not be sufficient to prevent penetration by a stabbing motion.

Know the steps to take after workplace injuries

Every workplace poses safety hazards regardless of the industry. Working on an oil rig or a construction site might be hazardous, but so is working in a hospital or an office. All Oklahoma workers must be familiar with the steps to take in the event of workplace injuries. Even if injuries seem minor, hidden symptoms might lead to workers' compensation claims down the road.

Reporting the injury to a supervisor or employer is crucial and should be done as soon as the injured worker has received the necessary medical care. It is also important to know whether an injured worker can go to his or her own doctor or a doctor chosen by the employer. The doctor must be informed that it is a work-related injury to ensure the necessary documentation will be available if a claim arises.

Workplace injuries to hands can be life changing

Workers in Oklahoma often do not stop to think about the importance of their hands, which are essential for every job they do. Employers often fail to include hand and finger safety in safety training, while serious injuries that could have life-altering consequences can happen in the blink of an eye. Safety authorities say that about one million employees nationwide get treatment for hand-related workplace injuries each year.

Even while gloves are the most generally used personal protective equipment in all industries, hand injuries remain the second most frequently reported occupational injury. However, many hand injuries occur because workers did not have gloves or their gloves provided inadequate protection. Hand injuries can be penetration wounds or lacerations as well as crush injuries or fractures of the bones in the hands or fingers.

Painters' fall harnesses save them from workplace injury

Construction workers face numerous safety hazards whenever they are on building sites. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety standards, many of them dealing with working at heights and on scaffolding. Sadly, not all employers prioritize employee safety, often with catastrophic consequences. However, two Oklahoma workers have their employer's compliance with fall protection regulations to thank for saving each of them from suffering a fatal workplace injury.

Reportedly, Oklahoma City firefighters received an emergency call shortly after 6 p.m. on a recent Tuesday. They rushed to the scene to find the two workers suspended in their fall-arrest harnesses. The workers were painting the multi-story hotel building when one end of the scaffold structure collapsed while they were working at the level of the 12th floor. Firefighters gained access to the two workers from inside the hotel by breaking through glass windows.

Workplace injury: Guidelines set to protect tractor operators

Farmworkers nationwide, including in Oklahoma, face an endless list of hazards every day. Safety authorities are particularly concerned about the number of fatalities on farms nationwide that are caused by tractor rollovers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, such accidents claimed 130 lives last year and caused many a preventable workplace injury.

In January, OSHA released a guide containing safety measures related to tractor safety to protect the operators of these dangerous machines. The guide focuses on the fact that a cage frame or roll bars are ideal mitigating measures to protect tractor operators, and employers must replace damaged devices after rollover incidents. Authorities also urge employers to provide farmworkers with the necessary safety training related to tractor operating and to ensure such training is repeated at least annually.

Some Oklahoma workers face less-common workplace injuries

Oklahoma workers in all industries face safety risks, regardless of whether they work on construction sites, behind office desks, doing landscaping or other work environments. Some injury types are typical to specific industries, such as scaffold-related accidents in construction, and equipment-related workplace injuries in manufacturing. However, some workers have to deal with uncommon occupational hazards.

One such a risk is that posed by dogs. Employees who provide services at the homes of clients or delivery workers frequently have to deal with dogs, many of which are unpredictable. Dog bites can have severe consequences that could involve expensive medical treatment and lost workdays, not to mention the psychological impact of a dog attack.

Workplace injuries and illnesses can result from fatigue

According to the American Safety Council, the effect of fatigue on people is similar to that of alcohol. It underscores the dangers that could be created by sleep-deprived workers nationwide, including in Oklahoma. Major industrial catastrophes have been linked to mistakes made by fatigued workers. Thousands of fatal workplace injuries have resulted from scheduling workers for weeks of extended shifts with no time to catch up on lost sleep.

Research shows that fatigue impairs workers' motor skills, limiting their responses in emergencies. Further results from studies show that sleep deprivation could lead to risky behavior and impulsive decision-making, while it causes cognitive impairment. Retaining new information, and processing it in situations that require workers to solve intricate problems becomes almost impossible when those workers are fatigued.

30-foot fall causes workplace injuries to 5 unlicensed workers

When employers task employees with jobs for which they do not have the necessary qualification or certification, the consequences could be severe. This appears to have been the case in a scaffold collapse that caused workplace injuries to five workers in Oklahoma. Authorities say neither the workers nor their employer were licensed to do the work that was done.

The Oklahoma State Labor Department reports that the five workers were dismantling elevator scaffolding when the structure collapsed. The workers fell from a height of approximately 30 feet. According to the authorities, the contractor did not have the necessary elevator contractor license, and the workers also lacked elevator technician licenses. This means that they were not skilled to do the work with which they were tasked.

Workplace injuries: Farm workers face life-threatening hazards

Farm workers in Oklahoma are not always fully informed about the many hazards they face. Many workplace injuries could have long-term consequences, and many are life-threatening. Some employers in the agriculture industry neglect to ensure that employees understand the risks posed by grain bins and silos.

Along with engulfment and suffocation hazards, bins and silos used for grain storage also pose risks of grain dust explosions and lung damage due to dust inhalation. Safety authorities say engulfment is the primary hazard for workers who enter grain bins. Every year engulfment accidents are reported, and some victims do not survive.

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