Rosengren Law Office, LLC

Southern Minnesota Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Elevated work spaces pose safety hazards on construction sites

Employers in all industries in Minnesota are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Working at heights is not only dangerous on construction sites but also in sectors like oil and gas extraction, aviation, shipping operations and infrastructure workers in energy and telecommunication facilities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety guidelines, and compliance can prevent injuries.

The obvious danger in working at heights is falling, and for that reason, no worker should be at elevated levels without the necessary fall arrest system. Fall protection typically consists of strong and secure overhead anchorage, harness attachments and a horizontal lifeline system. Also, the worker should have a self-retracting lifeline, tie back applications, twin-leg lanyards and sufficient training in the use of the equipment and the importance of procedures to prevent fall suspension trauma.

Workplace injury: Poultry workers ask for safe work environments

Poultry workers in Central Minnesota demand safe work environments from their employer, Pilgrim's Pride. The employees complain of workplace injury problems and safety violations, such as line speed, that makes their jobs dangerous. The workers also rallied against religious discrimination and unfair firing of employees, as well as the company not adhering to bathroom break rules. The workers fear that their jobs in the poultry processing plant are creating people with disabilities and occupation-related health issues that compromise their ability to live sustainable lives.

The workers asserted that they appreciate Pilgrim's Pride offering them jobs but ask management to address safety and health concerns. They believe slower line speeds will limit the number of workplace injuries at the facility, and they request medical care to be provided immediately after incidents that cause injuries. They also seek accommodation when necessary after events of occupational injuries.

Different types of burns can cause severe workplace injuries

Some of the safety hazards that Minnesota workers face do not receive the attention they deserve. Thousands of workers are hospitalized with workplace injuries involving burns each year, and in most cases, proper safety precautions could have prevented it. Compliance with the safety standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is crucial in the prevention of burn injuries.

Adequate safety training can prepare workers for the different types of burn hazards, one of which is thermal burns. Explosions, fire, contact with hot surfaces and hot liquids cause these burn injuries. Precautions include guards to prevent contact and proper personal protective equipment.

5 of the most common office injuries

At-work injuries are common in dangerous jobs, but what about corporate America’s employees? Does a sea of cubicle workers face any risks at their desk?

Is an injury that an office worker gets treated the same as an injury a construction worker gets? Here are potential office injuries and whether they can be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.

Back injuries make up 20 percent of on-the-job injuries

Every member of the Minnesota workforce is exposed to injury hazards, regardless of his or her occupation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that one in five reported workplace injuries nationwide every year involve back injuries. Workers in all industries can injure their backs while lifting objects that are too heavy, or even by repetitive lifting of objects of any size or weight. Twisting the body while lifting objects can also cause back injuries, and one of the best precautions is to use the leg muscles instead of the back muscles when lifting objects.

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of workers, and they can use various control systems to prevent back injuries, the first of which is to eliminate the need for workers to lift heavy objects manually. Forklifts, pallet jacks, dollies and conveyor belts can be used, or heavy loads can be broken down into smaller, lighter objects. Ergonomically friendly work environments with easily accessible shelves and storage can prevent back injuries.

Shift work threatens health and safety of health care workers

Health care workers make up a significant percentage of the millions of shift workers nationwide, including Minnesota. However, researchers say that working through the night and sleeping in the daytime adversely affect the health of these workers. Scientists have even suggested that shift work can be seen as a carcinogen.

Each person has an internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which tells the body when to be active, when to sleep and when to eat. It naturally wants the body to become inactive when it is dark, but shift work requires the opposite. The circadian rhythm also regulates many of the body's physiological processes, and disrupting the rhythm has multiple adverse effects on the lives of shift workers.

Worker injuries: Fatigue often causes emergency vehicle crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 6,500 ambulances are involved in crashes nationwide each year, including Minnesota. When accidents involve emergency vehicles that travel at high speeds, worker injuries are often severe. This typically applies to emergency vehicles that have to rush to crisis scenes.

Analysis of the crash details gathered by the NHTSA involving fire trucks, police cars or ambulances shows that a significant percentage of these accidents result in severe injuries and death. Safety authorities use the data to learn how many of the victims are drivers of emergency vehicles. Another part of the study is to determine the cause of the crashes.

Fatal workplace injuries: Grain bin deaths are preventable

Grain bin deaths are preventable, and yet they continue to occur. To create awareness of potential risks of being overwhelmed by grain, the week of Feb.17 through Feb. 23 will be the Grain Bin Safety Week of 2019 in 14 states, one of which is Minnesota. Researchers say significant numbers of grain engulfment incidents occur every year, and 2010 was the worst year, with at least 26 fatalities in grain bins.

Safety authorities say farm workers enter grain bins to remove rotting or clumped grain without turning off machinery, and they do not realize that engulfment happens in the blink of an eye. Authorities aim to encourage safe procedures for entering grain bins and monitoring grain bins for the presence of toxic gases. Maintaining a high quality of grain and ensuring no entry without adequate safety equipment form part of the campaign.

What are the costliest workplace injuries?

Due to safety regulations, employers continually make moves to protect their employees. Not only are workers’ compensation claims costly, but when you care about those on your workforce, job-related injuries can also be devastating. Injuries suffered on the job can affect overall morale. And depending on the situation, overall productivity and sales can suffer as well.

Regardless of how hard employers try to make the workplace safe, accidents can happen anywhere. According to a recent list of the top 10 causes of disabling injuries during 2018, the cost of workplace injuries to United States businesses exceeded $58 billion last year.

Frostbite is a workplace injury that needs more awareness

A doctor at a Minnesota burn center says frostbite is more common than what most people think. The facility treated 90 patients for frostbite during last winter. He says that familiarity with the bitter cold of the Minnesota winters brings about complacency that could be dangerous. He says it is crucial to see frostbite as a burn injury that happens when a person's skin and the underlying tissues freeze, and it is a workplace injury that could occur quickly.

The best way for employers to prevent frostbite is to make sure workers remain aware of the danger and teach them how to prevent it. An employee whose skin is exposed to subzero temperatures can get frostbite within 30 minutes. At minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit, with a bit of added wind or wetness, it could happen within 15 minutes. The consequences could be severe, ranging from the affected body parts always being more sensitive to low temperatures and life-long numbness in affected areas to amputation in the most severe cases.

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