Workers in Pennsylvania may face unexpected dangers on the job, especially part-time seasonal workers who take an extra job during the holidays to supplement their income. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is issuing reminders to employers about their responsibilities for workplace safety and fair pay. An OSHA official emphasized that workers have a right to a safe environment on the job, including people doing escalated seasonal work including home deliveries, retail sales, shipping and packing or shelf stocking.
According to experts who spoke at a women's workplace safety summit, safety issues faced by working women in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country are not being sufficiently addressed. It's an important issue due to the fact that 70 percent of the nearly 17,000 employees who experienced trauma as a result of workplace violence in 2016 were female according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. Topics covered during the gathering included ill-fitting personal protective equipment and workplace violence affecting women working in healthcare and retail occupations.
As automation has changed many industries for workers in Pennsylvania, it can also have effects on workplace safety. Industrial robots have been a part of the manufacturing and production process for decades, and there are a number of laws and regulations that address the safety issues associated with them. In 1987, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration first issued its guidelines on robotics safety. It noted that as the use of robotics in industry continues to rise, workers could face injuries without sufficient guarding and training.
Construction workers in Pennsylvania often face dangerous conditions on the job that can all too easily lead to workplace accident or injury. This is especially true in the winter season when dark skies, cold temperatures and snowy precipitation may add extra risks to a construction area. Workers may be more vulnerable to frostbite, and equipment could be damaged in winter weather. Safety measures help make winter construction safer for everyone involved.
Pennsylvania workers can face an array of dangerous conditions in the workplace, some of which are caused by an employer's neglect of federal safety standards. At the 2018 National Safety Council Congress, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration deputy director unveiled the agency's top 10 violations of workplace safety rules for the prior year. The statistics covered the period beginning in October 2017 and ending in September 2018, and they highlighted certain common hazards on the job.
Employers in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. know that trenching and excavation operations can be fraught with hazards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there have been 130 trenching- and excavation-related fatalities between 2011 and 2016. Nearly half of these occurred between 2015 and 2016, revealing an upward trend. Also, 80 percent of these fatalities were at private construction sites.
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.