Workplace Impairment

June was National Safety Month. In recognition, the National Safety Council (NCS) dedicated the entire second week of June to the topic of workplace impairment. While impairment in the workplace may seem like an insignificant issue that rarely happens or causes injury, in truth, it’s an extremely injurious and costly problem that impacts employers and employees nationwide. 

Here’s an overview of what you should know about how workplace impairment is defined, what qualifies as workplace impairment, how to recognize workplace impairment, and what to do if you witness workplace impairment. 

What Is Workplace Impairment?

Workplace impairment is defined by the NCS as: 

“…anything that could impede one’s ability to function normally or safely as a result of a number of factors—from chemical substances, such as alcohol, opioids or cannabis, to physical factors like fatigue, as well experiencing mental distress and social factors like stress.”

This broad definition shows that workplace impairment refers to far more than just drug or alcohol use. Indeed, a worker could be impaired by fatigue, mental distress, or stress—things that may be more difficult to recognize for others in the workplace, but which could be just as dangerous. 

Why Is Workplace Impairment a Problem?

Workplace impairment is a big problem. In fact, according to the same source linked above (NSC), an overwhelming 90 percent of employers say that they are concerned about workplace impairment in the form of opioids, alcohol, mental health disorders, and chronic stress in their workplaces. Over 50 percent also reported that workplace impairment has impacted the safety of their workplace.

Impairment in the workplace is often called a hidden risk as, unlike many other safety concerns, it is not always easily detectable or easy to remedy. A worker’s impairment can impact their ability to perform their job safely and responsibly, which can lead to accidents and injuries—including fatal injuries—in the workplace and high employer costs. 

Statistics show that untreated sleep disorders can lead to an employer annual average cost of $3,500 per employee; untreated substance abuse disorders can lead to an employer annual average cost of $8,817 per employee and experiencing mental distress in the workplace can lead to an annual average employer cost of $15,000 per employee. 

How to Recognize Workplace Impairment

One of the first steps to addressing the problem of workplace impairment is being able to recognize and respond to impairment in the workplace. 

Impairment can look very different depending on the type of impairment and how the specific individual responds to impairment. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), some common signs of impairment include:

  • Personality changes and new erratic behavior
  • Signs of impairment from drugs or alcohol use in the workplace, such as poor coordination, slurred speech, slow response times, glassy eyes, unsteady gait, etc.
  • Performing work in an unsafe manner
  • Failing an alcohol or drug test
  • Other behaviors that could be due to impairment, such as consistent tardiness or absenteeism, or reduced quality of work or productivity

Note that any of the above signs, either when considered individually or in combination, are not necessarily diagnostic of impairment. If any of the above are noticed, it’s important that further action be taken to determine the root cause and provide the worker with the support they need. 

What to Do If You Witness Workplace Impairment

If you notice signs of impairment in a co-worker, it’s important to take action. As detailed above, workplace impairment can be extremely hazardous and leads to injuries and deaths in the workplace every year. These accidents can cause harm both to the impaired worker and to others in and outside of the workplace. 

If you suspect impairment, you should report the impairment to your supervisor or manager immediately. Your workplace should have a workplace impairment policy in place that outlines the next steps. 

For Employers: Workplace Impairment Policies

For employers, it’s important to have a workplace impairment policy in place that details how impairment is defined, what actions will be taken when a person is suspected of impairment or found to be impaired, how employees can confidentially report impairment, employee training and education around impairment, what substances are allowed at work and how the use of those medications can be reported to the employer (i.e. the use of certain impairing prescription medications), and what disciplinary actions will take place following a finding of impairment. 

Get More Resources on Workplace Impairment

Learning about workplace impairment is important for both employers and employees. Some valuable resources on the topic include:

OSHA Safety – Preventing Cave-Ins

Workers engaged in activities in and around excavations and trenches must be aware of the real possibility of a cave-in. In many situations, cave-ins are likely to occur if best practices aren’t followed, and workers fail to use the proper kind of protection to keep them safe. Failure to do this can have tragic consequences. Here is what you need to know about cave-in standards and protection.

Trench Cave-Ins Can Be Deadly

Trench collapses can result in serious injuries and even death. In 2020 alone, 21 workers died in workplace cave-ins. In just the last month of the year, employees in California, Georgia, Michigan, Virginia, and South Dakota lost their lives due to collapsed trenches. When accidents aren’t fatal, they can result in serious crushing injuries that require long-term medical care and may have lasting consequences.

What Causes a Cave-In?

Undisturbed soil will remain in place because of the dirt’s opposing vertical and horizontal forces. An excavation, such as a trench, removes some of the soil that formerly provided that important support.

What is left behind during an excavation is eventually going to slide down into the trench. Sometimes that movement is gradual, which just produces a mess that workers have to clean up. But there is a real danger that the downward movement could be sudden and unexpected, in the form of toppling, sluffing, or sliding. When there are other factors present, like vibration or water, these types of events become even more likely.

A trench cave-in can happen in an instant and kill workers just as fast. Cave-ins containing five cubic yards of soil will weigh up to 14,000 pounds. It would only take a victim a few minutes to suffocate under this much weight in addition to suffering serious internal injuries.

OSHA Safety Standards to Prevent Cave-Ins

Even though trench-related accidents, injuries, and deaths continue to happen, cave-ins are tragedies because they are 100% preventable if employers were to strictly follow OSHA prevention standards. Specifically, employers must comply with OSHA’s excavation and trenching requirements laid out in 29 CFR 1926.651 and 1926.652 or equivalent OSHA-approved state plan requirements.

Trench Safety Measures

There must be a protective system in place if a trench is five feet deep or more unless the entire excavation is made of stable rock. If the trench is less than five feet deep, a competent person must determine whether or not a protective system is needed.

Trenches that are 20 feet deep or more must have a protective system in place that has been designed by a qualified engineer. Or, the system can be based on data prepared by or approved by an engineer.

Competent Person in Trench Safety

Because trenches are so hazardous, OSHA requires that safety systems and tasks that happen inside the trenches be designed by or assigned to a “competent person.” OSHA defines this as someone who has been trained to identify existing and predictable excavation hazards and who also has the authority to take fast action to eliminate any hazards.

Trench Access and Egress

OSHA has some specific guidelines about how workers should enter and exit trenches for the sake of worker safety and to prevent serious cave-ins. If dangerous conditions arise inside the trench, it’s important that workers are able to make a quick exit. For example, a trench that is four feet or more deep must have a ladder, ramp, or stairway that is within 25 feet of workers.

All structural ramps must be designed by a competent person. If a ramp is used instead of steps, it must have a non-slip surface.

Trench Protective Systems

The basic method to protect workers from cave-ins is to use shoring, benching, sloping, and shielding. Which method you use will depend on a variety of factors, such as the type of soil, its water content, and the depth and width of the trench.

Shoring refers to the installation of supports to prevent soil movement and cave-ins. Benching is the method of creating a series of steps with the soil. Sloping involves angling the wall of the trench away from the bottom of the excavation. And shielding employs boxes or other supports to protect workers from sliding debris.

Other Trench Safety Best Practices

According to OSHA, employers must also follow several other best practices to prevent cave-ins and keep workers safe:

  • Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
  • Identify underground utilities before digging.
  • Test for hazards such as toxic gasses and low oxygen in trenches.
  • Inspect trenches before and after each shift and following any rainfall.
  • Ensure workers wear high-visibility clothing in trenches.

Learn More About Preventing Cave-Ins in the Workplace

If you’ve suffered an injury from a trench cave-in or have lost a loved one to such a tragedy, it’s important to understand that employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment that protects workers from these types of accidents. Having appropriate guidelines, training, and protection in place is a vital part of workplace safety and cave-in prevention. To learn more about protecting yourself from cave-ins in the workplace, contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly.

Preventing Common Workplace Equipment Injuries

Many industries rely on large pieces of equipment and machinery to get work done. While equipment and machinery are often critical, large equipment and machinery can also be dangerous. Machinery and equipment defects and improper operation of workplace equipment will often lead to severe injuries or even death. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of accidents and injury. Consider the following about common workplace equipment injuries and how to prevent them.

Common Workplace Equipment Injuries

Working around equipment can be dangerous. For workers in the construction industry, manufacturing industry, and logging industry, working around heavy machinery and large equipment is risky. Some of the most common types of workplace equipment accidents and injuries include: 

  • Amputation injuries. Amputation injuries are an especially devastating injury type and can occur when a worker’s limb is caught in a piece of equipment or otherwise impacted by a sharp or heavy object to the point where amputation is medically necessary. 
  • Crush injuries. Crush injuries can sometimes lead to the amputation of a limb. Crush injuries can occur as a result of a worker being caught in machinery or equipment, struck by falling equipment, or run over by equipment. 
  • Caught-in/between injuries. Caught-in/between machinery injuries are one of the leading causes of fatal injury within the construction industry, as reported by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). 
  • Fall injuries. Falling while trying to operate or exit from machinery or equipment can lead to bone fractures, soft tissue injuries, head injuries, internal injuries, and other serious injury types. 
  • Backing-up injuries. One of the most serious types of accidents is a backing-up accident, which occurs when a worker is struck by a piece of machinery/equipment that is in reverse. These types of accidents can be fatal or lead to severe long-term harm. 
  • Electrical injuries. Many machines and equipment rely on electricity to run. Sometimes, faulty wiring, other defects, or improper operation can lead to electrical burns or electrocution, which can be fatal.

Tips for Preventing Common Workplace Equipment Injuries

The vast majority of workplace injuries can be prevented with proper safety training and regular inspection and maintenance of equipment and machinery. Some tips for preventing common workplace equipment injuries:

  • Ensure all operators are properly trained. One of the most critical elements of preventing workplace equipment injuries is simply ensuring that all workers are properly trained on the correct and appropriate operation of equipment. Failure to provide comprehensive and routine training significantly increases the risk of injury and may also be a violation of workplace safety standards. 
  • Host regular workplace safety meetings. Safety meetings are a time to review training, go over workplace hazards, discuss best practices, review PPE requirements, and otherwise check in about the best ways to prevent injuries and keep everyone in the workplace safe.
  • Encourage awareness of surroundings. Even when equipment is properly operated and is working as expected, there could be external factors that contribute to the risk of an accident. Encourage operators to always be hyper-vigilant and aware of their surroundings and to always assess a worksite before using equipment or machinery.
  • Ensure PPE is used. Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, can help to reduce the risk of injury. All workers should have access to the appropriate PPE for the job and be trained on how to use it. 
  • Regularly inspect and maintain equipment. Regularly inspecting equipment and regularly maintaining it can help to prevent equipment defects that lead to severe injuries. 
  • Mitigate hazards. It’s important to identify and remove known hazards, such as equipment hazards, infrastructure hazards, or hazardous practices. Hazard mitigation should be an integral part of all workplace safety plans. 
  • Report injuries and accidents. When an equipment or machinery accident does happen, it should be reported immediately and proper steps should be taken to document the incident. Keeping thorough records is one way to help mitigate accidents in the future.
  • Regularly review and respond. In addition to the above, constant monitoring and evaluation of workplace safety practices is essential. Practices and procedures should often be reviewed, as should any safety incidents or accident reports. Making adjustments to workplace safety practices and being adaptable are key elements of creating an effective response plan. 

How to Learn More About Workplace Equipment Injuries

If you have questions about workplace equipment injuries, best practices for preventing injuries, or workers’ rights if an injury does occur, OSHA Injury Attorney is a resource you can trust. Learn more from OSHA injury today online or by calling OSHA Injury Attorney directly at your convenience.

Trench Safety – OSHA Guidelines on Digging and Working in Trenches

Excavation work is a vital part of any construction project, and trenches are used to create the foundation of nearly every structure, from homes and buildings to reservoirs and roadways. But these systems also expose workers to dangerous hazards.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), excavation and trenching work has a significantly higher fatality rate than that of general construction work. Because of the high risk of injury or death that construction workers face around trenches, contractors and companies must provide adequate protection. And if any injury occurs, workers are entitled to seek justice and compensation.

Dangers of Trench Accidents

Excavation and trenching might be routine on most construction sites, but that doesn’t mean the practices are without hazards. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is an average of 35 work-related deaths annually attributed to trenching or excavation cave-ins. And many injuries in trenches happen at depths of less than 10 feet.

OSHA reports that workers face several job site hazards related to trenching and excavation. These include:

  • Cave-ins– These are the primary hazard associated with excavation and trenching work, occurring when workers enter an unprotected trench, and the walls collapse.
  • Struck-by objects– This happens when a worker is struck by falling loads or collapsing walls within a trench.
  • Utility lines– Worker’s risk hitting utility lines above or below a trench, leading to electrocution or a dangerous gas leak or explosion.
  • Hazardous atmosphere– Some trenches are deep enough to have low oxygen levels or might be contaminated by chemicals or toxic gases.

OSHA Guidelines on Digging and Working in Trenches

The best way to protect workers from these safety hazards is to follow OSHA’s guidelines on excavation and trenching. These are outlined in 29 CFR 1926.651 and 1926.652 and include:

Trench Safety Measures

Trenches that are five feet (1.5 meters) or deeper must have a protective system unless the excavation system is constructed entirely of stable rock. If the trench is less than five feet deep, a competent person can decide whether a protective system is needed.

Trenches 20 feet (6.1 meters) or deeper must have a protective system that is designed by a registered professional engineer or be based on data approved and/or prepared by a registered professional engineer according to OSHA’s guidelines.

Competent Person

Because conditions change, OSHA regulations require that trenches be inspected daily by a competent person before workers are permitted to enter the area to ensure the absence of any hazards. OSHA defines a competent person as “an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to others…and who is authorized to take corrective action to eliminate these conditions.”

Access and Egress

OSHA rules require that there be safe access and egress to all excavation, including ramps, steps, ladders, and other safe means of entry and exit for employees working in trenches four feet (1.22 meters) or deeper.

General Trenching and Excavation Rules

  • Never work under raised loads
  • Keep heavy equipment away from trenches
  • Inspect trenches daily and after rainfall
  • Test for toxic gases and low oxygen
  • Find out where underground utilities are located

Protective Systems

When it comes to protective systems, OSHA wants you to know the 3 S’s of trenching:

  • Slope or bench trench walls by cutting them back at an angle.
  • Shore trench walls by inserting supports in trenches under 20 feet to prevent soil movement.
  • Shield trench walls by using trench boxes or other supports to prevent soil collapse.

Common Causes of Trench Collapses

The lack of a protective system is the leading cause of trench collapses. Other factors that can contribute to the failure of trench include:

  • Weak or unstable soil
  • Depth of the trench
  • Failure to properly inspect the trench
  • Environmental factors
  • Vibrations from vehicles or heavy equipment
  • Proximity to previously backfilled excavations
  • Stress loading on the soil

Contact OSHA Injury Attorney Today

There are a number of hazards surrounding excavation and trench work, which OSHA tries to mitigate with its regulations. But accidents and injuries still happen on construction sites daily. If you’ve been injured working around trenches or have questions about the OSHA regulations that may apply to your case, our experienced injury attorney network can help.

At OSHA Injury Attorney, we can help you understand your rights as well as what steps to take to pursue full compensation if you’ve been hurt. To learn more about our services and how our partner firms can help, contact us today.

Construction Site Safety – Staying Safe Around Heavy Equipment

Every construction site includes at least a few pieces of heavy equipment. Of course, this machinery is vital to the productivity of a project. But it can also be a primary source of serious injuries to workers on a construction site. Specifically, heavy equipment is a main contributor to struck-by hazards and caught-between/caught-in hazards. Therefore, it’s essential that everyone on a construction site is familiar with ways to stay safe when working with or around heavy equipment.

The Importance of Heavy Equipment Safety

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the construction industry is one of this country’s most dangerous industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s latest figures, the rate of private construction industry job site deaths reached its highest rate in over a decade.  The leading cause of death was transportation-related, followed by accidents involving contact with objects or equipment.

Past OSHA investigations have determined that most heavy equipment accidents were preventable. To that end, the agency strongly emphasizes safety programs that can increase awareness of hazards on the job site and help reduce the chances of these dangerous and deadly accidents.

Hazards When Working Around Heavy Equipment

While electrocutions and falls are leading causes of construction site accidents, being caught between materials or mechanical components or struck by objects are more likely causes of heavy equipment accidents in these environments. The key to reducing or preventing these types of accidents is to reduce dangerous conditions and increase awareness among workers.

Specifically, there are three types of hazards that must be addressed concerning heavy equipment on a construction site:

  1. Mechanical Hazards

All heavy equipment has moving parts, and these parts present a danger to workers. When working around machinery, it’s important to consider how those moving parts could trap, crush, cut, puncture, or strike someone, or launch materials at them.

  1. Non-Mechanical Hazards

In addition to parts in motion, machinery can cause injury in other ways. There might be burns due to a release of fluids or gasses under pressure, burns from contact with hot surfaces, inhalation of dangerous chemicals or dust, exposure to cancer-causing radiation, or electrocution due to faulty wiring.

  1. Access Hazards

A lot of construction site injuries and deaths happen because workers don’t have safe access around heavy equipment. Without safe access to and from different parts of the job site, workers are unnecessarily exposed to mechanical and non-mechanical hazards. An employer can mitigate these hazards by planning the site better, making proper signage, including the right safeguards, and training workers on situational awareness.

Construction Heavy Equipment Safety Tips

It may not be possible to completely mitigate heavy equipment hazards on a construction site. When hazards still exist, risk control measures must be put in place to reduce the chance of harm.

Workplace safety and health regulations make it mandatory to communicate risk controls and workplace hazards. These should include signage, training, and personal protective equipment (PPE) that can keep workers safe. If you’re using heavy equipment on your construction site, here are some of the top safety tips to reduce the chances of injury:

  • Familiarize workers with equipment– Make sure workers read owners and safety manuals for proper usage and safety tips.
  • Avoid line-of-fire– Have workers stay out of the circumference that a piece of machinery can reach.
  • Stay conscious of blind spots– Operators and workers must understand that large machinery has blind spots – Using a spotter is vital to maintaining a safe work site.
  • Be aware of overhead and underground hazards– Identify and flag any hazards such as power and gas lines that are present in the area.
  • Encourage communication – Train workers on hand signals and other ways to communicate while around or using heavy equipment.
  • Use safe loading and unloading methods– Always be on level ground, use a spotter, and have the area clear of people when loading and unloading heavy machinery.
  • Perform regular maintenance– Walk around the machinery before and after use. And have a consistent schedule for preventative maintenance.

When Construction Accidents Happen Involving Heavy Equipment

The good news is that most construction site accidents involving heavy equipment can be prevented. But when they do happen, someone should be held accountable.

If you work on a construction site and have been injured by a piece of heavy equipment, you have the right to seek full and fair compensation. Figuring out who to hold accountable after a serious accident can be challenging. While workers’ compensation benefits might be available, there could also be the potential for a third-party liability case.

At OSHA Injury Attorney, we specialize in construction site accidents and injuries. Our law firm partners will thoroughly review the circumstances of your accident to ensure we pursue the responsible parties for maximum compensation.

Common Hazards at Construction Worksites

While modern-day construction sites may be places of incredible innovation and industry, construction sites can also be very dangerous. The rate of injury within the construction industry is higher than it is for most other industries, and, unfortunately, private construction industry fatalities appear to be increasing. For construction workers, contractors, property managers, and site managers, understanding the common hazards at a construction site is the first step in mitigating injuries. Consider these common construction worksite hazards, and call OSHA Injury Attorney if you or a loved one has been harmed on the job.

Moving Objects, Equipment, Machinery, and Vehicles 

On a construction site, anything that moves can be a hazard. This includes vehicles, machinery, equipment, tools, cement mixers, and even unstable foundations. Transportation-related accidents are a leading cause of death in the private construction industry, and caught-in/between accidents are also one of the construction industry’s fatal four–one of the top four causes of fatal injury. Remaining vigilant of surroundings and keeping a safe distance from moving objects is critical. Additionally, it is important that equipment and machinery are regularly inspected and maintained to ensure that it is performing as expected. Of course, operating any moving equipment, machinery, or motor vehicles with proper training is also key.

Heights

 Falls are another one of the “fatal four”; working at height can be incredibly dangerous for workers. Fortunately, there are regulatory safeguards in place that are designed to reduce fall risk, including scaffolding, training, and harness requirements. When these regulations are breached, workers are at risk.

Slip and Fall Hazards

It’s not just falls from heights that can be dangerous (and deadly), but also falls that occur at ground level, too. If a construction worker slips and falls on the job, they could suffer a traumatic brain injury, back or neck injury, spinal cord injury, bone fracture injury, internal injury, soft tissue injury, and more. Slip and fall hazards on construction sites are numerous and include uneven walking surfaces, objects in walking areas, poor lighting, wet or contaminated surfaces, and varying terrain.

Electricity

Like falls from heights and caught-in/between accidents involving machinery, electrocution is another one of the top killers of construction industry workers. Of course, being around exposed electrical wiring is inherent to being a construction worker, where most buildings and homes are unfinished. With that in mind, no one other than trained electricians should be actually working with electricity and, even then, adherence to safety guidelines is critical. Most electricity accidents and injuries that happen on construction sites could be prevented with better training, ensuring that wires are not unnecessarily exposed, avoiding using electricity-conducting tools in high-voltage areas, and always following OSHA regulations.

Excessive Noise

While many of the above hazards will result in physical injuries that are visible, such as broken bones, lacerations, amputation injuries, etc., the loss of hearing is not visible but is equally as severe. With the use of high-powered tools and machinery, demolition, and more, loud noises are built-in to a construction site. Sadly, about 51 percent of workers in the construction industry have been exposed to hazardous noise, 31 percent of noise-exposed construction-industry workers report not using adequate hearing protection, and about 14 percent of all construction workers have a hearing difficulty. Using proper hearing protection can greatly reduce the risk of a hearing injury.

Trenches

Trenches are narrow excavations in the ground that are typically deeper than they are wide. Trenching is a very important construction activity, usually relevant to new construction and repair projects. While often very necessary, trenches can be deadly, and trench collapses are a cause of injury and death. In order to avoid trench collapses, proper measures need to be taken in advance of trench construction, including site inspection. During trench construction, the process should be overseen by managers who regularly inspect the work and the safety of the trench. All those who are working around trenches should be properly trained and properly equipped with safety gear.

Contact OSHA Injury Attorney Today

At OSHA Injury Attorney, we seek to provide workers with the information that they need about their rights, OSHA regulations, and how to stay safe on a construction site. If you want to learn more about common construction site hazards or your rights if you’re injured on a construction site, we can help. To connect with OSHA Injury Attorney directly for a free consultation, send us a message through our online contact form at your convenience. We are here to support you.

OSHA Safety Guidelines for Road Construction Crews

Driving through a construction zone might be frustrating for a driver who’s eager to get to work and avoid traffic, but for construction workers, roadside construction sites are more than mere inconveniences; they’re dangerous. As reported in an article in the Small Business Chron, every eight hours, one fatality occurs and every nine minutes, one injury occurs in a roadwork zone. This means that roadside construction crews are amongst some of the most at-risk workers.

Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) safety guidelines are designed to keep road construction crews safe. Consider the following about common risks to road construction crews and existing OSHA guidelines, and contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly for more information.

Risks to Road Construction Crews

  • Many roadside construction workers work on bridges, tunnels, utility poles, and other surfaces that are above the ground, putting them at risk of suffering a fall from heights. Falls from heights are a leading cause of injury and death for workers in the construction industry, and roadside construction crews are not exempt from these hazards. In addition to falls from heights, roadside construction workers also face the risk of a trip and fall, especially in poor weather conditions or/and when objects in the way make walking more dangerous. With heavy equipment and machinery around–including large vehicles–a slip and fall accident can be deadly.
  • Electrical hazards. Another common hazard for road construction crews is that of electricity. Contact with electricity in a roadside work zone can cause fire, explosion, and electrocution. Risks are higher for road construction crews that are working around power lines.
  • Machinery and equipment hazards. Heavy machinery and equipment are necessary for almost all roadside construction jobs. Unfortunately, machinery and equipment pose multiple risks when defective or improperly operated, including the risk of caught-in/between injuries, crush injuries, amputation injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.
  • Moving vehicle and truck hazards. Moving vehicles, including moving trucks and equipment, are some of the biggest threats to road construction crews. To be sure, over 40 percent of the fatalities that happen amongst roadway construction workers involve motor vehicles, trucks, or equipment. While third-party drivers are sometimes to blame, a large majority of these fatalities involve vehicles and equipment in the work area.

OSHA Guidelines: Staying Safe As a Roadside Construction Worker

OSHA maintains a number of regulations that are designed to keep roadside workers safe. These regulations touch on flagger training and certification requirements (which vary by state), worker safety training, regulations for working around electricity and electrical lines, and more. For example, the agency requires that at all dangerous construction points, legible traffic signs designed in accordance with OSHA standards are used. Employees who are exposed to traffic are required to wear highly visible or reflective apparel. There are also numerous regulations for equipment, both on and off roadside construction sites, including that heavy equipment or machinery that’s suspended must be blocked to prevent falling before employees can work under it, and that all equipment that is left adjacent to a roadway overnight must have lights or reflectors on it.

The Work Zone Safety and Mobility Policies which vary by state, further address roadside workers’  health and safety. For example, Georgia’s Work Zone Safety and Mobility Policy provides guidelines on work zone assessment and management, work zone-related training, and more.

An OSHA Fact Sheet for Work Zone Traffic Safety that provides recommendations for mitigating transportation incidents can be found here. Recommendations include, but are not limited to, using physical barriers to safeguard against motorist intrusion, ensuring that flagger stations are illuminated, using seatbelts and rollover protection when operating equipment/motor vehicles, and making sure that flaggers are properly trained and certified.

The number of regulations and recommendations made by organizations like OSHA is plentiful; there are far too many to capture in a single post. While roadside construction workers can explore the links above for more resources, reaching out to OSHA injury attorneys directly with questions about OSHA safety regulations, what happens if compliance with a regulation is breached, and what to do if you’re injured on the job is strongly recommended.

Contact OSHA Injury Attorney Today

If you have questions about the OSHA regulations that may apply to you and your workspace as a roadside construction worker, OSHA Injury Attorney has answers that you’re looking for. We can also help you to understand your rights and what steps to take if a roadside accident does occur. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, please send us a message through our online contact form. We are here for you.

Prevention and Safety – Following OSHA Regulations for Construction Sites

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) creates standards for employers and enforces the safety and health regulations in American workplaces, including construction sites. All employers and workers must comply with OSHA standards aimed at creating safe work environments.

When OSHA codes and rules are ignored or go unenforced, the consequences can be serious, even fatal. Construction site accidents can lead to severe injuries and lasting consequences for both workers and the responsible parties. How are construction sites supposed to keep employees safe and prevent accidents, and what types of OSHA violations are common in these environments?

OSHA Regulations for Constructions Sites

The construction industry poses so many threats to workers that OSHA has given it particular attention and guidance. The regulator has classified the top four risks to construction workers as the “Fatal Four.”

  1. Falls– Roughly 40% of construction site fatalities are due to falls from roofs, cranes, scaffolding, and other elevations. Typical fatal injuries include internal damage and brain or spinal cord trauma.
  2. Electrocution– More than 8% of construction site deaths are caused by electrocution. These can be caused by contact with overhead wires, defective machinery, or tasks near electrical panels.
  3. Falling Objects– Another 8% of construction site fatalities are due to falling objects, such as construction materials or tools falling from scaffolding, roofs, or cranes.
  4. Compression Injuries– About 4% of construction site deaths are attributed to “caught-between” injuries where workers are compressed by objects or equipment or crushed by falling structures.

Eliminating these threats alone in the construction industry could save more than 500 lives each year. But those aren’t the only risks in construction. Others include:

  • Injuries from fires and explosions– Fires and explosions on construction sites can result from the poor storage or handling of flammable materials.
  • Injuries from equipment– Heavy machinery, power tools, and construction vehicles can malfunction, be used improperly, or have defects that cause injuries.
  • Injuries from trench collapse– When trenches are not dug, planned, or marked correctly, they can collapse and cause injury.

OSHA has created regulations for employers to prevent accidents by establishing best practices in the workplace through rules and education. Employers are also mandated to provide a safe working environment that considers a variety of risks:

  • Equipment safety– Employers must ensure that equipment functions properly and is regularly serviced.
  • Electrical safety– Employers must clearly mark electrical hazards and cover items for safety.
  • Fall safety– Employers must put fall-prevention measures in place when workers use scaffolding or are on roofs.

When an employer falls short of these standards, they could face penalties for OSHA violations.

Types of OSHA Violations

Your employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace that is free from hazards. There are four different types of OSHA workplace violations:

  • Other-than-serious– There is a condition present that could impact workplace safety and health but likely won’t cause accidents or injuries.
  • Serious– A workplace hazard could cause a serious injury or potential fatality.
  • Willful– An OSHA regulation is being knowingly ignored.
  • Repeated– The workplace has been cited previously for the same violation.

The most frequent OSHA violations relate to workplace accidents. Employers are most frequently cited for the following violations:

  • Hazardous conditions
  • Lack of fall protection
  • Failure to provide respiratory protection
  • Insufficient control of hazardous energy
  • Unsafe scaffolding or lack of fall protection

If You’ve Been Injured Due to a Safety Violation

If your employer fails to follow OSHA workplace safety guidelines, and you suffer an injury, you should report the violation to ensure no one else gets hurt. When an employee reports a violation to OSHA, several things could happen:

  • OSHA might investigate the employer.
  • The employer could be fined and mandated to make changes.
  • The employer could lose its operating license.

No matter what happens between your employer and OSHA, you have the right to secure certain benefits if you were injured on the job. In some cases, those benefits might come from the state workers’ compensation program. But, depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may also be able to pursue a civil case with additional damages.

After an injury, you should always obtain appropriate medical treatment and report the accident and any hazards to your employer. You should also speak with a knowledgeable construction injury lawyer for a free case review.

Speak With an Experienced Construction Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a construction site accident, whether an OSHA violation was involved or not, you may be entitled to compensation. OSHA Injury Attorneys was created to ensure that workers understand their rights as well as the obligations of their employer with respect to workplace safety.

After an injury, you should seek immediate medical attention as well as the advice of a qualified workplace injury attorney. Please complete our contact form on this page, and we’ll put you in touch with an attorney that can explain your options.

How to File a Construction Injury Claim

The risk of working in the construction industry is significant. Even with the many safety programs and regulations in place, injuries occur regularly, and this industry is considered one of the most dangerous for workers. If you or a loved one has been injured while working construction, knowing where to turn to file a construction injury claim could make a difference in getting the compensation you deserve.

Understanding Prevention and Safety on Construction Sites

Construction workers need to follow safety protocols to the letter to ensure their wellbeing as well as that of other employees and bystanders. But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also sets forth a long list of regulations that the employer must follow.

Some of the requirements of employers through OSHA include:

  • Provide safe equipment and tools
  • Remove any workplace hazards
  • Display and inform employees of OSHA regulations
  • Provide employees with a safety training manual
  • Establish a hazard communication program
  • Create exposure and medical records and make them available to employees
  • Provide employees access to relevant accident and injury records
  • Allow employees to request an OSHA inspection
  • Furnish employees with copies of past hazard tests

OSHA’s website provides a comprehensive resource that can answer questions about safety in the workplace. If you feel that your construction site violates OSHA standards, you can file a report online or contact the nearest OSHA office to register a complaint.

Filing a Construction Injury Claim

After a construction injury, you should seek immediate medical attention, whether your employer followed safety regulations or not. Once you get the treatment you need and have documented your injuries, it’s vital that you report the injury to your employer. Do this in writing and keep a copy for your records.

Your next step should be to speak with a knowledgeable construction injury attorney that can explain your options and protect your rights. Many injuries that take place on a construction site are covered by workers’ compensation. But you may also have the right to pursue a personal injury claim with opportunities for additional damages. Your attorney can explain these options and help you collect maximum compensation.

Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claim

In most states, workers’ compensation is the sole remedy for a person injured on the job. This is an insurance program required by law for most employers that provides certain benefits to workers that are injured or become ill in the course of their employment.

Workers’ compensation provides coverage for medical care, temporary disability (lost wages), permanent disability, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits. Workers’ compensation is meant to reduce employers’ costs, so it prohibits injured workers from suing their employer after an accident.

There are exceptions, however. If your injury was caused by a third party, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit allowing you to collect additional compensation such as pain and suffering. For example, defective tools or machinery can lead to an accident, as can the actions of a person or business that isn’t your employer.

Who Can Be Liable in a Construction Injury Lawsuit?

Workers’ compensation pays benefits regardless of fault. But personal injury cases are fault-based. In general, you can sue parties other than your employer in a construction injury case if they were responsible for your injury or occupational disease. Some examples of parties you might have the right to sue include:

  • Property owners– You may be able to sue a property owner if unsafe or hazardous conditions led to your injury.
  • Other contractors– If you were injured due to the negligent actions of another contractor that works for a different employer, you might have a personal injury case.
  • Manufacturers of tools and equipment– If a defective tool or piece of equipment caused your injury, you could file a personal injury lawsuit against the designer or manufacturer.
  • Other drivers– If you were injured in a vehicle accident, you may be able to hold the other driver accountable for your injuries.

Even if you were partially at fault in the accident, you may have the right to pursue damages against one of these parties. But most claims are met with strong resistance by insurance companies that want to avoid paying what a case is worth. It’s important that you speak with an attorney immediately that can investigate your case, preserve evidence, and pursue a positive outcome.

Speak With an Experienced Construction Injury Attorney

After a construction site accident, it is equally vital that you understand your legal rights and take action quickly. OSHA Injury Attorney’s primary goal is to ensure construction workers have access to the information they need to stay safe in the workplace and exercise their rights when necessary.

If you or a loved one have been injured on the job or have concerns about OSHA violations, please complete our contact form below. We will forward your information to a qualified construction injury attorney that will provide the assistance you need.

Preventing Deadly Scaffolding Accidents

Employees in the construction industry often work at high heights. In order to accommodate for this, scaffolds are constructed. While scaffolds may provide access to otherwise unreachable levels, scaffold protections and safety standards aren’t always adhered to. In fact, scaffolding accidents lead to numerous injuries and dozens of deaths each year. For one year that Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) data is available, there were 61 scaffolding-related fatalities recorded, all of which could have been avoided by compliance with OSHA standards. 

When employees work on a job site, they have a duty to adhere to workplace safety standards; however, they also have a right to a safe workplace, which is often the responsibility of the employer. Preventing deadly scaffolding accidents is possible when all of those on a job site, including employers, do their part. Consider the following tips for preventing deadly scaffolding accidents, and call our lawyers directly if you have more questions about your rights or how to stay safe–

Preventing Scaffolding Accidents

When safety regulations are followed, workers are properly trained, and equipment is effective and properly used, it is possible to prevent scaffolding accidents that could lead to devastating injuries. Tips for preventing scaffolding accidents include:

  • Ensure that all workers on a job site are properly trained. When it comes to preventing deadly scaffolding accidents, ensuring that all workers on a job site are properly trained is a critical starting point. Workers should be trained on all aspects of working on and around scaffolding, including:
  • Fall protection standards;
  • Equipment standards and best practices;
  • Scaffold defects and how to identify them;
  • Common scaffold-related hazards and risks;
  • How to work safely on scaffolds; and
  • How much a scaffold can bear in terms of load capacity/weight.

In addition to the above, it’s also important that workers are trained regarding to whom they should report safety violations and what to do if they notice an unsafe situation. 

  • Implement all safety regulations. All safety regulations that are established by OSHA should be properly implemented These include, but are not limited to, regulations pertaining to accessing different levels of scaffolding, the use of fall prevention tactics and harnesses, secure attachment of scaffolds to buildings, keeping scaffolds a safe distance from power lines, inspecting scaffolds and other equipment before each shift, ensuring that scaffolds have proper guardrails, ensuring that each scaffold and landing is equipped with non-slip tread to prevent slip and falls, using safety netting to protect other workers from falling objects, and more. If you have more questions about all of the safety regulations related to scaffolding, talk to an OSHA attorney who can help you to find answers. 
  • Use basic safety precautions and common sense. In addition to making sure that OSHA rules and regulations are followed, it’s also important to use basic safety precautions and common sense when working on or around scaffolding. For example, working in wet conditions can create slip and fall hazards, and should be avoided. Additionally, it is important that workers always keep their hard hats and other safety gear on at all times, always use caution when climbing ladders to different scaffolding levels, and never engage in running or horseplay on scaffolds. Generally staying alert and aware of one’s surroundings, inspecting a site before beginning work, and working at a safe pace is key, too. Of course, any safety violations that are noticed should immediately be reported. It is against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting an unsafe condition in the workplace. 

Know Your Rights if You’re Injured at Work

When an unsafe condition exists and workers are injured as a direct result, it’s important to know what the process is for recovering compensation. Through the workers’ compensation system, a worker who is injured on the job has the right to file a claim for benefits, including medical benefits and some lost wage benefits. In cases where a third party was to blame for the accident, a third-party liability claim can also yield compensation for non-economic benefits. 

Call OSHA Injury Attorney for Help 

If you are injured at work or have concerns about the safety of your workplace, you are not alone. If you have been injured as a result of a scaffolding accident you should contact an OSHA Injury Attorney immediately so they can provide you with advice about what your legal rights are, and represent you if you decide to pursue damages. To learn more about scaffolding safety regulations and what to do when injured in a scaffolding accident, please complete our contact form and we will forward your information to a qualified workplace injury attorney.