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Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

The many moving parts of machinery safety

Arizona's industrial workers are exposed to numerous hazards on their jobs every day. The machines they work with pose any number of threats to their lives and limbs. Employers are required to ensure that safety measures are in place to protect workers from the many mechanical and non-mechanical dangers of the equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlines minimum machinery safety requirements pertaining to nearly every part of every machine.

Any part of a machine that moves poses a danger to workers. Safeguards should prevent employees from getting any part of their bodies or clothing entangled in or severed by any part of the machine. OSHA cautions, however, that the safeguards cannot become a hindrance to the work that needs to be performed. Otherwise, the safety mechanism might be removed in order to allow the work to be done, which could then lead to injury.

OSHA gives victory to baggage handlers who are hurt at work

The men and women who handle baggage at the nation's airports, including those here in Arizona, go about their daily duties behind the scenes. Few people consider the fact that baggage handlers are hurt at work on a consistent basis. Lifting bags, boxes and other cargo, among other hazards they face, causes numerous injuries each year.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration filed a lawsuit against United Airlines on behalf of baggage handlers at an airport on the East Coast. The two recently reached an agreement that includes fines of $7,000 and a plan to deal with certain hazardous conditions that lead to the injuries suffered by baggage handlers who work for the airline. The settlement could end up helping baggage handlers for multiple airlines across the country -- perhaps even many here in Arizona. 

What does OSHA do after work accidents?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration becomes involved when employees are seriously injured or killed -- or have a close call in which either result might have occurred -- here in Arizona and elsewhere. The agency does not like to say that it investigates work accidents, but rather work incidents since time and experience show that most injurious events are preventable. Nevertheless, their investigations provide valuable information regarding deficiencies in workplace safety, or the lack of any safety measures at all.

OSHA is not interested in placing blame, but instead in finding and correcting the causes of work injuries and fatalities. Companies are encouraged to conduct their own investigations involving supervisors, managers and employees. It would be easy to say that a worker failed to follow proper procedure or became careless, but often, larger safety issues are at the heart of the incident.

Machinery safety: Safety precautions for aerial lift operation

Arizona workers in industrial facilities are typically at risk of suffering life-altering injuries. Employers often disregard machinery safety, despite the fact that the lives of employees may be endangered. These hazards include mechanical equipment such as forklifts and other aerial lifts that require trained operators. There are specific safety precautions that operators of aerial lifts must obey to prevent accidents that could cause severe injuries to themselves and other workers in the area.

Before using such a vehicle, the operator must inspect it by checking for leaks and ensuring all controls function as they should. The operator must never access the platform by walking under the boom, and he or she must never operate the lift in areas where the ground is uneven. Nobody must be in the basket or on the platform without being securely harnessed and tied to secure anchor points; the passenger must stand on the floor of the basket or platform, not on the railing.

Who is at fault in preventable construction accidents?

This is a question that far too many families here in Arizona and elsewhere are forced to ask every year when their loved ones are killed while on the job. Some construction accidents happen despite the best efforts of companies and workers. However, an alarming proportion of them should never have happened in the first place.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is already saying that one construction accident in which a 24-year-old man was killed was more than likely preventable. Two buildings were being renovated and made into one large building when the building collapsed on top of the victim. Many people in the community want to know how it happened.

Work accidents don't stop the bills from coming

You may feel as though your world has stopped after being injured at work. Unfortunately, work accidents do not stop the need for you to pay your bills and otherwise provide for your family. The Arizona workers' compensation system can help you with your living and medical expenses while you recover from your injuries.

However, the system is not necessarily easy to navigate if you do not understand how it works. Your claim could be denied if even one document is not submitted properly. If that happens, you might be aware that there is an appeals process, but it could be even more of a challenge than filing a claim.

Construction accidents from trench collapses up in 2016

Working in trenches is part of the job for many Arizona residents. Most construction companies will take the proper safety precautions to help ensure that those workers do not suffer injuries or die in a collapse. Even so, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that construction accidents from trench collapses are up this year.

According to OSHA, 23 people died and 12 others suffered injuries in trench collapses this year across the United States. These accidents have a high mortality rate due to the weight of the earth involved. For example, one cubic yard of earth weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Workers suffer crush injuries under that amount of weight.

OSHA believes updated rule will reduce work injuries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration periodically updates or otherwise changes its rules in an attempt to keep workers in a variety of industries safe. The agency recently updated its walking-working surfaces standards, which will more than likely impact no less than 112 million workers across the country, including many here in Arizona. OSHA believes the implementation of the updates will reduce work injuries and fatalities.

OSHA claims the new rule, which will go into effect on Jan. 17, 2017, will increase protections for workers against trips, slips and falls. Fall hazards continue to be a leading cause of death in many industries, especially construction. Changes such as the use of personal fall protection systems, which have been used in construction since 1994, will now be encouraged in general industries.

OSHA blames fatal work injuries on construction company

As is the case across the country, whenever there is a death at a job site here in Arizona, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts an investigation. Their findings often reveal the party or parties who could be held liable for the fatal work injuries that brought about the investigation. This information might be used by surviving family members if they pursue a wrongful death claim.

For example, back in May, an approximately nine- to 11-foot-deep trench at a construction site in another state collapsed. Three men became trapped, but only one of them survived with serious injuries. The other two men, ages 26 and 36, died as a result of mechanical asphyxia. In October, OSHA issued its report regarding the incident in which it blamed the construction company for the tragedy.

OSHA says most traumatic amputations occur in manufacturing

Most Arizona residents who work in the state's manufacturing facilities understand the risks that go with their jobs. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, approximately 57 percent of the traumatic amputations that occurred in 2015 happened in manufacturing facilities. OSHA is now launching an initiative to enforce rules and regulations that should help prevent these injuries with a primary focus on four states in particular.

Arizona is not one of those states, but every manufacturing company could benefit from a refresher regarding equipment safety, training and any other processes that will help keep workers from losing limbs or appendages. In 2015, there were over 2,600 reported amputations around the United States. So far in 2016, a lack of machine guarding ranks number eight in violations found by OSHA.

Serving the Following Areas

Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C., provides experienced representation for workers' compensation cases in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Avondale, Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Prescott, Tucson and Yuma, and throughout Maricopa County, Pima County, Pinal County and Yavapai County, and all of Arizona.

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