Pennsylvania Has 3rd Highest Amount of Worker Injuries July 31, 2017
According to new information released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Pennsylvania ranks as having the third highest amount of worker injuries.
As part of a new program, OSHA now requires employers to report serious, nonfatal workplace injuries. The administration has been compiling data for the last two years in all states that have OSHA compliant federal safety programs in place. Although Pennsylvania ranked sixth in terms of population size out of all the states counted, it had the third-highest amount of injuries in that two-year period.
Public policy researchers call for caution in regard to interpreting the data. Although OSHA requires each state to report nonfatal and fatal injuries, it is common for employers to fail to report them so as to make a workplace appear safer than it really is. With that in mind, it is likely that the number of worker amputations, hospitalizations and eye losses may actually be much higher than the numbers indicate.
OSHA requires employers to report a workplace fatality within 8 hours of it occurring. Similarly, the administration mandates that if an eye loss, hospitalization or amputation occur at a work site, an employer must report it within 24 hours of the worker receiving medical attention for his or her injury. This information is meant to help the administration to implement appropriate safety standards and regulations, which can help protect workers from preventable hazards.
According to OSHA, the most common cause of hand injuries and amputations in the workplace is unguarded or inadequately guarded industrial machinery. If workers’ bodies are not protected from coming into contact with nonmoving and moving machine parts, the risk of an amputation injury can be dangerously high. Many amputations also occur when workers are not protected while performing material handling tasks, such as operating trash compactors or using powered hand tools.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) reports that more than 20,000 eye injuries occur in the workplace annually, ranging from minor to major. To help protect against eye injuries, the AAO recommends that employers be aware of eye hazards in the workplace and work to eliminate them. An employer should provide standard, OSHA-compliant eye protection to help guard against serious eye injury or loss. Employers should also ensure that all machinery is properly safeguarded against chemical exposure and loose parts that can detach, becoming dangerous projectiles.
OSHA’s new program has counted a total of nearly 16,000 worker hospitalizations in 29 states across the country. Combined with over 4,600 amputations each year, this means that almost 27 workers are seriously injured every day. Similarly concerning for overall worker safety is that the highest number of reported injuries does not necessarily get reported from the largest corporations. Although Walmart, for example, has almost 1.5 million employees and reports a fairly high amount of serious worker injuries, smaller companies with far fewer employees report a disproportionately high amount of injuries. This begs the question of how adequately employers are protecting their employees from recognizable workplace hazards, therefore ensuring a reasonably safe work environment.
The number of serious worker injuries that are occurring across the country every day is too high because even one preventable injury is too many. Thanks to OSHA’s new program, worker safety is not being ignored. It is clear that workers need to be protected, particularly against amputation, eye loss and injuries serious enough to result in hospitalization. The first steps employers need to take to fight against these injuries are to safeguard machinery, reduce overall workplace hazards and provide protective equipment for employees.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Help Injured Workers
If you or a loved one has been injured at work because of an unsafely guarded or unguarded machine, please call our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger, at 800-222-8792 or contact us online. We have been helping injured victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 65 years.