Monthly Archives: April, 2019

  1. Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders

    Florida OSHA Lawyer With MSD
    Workers in the construction industry are at risk of succumbing to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons. MSDs are commonly associated with actions like heavy lifting, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling hefty loads, performing tasks in awkward or unnatural positions, and repeating the same motion over and over again. Since these actions occur regularly on the construction site and greatly increase an employee’s risk of injury, contractors should be aware of the various measures for preventing work-related MSDs.

    In this article, a Florida OSHA lawyer will discuss one of the best ways to prevent MSDs from affecting your workers: ergonomics. Ergonomics requires contractors to pair jobs with those best suited to complete them, thereby reducing muscle fatigue, increasing productivity, and mitigating the frequency of work-related injuries.

    Examples of Musculoskeletal Disorders

    Some of the most common examples of MSDs include:

    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Epicondylitis
    • Lower back injuries
    • Muscle strains
    • Rotator cuff injuries
    • Tendinitis
    • Trigger finger

    MSDs in the workplace can lead to a loss of efficiency and wasted work time. Employees who attempt to work through these injuries typically exacerbate the issue or fail to complete their tasks at a satisfactory level, contributing to missed timelines and increasing the probability of an OSHA violation.

    Tips for Protecting Workers

    Contractors are responsible for maintaining safe project sites. This includes identifying and eliminating workplace hazards, but it also includes managing physical overexertion by promoting ergonomic principles. Some examples of how contractors can implement ergonomic processes into their project sites include:

    • Encouraging management to support ergonomic processes.
    • Involving workers in project site assessments.
    • Consulting workers about the best practices for fighting against MSDs.
    • Encouraging an open-door policy for reporting potential ergonomic issues.
    • Providing training in industry best practices for preventing MSDs.
    • Identifying problems early on before they blossom into MSD-related injuries.
    • Insisting that workers report any MSD symptoms as soon as they arise.
    • Implementing hazard control solutions.
    • Evaluating the progress of preventative MSD measures.

    Remember, these principles should be impressed upon workers regularly, not on a case-by-case basis. Due to the severity and frequency of MSD-related injuries, it’s vital that workers are informed of the industry best practices for mitigating this dangerous condition.

    If you would like to speak with a Florida OSHA defense lawyer, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  2. A Guide to Safely Working in Winter Weather Part 3

    In our efforts to outline safe work practices in winter weather, we have saved one of the most important aspects of winter safety for last. Cold conditions make driving dangerous for construction workers when they are both behind the wheel and in the path of traffic. In parts one and two of this series, we discussed the general dangers and precautions that should be considered with winter weather.

    Now, a Texas OSHA defense attorney will discuss how employers can ensure that their construction workers are being kept safe in and around vehicles during precarious winter conditions. Remember, although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has no formal rules regarding winter weather, you could still be cited for failing to provide your workers with safe working conditions.

    When Driving in Icy Conditions…

    It’s not enough for your construction workers to simply have their driver’s licenses. All of your workers that are operating trucks and other vehicles should be aware of the hazards that come with driving in winter conditions. If they aren’t trained to drive on snow and ice covered roads, they don’t belong behind the wheel. Even an experienced driver can veer off course when their tires lose traction on a snow covered road. For this reason, any vehicle operating in winter conditions should be properly inspected. Extra care should be taken when inspecting the defrosters, lights, wipers, brakes, and tires.

    Traffic Safety in Winter Weather

    Struck-by hazards are a part of OSHA’s “Fatal Four.” These are the most prevalent and dangerous hazards on a construction site. We must do everything we can to curb the loss of life that results from them. The risk of death is only magnified when construction workers have to work near roadways, especially in Texas where residents aren’t accustomed to icy roads. It’s all too easy for a driver in these conditions to lose control of their vehicle or simply not see a worker in their path. Because falling snow can compromise visibility, your construction crew should be wearing high visibility vests at all times. The work zone should also be properly marked off with signs, cones, barrels, and barriers.

    Partner with an Attorney

    Failure to abide by the steps laid out in this series could result in severe injury or death on a construction site. You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you approach protecting your employees. If for any reason you are concerned with an OSHA investigation, please consult with our Texas OSHA attorneys to ensure that your rights are protected and fought for.

    If you would like to speak with a Texas OSHA defense attorney, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  3. A Guide to Safely Working in Winter Weather Part 2

    A steep drop in temperature can cause severe problems for any construction crew. Work may be stalled as equipment succumbs to the frigid elements, but what about the laborers that have to work in these conditions? An employer that doesn’t keep their crew safe during cold weather may be subject to an inspection and costly fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As we continue this three-part series, an OSHA lawyer will be discussing the ways that you can prepare your construction workers for winter weather.

    Protective Clothing

    There is no one simple thing that construction crews can do to protect themselves from winter weather. It will take a mix of training and safety equipment to ensure that workers are prepared. OSHA recommends three layers of clothing to insulate against the cold. They also recommend a hat, knit mask, gloves, and boots. All of these items should be water resistant to prevent cold stress.

    Safe Work Practices

    The time workers spend in extremely cold weather should be as limited as possible. Therefore, employers should always be up-to-date on the weather so that work days can be adjusted accordingly. If there is flexibility with a project schedule, try scheduling certain outdoor tasks for warmer parts of the day or warmer months even. Relief workers could also be used to ensure that no one is exposed for too long. Finally, always have a plan in place in the event of a severe weather warning, such as a blizzard.

    Consult a Professional

    There is an important distinction that must be made between OSHA requirements and OSHA recommendations. OSHA does not specifically require that an employer provide winter clothing. However, an employer is required to protect their employees from dangerous work hazards, including extreme weather, that could cause death or serious injury. This can make OSHA compliance seem like a hazy endeavor, which is why it’s in your best interest to consult with our OSHA lawyers to discern where your responsibilities lie in properly protecting your employees.

    Please read part three for our conclusion on keeping construction workers safe in winter conditions. You can also read part one to catch up on the severe threats that winter weather can bring.

    If you would like to speak with an experienced OSHA lawyer, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  4. A Guide to Safely Working in Winter Weather Part 1

    OSHA Defense Lawyer Work Site
    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains that employees are entitled to a safe and hazard-free working environment. While many hazards can be completely eliminated, there are times when construction firms have to contend with unpredictable natural elements. Winter weather brings with it dangerous working conditions that can lead to severe injury and even death.

    In this three-part article, an OSHA defense lawyer will be discussing the many dangers that frigid weather presents and the precautions that you can take to provide employees with a safe work environment year round.

    The Dangers of Cold Stress

    As described by OSHA, cold stress is a cold-related illness or injury that causes permanent tissue damage and can lead to death. Risk factors such as wet or improper clothing and poor health conditions can lead to cold stress. Examples of cold stress include immersion, frostbite, and hypothermia.

    • Immersion/Trench Foot: A foot injury that occurs when feet are exposed to cold and wet conditions for a prolonged period of time. Feet are particularly vulnerable to temperature loss, and this condition can occur in temperatures as high as 60 degrees. Symptoms include pain, swelling, blisters, cramps, numbness, and reddened skin.
    • Frostbite: The freezing of skin and tissue on certain parts of the body. In severe cases, this can lead to amputation. Frostbite causes blisters, reddened skin, and grey and white patches in the extremities, nose, and ears.
    • Hypothermia: An abnormally low body temperature. This condition can occur in even mild temperatures if a person becomes chilled, resulting in uncontrollable shivering. More severe symptoms are unconsciousness and death.

    Emergency services should be called immediately if a worker falls prey to one of the above conditions. You should attempt to warm the victim while medical attention is in transit; however, do not attempt to rub or reheat frostbitten areas. Doing so could lead to permanent skin and tissue damage.

    While OSHA doesn’t have specific regulations for cold weather working conditions, it is still an employers responsibility to ensure that their workers are kept safe. Failure to do so could lead to an OSHA inspection and a potentially hefty fine. To ensure that you remain OSHA compliant, please consult with an OSHA defense attorney.

    If you’d like to read more about staying safe in winter conditions, please join us for parts two and three, where we will be discussing additional cold weather hazards and ways to prepare for them.  

    If you would like to speak with an OSHA defense lawyer, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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