Farms across Maryland contribute to the fundamental needs of society with their food production. This important work, however, involves many workplace hazards. Every year, the National Safety Council reminds farm workers and farm owners to stay alert for dangerous situations while cultivating, harvesting and processing crops.
Maryland EMS workers may be interested to know that a study published on Sept. 15 showed that emergency service members who worked extended shifts were more likely to suffer injuries than those that worked shorter shifts. Essentially, the researchers discovered that employees that worked shifts that were longer than 12 hours were 50 percent more likely to suffer injuries.
Electrical workers in Maryland are at risk of hearing loss from arc flashes. They could better ensure their safety by understanding what an arc flash is and following the recommendations for personal protective equipment in the National Fire Protection Association's Standard for Electrical Safety.
Each year, many Maryland workers suffer eye injuries while they are working on the job. Such injuries can be devastating, causing partial or total blindness. Some employers have inadequate eye protection requirements in place. In other cases, workers may not comply with eye protection requirements due to problems with fogging of the eyewear.
Employees in a variety of industries in Maryland may benefit from a recent adjustment to OSHA's National Emphasis Program on amputations. The program is geared towards reducing the number of workplace amputations across the United States. According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,000 workers in the manufacturing industry suffered amputations in 2013.
Maryland residents likely recall a train derailment on May 12 that claimed the lives of eight people and injured approximately 200 others. A subsequent inquiry found that the accident was caused by the train rounding a turn at a high speed, and the tragic accident may have been prevented if the train involved had been equipped with an automatic braking system known as positive train control. The system uses GPS and radio to monitor a train's speed, and brakes are applied automatically if the system anticipates a risk of derailment.
Many types of occupations carry risks, and it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that each employee stays safe while working. Keeping a solo worker safe may present challenges, however.
Studies of 2011 and 2012 workplace accidents indicate that self-employed construction workers in Maryland and around the country are more likely to be killed in an on-the-job accident than those who work for a construction company. The studies also reveal that older construction workers are far more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than their younger colleagues.
A new confined space standard produced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and specifically targeting the construction industry will go into effect in August 2015, supplementing the original standard introduced in 1993 that applies to industries in general. A confined space is defined as any area that is big enough for a person to enter but is not meant for long-term occupation and has limited means of exit. Spaces that could be considered potentially hazardous or contain a material that could engulf a worker require a special permit.
It is well known that iron workers in particular, and construction workers in general, have very hazardous jobs. Each year, falls consistently rank among the top sources for injuries and fatalities on construction sites in Maryland and around the country. Meanwhile, fall protection violations are the top source of citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration each year. However, employers can greatly reduce these risks by carefully following the agency's fall protection guidelines.