A fire, tornado, earthquake or explosion could seriously damage your building. Floods originating inside or outside your building could affect your operations. A prolonged power outage, sabotaged computer system or damaged equipment can also shut down an organization. Your managers and employees could be killed or badly injured. Your facilities, inventory and essential information could be inaccessible for a prolonged period. Any event, big or small, may cause an interruption in your business operation.
The overlapping and often conflicting requirements of ADA, FMLA, Workers’ Comp and a plethora of state laws are an administrative nightmare. There are differences in eligibility, leave lengths, job reinstatement requirements, access to medical information, fit-for-duty certifications and so on. More than one law can affect the same situation and each must be considered. For this reason, a “silo” structure in which separate areas manage Workers’ Compensation, disability and health can be problematic, inefficient and duplicitous. Yet,at the same time, this quagmire adds to the challenge of integrating occupational and non-occupational RTW. Ultimately, the entire organization is responsible for the knowledge possessed by any part of the organization and an employer needs to determine the best process for its needs and circumstances.
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things usually are done that enables a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity. An equal employment opportunity means an opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are available to an average similarly-situated employee without a disability.
The ADA requires reasonable accommodation in three aspects of employment:
- to ensure equal opportunity in the application process,
- to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job, and
- to enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
Examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; changing tests, training materials, or policies; providing qualified readers or interpreters; and reassignment to a vacant position. For additional information about reasonable accommodation under the ADA, visit Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship (EEOC Guidance) at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accommodation.html.
via Employers’ Guide.
Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.
What can be done to reduce falls?
Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.
To prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers must:
- Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat or acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
- Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety and harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
OSHA requires employers to:
- Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
- Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
- Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
Cave-ins are perhaps the most feared trenching hazard. But other potentially fatal hazards exist, including asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen in a confined space, inhalation of toxic fumes, drowning, etc. Electrocution or explosions can occur when workers contact underground utilities.
OSHA requires that workers in trenches and excavations be protected, and that safety and health programs address the variety of hazards they face. The following hazards cause the most trenching and excavation injuries:
- No Protective System
- Failure to Inspect Trench and Protective Systems
- Unsafe Spoil-Pile Placement
- Unsafe Access/Egress
Studies show that the ratio of indirect costs to direct costs varies widely, from a high of 20:1 to a low of 1:1. OSHA has shown that the lower the direct costs of an accident, the higher the ratio of indirect to direct costs (ranging from 4.1/1.0 to 1.1/1.0). Examples of indirect costs include training replacement employees, accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment and property, and costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism.
Electrical current exposes workers to a serious, widespread occupational hazard; practically all members of the workforce are exposed to electrical energy during the performance of their daily duties, and electrocutions occur to workers in various job categories. Many workers are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to the danger of electrocution.
- Hazard classification: The definitions of hazard have been changed to provide specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures. These specific criteria will help to ensure that evaluations of hazardous effects are consistent across manufacturers, and that labels and safety data sheets are more accurate as a result.
- Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
- Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
The GHS does not include harmonized training provisions, but recognizes that training is essential to an effective hazard communication approach. The revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires that workers be re- trained within two years of the publication of the final rule to facilitate recognition and understanding of the new labels and safety data sheets.
via Hazard Communication.
Rates of musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion in healthcare occupations are among the highest of all U.S. industries. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that in 2011, the rate of overexertion injuries averaged across all industries was 38 per 10,000 full time workers.By comparison, the overexertion injury rate for hospital workers was twice the average (76 per 10,000), the rate for nursing home workers was over three times the average (132 per 10,000), and the rate for ambulance workers was over six times the average (238 per 10,000). The single greatest risk factor for overexertion injuries in healthcare workers is the manual lifting, moving and repositioning of patients, residents or clients, i.e., manual patient handling.
Motor vehicle-related incidents are consistently the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States. Thirty-six percent of occupational fatalities reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are associated with motor vehicles. Between 2003-2010, on average:
- 1,275 workers died each year from crashes on public highways
- 311 workers died each year in crashes that occurred off the highway or on industrial premises.
- 338 pedestrian workers died each year as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics