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Columbus Workers' Compensation Law Blog

It is unclear whether safety violation caused employee's death

The recycling industry has proved to pose many safety hazards, judging by the number of catastrophic injuries and even deaths that occur at recycling plants nationwide. An Ohio worker died in a workplace accident at a recycling plant on Aug. 3. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident to determine whether a safety violation was responsible for this fatality.

According to authorities, the incident occurred at a facility where high-density polyethylene is recycled for the production of drainage tiles and containers for use by nurseries. Initial reports revealed that a worker died when he was struck in the head while operating a machine. One of the company's safety officials said she was informed that an exploding piece of equipment caused the fatal injury.

OSHA checking whether safety violation caused worker's death

Construction workers in Ohio and surrounding states face multiple hazards whenever they are on site. The slightest safety violation can have devastating consequences. Work at a construction site in a neighboring state was suspended after an Aug. 1 fatality. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators are currently investigating this tragic construction accident to determine the compliance with safety regulations on the site.

Reportedly, the construction project involves partial demolition of an existing building. Two employees of a contracted demolition company were working on the second story of the building when a section of the floor collapsed. The incident occurred shortly after 3 p.m., and rescue workers rushed to the scene.

Marijuana combined with machinery can bring permanent impairment

Although it is legal to use medical marijuana in Ohio, some business owners are serious about maintaining drug-free workplaces. The executive vice president of a company that does metal stamping is adamant that workers who operate the complicated, heavy machinery at his facility need to be clear-headed at all times. He says it is precision work, and the slightest error can lead to permanent impairment.

This company exercises its right to have a drug policy that prohibits the use of marijuana. Workers may not use marijuana at all -- not even for medicinal purposes. The prohibition includes lunch hours, and because the substance remains in a user's system for as long as 30 days, using the drug at home is also forbidden.

Mother protests safety violation that caused her son's death

The family of a 23-year-old worker who died at the plant of an Ohio plastics manufacturer on July 20, 2016, is protesting his death, urging stricter safety regulations. Although the family believes a safety violation caused their loved one's death, they are unable to do anything about it. State law prevent them from holding the employer responsible unless it can be shown the employer acted intentionally or was grossly negligent.

An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration identified some forklift violations, but none were classified as egregious or intentional. An accident report indicated that the deceased worker was working at a molding machine where he had to move a finished item from the machine onto the forklift platform. The operator of the forklift apparently accidentally pushed a pedal that caused the forklift to move forward and pin the young worker against the molding machine.

Even 1 safety violation can have devastating consequences

Long hours, heavy machinery and a variety of power tools make the construction industry extremely dangerous. Every safety violation can lead to a fatal workplace accident. Not all Ohio employers in this industry prioritize the health and safety of employees, and it is often up to workers to look out for themselves.

Employees who understand the hazards of the industry will be better equipped to identify dangerous conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says fatal injuries that are prevalent in construction include electric shocks, falls and equipment or structure collapse. However, most workplace accidents are preventable -- if the risks are identified and addressed. Familiarity with the safety protocols of the company may help workers to protect themselves.

Electrical safety is vital to avoid permanent disability

While electricians in Ohio are typically familiar with the dangers posed by electricity, others may encounter those hazards unintentionally. Outdoor workers who are uninformed or lack safety training may accidentally come in contact with powerful sources of electricity. If not handled with care, electrical equipment can cause shocks that can result in permanent disability.

When cleaning up after storms, workers must be aware that all power lines must be regarded as live. Only qualified workers must raise fallen power lines and remove cables that became entangled with branches of trees. Before doing any work within an area of 10 feet from power lines, the local utility company must be notified. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that area to be expanded to 20 feet when activities involve cranes.

Ohio company cited for 30 safety violations

Amsted Rail Company Inc. in Ohio has been added to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This follows two investigations -- the first one in January and the second one in February of this year. In total, investigators identified 30 safety violations during these inspections.

The first incident involved the crushing of a maintenance worker's leg that became caught in a machine lacking a lockout/tag out device. Such a device would have prevented moving parts from activation while the 60-year-old employee cleaned the machine. During the second investigation, inspectors found four instances in which workers suffered overexposure to silica.

4 often-ignored permanent disability hazards in factories

Industrial facilities in Ohio pose many safety hazards -- some of which are less obvious than others. The truth is that these often unrecognized dangers can lead to workplace accidents that could cause permanent disability. At this time of the year, dehydration is likely the most significant of these overlooked risks. Workers who are exposed to high temperatures in factories or warehouses can dehydrate, which can cause heat stroke or cardiac problems. Frequent water breaks and a supply of fresh, cool water is essential.

Stress management is another often-ignored safety hazard. Although most jobs involve some level of stress, when stress levels start affecting an employee's mental and physical health, it can be hazardous. Contributors include extended working hours, inadequate breaks, unrealistic deadlines and targets, bullying, conflict and job insecurity.

OSHA cites Ohio company for amputation injuries

For any worker, the knowledge that a workplace injury that caused a catastrophic injury could have been prevented if only the employer had complied with safety regulations must be devastating. Such must be the feelings of an Ohio worker who suffered and amputation injury at his place of work last December. The employee of the auto insulation manufacturer will have to go through life without a right hand after his hand, wrist and part of his forearm were amputated.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the conclusion of the investigation was that the employer failed to install the necessary protective guards on the shredding machine that caused the tragic injury. Reportedly, the 46-year-old worker was guiding material into the industrial shredder when his hand was caught in the rotating parts, pulling his arm into the machine. OSHA says another facility of this company was cited for similar safety violations in Feb. 2016.

Safety violation might have led to worker being buried in trench

Construction companies in Ohio and all other states must take specific precautions to protect workers who have to enter trenches or other excavations. The slightest safety violation could result in a fatality, and a trench can become a grave in the blink of an eye. When a trench wall collapses, anybody who is in the excavation at that time can instantly be buried under tons of dirt.

A 37-year-old man was fortunate to survive a recent trench collapse in a neighboring state. Reportedly, the incident occurred at a construction site on a recent Tuesday evening. The construction worker was in the trench -- apparently working on covering the hole -- when the walls collapsed. He was quickly covered by clay and dirt.

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