Construction workers in Oklahoma face a variety of hazards every day. However, with the arrival of summer, the chances of workplace injuries and illness are significantly increased. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict regulations to protect employees from heat-related illnesses, not all employers comply. For that reason, workers should know their rights and become familiar with OSHA regulations.
Many employees in Oklahoma are unfamiliar with the procedures to follow when filing workers' compensation claims. Victims of workplace injuries have every right to seek legal counsel for assistance with the claims process. While simple claims might be straightforward, complexities in some cases can pose many stumbling blocks.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says between six and seven million construction workers risk their lives on building sites nationwide every day. Many of those are in Oklahoma, and regardless of whether they work on high rises or single story residential projects, hazards are plentiful. Although employers are responsible for employee safety, each worker can take specific precautionary steps to avoid workplace injuries.
Workers in all industries are exposed to safety hazards, regardless of whether they work in offices, grocery stores or construction sites. Some risks are universal, and many employees in Oklahoma might not realize that they can ask their employer to arrange or provide safety training. Knowing how to cope with different safety hazards can benefit both employer and employee, and if training occurs at frequent intervals, the complacency that can cause workplace injuries can be avoided.
During the recent national Stand-Up for Engulfment Prevention Week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration used the opportunity to remind private grain companies in Oklahoma and other states that the hazards their workers face are as severe as those faced by employees of large grain and feed operations. Part of the focus during this campaign was on the three situations that are the most frequent causes of engulfment injuries. Many of these workplace injuries have tragic consequences.
Different hazards pose different types of health risks to employees in all industries across Oklahoma. Not all workplace injuries are noticeable, and while open wounds and fractured bones happen in all workplaces, injuries such as hearing loss are also prevalent but often disregarded. However, cuts and broken bones can heal while hearing loss is permanent, and for this reason, safety agencies advise more hearing conservation.
Injured employees in Oklahoma are entitled to financial assistance through the workers' compensation insurance system if their injuries occurred on the job. However, what happens if a worker suffers several workplace injuries throughout his or her career? Will there come a time when the worker is no longer eligible for benefits?
Oklahoma, like other states, requires employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. Victims of workplace injuries can typically claim benefits to cover doctors' bills, hospital stays, physical therapy and other medical expenses. Compensation is usually also available for a portion of lost wages, along with vocational rehabilitation for those whose injuries caused disabilities that prevent them from returning to their usual occupations.
Loading docks are known to be hazardous areas. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says statistical evidence indicates that some of the most significant hazards in loading docks nationwide, including in Oklahoma, involve forklifts -- with an estimated fatality every three days. However, safety authorities say that advanced technology to reduce the number of workplace injuries is being introduced all the time.
All operations that involve oil and gas extraction are dangerous, and only employers who maintain zero-tolerance safety protocols can protect employees from harm. Workplace injuries are prevalent in this industry in Oklahoma and other states, and many lives have been lost due to safety violations. The latest oil rig explosion is under investigation by state and federal investigators.