Injuries and even death are common in workplaces throughout the world. According to research by the International Labor Organization, more than 500 workers are victims of injury on the job every minute. Workplace injuries seriously affect the health and well-being of employees as well as the bottom line of many companies. The Internet of Things, or IoT, may be one of the ways to improve safety for workers in all types of jobs.
Silica dust can be hazardous to people in Oklahoma or anywhere else who breathe it in. Some of the health hazards include scarred lung tissue, silicosis and the possibility of dying from prolonged exposure. While a new OSHA rule limited the amount of silica to which a worker could be exposed by 80 percent, the construction industry is still figuring out ways to comply with the mandate.
Many Oklahoma employees work in noisy environments. Unfortunately, sustained exposure to loud workplace noise can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Laboratories around the country employ more than 550,000 people according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and these workers face a wide variety of airborne hazards ranging from toxic fumes to deadly pathogens. Exposure to these dangers can cause a variety of debilitating health problems and may even be life-threatening, but the perils of this type of work can be greatly reduced by sophisticated air monitoring and ventilation systems.
People who work in or near grain storage areas in Oklahoma are at risk of being suffocated. A campaign sponsored in part by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is intended to help grain storage workers avoid suffocation accidents.
Excavating, particularly trench digging, presents significant risks to workers in Oklahoma. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has charted a significant rise in trench collapse fatalities. In 2011, trench collapses killed two workers every month, and 2016 saw fatalities double compared to the previous five years. The agency intends to make excavation safety a priority in 2018 and encourages excavating companies to participate in the safety stand down planned for this summer by the National Utility Contractors Association.
Oklahoma residents who work in the entertainment industry can expect continued support from OSHA. The workplace safety agency has renewed agreements with both the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). While USITT is a professional group, IATSE is a labor union.
Employers in Oklahoma and elsewhere must generally abide by workplace standards set by OSHA. However, companies with a proven safety track record may have the opportunity to opt to participate in Voluntary Protection Programs. According to the former assistant secretary of OSHA, there has been no rigorous study proving that VPP is effective. In most cases, VPP participants were larger companies that had the resources to create quality safety programs.
Oklahoma maritime and general industry employers should be aware that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a compliance fact sheet on standards for worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Studies have shown that crystalline silica, which is found in stone, artificial stone and sand, can cause cancer. Exposed workers can also develop a chronic lung disease known as silicosis.
A survey conducted by Rave Mobile Safety resulted in some statistics that may be helpful to Oklahoma employees and employers alike. The survey provides insight into how workers and companies handle workplace safety communications. Among the conclusions drawn from the survey was that Generation Z and Millennial workers were less informed regarding matters of workplace safety than were Baby Boomers. About 53 percent of Millennials who responded were unaware of their workplace's emergency plans, compared to 34 percent of respondents who were 45 or older.