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Collapsing trench walls can cause fatal workplace injuries

Almost every construction site in San Diego and across California involves excavation of some kind. If the earth's surface is cut into, creating an indentation or hole in which the width is narrower than its length qualifies as a trench. Strict safety standards are in place to prevent workplace injuries caused by collapsed trench walls. When such a catastrophe happens, workers can be buried under 3,000 pounds of soil, or more, in the blink of an eye.

The National Trench Safety Stand Down from June 17 to 21 aims to get employers to remind workers of the hazards posed by excavations, and the importance of compliance with safety regulations. If employees understand the dangers and the role of the designated "competent person," the battle against losing lives in trenches might be halfway won. The specified competent person must inspect the excavation at the start of every workday and also after changes in weather and soil conditions.

Loading dock safety crucial to prevent workplace injuries

Loading docks are areas that could be particularly hazardous in distribution centers, warehouses, manufacturing plants and fulfillment centers in San Diego and other California cities. With the primary activities in these facilities focused on receiving goods and then distributing the merchandise, loading docks are typically hubs of activity. For this reason, establishing safety protocols is crucial for the prevention of workplace injuries.

Along with semitrailers and stacks of stock to be loaded or unloaded, forklifts and workers on foot rush about in a fast-paced manner to get the grueling tasks done as quick as possible. Some of the most significant risks involve forklifts, and it is no wonder that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict safety standards. One of them mandates that only certified, trained drivers should operate forklifts and other motorized industrial trucks.

Trench-related workplace injuries can be prevented

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics cause concern among safety authorities about the prevalence of trench collapses that cause about 25 fatalities nationwide each year, including San Diego. Reportedly, 75% of trench-related deaths are caused by cave-ins, while electrocutions and struck-by incidents cause the balance. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration use emphasis campaigns each year to underscore the hazards trench workers face, and also to increase enforcement of safety standards to prevent workplace injuries.

Although these campaigns have proved to be successful in reducing the number of trench collapses over the years, lives are still lost due to noncompliance with safety regulations. The depth of any trench determines whether a designated competent person or an engineer must determine the method required to secure trench walls. Shoring, sloping or benching are the different methods used to mitigate cave-ins.

Heavy equipment hazards on job sites can be mitigated

If you are an operator of any of the massive machines that work on construction sites in California, the safety of you and your coworkers will be at risk. On many job sites, employers prioritize profits instead of employee safety. When this is the case, you might be wise to learn about the hazards and how to mitigate them.

Even if you have done this type of work for many years without adverse incidents, it is crucial not to become complacent. Operating heavy equipment is dangerous, even if machines function as they should. The endless list of potential hazards requires alertness at all times and safety must remain your priority.

Workplace injuries in construction zones are preventable

American trucking associations focus on construction zone safety nationwide, including around cities like San Diego during April each year. Their goal is to get all operators of vehicles of all sizes and types to travel through work zones as if they work there. They believe that if all drivers take precautions, workplace injuries among construction zone workers can be prevented.

Construction workers who work near or in the traffic lanes want drivers who travel through work zones to be aware that lower speed limits might be in place and temporary traffic lane changes might be in effect. Many severe crashes in work zones are caused by speeding, and drivers are urged to be considerate and patient. It is also crucial to avoid tailgating and make sure following distances are safe.

Crane collapse causes fatal workplace injuries

Construction sites in San Diego and across the state of California pose numerous life-threatening hazards. This was the case at an Oxnard building site where two construction workers suffered workplace injuries on a recent Thursday. The accident happened on the construction site for a 60,000-square-foot building.

Reportedly, an emergency call was made to the fire department at approximately 1:40 p.m. to report an incident that involved a crane collapse. Firefighters learned that the falling crane struck some workers. Authorities say there were 10 to 15 members of the construction crew on-site when the incident happened.

Workplace injuries in California can include Valley Fever

Although most workers in San Diego are aware of the cave-in risks linked to trench work, other hazards exist of which they might not be aware. Two workers who were members of a trench-digging crew last summer might have taken precautions to prevent workplace injuries in the event of a cave-in. It appears they were unprepared for the risk of contracting Coccidioidomycosis -- also known as Valley Fever. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently issued citations for safety violations to the underground construction company that employed the workers.

Valley Fever is an occupational disease that is caused by the inhalation of harmful spores that become airborne during activities that disturb the soil. Employers must take precautions to limit the amount of dust, and provide workers with respiratory protection. Cal/OSHA investigators determined that the employer made no effort to mitigate potential health concerns when workers had to dig trenches to gain access to gas lines in counties known to pose Valley Fever risks.

How can newer, greener technology place workers at risk?

If you work in construction in California, you understand first hand how difficult this job can be. There are various risks associated with working in this specific industry, and employers should strive to implement safety and take steps to make workers as safe as reasonably possible. This includes emphasizing safety when introducing new or green technology.

There is an ongoing emphasis on reducing waste, using more sustainable materials and using technology to make construction more efficient. While there are many positive elements to implementing technology and making construction greener, there are risks as well. If you work in construction, it is in your interests to know how you may be at risk and how you can protect your interests.

Threats of workplace injuries can include bloodborne pathogens

Workers in all industries can find themselves in situations in which they are exposed to bloodborne pathogens. However, health care workers, first responders and housekeepers in San Diego's hospitality industry are at the highest risk. Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms that could be present in human blood, and they could cause infections.

Needlestick injuries or punctures from other sharp objects that might contain human blood can cause various infections, of which the most prevalent include hepatitis B and C viruses as well as the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. Employers must provide proper disposal units for sharp objects. Workers must be equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment for any incidents in which they might be exposed to bloodborne pathogens.

Employee rights of nurses who are victims of violence

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has already established standards to protect nurses against violent patients in San Diego and across the state. National Nurses United is now asking that safety standards be established across the country. Over the years, thousands of nurses have been seriously injured in assaults by patients, and many could not return to work. The employee rights for these workers is a significant concern. Recently, a nurse in another state was a victim of an assault.

The nurse says she was injured while helping other nurses and security guards subdue a 150-pound 11-year-old boy who was known to be violent. The patient kicked her in her throat, causing critical injuries that required emergency surgery. She was unable to return to work, and she says obtaining workers' compensation benefits involved a three-year battle before her claims were accepted. The nurse says she suspects the reason for the initial denial of her benefits claims was the facility's unwillingness to report the incident.

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