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.
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.
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.
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.
Workers in Minnesota and elsewhere who are exposed to the vibrations of power tools for many years might not realize the dangers for serious injuries. Those who work in manufacturing, construction, forestry, food processing, agriculture and other industries that use power tools are at risk of developing a workplace injury called Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), also known as Vibration White Finger Syndrome (VWF). The tools that could cause this affliction include grinders, chainsaws, jackhammers, chippers, crushers, mowers, sorting conveyors and more.
Minnesota workers in various industries are exposed to the dangers posed by confined spaces. Employers must inform employees of potential hazards, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has stringent rules about confined spaces and regulating access to these areas to help prevent an employee from suffering a workplace injury. Many workers do not realize that confined spaces are not necessarily small -- even a tanker is a confined space because there are limited entry and exit points.