For the fifth year in a row, OSHA is hosting its National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Together with NIOSH and the Center for Construction Research and Training, OSHA encourages all employers in the construction industry to shut down operations at some point between May 7 and May 11 and address whatever factors put their workers at risk for falls. This is important since in South Carolina, as elsewhere in the U.S., falls are the leading cause of death in the industry.
The risks of loud noises in the workplace for workers in South Carolina can extend far beyond hearing loss according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC's research found a high association between loud, noisy workplaces and the development of high blood pressure and high cholesterol among workers regularly exposed to the loud sounds. As both symptoms are a significant risk for heart disease, the leading killer of people across the country, these conditions indicate that noisy workplaces can pose a major health risk for workers in mining, construction and other industries where such noise is common.
OSHA regularly enters into alliances with trade groups, labor unions and other organizations to help them learn more about their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. Both employees and employers in South Carolina and elsewhere may benefit from taking part in the Alliance Program. Recently, OSHA renewed its alliance with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).
South Carolina employees who work from high locations at construction zones, industrial sites and other workplaces are at an increased risk of fall injuries. In order to improve workplace safety, a strong fall prevention and arrest system is necessary to keep workers supported in case of a slip or accident.
Tree care employers and employees in South Carolina may be aware that OSHA has no single safety standard for their industry. This is unfortunate because tree care is considered one of the most hazardous industries out there. Though a stakeholder meeting in 2016 pushed to have a proposal for tree care rulemaking back on the Regulatory Agenda (it was removed once due to insufficient resources), OSHA has not taken further action.
In South Carolina and other states where the coal mining industry is still active, black lung disease is on the rise. This finding has surprised many people because at the end of the previous century, black lung diagnoses were at an all-time low with just over 30 cases reported. In 2016, according to an NPR survey of 11 black lung clinics, that number was 962. An ongoing investigation that began in the wake of that report has tallied over 1,000 more cases.
South Carolina residents who cut concrete or saw bricks may come into contact with a substance called crystalline silica. Too much exposure to the substance can cause several health hazards such as lung cancer or silicosis. Over time, it may also lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or problems breathing in general.
Emergency medical service workers in South Carolina are a common sight at accident scenes. As one might imagine, they must often endure stressful working conditions. A partnership between a university research hospital and the National Association of State EMS Officials has sounded the alarm about the effects of fatigue on EMS workers. Exhaustion could lead to mistakes while driving ambulances or have a negative impact on patient care.
The chance that safety inspectors might visit a workplace in South Carolina is probably lower than a year ago. Since President Obama left office, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration staff has lost 40 inspectors. An investigation of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by a major news network attributed the staff departures to layoffs.
After seeing a record low of eight deaths in 2016, the U.S. coal mining industry has witnessed a dramatic rise in 2017. In that year, there were 15 deaths, with eight occurring in West Virginia, two in Kentucky, and one each in Alabama, Colorado, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. South Carolina has insignificant coal reserves.