When a worker in Pennsylvania is killed on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is often quick to investigate the scene of the accident and the company that employed the worker. In some cases, investigators might find safety violations, some of which might be considered serious.
Today is Workers' Memorial Day, on which individuals who have died on the job oar honored in ceremonis all over the country.
Workplace accidents can be particularly devastating for Pennsylvania workers, not just for the immediate impact of the accident but because of the long-term effects. This can be especially true for trade workers, who might not be able to practice their craft as they did before if they are hurt in a debilitating workplace accident.
Sometimes, it only takes a split second for a mundane work task to take a turn for the worse and become tragic. This is particularly true for workers who work with inherently dangerous equipment or at great heights -- or sometimes both. A man who was working with a tree-trimming crew in Ross Township is lucky to be alive after the chainsaw he was using while he was up in a tree got stuck in his neck.
It's an unfortunate fact that many jobs that are key parts of today's economy are dangerous ones. While they can provide high-paying jobs to people in our community and serve to boost our economy, they can lead to dangerous situations if conditions on worksites are not up to standards.
There has been no shortage of cases in the Pittsburgh area, and all across Pennsylvania, of workers acquiring lung diseases as a result of their on-the-job duties. While workers in the mining industry historically have been prone to workplace illnesses such as black lung disease, workers in other industrial settings might be subjected to asbestos exposure -- which could lead to serious diseases such as mesothelioma.
This past week in Western Pennsylvania has been a harrowing one.
The terrible events that took place at Franklin Regional High School on Wednesday morning, March 9 2014, will reverberate for months if not years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people and families who were effected and we praise those for their courage and acts of heroism. As I write this more questions exist than answers. Why? Of course is the one everyone is asking.
For many reasons, jobs in industrial settings carry relatively large amounts of danger. Heavy equipment and fast-moving machinery can be hazards to even the most careful of employees. There is another common danger that can be extremely dangerous, with the potential for multiple casualties: combustible dust explosions.
Even if a workplace injury does not develop as a result of a specific accident, but rather over time due to a nagging, worsening condition, that doesn't mean it's any less serious. People with issues such as lower back pain that build up over time can be kept out of work for extended periods of time, just as someone injured in an accident can miss lots of time away from work.
When old buildings are being renovated, employees should be sure that they won't be exposed to any harmful substances. Many old facilities contain asbestos, and workers who are in those buildings when they are undergoing renovation need to be aware of the risks in order to avoid workplace illness. If a company is in a hurry to get the renovations completed for some reason, it's possible that corners could be cut and proper safety standards are not observed.
When stories about Pittsburgh industrial accidents are reported on in the press, there is usually not much information provided other than what happened in the accident, who was injured and what the status of the victims is. There often isn't much more to go on, and the fate of the injured workers in the weeks and months to come isn't often newsworthy, as far as media outlets are concerned.