Each year, various worker safety and health agencies like the National Safety Council (NSC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publish lists of the most common workplace safety and health failures that consultants observe while performing jobsite audits. Despite the fact that there are numerous federal and statewide standards in place to protect workers from known industrial dangers, year in and year out consultants identify the same problems. Not only is it illegal for employers to fail to recognize and address known hazards that endanger workers, but it also leads to thousands of preventable illnesses, injuries, and deaths every year.
According to OSHA, the most common safety hazards in the workplace are slips, trips, and falls, fires and explosions, transportation and vehicle-related accidents, caught in or struck by moving machinery or objects, and confined spaces. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that more than 2.8 million nonfatal injuries occurred in private and public industries in 2019 and that one worker died from a work-related injury every 99 minutes. Altogether, more than 888,000 of the nonfatal injuries resulted in days away from work due to their severity.
Generally, slips, trips, and falls account for somewhere between 25% and 30% of total nonfatal work injuries per year. OSHA reports that the most well-known contributing factors to slips, trips, and falls are the following:
Not only do workers require training on emergency procedures in the case of a fire or explosion on the job, but also on how to recognize and report fire and explosion hazards. Some of the most common industrial fire and explosion hazards are overloaded or damaged electrical circuits, dust, combustible materials like paper and cardboard, and flammable liquids like gasoline, acetone and various alcohols. To reduce fire and explosion risks, employers must know what the common hazards are and create a plan in order to address and rectify them. Another effective way to prevent industrial fires and explosions from happening is to maintain compliance with OSHA’s fire and explosion safety standards.
The BLS reported 2,080 worker fatalities resulting from work-related crashes involving motor vehicles in 2018. That number represents nearly 40% of the annual fatalities for that same calendar year. Some of the most high-risk professions for sustaining transportation and vehicle-related accidents are truck drivers, oil and gas extraction workers, emergency medical service personnel, law enforcement employees, and light-vehicle drivers. Light vehicle drivers are individuals who work in sales, health care, or real estate and travel regularly for their jobs.
Factors like fatigue, driver distraction, and age play a large role in occupational vehicular accidents. Older drivers, for example, are more prone to undergoing physical (i.e. eyesight and hearing) and mental changes that may affect their driving abilities. On the flip side, younger drivers are more likely to speed, drive aggressively, or engage in distracted behaviors when behind the wheel. OSHA recommends that employers promote and that workers observe the following safe driving practices to limit preventable accidents from happening:
OSHA defines caught in or between hazards as injuries that result from a person being squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects or between different parts of one object. Some examples of caught in or between events include when a trench worker gets caught in a cave-in and trapped beneath falling earth or debris, when shifting objects like a truck frame and a hydraulic bed that is lowering compresses or crushes an employee, or when moving machinery or equipment pulls a worker’s body part(s) or clothing into it’s parts.
Some known factors that contribute to caught in or between moving machinery or object hazards include unguarded machinery, machinery that has not been de-energized (also known as “locked out”), machines that are not sufficiently supported or secured (and are therefore prone to tipping or falling over), and a lack of safety training. As you can see, the majority of these hazards that result in injury or death are preventable so long as employers uphold their legal and moral obligation to follow federal and state safety guidelines.
A confined work space is an area with a small opening for a worker to enter and exit. Some common examples of confined spaces are manholes, silos, and sewer digesters. According to Safety and Health, many of the injuries that occur in confined spaces result from the failure of an employer to carry out a risk assessment and procure a permit before beginning the job. Working in a confined space can be inherently dangerous due to hazards like:
Conducting a risk assessment prior to initiating a job is critical. Confined space risk assessments ensure that adequate safety protocols are in place. They also establish appropriate evacuation protocols should an emergency arise.
All workers are entitled to a safe and healthful workplace that is free from recognizable hazards. Employers must ensure that they provide a safe workplace by maintaining compliance with federal and statewide safety and health standards. When an employer fails to provide a safe workplace and it leads to a worker being injured, the employer can be held liable for those preventable injuries. To obtain compensation for his or her injuries, the victim can file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to injured workers.
Depending on the circumstances that surround a worker’s injuries, he or she may also be able to file a lawsuit against other responsible parties. An injured individual can file a third party liability claim when their work injury is the result of negligence on the behalf of an individual or entity that is not their employer. Here are a few examples of scenarios where someone could file a third party liability claim:
An experienced workplace accident attorney is best equipped to investigate an incident and determine liability after an injury occurs. If you were injured at work and you would like to learn more about filing a workers’ compensation or third party liability claim, someone at our firm can assist you. To learn more, contact a representative who can assist you online now.
Galfand Berger LLP has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.