In its occupational fatality report for 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted several trends good and bad that should be of interest to workers in diverse industries in Illinois. The good news is that work-related fatalities declined from 5,190 in 2016 to 5,147 in 2017. More than half of the states had fewer injuries in 2017 than in the previous year.
Outdoor workers in Illinois often have to continue their jobs even when temperatures drop and conditions become potentially hazardous. In an effort to help employers in the Prairie State keep their outdoor workers safe, OSHA is spreading information about ways to prevent winter accidents.
During the holiday season in Illinois, many stores hire temporary employees to keep up with the increased number of shoppers. Employees may work additional hours and have an increased workload as they deliver purchases to customers, stock shelves and sell merchandise. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding employers to ensure that precautions are taken to keep workers safe and that the proper steps are taken to make sure that employees are paid the correct amount on payday.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established rules to protect temporary workers in Illinois and nationwide. Temporary workers sometimes receive incomplete information about job safety because they work for a staffing agency that sends them to perform duties at a host employer. As a result, temporary workers sometimes find themselves in the most hazardous jobs without adequate training. Although employers might expect to dodge safety regulations through the use of temporary workers, the law still requires both staffing agencies and host employers to maintain safe workplaces.
Workers at Illinois petroleum refineries may be concerned about their safety on the job, especially after an administrative review decision that reduced charges against an employer regarding workplace safety violations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration uses safety standards for petroleum refineries that have been challenged on the basis of vagueness. In the case at hand, OSHA fined BP $2,870,000 for violations of Process Safety Management rules for the handling of highly hazardous chemicals at a refinery in Ohio. This included 65 different violations enclosed in one willful citation.
In Illinois and across the U.S., more workers are dying in trenching and excavation operations. Between 2011 and 2016, 130 such fatalities were reported to OSHA with 49 percent occurring between 2015 and 2016 alone. The private construction industry accounted for 104 of these deaths. OSHA believes that trench collapsing is a risk in virtually all excavations.
Illinois companies are required by law to provide employees with a safe place to work. Despite the efforts of OSHA, injuries continue to occur each year. Signs and labels at the workplace play a key role in promoting worker safety. The way that employers communicate the importance of safety to workers is key. A sign or message will not do any good to prevent injuries if it means nothing to the workers. Therefore, utilizing signs, labels and other displays with a clear meaning can go a long way toward reminding workers to use proper precautions.
Employers in Illinois are obligated to make sure that their employees know how to safely handle hazardous materials. An ideal place to inform employees about the basic rules for handling hazardous materials in the workplace is at a safety meeting, during which employees can be encouraged to make their own contributions to a list of safety rules.
Due to changes in workplace conditions and the nature of employer-employee interactions, OSHA has updated its recommended practices for safety and health programs. Employers in Illinois should know that these updates affect how to identify and assess safety hazards. Thankfully, OSHA provides six action items, or steps, to help employers implement the recommended practices.
In late 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. The bureau's data on the 10 most dangerous jobs in America should be of interest to both employers and employees in Illinois. While some of the listed jobs are expected, others are not. This shows that all potential causes of danger must be considered to ensure workplace safety.