Every year in the construction industry, falls account for an average of 310 deaths and 10,350 serious injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are the leading cause of death among construction workers in South Carolina and the rest of the US. In the effort to reduce falls in this industry, NIOSH has released a fact sheet full of good recommendations.
Construction workers in South Carolina may face significant risk when working with electricity, especially as contract workers. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NPFA), a significant percentage of contract worker fatalities on the job come as a result of electrocution. Contract workers are differentiated at construction sites by operating as self-employed independent contractors or employees of another firm subcontracted for the job. In total, 13 percent of electrocution fatalities at construction sites happened to contract workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers in South Carolina to report workplace fatalities and severe injuries within 24 hours. When the Office of Inspector General investigated these serious incidents, it determined that deadly and serious workplace accidents were widely underreported.
According to a new review article, the modernization of radiology may be causing some South Carolina radiologists to experience neck and back pain. The article was published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology in March.
Workers in South Carolina and across the United States have good reason to be concerned with safety in the workplace. Fatal injuries on the job rose by 7 percent in 2016 over the number of such fatalities in 2015. The increase was also accompanied by a rise in the rate of fatal injuries, from 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent employees in 2015 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2016.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected 244 meat and poultry processing facilities in South Carolina and around the country in 2016, but a report released recently by the Government Accountability Office suggests that the agency's efforts to protect workers in the industry are not as successful as they could be. According to the GAO, safety issues may be going unaddressed because meat and poultry processing workers are reluctant to speak up due to fears of retaliation. Other government agencies are also not informing OSHA about possible violations to avoid scrutiny.
South Carolina workers have the right to a safe workplace under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. they also have the right to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration if they believe there are serious hazards in the workplace or if they suspect OSHA standards are not being met.
Some workplaces in South Carolina and throughout the country may shift to a greater focus on preventing serious injuries and fatalities, also known as SIF programs. These programs move the focus away from the traditional approach of waiting for an accident to occur and then addressing the problem. They recognize that near-miss accidents can be warnings of more serious injuries or fatalities to come, and addressing the conditions that led to those near-misses can help prevent the accidents. A near-miss incident such as a worker nearly falling from heights might not be the type of event that must be reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but it can provide critical information about workplace safety.
Composting workers in South Carolina and across the United States have some safety tips to consider on the job. The Solid Waste Association of North America has published a safety guide for composting operations employees as part of their "Five to Stay Alive" program, which seeks to address some common workplace dangers.
When safety takes a backseat to productivity, South Carolina workers often end up paying the price for their employers' profits. Data shows that manufacturing fatalities are trending up after falling since 2008. U.S. Department of Labor figures have revealed that approximately 4 percent of manufacturing workers are either injured on the job or contract an occupational disease each year.