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Sauk Rapids Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Silicosis causes severe lung damage in workers

Construction workers in Minnesota need to be aware of the dangers of inhaling crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is a dangerous mineral that causes a condition known as silicosis. Over 2 million construction workers and 300,000 workers in the hydraulic manufacturing, maritime and general industry fields are exposed to it.

Crystalline silica is found in both crystal and non-crystal form and is typically found in sandstone, shale, sand and granite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that when these materials are drilled into, crushed, broken or chipped they form dust. The dust particles are so small that they are easily inhaled, penetrating the worker's lungs and causing breathing difficulties.

A spinal cord injury could change your life in an instant

Suppose that you are a long-time construction worker. You have had few injuries, but when you fell off a ladder and suffered damage to your spinal cord, you began looking at life in a new light.

A spinal cord injury can dramatically change your life. Treatment is often a long, slow process and extremely expensive. You will need help to cover the costs both now and in the future.

OSHA on roof safety requirements

Many building owners in Minnesota are not aware of OSHA's requirements for roof safety. There are roughly four requirements that owners should keep in mind. They should also look out for the most common safety hazards that workers encounter on roofs.

The first roof safety requirement has to do with fall protection. Professional roofers need fall protection equipment once they are working six feet off the ground while the rest need it once they are four feet off the ground. This equipment can include harnesses and lanyards. Second, OSHA requires roofers to close the roof hatch. Third, one must designate work areas on low-slope roofs.

Workplace deaths rise, shows need for culture of safety

From 2017 to 2018, the number of work-related fatalities in the U.S. rose 2% from 5,147 to 5,250. This is according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS states that the rate of work-related fatalities remains the same: 3.5% per 100,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) workers. Employees in Minnesota, regardless of their industry, will want to know more.

Drivers, sales workers and truckers saw the most number of work-related deaths. Transportation incidents were the most common of all fatal incidents, making up 40% of them. There was an increase of 12% in the number of deaths arising from unintentional non-medical drug overdoses or alcohol overconsumption and of 11% in work-related suicides.

Hazards workers may face in warehouses

As the retail business model evolves, it may place warehouse workers in Minnesota and throughout the country at a greater risk of injury. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the injury rate for warehouse workers is 5.1 per 100 workers. There were 22 warehouse fatalities in 2017, which was double the number recorded in 2015. One risk that workers may face is increased interaction with robots and other autonomous machines.

As the pace of technological change increases, it is important that organizations take steps to keep their workers safe. Ideally, they will take safety metrics as seriously as they take productivity metrics, and this means ensuring that they spend both time and money looking for and eliminating hazards. Companies should also be wary of events that almost result in injuries as they could provide clues about hazards that need to be mitigated.

Investigations find safety violations in Amazon warehouses

Warehouses in Minnesota and throughout the country are supposed to observe certain safety standards and work with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding any accidents or deaths that occur on the job. Reports from multiple media outfits say that for several years, Amazon did not have adequate safety regulations in place for its warehouse employees and did not keep adequate records of injuries.

In 12 or more cases, Amazon either would not give employees access to injury logs on request or only gave them partial information. According to one spokesperson at OSHA, Amazon was incorrect when the company told an employee that they only had access to records from the time the employee had worked there. When records were provided, employees were told they were confidential. However, according to OSHA, employers cannot restrict employee dissemination of injury records.

Study: most sleep-deprived workers are in protective services

A study published in the Journal of Community Health has found that nearly half of all protective service workers and military workers in Minnesota and across the U.S. suffered the consequences of short sleep duration in 2018. These two groups, the former of which include police officers and firefighters, are the most sleep-deprived of all occupation groups.

The study goes on to report that 45% of health care support workers, including home health aides and psychiatric aides, suffered from lack of sleep. After this came workers in the transportation and material moving industries at 41% and production workers, also 41%. Researchers point out that many of the drowsiest workers are those who are directly involved in maintaining the safety and health of others.

Workers' compensation when you have several jobs

Minnesota has a great workers' compensation program in place to help employees who have sustained injuries while on the job. The system exists to help individuals who can no longer work keep themselves afloat. 

Filing a claim is no easy task, and you want to make sure that you send in every piece of paperwork entirely filled in. There are additional aspects of the process that can complicate matters, such as if you have two or more jobs. You may have sustained the injury at one job, but you have a second one at which you can no longer work. What happens when you relied on two or more incomes for your family and now cannot work in any position?

Workplace leaders drive safety cultures

Workplace safety will ideally be a point of emphasis for companies in Minnesota and throughout the nation. However, safety cultures are generally created and fostered by company owners and top managers. Furthermore, business owners are typically better able to foster such cultures by actively advocating for what they want to see. For instance, senior leadership should create an environment in which workers feel comfortable reporting accidents or looking out for hazards on their own. They should also feel comfortable helping each other stay safe on the job.

It is also important that workplaces are kept clean and free of as many hazards as possible. Companies should spend time actively looking for hazards and mitigating them as quickly as possible. Common hazards include falls, cuts and pain from repetitive motion throughout the day. With the implementation of a culture that puts a premium on worker safety, employees are typically more productive and content while at work.

Pesticide exposure linked to greater heart attack, stroke risk

Minnesota residents know that pesticide exposure is unhealthy, but what they may not have known is that it raises the risk of heart attack and stroke in particular. This was the conclusion of a study conducted by the University of Hawaii. It involved 7,557 Japanese-American men on the island of Oahu who had been observed for over 40 years as part of the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program.

Consulting OSHA data to estimate the men's pesticide exposure levels at work, researchers found that high exposure levels made men 45% more likely to suffer heart attack or stroke. The risk was found to be especially high in the first decade of exposure with the effects tapering off after that. Researchers admit that these results may not hold for women since pesticides affect men and women differently.

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