Protecting Workers from Falling Tree Limbs

Whether you work in tree care or some other industry, there is a heightened risk of falling tree limbs when workers spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. Tree limbs can fall on workers for a variety of reasons, and the results of one of these accidents can be catastrophic. A worker can become seriously hurt being struck by a falling object or by coming into contact with power lines brought down by falling tree limbs. 

According to OSHA, every employer is required to furnish a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that could cause or are likely to cause physical harm or death. If a tree falls on and injures or kills a worker, this could be a violation of that duty. Here’s how to recognize some of these hazards, ways to protect workers from harm, and steps to take if you are injured by a falling tree limb. 

Recognizing the Hazards of Falling Tree Limbs

Any property with mature trees creates a risk of falling tree limbs. A large tree limb can be incredibly heavy, sometimes weighing hundreds of pounds. A limb falling from a tree without warning can cause severe injury to a worker or even death. 

The degree of hazard depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the tree and other hazards in the area, like live power lines. Some things that can weaken tree limbs and cause failure include:

  • Storm damage
  • Dead limbs
  • Split trunks caused by frost or wind
  • Diseased roots
  • Fungal damage
  • Fire damage

According to OSHA, some of the most common types of accidents causing serious injury or death include:

  • Workers being struck by a tree, including cases where a tree being cut falls forward onto a worker or a tree being cut by a co-worker falls onto a worker;
  • Workers being injured or killed when a portion of a tree falls while performing rope handling activities from the ground; and
  • Electrocutions occur when a fallen tree limb comes into contact with electric transformers or high-voltage lines and a worker.

How Employers Can Protect Workers from Falling Tree Limbs

Mainly propelled by an alarming rise in the number of incidents in the landscaping and tree industries, OSHA launched the Regional Emphasis Program several years ago in an effort to reduce injuries in these industries. This program addresses how to keep workers who are working around trees safe, and the guidelines can be applied to any industry. 

OSHA encourages employers to take steps to eliminate or reduce hazards related to site preparation and tree trimming as well as implement effective safety strategies. OSHA recommends employers use the following strategies to protect workers from injury caused by falling tree limbs:

  • Safety instruction must be provided to all workers on safe work procedures and special techniques for working around trees and power lines. 
  • A qualified supervisor must inspect the job site prior to commencing work and brief the crew on any specific safety hazards. 
  • A qualified person should closely inspect a tree’s root collar, trunk, and limbs for strength before climbing. 
  • If there are doubts about the safety of climbing a tree, consider using aerial devices like lifts. 
  • Postpone tree work if there are unfavorable weather conditions, such as rain, ice, or high winds. 
  • Clearly mark work zone boundaries with safety tape, cones, or some other conspicuous markings. 
  • Establish clear methods of communication between workers on the job site. 
  • Workers in an aerial lift or suspended in a tree must provide clear warnings to the ground crew. 
  • The ground crew must acknowledge warnings given by workers from above before work can proceed. 
  • Workers should not turn their back to a tree when branches are being cut. 
  • Workers must be provided with and trained on the proper use of safety equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as harnesses, tree saddles, belts, hard hats, high visibility clothing, and safety glasses. 

Have You Been Injured by a Falling Tree Limb?

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury resulting from a falling tree limb, you should understand that your employer has a duty to provide a safe workplace that protects you from these types of hazards. Proper training and appropriate safety measures are essential components of workplace preparedness. 

Having to report an injury doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. As an employee, you have the right medical care and other benefits after a work-related injury. To learn more about protecting yourself from workplace hazards and asserting your rights before or after an accident, contact an OSHA Injury Attorney directly. 

Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2023

Each year, at the National Safety Council (NSC) Safety Congress & Expo, OSHA reveals its Top 10 most frequently cited standards for the fiscal year. While the finalized numbers aren’t released until the following Spring, this preliminary data gives a good overview of trends in workplace safety and where employers should be focusing their efforts to protect their workers. 

What Are OSHA Workplace Standards?

Created in 1970, the purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to ensure workers have a safe and healthy work environment. The agency accomplishes this by creating various standards for the employers it oversees. 

Most private-sector employers in the U.S. are subject to OSHA regulations. Standards for various things, like fall protection, working in confined spaces, and preventing trench cave-ins, are meant to eliminate or reduce accidents by identifying hazards and then removing them or dealing with them as safely as possible. 

Penalties for OSHA violations can be steep. If an employer violates a particular regulation, they can be fined or even face criminal prosecution. Also, violating OSHA standards can be used as strong evidence of negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death case after a workplace accident. 

Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2023

Unfortunately, many of the same OSHA violations appear at the top of this list year after year. Here are the top 10 OSHA violations for 2023:

1. Fall Protection — General Requirements (7,271 citations)

Fall protection has topped this list of the most cited standards for the 13th year in a row. Some of the key fall protection standards OSHA mandates include putting guards over holes, using toe-boards and guardrails, and installing railings or safety nets. 

2. Hazard Communication (3,213 citations)

There were nearly 800 more Hazard Communication (HazCom) standard violations last year than in the previous year. Some examples of these standards include using proper Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and training workers who work with chemicals. 

3. Ladders (2,978 citations)

There were also more citations related to the use of ladders in 2023 than in the prior year. Roofing contractors were the top industry cited for violations such as having ladders loaded above their capacity and having hazards obstructing ladder rungs. 

4. Scaffolding (2,859 citations)

Scaffolding violations have risen up on the list from 2022, with masonry contractors getting the most attention. This standard has rules related to things like weight limits for scaffolding and how scaffolding must be installed and inspected. 

5. Powered Industrial Trucks (2,561 citations)

OSHA’s standard for powered industrial trucks regulates safety requirements for tractors, forklifts, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks, although not necessarily farm vehicles or road vehicles. 

6. Lockout/Tagout (2,554 citations)

Violations of OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout standard can be incredibly serious because they relate to how an employer controls hazardous energy. The procedures in the standard can prevent electrocution and other serious accidents, many of which can be fatal. 

7. Respiratory Protection (2,481 citations)

This was the third-highest violation on the list just last year. OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard helps protect workers from various environmental hazards. Many of these requirements direct employers to provide the appropriate respirators to workers and training on how to properly use the equipment. 

8. Fall Protection — Training Requirements (2,112 citations)

In addition to having the number one spot for fall protection violations, employers are also being cited for failing to adhere to OSHA’s Fall Protection Training Requirements, which includes initial training and retraining of workers as well as keeping written records of certification. 

9. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment — Eye and Face Protection (2,074 citations)

OSHA’s Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment standard mandates that employers provide suitable protection for workers to protect them from various workplace hazards. Violations of this standard relate to a lack of eye and face protection to protect from chemicals, gases, or flying particles. 

10. Machine Guarding (1,644 citations)

Not having proper guards on machinery can lead to serious accidents and injuries. Employers are cited for failing to adhere to OSHA’s Machine Guarding standards if the guards on machinery are removed or altered, posing a danger to workers. 

Learn More About OSHA Standards and Workers’ Protections

OSHA standards weren’t created to make things more difficult for employers but rather to protect the safety and health of employees. Without them, the rate of workplace accidents, injuries, and deaths would be even higher. 

Most workers in the U.S. receive protection from OSHA standards. If you’ve been injured at work and would like to learn more about these standards and workers’ protections, an OSHA Injury Attorney can help. 

Holiday Workplace Safety — 9 Tips to Protect Workers Through the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, many businesses hire more staff, and regular employees must deal with more disruptions than usual. From a health and safety perspective, it can be a dangerous time in the workplace. Here are some of the top safety concerns that arise during the holiday season and nine tips to protect workers during the holidays. 

Top Workplace Safety Concerns During the Holidays

While the holidays are a busy and exciting time for many businesses, there are reasons to be cautious. Worker fatigue is a common issue due to a combination of overbooked schedules and larger workloads. Stress and distraction are other problems during the holiday season, which are two issues that can lead to serious workplace accidents and injuries. 

Finally, rushing and improvising are common safety concerns. Instead of relying on established safety protocols, businesses might ignore or miss obvious hazards to meet deadlines. This can lead to serious accidents like slips and falls, falls from heights, and electrocutions. 

9 Tips to Protect Workers During the Holidays

As the holiday season arrives each year, retailers and logistics companies hire thousands of seasonal staff to meet increased demand. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reminds employers about their obligation to provide a safe workplace. Specifically, here are nine tips OSHA offers for protecting workers during the holidays. 

1. Train Workers on Safe Work Practices

Employees can’t be expected to adhere to safe work practices if they don’t know what they are. According to OSHA, employers must provide ongoing safety training to workers in a language they speak and understand. 

2. Deliver Hands-on Training for the Proper Use of Equipment

Employees, whether permanent or seasonal, should never just be left to their own devices when it comes to using equipment. Employers have a responsibility to offer hands-on training for the proper and safe use of workplace equipment. 

3. Require That Warehousing and Delivery Workers Wear Visible, Bright Clothing

Some holiday stores and warehouses operate late into the night or even around the clock during the holiday season to satisfy consumer demands. To keep workers safe in these reduced light conditions, employers should require that warehousing and delivery workers wear bright, visible clothing. 

4. Reduce Stress by Creating a Flexible and Detailed Staffing Plan

Workers and managers will likely experience fatigue and stress during the holiday season due to longer shifts, increased workloads, and more traffic on the roads. Fatigue can lead to frustration and errors at work, sometimes resulting in injuries. You can lessen these problems by offering workers a flexible and detailed staffing plan. 

5. Stack and Store Materials Properly to Prevent Injuries

If your backroom or warehouse is using aisles or shelving incorrectly to store excess inventory, this could create a safety concern. It’s vital that materials are stored properly, and aisles are kept clear to prevent workplace injuries. 

6. Ensure All Workplace Directional Signage is Visible

Retail facilities and warehouses can look much different than usual during the holiday season. Businesses must have clear directional signage and post clear exit and entrance signs so workers can find their way around or leave in case of an emergency. 

7. Prepare an Emergency Plan When Large Crowds Are Possible

Speaking of emergencies, riots, fires, and other tragedies are known to happen when large crowds of shoppers converge. Retailers must create and communicate an emergency plan to deal with these tragic situations and minimize injuries. 

8. Encourage Workers to Report Any Health or Safety Concerns

Holiday workplaces are known for being busier and a bit unorganized. This can lead to inefficiency and the potential for workplace accidents. Employers should encourage workers to immediately report any workplace health or safety concerns so they can be addressed quickly. 

9. Remember Seasonal Workers Have the Same Rights as Full-Time Workers

It can be tempting to treat seasonal workers as “less than” permanent employees. While they may not remain on the payroll long-term, they have the same right to a safe workplace as full-time employees. 

Learn More About Workplace Safety Requirements

OSHA’s safe work practices were developed to protect the safety and health of workers —- during the holidays and throughout the year. Without them, the level of workplace accidents, injuries, and deaths would be much higher than what we see today. 

Most U.S. employers are subject to OSHA’s standards, meaning workers have the right to a safe workplace. If you’ve been injured at work and want to learn more about workplace safety requirements, contact an OSHA Injury Attorney directly. 

Working Safely with Electricity

Electricity is a common workplace hazard but also one that can be dangerous and deadly. When improperly maintained or used, electrical equipment can cause burn or shock injuries. Anyone working around electricity must have specialized training and follow specific safety-related practices. Here are some tips for working safely with electricity. 

1. Ensure Safe Use of Electrical Equipment

All employees should properly and safely use all electrical equipment in the workplace. This means not hanging equipment by their electrical cords, pulling plugs from the wall by the cord, stapling cords to the wall, or overstretching cords. Before use, all plugs and cords should be carefully inspected. 

2. Avoid Contact with Live Currents

One of the best ways to stay safe is to keep a reasonable distance away from electrical hazards. Untrained workers should not be near or interact with any electrical currents over 50V. If a worker is in an area with electrical currents higher than this, they should maintain a safe distance.

3. De-Energize Equipment and Use Lockout/Tagout

Live, exposed electrical wires must be de-energized before work near or on them is permitted. The best way to accomplish this is through a strict lockout/tagout policy. This safeguards workers from electrical hazards while performing maintenance and service activities. 

4. Understand Generator Hazards

Generators are commonly used as an alternative power source on job sites. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a serious risk with gas and diesel generators, which should never be used in confined spaces. Also, the main circuit breaker should be turned “off” on a generator before starting to prevent energizing power lines or equipment. 

5. Use Only Approved and Non-Modified Equipment

Only approved and non-modified cords and equipment should be used in the workplace. For example, frayed extension cords or ones that are not 3-wire types are not considered durable. All equipment should be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. 

6. Install Proper Physical Barriers Around Hazards

When electrical hazards are present, physical barriers should always be installed to protect workers and innocent bystanders. For example, electrical panels should have closing front doors or shields. There should also be signs in place that warn of electrical hazards and prevent people from entering an unsafe area. 

7. Beware of Conductive Materials and Tools

Employees should always assume that any electrical lines or parts present are live unless told otherwise. Cleaning materials, like water-based cleaners and many solvents, are conductive and require extreme caution. It’s also important to keep conductive tools away from electrical equipment or parts. 

8. Watch Out for Overhead and Buried Power Lines

Overhead and buried power lines are particularly hazardous because they carry very high voltage levels. The main risk is fatal electrocution, followed by falls, burns, and other injuries. Ensure you know where these lines are located before working around them. 

9. Exercise Caution with Flammable Materials

Electricity can lead to a fire or explosion if it comes into contact with flammable gases, vapors, or dust. If you have these types of materials in your workplace, understand how they must be used, stored, and disposed of so they don’t create a safety hazard. 

10. Limit Who Can Work on Live Electrical Wires

As a general rule, if you aren’t trained to do something, err on the side of caution. According to OSHA, only qualified workers should work on live electrical wires or hazardous electrical equipment. If you notice a downed electrical wire, the safest thing to do is to notify a direct superior immediately and avoid approaching the area. 

11. Follow Your Company’s Electrical Safety Rules

Every business should have electrical safety rules that align with OSHA standards for working with electricity. If employees work with live electrical wires, they should receive proper training and have access to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a hard hat, safety glasses, insulated gloves, and proper clothing. 

12. Report Any Electrical Accidents or Injuries Promptly

If the path to electrical equipment is broken or the power supply isn’t grounded, the current could travel through the worker’s body and cause serious injury or death. If you’ve experienced an electrical injury at work, you may have the right to pursue compensation. It’s important that you report your accident to protect your rights. 

What If You’ve Been Injured Working with Electricity?

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury while working near or with electricity, it’s essential to understand that your employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace protecting you from these types of accidents. Proper training and appropriate electrical safety measures are critical parts of workplace preparedness. To learn more about protecting yourself from workplace electrical hazards and asserting your rights, contact an OSHA Injury Attorney directly. 

OSHA Safe Work Practices

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a government agency that is tasked with protecting workers from violations of safety, health, and labor regulations in the workplace. It was created in 1970 and remains a vital part of keeping Americans safe and protecting workers’ rights.

If a workplace accident happens, it’s possible that OSHA could become involved. While most employers comply with OSHA regulations, failure to do so could result in fines and serve as proof of negligence after a worker has been seriously hurt or even killed.

What Does OSHA Do?

OSHA plays several essential roles in keeping workplaces safe for Americans. Some of the functions it performs include:

  • Establishes Safety and Health Standards— One of OSHA’s primary roles is to establish health and safety standards in the workplace that address different industries, work environments, and hazards.
  • Inspects Job Sites— OSHA inspects various job sites that are required to comply with its standards and may penalize those that fail to meet them.
  • Trains Workers and Upholds Safety Standards— The agency develops training programs for employers and workers to improve workplace safety.
  • Investigates Workplace Accidents— OSHA records accidents and may investigate and analyze a workplace accident.
  • Conducts Research— The agency researches trends in workplace safety and health to ensure its regulations remain current and effective.
  • Protects Workers’ Rights— If an employee is injured due to an OSHA violation or is denied certain rights by an employer, the agency can investigate the matter and take action.

OSHA’s General Duty Clause

OSHA has created a variety of regulations that apply to specific industries, such as construction and maritime. But one of the most important parts of OSHA’s regulations is the General Duty clause, which imposes three specific duties on U.S. employers:

  1. Maintain conditions and/or employ practices that are reasonably necessary to protect employees on the job.
  2. Be familiar with the safety standards that are applicable to a specific business or industry.
  3. Regulate and promote employee use of all appropriate safety equipment.

Going beyond the General Duty clause, OSHA has specific regulations and safety standards that involve:

  • Fall Protection
  • Scaffolding
  • Hazard Communication
  • Electrical Wiring
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Lockout/Tagout
  • Ladders
  • Machinery and Machine Guarding
  • Fire Protection

OSHA Safe Work Practices

OSHA regulations apply to all businesses unless they are excluded. Some examples of excluded businesses include churches, governmental bodies, and the self-employed. Employers should follow a set of best practices to maintain OSHA compliance.

  1. Post OSHA Information

The Occupational Safety and Health Act guarantees that workers will be informed about their responsibilities and rights in the workplace. Instead of leaving this up to chance, employers can simply post OSHA’s free workplace posters someplace that is highly visible and accessible.

  1. Train All Staff

Managers and workers alike need training on proper safety practices to avoid accidents and recognize hazards in the workplace. OSHA recommends that all workers receive proper training that covers applicable workplace hazards, using PPE, and what to do after an accident.

  1. Be Proactive

Central to OSHA’s safe work practices is the idea of being proactive. Employers should self-inspect often so that they have a thorough understanding of their work environment. OSHA even provides checklist employers can use to simplify this process.

  1. Prepare for Inspection

Even if you train your staff and are proactive, you should still be prepared for OSHA to show up at your workplace for inspections. These might be random inspections, visits in response to a report, or something that is triggered by an industrial accident.

  1. Prevent and Control Hazards

Employers should both prevent and control any hazards in the workplace. By addressing various risks, an employer may be able to eliminate a hazard. If it can’t be eliminated, it can be minimized so that accidents are less likely.

  1. Communicate Any Hazards

When any workplace hazards do exist that can’t be eliminated, an employer has a duty to inform workers of them. For example, workers have a right to know about hazardous chemicals on a job site or a gaping hole in a walkway.

  1. Report Accidents and Keep Records

If an accident does happen, employers should keep detailed records. When a worker is killed, or three or more workers are hospitalized, OSHA must be informed within eight hours of the incident.

Learn More About OSHA’s Safe Work Practices

OSHA’s standards were developed to protect the health and safety of workers, not to increase costs or make things harder for businesses. Without them, the level of industrial accidents, injuries, and deaths would be even more tragic than they already are.

Most employers in the U.S. are subject to OSHA’s standards, meaning employees have the right to a safe workplace. If you’ve been injured at work and would like more information about OSHA’s safe work practices, OSHA Injury Attorney can help.

Factory Safety – Eye Protection 

Your vision is something that is easily taken for granted. But, once it’s damaged or lost, life can become difficult to manage. Yet roughly 2,000 workers each day receive treatment for eye injuries sustained on the job. This is a staggering number considering most of these injuries could be prevented if employers followed simple safety protocols and furnished workers with a safe working environment.

Common Workplace Eye Injuries

Accidents happen in the workplace every day in situations that workers have become comfortable working in. These tragedies can take place in an instant. And, in most cases, protective eyewear isn’t being worn.

Some of the typical reasons that employees aren’t wearing protection include that it isn’t provided, it doesn’t fit properly, or they are told it isn’t necessary. But not having this protection can lead to serious consequences.

The most common causes of workplace eye injuries include lacerations, punctures, and chemical burns. These injuries happen most frequently in the manufacturing, transportation, and service industries.

Types of Eye Risks

Your eyes are some of your body’s most vulnerable organs. You depend on them for your sight, yet they are only protected by a transparent, thin layer called the cornea. The cornea acts as a natural barrier against foreign particles and protects the lens and retina, which interpret images. This is an organ that is incredibly sensitive to various hazards you’re likely to encounter in a factory environment.

Impact and Dust

Your eyes are vulnerable to physical hazards such as objects that puncture or scratch the outer layer protecting the rest of the organ. This includes debris and dirt that may be in the air as well as tools or machinery.

Corneal abrasions are the most common type of eye injury, particularly in dusty workplaces. A minor scratch can heal in a few days. But severe abrasions or larger objects embedded in the eye could cause permanent damage.

Light and Heat

Your eyes are also sensitive to the radiation that comes from light and heat. An eye can sustain instant burns if it is exposed to high temperatures or bright light. This can happen from welding torches, sparks, fires, or furnaces. Even elevated levels of exposure to blue light from computer screens can damage the eye’s receptors and have an impact on a worker’s sleep and wellbeing.

Chemical Exposure

The soft tissue in the eye is also vulnerable to a variety of chemicals found in industrial workplaces. Strong cleaning agents and solvents, alkalis, and acids can temporarily or permanently damage a worker’s eyesight.

OSHA Regulations and Workplace Eye Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses eye and face protection in specific general industry standards as well as standards for maritime and construction industries.

According to CFR 1910.133, employers must ensure that all affected employees use appropriate face and eye protection when exposed to face or eye hazards from flying particles, liquid chemicals, molten metal, chemical gases or vapors, acids or caustic liquids, or potentially injurious light radiation.

When there are hazards from flying objects, the employer must ensure that there is eye protection with side protection included. In some cases, detachable side protectors are acceptable.

OSHA advises that personal protective equipment (PPE) alone should not be relied upon to protect workers against various workplace hazards. Instead, these should be combined with sound manufacturing processes, engineering controls, and guards.

According to the agency’s guidelines, employers should conduct thorough walk-through surveys to identify sources of eye injury hazards in the workplace. These would include from machinery, materials, falling objects, chemicals, and processes (like welding). After minimizing as many of the hazards as possible, workers should be provided with the appropriate PPE.

Steps to Prevent Eye Injuries in a Factory Environment

OSHA requires that employers provide a safe and healthful workplace that is free from serious recognized hazards. Some of the steps your industrial facility can take to prevent eye injuries include:

  1. Continually assess the workplace for safety hazards.
  2. Provide workers with well-fitting eye protection that is appropriate to the task.
  3. Require face shields for hazardous work.
  4. Install signage to enforce workplace eye protection rules.
  5. Install eyewash stations in appropriate areas.
  6. Train workers on eye protection safety and emergency response procedures.

What If You’ve Suffered an Eye Injury at Work?

If you’ve suffered a serious eye injury at work, it’s important to understand that your employer has an obligation to provide you with a safe work environment. Appropriate eye protection should be available to factory workers as well as training on its use and hazard avoidance. To learn more about protecting yourself from workplace eye injuries, contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly.

Bucket Truck Safety – OSHA Guidelines on Staying Safe In and Around Bucket Trucks

Vehicles known as “bucket trucks” are among the most useful and versatile on worksites. When operated correctly, they give workers a safe platform to perform elevated tasks. Because a bucket lift is stable, workers can use both arms to perform work, resulting in improved efficiency. That’s why you’ll see these types of trucks used by various workers, from linemen to tree trimmers to painters. 

While a bucket truck is relatively simple to operate, these machines present a unique set of challenges and hazards. Fortunately, OSHA provides guidelines for staying safe in and around bucket trucks. 

What is a Bucket Truck or Aerial Lift?

Bucket trucks are trucks with an aerial lift attached. Also called cherry pickers, these machines are excellent tools used in a variety of industries to get workers to hard-to-reach areas. They provide a stable and safe work platform when used properly. 

Hazards Associated with Bucket Trucks

Accidents are bound to happen on the job. But working with and around bucket trucks is inherently dangerous work. Some of the main hazards associated with bucket trucks include:

  • Electrocution — Workers can become electrocuted due to accidental contact with energized wires. 
  • Overturning — A truck that isn’t parked or positioned properly is at risk of overturning. 
  • Entanglement — Power lines, tree limbs, and other overhead items can cause entanglement issues with a bucket truck and lead to injuries. 
  • Falls — Employees not provided with proper training or fall protection have a higher risk of falls from bucket trucks. 
  • Collisions — Traffic on busy roads or struck-against hazards from falling objects can cause serious injuries while using bucket trucks. 

Typical injuries when working from bucket trucks include sprains, strains, broken bones, burns, lacerations, electrocution, and even death from being struck by objects or falls. If businesses don’t take the time to be fully aware of hazards and create a strong workplace safety plan, bucket truck accidents are more likely to occur. 

OSHA Safety Guidelines for Working Around Bucket Trucks

Bucket trucks require specialized training to operate to ensure the safety of workers and anyone in the area. OSHA provides an outline for bucket truck safety, which falls under the broader umbrella of aerial lift safety. Only authorized and trained workers should operate or use a bucket truck. Some of the specifics of bucket truck safety include:

Pre-Work Inspections and Safety Check

Before any work begins, there should be a pre-use safety check that includes:

  • Review equipment maintenance records
  • Check wheels, tires, and engine
  • Look for any deteriorating or missing part
  • Test all ground controls before starting work
  • Confirm that railing and door latches are in working order

Work Area Inspection

The area around the bucket truck must also be inspected, including:

  • Check the area for excessive slopes, drop-offs, debris, soft spots, and holes
  • Check the area for trees, overhead power lines, and building overhangs
  • Make sure the bucket and all equipment is secured before positioning the truck

Fall Protection

While falls from bucket trucks are relatively rare, they can happen. A more common scenario is where a worker gets knocked out of the bucket when another object or vehicle collides with the equipment. 

According to OSHA’s rule of thumb, all workers should be wearing personal fall protection if they are going to be six feet or more off the ground. The question for employers will be what type of fall protection will be used, such as a full-body harness or body belt. 

Personal Protective Equipment

All workers should be provided with the appropriate personal protected equipment, including:

  • Hard hats for workers
  • Appropriate gloves for the job
  • Face shields or safety glasses for workers
  • Appropriate fall arrest systems for bucket workers

Bucket Truck and Aerial Lift Operation

When operating a bucket truck, the proper procedures include:

  • Set brakes and use wheel chocks, even if working on a level surface
  • Establish an appropriate and safe work zone if working in a high-traffic area
  • Secure bucket and use safety chain before operation
  • Avoid leaning over the bucket railing or climbing on tool brackets
  • Don’t exceed the manufacturer’s load capacity
  • Never move the truck with a worker in the bucket

Emergency Escape

If something goes wrong, bucket truck workers are trained on safe escape methods:

  • Have auxiliary power available
  • Have a controlled descent rope or escape ladder

Learn More About Protecting Yourself from Bucket Truck Injuries

Whether you work as a power lineman, in a construction trade, or in some other industry, your employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace that protects you from being injured while working around bucket trucks. Having appropriate training on the use of aerial devices and access to fall protection is a critical part of effective safety management and workplace preparedness. To learn more about protecting yourself from bucket truck injuries, contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly. 

OSHA Standards on Back Injury Protection

OSHA Standards on “Back Injury Protection”

Back injures are the leading cause of worker disability, costing businesses millions each year and accounting for countless lost days of work. Back injuries can be extremely painful and long-lasting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that back injuries account for roughly 20 percent of all workplace injuries and illnesses. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn’t have specific regulations for back safety. But training workers to lift safely is implied by the General Duty Clause of the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act. The law requires that employers provide workers with a workplace that is “free of recognized hazards.”

OSHA has indicated that it will not focus its enforcement efforts on businesses that are taking measures to reduce hazards that cause employee strains and sprains or that have implemented effective ergonomic programs. If your employer has done these things, there should be some level of back injury protection. But there are no guarantees against a serious injury. 

Common Causes of Workplace Low Back Injury

Back injuries sustained in the workplace typically come from one of two categories – accidental injuries resulting from an unexpected action or strain and non-accidental injuries resulting from normal, non-strenuous activities. 

A back injury can result from a job that is physically demanding, such as one requiring a person to lift heavy loads and do a lot of twisting or straining. They can also result from poor ergonomics due to standing for long periods or having to sit in a bad office chair.

Your back is made up of bones, ligaments, muscles, connective tissue, vertebrae, and discs. And a workplace back injury can damage any of those parts or systems. Though an injury can occur at any point along your spinal column, from the neck to the tailbone, most workplace back injuries involve the lumbar area or lower back. Sprains and strains are common, as are more serious disk problems, such as compressions and herniations, which may require surgery and long-term treatment. 

Preventing Back Injuries With Lifting Safety Procedures

Preventing back injuries is a major challenge for employers. But it’s also a responsibility since businesses are supposed to provide a safe working environment. Although no strategy is going to completely eliminate back injuries, the frequency and severity of these cases can be reduced by incorporating effective training, ergonomics, and better design of work tasks.

OSHA has studied ways to help prevent injuries caused by lifting. The agency specifies two types of controls – administrative and engineering. 

Administrative Controls

OSHA suggests that employers establish effective procedures and processes that will reduce the instances of lifting injuries. Some examples include:

  • Requiring that at least two workers lift heavy loads to limit exertion
  • Creating systems so that workers rotate away from tasks that require repetitive motion, constant exertion, or awkward postures. Designing job rotation systems that allow workers to rotate between jobs that require the use of different muscle groups. 
  • Training on the proper use and maintenance of power and pneumatic tools
  • Staffing “floaters” to give workers needed breaks in addition to scheduled ones

Engineering Controls

 OSHA suggests that employers design or redesign workspaces to minimize or eliminate hazards that can lead to lifting or low back injuries. Some examples include:

  • Reducing the weight of loads to limit the force of exertion
  • Using devices to reposition or lift heavy objects to limit the force of exertion
  • Redesigning tools to allow more neutral postures
  • Repositioning work tables to eliminate the need for excessive/long reach and enable neutral working postures
  • Making tasks less repetitive by using diverging conveyors
  • Eliminating excessive reaching or leaning by installing diverters on converters to direct materials toward the worker

Back Support Belts – Do They Prevent Injury?

There has been a dramatic increase in the use of back support belts in industrial settings. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of the CDC, states that the decision to wear one of these belts is a personal choice. However, back support belts are not a “cure-all” for back injury prevention. In fact, there is no scientific evidence supporting their benefits. Whether you use a back support belt or not, the best back injury prevention methods are the administrative and engineering controls that your employer implements to make your job and workplace safer. 

What If You’ve Suffered a Back Injury at Work?

If you’ve suffered a workplace back injury that restricts you from doing your job or requires medical attention, it’s important to understand that your employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace that protects you from these issues. Appropriate back injury protection and training are critical parts of effective safety management and workplace preparedness. To learn more about protecting yourself from workplace back injuries, contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly. 

Forklift Safety Requirements

Forklifts are some of the most commonly used pieces of equipment on worksites and in warehouses. These powered industrial machines are used to lift and then transport loads with ease and precision. Because they are powerful devices, there is considerable risk in operating and working around forklifts. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established some specific forklift safety requirements to help reduce accidents and injuries. 

Workplace Forklift Injuries by the Numbers

Forklifts on a job site or in a warehouse can create an incredibly dangerous situation for workers. OSHA estimates that forklift accidents result in roughly 35,000 serious injuries, 62,000 non-serious injuries, and 90 fatalities annually. Even more disturbing is that about a quarter of these accidents are the result of inadequate training, highlighting the importance of making forklift safety a priority in the workplace. 

Essential Tips for Forklift Safety and Accident Prevention

There are more than a million forklifts in operation in the U.S. alone. An injury involving a forklift can be life-altering for the worker and their loved ones. To protect workers, OSHA has established forklift safety requirements, which can be found in 29 CFR 1910.178. 

OSHA requires that employers provide forklift training to workers that includes information on vehicle types, general operation instructions, and various safety requirements. Through a combination of practical and formal training, workers are expected to learn about forklift safety before operating or being around these machines. And, they must receive recertification in forklift operation at least every three years. Here are some of the most essential tips for forklift safety.

1. Get Forklift Certification

Since many accidents are due to poor or no training, it’s vital that employees operating forklifts or working around them get proper training and licensing. 

2. Understand the Forklift Classes

OSHA recognizes different types or classifications of forklifts. Each type has its own weight limit, structure, usage, turning radius, and traveling speed. So it’s essential to understand these differences to follow proper safety procedures. 

3. Wear Proper Clothing

Forklift operators should be dressed appropriately to avoid clothing getting caught in equipment or other injuries from excessive heat and falling objects. Some necessary items include a hard hat, safety shoes, and high visibility vest or jacket. 

4. Inspect the Equipment Daily

Forklifts should be inspected before each daily use. Some of the recommended checks include a test of all controls, examining tires, inspecting forks for damage, and checking fluids for any leaks. 

5. Establish a Floor Marking System

A floor marking system that includes directional arrows, hazard markings, and safety items like emergency switches can lead forklifts along the right path and keep pedestrians safe. 

6. Maintain 360-Degree Visibility

OSHA has established best practices for operation to provide machinery operators with better forward visibility. These include always looking in the direction of travel, using rear-view mirrors, and making eye contact with others in the area.

7. Avoid Exceeding Equipment Capacity

Every forklift has a maximum capacity. Operators should never exceed the counterweight of the equipment. 

8. Watch Forklift Stability

Every forklift has a center of gravity that it shares with the load it is transporting. Forklift operators must understand the “stability triangle” to prevent the machinery from tipping over. 

9. Know About Load Basics

OSHA advises operators to inspect loads before picking them up with a forklift to ensure they are safe for transport. Make sure the load is centered and secure before lifting the forks. 

10. Never Carry Extra People

Workers should never hitch a ride on a forklift or use a forklift as a lift. These are dangerous practices. 

11. Maintain an Appropriate Speed

Always drive the forklift at safe speeds and avoid abrupt turns or direction changes that could lead to tipping. Never travel with reach out or turn with forks elevated. 

12. Avoid Hazards Around the Area

Avoid standing or walking under a forklift attachment or load, either of which could fall and cause serious injury. 

13. Keep a Safe Distance

Always remain mindful of the surrounding area when operating a forklift. Keep a safe enough distance that there is room to turn, stop, and get out of the way of other machinery. 

14. Park the Equipment Properly

Be sure to park the forklift in a safe and designated place at the end of a shift to avoid blocking pathways. Apply the parking brake and fully lower the forks to the floor for storage.

Learn More About Protecting Yourself from Workplace Forklift Accidents

Whether you work in a warehouse, in construction, or in some other industry, your employer is obligated to provide you with a safe workplace that protects you from dangerous forklift accidents and injuries. Having the appropriate training and procedures in place is essential. To learn more about protecting yourself from workplace forklift accidents, contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly. 

The Top 10 OSHA Standards Cited for Violations in 2021

In October 2021, OSHA released its preliminary data for its top 10 most-cited standards for fiscal year 2021. The data includes violations the agency issued between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021. The preliminary list was presented at the 2021 NSC Safety Congress and Expo, and the final results will be released in the coming months.

For the 11th straight year, Fall Protection tops the list. In truth, not much on this list has changed, although Hazard Communication moved to number five from number two last year.

Although it would be tempting to give the annual list a casual glance and move on with business as usual, OSHA and thousands of injured workers would prefer that employers did a bit more. A deeper dive into these OSHA standards could give many employers the information and tools they need to implement better workplace safety programs and give workers the protection they need and deserve.

Here are the Top 10 OSHA Safety Standards Cited for Violations in 2021

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 5,295 violations

For more than a decade, Fall Protection has topped this list as the most cited OSHA violation. OSHA created this particular standard to prevent falls, which, in the construction industry alone, account for roughly 40% of all workplace deaths.

To prevent fall injuries and deaths, it’s essential that employers supply workers with safety net systems, hole covers, guardrails, warning signs, and personal fall arrest systems. According to OSHA, these items must be in place when heights are six feet or more on construction sites and four feet or more in general industries. In addition, employees must be adequately trained on the proper use of all fall protection measures.

  1. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,527 violations

OSHA’s standard for Respiratory Protection is intended to safeguard workers from respiratory hazards in the workplace. The standard covers every aspect of worker protection, including selection, fit testing, procedures, evaluation, training, use, cleaning, and maintenance of equipment. Areas most often cited by OSHA are failure to establish a Respiratory Protection program, failure to identify workplace hazards, and lack of medical evaluations or proper equipment.

  1. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,026 violations

Working with ladders can be dangerous, and accidents involving them can lead to serious injuries. OSHA regulates the use, repair, and alteration of ladders on a job site. The most frequent areas of the OSHA Ladder Safety Standard that are cited include using ladders unsafely, using broken ladders, and not extending ladders far enough over an upper landing surface.

  1. Scaffolding (1926.451): 1,948 violations

Scaffolding is commonly used on construction sites, and its improper use can be dangerous and deadly. OSHA most commonly cites violations of this standard that include failure to use fall protection and the use of cross braces for access.

  1. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 1,947 violations

The Hazard Communication Standard refers to the handling of chemical hazards in the workplace. The most commonly cited violations of this hazard include failure to implement a hazcom program, lack of training, and failure to maintain Safety Data Sheets.

  1. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 1,698 violations

A Lockout/Tagout Standard applies to workers who repair, service, or maintain machinery or equipment. The areas of this standard cited most frequently for violations include training, inspections, general procedures, and an energy control program.

  1. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,666 violations

OSHA requires that employers not only have fall protection in place but that employees also understand how to use it. Employers are frequently cited for a failure to train employees on these workplace safety measures.

  1. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,452 violations

About 90%% of workplace eye injuries could be prevented through the use of proper eye and face protection. Violations of this OSHA standard include the failure to use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and a lack of training and workplace standards.

  1. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,420 violations

This OSHA standard governs the design, use, maintenance, and fire protection of powered industrial trucks like tractors, fork trucks, and motorized hand trucks. Lack of maintenance, training, or poor signage are leading causes of violations.

  1. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,113 violations

Any machine process or part that could cause injury must be safeguarded. OSHA issues citations when guards are removed, altered, or not repaired, creating a serious workplace hazard.

In addition to the possibility that violating any of these OSHA standards could result in accidents, injuries, and loss of life, these citations come with hefty fines. In the construction industry alone, OSHA issued 16,749 citations in FY2021, resulting in $58,691,406 in fines.

OSHA standards aren’t in place to make the job of construction companies or contractors harder or more costly. They exist to protect the health and safety of workers. Workplace injuries and deaths are equally tragic and cost the industry millions each year.

If your employer is subject to OSHA regulations (most are), you have rights should you become injured or sick through the course of your employment. If you’ve been injured at work and would like more information about how to protect your rights, OSHA Injury Attorney can help.