Workers in Pennsylvania may face more risks on the job than is immediately apparent when looking at published statistics and reports. The Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that employers have underreported workplace injuries and even fatalities on the job. In 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enacted a rule to strengthen requirements for correct employer reporting about serious workplace incidents, including accidents, illnesses and fatalities. Still, the OIG found that OSHA data continues to be deficient as does its information indicating that employers have addressed the issues that caused the incidents.
Work-related stress affects 94 percent of workers in Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S. Stress can lead to burnout, fatigue and chronic health conditions like depression and anxiety. It also leads to numerous accidents and a loss of productivity that costs employers from $450 billion to $550 billion every year.
OSHA has updated its National Emphasis Program on trenching and excavation, which went into effect Oct. 1. The updates are in response to an increase in worker injuries and fatalities during trenching and excavation operations: 130 such fatalities were reported between 2011 and 2016 with 49 percent of them occurring between 2015 and 2016. Construction employees and employers in Pennsylvania will want to know what the updates entail.
The Lockout/Tagout rules, which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published and enforced, are among the most violated and misunderstood by Pennsylvania employers. LOTO standards are designed to protect employees who service and maintain machinery. They apply to any activity during which an employee is required to bypass or remove a safety device. These rules also apply when an employee has to reach into or place any part of his or her body into a machine where materials are processed.