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OSHA's top safety violations for 2018

Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a list of the top safety violations in Connecticut and around the country. At the top of the list for 2018 was fall protections which mostly relate to the construction industry. Employers need to make sure that there are protections in place whether an employee is using a small ladder to reach something on a shelf or is working on a roof. Guard rails, toeboards, floor holes, and other features are standard.

Another common safety violation was communication about hazards, and this applies to all types of businesses. Employers must make sure that safety data sheets for chemicals are up to date and available for all employees to see. Workers must be trained to use any new chemicals that they come into contact with as tasks change. The rules were updated in 2012, so employers should double check that their sheets meet the new standards.

Nurses face a multitude of injury risks at work

For a nurse, the workplace isn't just somewhere to earn a paycheck or help those who need it. It's also a place where they could very easily suffer serious or even life-changing injuries. This profession can be far more dangerous than a lot of people realize, and it is important to shed some light on the risks.

With that in mind, here are some of the top injury risks as addressed by organizations like the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

  • Moving patients: When nurses have to move obese or combative patients, they can suffering back injuries, knee injuries, shoulder injuries and much more.
  • Lifting patients: Similarly, lifting patients -- particularly those who suffer from obesity or health issues that mean they can't assist the nurses -- can cause the same injuries as helping to move them in any other fashion.
  • Assault: As noted, combative patients sometimes try to resist what nurses are doing. They may have mental issues that make it hard for them to understand what's going on, for instance, and they'll lash out at the very people who are trying to help them.
  • Chemical exposure: Nurses have to work around a lot of potentially dangerous chemicals, from chemotherapy drugs to sterilizing agents. Improper exposure due to a spill or because of poor personal protection equipment can cause serious injuries.
  • Radiation exposure: Even "safe" levels of radiation exposure for patients may prove dangerous to nurses because they see that level of exposure on such a consistent basis. Above-average risks present themselves to nurses in the ER or the radiology department, for instance.
  • Overwork and stress: Nursing is not easy. Nurses often have very long hours in a stressful environment. This takes a toll, both mentally and physically. The ways that stress impact your body are too many to list. Nurses may also suffer from fatigue, exhaustion and emotional issues as a result of what they've seen.
  • Exposure to infectious diseases: Working in a hospital means constant exposure to those who are sick and injured. When those sicknesses include things like HIV, tuberculosis, MRSA, and hepatitis B, nurses must be very careful not to pick up these diseases themselves. It can sometimes happen when nurses accidentally stick themselves with a used needle. If you think the odds of that are low, you should know that it happens about 800,000 times per year.

Water parks present many safety risks

Connecticut residents who enjoy spending time at water parks may want to know about some of the risks involved. The first and most obvious is overcrowding. The World Waterpark Association estimates that a total of 85 million people visited the U.S. 1,300 water parks in 2015.

Assuming that one does not mind long lines, there is also the risk of injuries, which can range from scrapes and bruises to fractures and concussions. Water slide accidents are more common than roller coaster accidents, according to one media outlet. Some of these accidents can be fatal.

Reducing workers' risk for heat-related illnesses

Heat-related illnesses cause more than 1,300 workers' deaths every year in Connecticut and across the U.S., according to the EPA. Heat, not just from the sun but also from machinery and from layers of personal protective equipment, is something that every employer must address whether the employees work indoors or outdoors. Below are some tips.

First of all, an injury and illness prevention program can protect employees by identifying heat sources and providing steps toward their mitigation. The program should be specific to the work environment, the size of the workforce and the length of the shifts.

Nursing home negligence will only become worse in an aging U.S.

There are currently about 16,000 nursing homes in Connecticut and across the U.S., and these care for a total of 1.4 million residents. These numbers are certain to rise, though. It is expected that the population of seniors 65 and up will nearly double from 47.8 million to 88 million by the year 2050.

At the same time, more seniors are opting for in-home care. The fastest growing job in this country is that of a home health aide with the last decade seeing its numbers double. What this means for nursing homes is that they will have to focus more on caring for patients with complex medical conditions: conditions that in-home nurses are not capable of addressing. This, in turn, means more long-term residents.

Five steps toward a safer loading dock

The loading of docks, whether they are exterior or enclosed, is the center of action in any warehouse or distribution center. Due to the constant loading and unloading and the presence of forklifts and other equipment, these areas raise several safety concerns that employers in Connecticut would do well to not ignore. By following the tips below, they may be able to reduce the number of loading dock accidents and injuries.

The first step is to provide forklift training. Only trained and competent individuals can operate these and other powered industrial trucks like lift trucks and pallet jacks. Employers can consider the various training courses offered by private companies or in community colleges and trade schools. This step may be the most important since powered industrial trucks contribute to some 100,000 injury cases each year.

Roadway safety can reduce accident risks

When people in Connecticut get behind the wheel, they face the risk of a serious car accident. Every year, thousands of people are severely injured or even killed in motor vehicle collisions across the country. In fact, car crashes are the most common cause of death for Americans aged 2 to 34. There are a number of ways that people can aim to reduce the risk of serious accidents and improve their roadway safety. By doing so, they can help protect themselves as well as others on the road.

In some cases, car accidents are caused by external factors like bad weather, mechanical problems or poorly maintained roads. However, most crashes could have been prevented if the drivers involved handled their vehicles responsibly. While no one can prevent others from driving negligently, people can keep some tips in mind to protect themselves. In the first place, they can aim to follow traffic laws. Speeding or running red lights can have serious repercussions for everyone's safety.

New car safety technology may confuse some drivers

Most drivers in Connecticut appreciate technology that helps keep them stay safe behind the wheel. Even so, automakers are concerned certain safety innovations they're adding to vehicles may confuse some drivers. Researchers liken the increased use of automated assistance technology to what happened when autopilot capabilities were first introduced.

When autopilot become standard, some pilots didn't know they could override the computers, and others didn't know how to do this. Similarly, fatal accidents sometimes occur because drivers don't know how to use their vehicle's automated assistance technology correctly. Becoming familiar with new technology can be especially difficult when drivers rent vehicles with newer features. Half of all vehicles that are manufactured are now semi-automated cars, and by 2022, automatic emergency braking (AEB) will be standard on new vehicles. While such technology is meant to avoid accidents, some drivers can't tell the difference between different levels of automation.

Study shows inexperience and long days lead to mining accidents

As many Connecticut workers know, mining is a difficult and dangerous job. In addition to its inherent dangers, the profession presents additional factors that only add to the risk, including long, strenuous workdays and inexperience. A University of Illinois at Chicago study that looked at approximately 546,000 injury reports that were filed between 1983 and 2015 showed just how dangerous the profession could be due to these factors.

According to the study, approximately 9.6% of the miners worked shifts that were at least nine hours long on the day they suffered the injury. Miners whose shifts were a minimum of nine hours were 32% more likely to die in a work-related accident while 73% were more apt to be involved in an accident that resulted in injuries or death. According to the study, additional risk factors included lack of routine, less than two years' experience on the job and an irregular schedule.

Workplace deaths, illnesses the subject of AFL-CIO report

Workers in Connecticut may know that April 22 to 29, 2019, was Workers' Memorial Week. During that week, the AFL-CIO released a report on workplace injuries, fatalities and illnesses, saying that companies need to be more aware of the hazards faced every day by workers. The National Safety Council, recognizing the same dangers, has even asked Americans to go online and take its Safe at Work Pledge.

In the report, titled "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect," the AFL-CIO states that though on-the-job fatalities have gone down from 5,190 in 2016 to 5,147 in 2017, this is still higher than the 4,836 deaths that arose in 2015. Of those 5,147, 2,077 were the result of transportation incidents, making this the leading cause of deaths. Other leading causes of death were slips, trips and falls (causing 887 deaths) and workplace violence (807).

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