Equipment guarding and hazardous energy control are both near the top of the list of most frequently cited safety violations in the wood processing industry nationwide, including Oklahoma. Although manufacturers include many more safety features than in past years, the safety of employees remains the responsibility of the employers. This responsibility starts with a thorough risk assessment to determine and eliminate hazards that could cause workplace injuries.
Some workers in Oklahoma don't take sufficient care of their hands, which are obviously a crucial part of performing most job responsibilities. Workplace injuries can cause amputations of fingers and even entire hands, often leaving workers unable to continue working in the same occupation. Amputations and other serious injuries have a significant impact on the victim's overall quality of life.
According to agricultural safety and health authorities, more attention should be given to the hazards posed by the chemicals used in this industry nationwide. Safety data sheets are crucial, and they must be easily accessible to workers and emergency personnel. Employers in Oklahoma and elsewhere should base their safety protocols on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Hazard Communication Standard to limit the risks of workplace injuries.
Safety authorities assert that employers nationwide, including Oklahoma, can keep workers safe by investing in training and materials. Along with established safety standards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides support and guidance, along with training materials to the construction industry. Safe scaffolding seems to be a significant concern because of the number of fatal workplace injuries linked to these structures.
International researchers recently reported their findings after studying the health effects of frequent exposure to cleaning materials and disinfectants, specifically among health care workers. The results raised concern among employers in the health care industry in Oklahoma and elsewhere because they are responsible for protecting employees from workplace injuries and illnesses. Indications are that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is prevalent among nurses and for workers in other professions in which exposure to cleaning products and disinfectants is common.
Few people likely realize that workers in the cosmetology industry, such as nail salon workers, face some of the same hazards as workers in the oil fields and those who work in auto garages. In all three of these industries, exposure to BTEX -- benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes -- can cause workplace injuries with long-term, life-threatening consequences. Nail technicians in Oklahoma and across the country are exposed to these harmful compounds as they breathe in the salon air for hours each day.
Nail guns are frequently used in construction projects and other industries in Oklahoma. Although they are known to increase productivity, the ease of operating nail guns has sent many construction workers to hospitals. They are powerful tools, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 37,000 nail gun injuries are treated in emergency rooms nationwide each year. Almost 70% of those are workplace injuries, with the rest reported by consumers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates that employers nationwide, including Oklahoma, must inform workers of all the hazards they might encounter on the job. They must also provide safety training to teach them how to mitigate the risks to which they are exposed and avoid workplace injuries or illnesses. Workers in many occupations risk not only their own health but also the safety of their families. This happens when they take dangerous lead particles home on their work clothes.
Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports the top 10 safety violation citations that were issued nationwide, including Oklahoma. This analysis serves different purposes, one of which is to underscore the importance of safety standard compliance in the prevention of workplace injuries. Safety authorities say the top 10 list also shows the level of compliance among U.S. business owners.
Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to save others. While most workers in Oklahoma can find comfort in knowing that the workers' compensation program would have their backs if they should suffer workplace injuries or occupational illnesses, firefighters might find it difficult to obtain benefits. Certain diseases are presumed work-related for firefighters, but the claims process could be daunting.