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Slidell Workers' Compensation Law Blog

BLS data used to rank US jobs with the worst fatality rates

In late 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. This data was used to rank the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. If Louisiana employees are not familiar with the ranking, now is the time to review it; some of the listed jobs may be surprising.

The top three were logging workers, fishing workers and aircraft pilots and flight engineers. The logging industry experienced 135.9 fatalities out of 100,000 full-time or equivalent workers. The fishing industry, which held the No. 2 position, had a fatal work injury rate of 86. While logging and fishing may have had the highest rates based on total workforce, the most overall fatalities came from the truck and sales transportation industry. This group saw 918 deaths in 2016.

Black lung report encourages more monitoring, research

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has published a new report that may be of interest to Louisiana miners. Black lung disease, caused by the inhalation of coal mine dust, has long been a problem with people in the mining industry. Despite advances in technology, there has been a steady increase in black lung cases across the nation.

The report goes into the ways that companies can reduce exposure to respirable coal dust. This could be done after a careful monitoring of the mine via a continuous personal dust monitor. However, these monitors have several issues. For instance, they may include limestone and other materials in their measurements. In addition, cost and size may keep many miners from wearing them.

How to prevent nail gun injuries

Nail guns are responsible for 37,000 emergency room visits per year in Louisiana and throughout the country. Of those visits, 68 percent are made by workers who are hurt using the tools on the job. In some cases, workers are hurt because a nail was discharged when a person didn't intend for that to happen. In others, they were hurt because a nail hit a solid surface and ricocheted.

Injuries can also occur if a person is nailing from an awkward position or if an individual ignores safety best practices. Individuals could be hit by a nail if they bump into or otherwise make contact with a gun that someone else is holding. To prevent such injuries from happening, employers should aim to use sequential trigger nail guns. They should also implement a safety plan that includes rules for how and where these guns are used.

Technology can keep workers safe on the job

An accident doesn't have to be fatal to have an impact on a Louisiana workers's health. Accidents resulting in worker injuries can also have negative consequences for employers as it can result in less productivity. According to the CDC Foundation, workplace accidents nationwide cost employers $220 billion annually. However, connected devices could help keep workers safe, especially those who work alone.

The use of sensors, wearable devices and GPS tracking allows companies to create and monitor data in real-time. This data can then be used to see potential hazards and ultimately minimize or eliminate risks. Employees can wear devices that monitor their health as they work in inclement weather or other dangerous conditions. In addition, these tools can monitor a worker's temperature and heart rate to make sure that they are within safe ranges.

Insurtech startup could reduce work injuries with new tech

Employers and employees in Louisiana are probably aware of the dangers they face in the workplace. Many are unforeseeable, which explains why on-the-job accidents cost businesses and insurers hundreds of billions of dollars each year in workers compensation claims. However, an insurtech startup based in Iowa is providing devices that may help reduce accidents and streamline the investigation of workers compensation claims.

MākuSafe has developed is a wearable band for employees that can record environmental and motion data, reporting it to a cloud platform and making it more consumable for workplace safety managers. Whenever there are near-misses, it will record those too. The greatest benefit is that thanks to machine learning, the devices can identify unsafe trends and hazardous areas.

Seven tips for hot work safety

"Hot work" is a term that many factory owners in Louisiana are probably familiar with. It refers to processes like burning and welding that can ignite fires and explosions, so there is always a safety risk attached to it. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has released a new fact sheet that gives much critical information about hot work safety.

The most common causes of death in this field are explosions and fires created by flammable atmospheres. Though hot work is performed across many industries, refineries and chemicals plants are the most frequent site of hot work deaths because they contain many containers and tanks full of flammables. The CSB has therefore provided seven tips to avoid hot work accidents.

Safety programs can reduce workplace accidents

Louisiana companies and others that use the Safety Performance Evaluation Process, or STEP, can make their workplaces up to 670 percent safer. This is according to the 2018 Safety Performance Report issued by Associated Builders and Contractors. According to the report, companies that used the STEP system saw a drop in reportable safety accidents of 85 percent. Associated Builders and Contractors also found that STEP was more effective when both managers and employees were trained.

The program allows companies to use 20 different metrics to measure their progress and track their results against industry averages. Companies that use the STEP process can implement a variety of safety programs such as toolbox talks and putting together a safety committee. They can also use substance abuse and new-hire orientation programs to reduce the odds of an accident.

Radiologists at risk for lower back injuries, review shows

All Louisiana workers are at risk of sustaining injuries at work, and the types of workplace injuries that they may experience vary depending on the job. For example, radiologists are at risk for suffering lower back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries. According to the American College of Radiology, approximately 33 percent of radiologists report lower back pain.

According to a review published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, part of the problem may be the transition from a film-based environment to a PACS environment. While the PACS environment, which features a digital archiving system, offers a number of benefits for both radiologists and their patients, it may exact a physical toll due to the heavy use of computers. For example, radiologists may be required to sit in front of a computer screen for long periods of time, potentially resulting in musculoskeletal injuries that could include "computer back."

Eye injuries can endanger workers

Many workers in Louisiana neglect to consider the danger of eye accidents in the workplace. However, eye injuries take a major economic and personal toll on workers across the country. Every year, over 20,000 workers suffer damage to their eyes while on the job. While the cost in productivity is often estimated at $300 million, the personal cost can be far greater. Employees who suffer workplace injuries that involve eye damage can suffer pain, loss of vision or even blindness.

Safety experts estimate that the vast majority of workplace eye injuries are preventable -- up to 90 percent of these accidents could be avoided through the use of protective eyewear. Some of the most severe eye injuries take place in jobs that involve heavy objects and intense physical work, including mining, manufacturing and construction. These industries account for 40 percent of all workplace eye injuries. At these jobs, workers' eyes are at risk from hot metal, toxic substances, chemical gases and airborne particles.

OSHA alliance with entertainment industry to continue

Louisiana residents who work in the entertainment industry may be interested to learn about the renewed alliance recently announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. By partnering with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, OSHA will be working to improve workplace safety in the entertainment industry. The federal agency will provide the members of the two organizations with informational and educational materials that address industry hazards, such as poor ergonomics, falls and electrical dangers.

As a labor union, the IATSE provides representation for craftspersons, technicians and artisans who are employed in motion picture productions, live theater, television broadcasting and related construction and equipment shops. The USITT is a professional association that provides networking and development opportunities to members.