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Record keeping can improve workplace safety

Many injuries suffered by workers in Georgia could be preventable with more attention paid to avoiding these serious incidents. One reason why the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses the term "incidents" rather than "accidents" for workplace illnesses and injuries is because these events are rarely truly unforeseeable and unpreventable. While some incidents may be caused by external factors outside the job over which the employer has little influence, the vast majority of injuries could be predicted and prevented with extra care.

By paying attention to the accidents that happen and taking steps to prevent future ones from occurring, employers can help encourage better workplace safety at a factory, office or another work site. In order to learn which types of incidents present the greatest risk, keeping good records is critical.

Common workplace accident types

Employers in Georgia have a duty to provide safe environments for their employees. The most common types of workplace accidents include slips and trips, vehicle-related accidents, being caught in machinery, fire accidents and overexertion or injuries due to repetitive stress. Trips, slips and falls make up one-third of workplace injuries; they are among the most common causes of workers' compensation claims.

The keys for employers to minimize workplace slip-and-fall accidents are quality walking surfaces, proper footwear and good housekeeping. Accidents related to vehicles are the most common fatal workplace accidents in agriculture, and they can be devastating in other industries as well. Risk reduction begins with assessing which employees are at risk for a vehicle accident, whether on the road or in the workplace, and at what times the risks are greatest.

The top construction site safety hazards

More than 1,000 workers died on construction sites during 2016 according to research by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Construction deaths make up 20 percent of all occupational fatalities in the United States even though only 6 percent of the private workforce is employed in that particular sector. Falls, the biggest cause of construction site fatalities, account for more than 30 percent of these incidents.

Falls at construction sites are caused by a variety of factors, including misuse of fall protection equipment, unsteady working surfaces, and unsafe use of scaffolding and ladders. To reduce incidents, employers need to ensure that all equipment on the job site is properly secured and well-maintained. Equipment also needs to be appropriately sized for the job. Employees should be trained how and when to use personal fall safety equipment properly.

Preventing eye injuries in the workplace

Depending on the industry they work in, some Georgia residents may be at risk for incurring job-related eye injuries. About 2,000 cases of such injuries occur every day in the U.S. and require medical treatment. Approximately one-third of them are treated in hospital emergency rooms. To help prevent such accidents, it's important to be aware of the many different causes of eye injuries.

The most frequent cause is striking or scraping caused by small objects or particles like cement chips, wood chips, metal slivers and dust. Objects are often ejected through high-powered tools. Another common eye injury cause is penetration; this is where a nail, screw or wood chip goes through the eyeball and causes permanent damage. In addition, industrial chemicals and cleaning products can burn the eye.

Even an experienced yoga instructor can suffer an injury

Because you enjoy practicing yoga and teaching it to others, you are familiar with many poses, some of which are very advanced.

Yoga is generally a safe form of exercise, but if you sustain an injury, especially to your spine or lower back, you could find yourself heading to the emergency room.

OSHA's standards on pinch point protection

Any machine with gears, rollers, belt drives or pulleys has what are called pinch points: spaces where workers, or parts of their body, can get caught. To avoid pinch point accidents in Georgia and elsewhere, OSHA has addressed the topic in its standards for general industries, agriculture, longshoring, marine terminals and construction. OSHA's recommendations can be broken down into engineering controls and work practice controls.

The use of guards and other safety devices is recommended. Guards are meant to isolate workers from a pinch point while safety devices can have a number of purposes, such as shutting down the machine once a hand or other body part breaches the danger area, withdrawing the operator's hand from that area and requiring operators to use both hands on machine controls.

Protections for temporary workers on the job

Temporary workers in Georgia require on-the-job protection from respiratory problems and noise issues. According to recent bulletins issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, both host employers and staffing firms share the responsibility for ensuring that temp workers receive the necessary protection. OSHA's documents review potential sample scenarios that could affect temp workers.

In particular, OSHA noted that temp workers in construction, maritime work or general industry must receive appropriate respirators. Employers have a responsibility to detect and monitor the potential for workplace hazards and provide correct protective gear.

Safety rules for hazardous workplace materials

There are fundamental safety rules that all Georgia workers should follow when handling hazardous materials. Employers can make sure that their workers are familiar with these rules by presenting a list during each safety meeting.

The hazardous materials that are used in the workplace should only be used as they were intended. Employees should refrain from trying to use materials like gasoline to clean their equipment or chemical solvents to clean their hands.

Assembly line work can be dangerous

Some workers in factories and manufacturing plants across Georgia may wonder about their rights if they get hurt while working on an assembly line. With the complex machinery involved in production lines, there are a number of opportunities for workers to face serious injuries that could affect future job abilities. If you work on an assembly line, it can be particularly important to understand the potential dangers.

One of the most common types of workplace injuries that affect assembly line workers are repetitive motion injuries. Assembly line work generally is repetitive in nature, sometimes requiring employees to quickly and repeatedly perform the same hand motions. Because of the constant activity of specific joints and muscles, one could suffer strain or permanent damage to joints as a result. In addition, workers who have to lift heavy objects on the job could face back injuries.

OSHA updates guidelines for assessing workplace hazards

Changes have been sweeping across the workplace, including the integration of computers, robotics and other technology; a transition from a manufacturing to a service base; the rise of the gig economy; and a more diverse workforce. To respond to these changes, OSHA has updated the publication "Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs", which should be of interest to employers in Georgia.

Fortunately, OSHA provides six action items to help employers implement the updated practices. The first is to collect information on all present and potential workplace hazards; employers could even conduct surveys to get employee input on safety concerns. The next step is to identify all health hazards, chemical, physical or biological. OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program can provide specialized advice at no charge and confidentially.

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