Workplace violence and other preventable causes of employee injuries

Some jobs are just plain dangerous, whether you work in Cincinnati or further afield. Some of these jobs are unusual or informal, such as trash picker or stuntman. However, some of these dangerous jobs are in quite common fields: Fishing, logging, law enforcement, roofing, farming, mining, aviation and trucking are the most hazardous career fields in the United States and workplace injuries and fatalities are common.

Injuries to roofers are preventable

As the construction season gets underway and the temperatures warm up, the dangers of construction – especially roofing – become apparent. Illustrating the particular dangers to roofers is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration citation issued to a southern Ohio roofing company, A.H. Sturgill Roofing Inc. of Miamisburg.

A 60-year-old temporary worker sustained heat stroke last summer because the company failed to provide frequent breaks, make water available and recognize the warning signs of heat-related illnesses. The worker suffered heat stroke while working in direct sunlight on a flat roof, throwing rubber roofing material into a dump truck.

The violations involved failing to provide a plan for supervisors and crew leaders about preventing heat stroke among workers and failing to train workers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat-related conditions such as heat stroke. These are both serious violations that could result in serious injury or death.

OSHA has developed workplace training materials in Spanish and English on the subject of heat-related illness. These include information on signs and symptoms, how to prevent heat stroke, and what to do if an employee suffers heat stroke.

The proposed fine for the violations was $8,820.

Workplace violence harder to predict and prevent

Workers in the roofing business or in construction generally know that their workplaces are inherently dangerous. However the biggest threat to worker safety is not violations like that described above. Rather, workplace violence is the principal cause of workplace fatalities, according to a 2011 study that reviewed on-the-job fatalities in New York City. According to the report, the most violence-prone jobs can be found in warehousing, transportation and retail.

Nationwide, there were 13,827 workplace homicide victims in the years between 1992 and 2010. And from 2003 to 2010 over half of the workplace homicides were concentrated in sales and related occupations (28%), protective service occupations (17%), and transportation and material moving occupations (13%).

Public sector employees most likely to be injured because of workplace violence

Public sector employees – primarily those in law enforcement – are more likely to experience workplace violence than those in the private sector. Much of the violence comes not from fellow employees, but from criminals and customers of government services that become agitated and frustrated and commit acts of violence.

Failing to act to prevent violence an OSHA violation

Companies that expose their employees to workplace violence can be cited by OSHA, just like the roofing company that failed to protect workers against heat stroke. For example, ResCare Ohio Inc. The residential care facility was cited for 20 violations in the period 2002 to 2012. Employees at the company’s Camelot Lake facility were assaulted by residents with histories of violent behavior. Similar to the roofing company, ResCare Ohio’s fine for the violations was $8,700.

If you have suffered a workplace injury, learn about your options from an attorney at Elk & Elk. Contact us today for a free consultation.