Due to concern about Washington worker safety, along with the safety of the public, the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has developed a new campaign. Although many people may not realize how dangerous working and abandoned mines can be, over 200 people have died in mine-related accidents since 1999. Outdoor enthusiasts, workers from industries other than mining, and children sometimes wander on mine property and get hurt.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration, also known as MSHA, is trying to warn the public of the dangers. This is the ninth year that MSHA has joined forces with businesses, individuals, state agencies, and other federal agencies to try to warn the public. This year’s campaign is entitled “Stay Out–Stay Alive.” The goal is to educate the public on the dangers and to convince them that the best way to avoid injury on mine property is stay out.
Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, explained, “There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States. Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly. That’s why we urge workers, hikers, bikers, rock hounds and swimmers to ‘Stay Out — Stay Alive.’”
The dangers posed by these mines are very real. In 2006, 30 people died in accidents on the property of surface or underground mines. These accident victims varied in age from 17 to 51.
Sadly, children also wander onto mine property to play, not realizing the danger. Also, outdoor enthusiasts and workers from industries other than mining may wander onto mine property and get hurt.
To get the message out, the campaign will utilize public service announcements. In addition, health professionals along with mine safety personnel employed by the federal government will talk to young people at schools, organizations, and scouting meetings.
Chainsaw use in the workplace has increased in the past decade, and so have chainsaw injuries.
A recent recall of two major brands of chainsaws prompted a Washington worker safety alert. These chainsaws pose a hazard to workers since the front plastic handle can break off when it is being used heavily. When this handle breaks off, the worker may have difficulty controlling the saw, which could result in an injury. Employers and workers need to be aware of the hazards posed by these chainsaws.
This recall impacts two popular chainsaws made by TroyBilt and Craftsman. All of these chainsaws have two-cycle engines that run on gasoline. The four TroyBilt models affected by this recall all have cutting blades of either 18 inches or 20 inches. The TroyBilt models have engine sizes ranging from 46cc to 55cc. The Craftsman chainsaw affected by the recall is the “Incredi-Pull” model. This model has a 55cc engine and a cutting blade of 18 inches.
Which models of Troy-Bilt and Craftsman are part of this recall?
Four models built by Troy-Bilt are included in this recall, and one model built by Craftsman is included. The Troy-Bilt chainsaws all have 18-inch or 20-inch blades and gas-powered two-cycle engines. These engines are from 46cc to 55cc in size. The Craftsman chainsaw included in this recall is the “Incredi-Pull” model. This chainsaw has an 18-inch blade and a two-cycle 55cc gas engine.
Why are these chainsaws being recalled?
These Troy-Bilt and Craftsman chainsaws are being recalled because the front handle, which is made of plastic, can break when the chainsaw is being used heavily.
What happens if this handle breaks?
When this handle breaks, the chainsaw can become difficult to control and, therefore, pose a hazard to workers. Employers should make certain workers stop using these chainsaws since they are unsafe.
Have people been injured by these chainsaws?
Yes, injuries have been reported to OSHA. These reports include incidents of cuts, bruises, sprains, and burns. To prevent injuries, workers should stop using the chainsaws immediately.
This recall was made voluntarily by Troy-Bilt and Craftsman. They cooperated with OSHA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The job of CPSC is to protect consumers from products that may cause injuries or death. Incidents involving consumer products that result in property damage, injuries, and death cost the US over $700 billion per year.
Yet another work-related accident involving an ATV has occurred – this time, with fatal results. In a fatality investigated by the local area office of OSHA, the driver was applying herbicide to weeds when the accident occurred. The employer had had fitted the sprayer on the rear cargo rack, casing the vehicle to become more unstable. Driving on a steep incline over rough terrain contributed to the accident as well, according to OSHA.
The operator was driving uphill when the ATVs front wheels left the ground. The vehicle began to flip over, and she tried to stabilize it by standing up. When that failed, she tried unsuccessfully to jump out of the way, but was crushed. The heavy herbicide sprayer had redistributed the weight over the wheelbase.
Most of us are used to thinking of ATVs almost as toys, however, when modified for work, they can be very dangerous.
Untrained workplace ATV drivers who are not using safety measures can put themselves at risk of injury and death, according to a Washington worker safety alert.
The alert follows a fatal accident in which a worker was killed while operating an All-Terrain Vehicle with an herbicide sprayer that was 55 pounds over the manufacturer’s recommended weight limit. The Bismarck, North Dakota OSHA office investigated the accident.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that ATV deaths have climbed more than 15-fold in a 24 year period, from 29 in 1982 to 470 in 2004. Injuries reached a new high of 136,100.
OSHA has released a bulletin with guidelines for operation. The most important recommendation is training employees in the use of the ATV. While it has a reputation as a recreational vehicle sometimes operated by children, it is nevertheless tricky to maneuver — not at all similar in its operation to a car or truck. Employees should use helmets while operating All-Terrain Vehicles. OSHA also recommends following manufacturers’ weight guidelines.
Many employers don’t consider the flu a workplace hazard, but a Washington worker safety alert should change their minds. Even though employers often have emergency plans to handle natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, and power outages, many haven’t taken the possibility of a global influenza outbreak into consideration. OSHA feels employers need to be prepared in case an influenza pandemic does occur.
A flu pandemic is when the virus mutates so a new strain emerges. No one would have immunity to this new strain, so the disease quickly would spread worldwide. Influenza pandemics can result in a high mortality rate. In only 18 months, the Spanish Flu of 1918 resulted in the death of 50 to 100 million people.
Not only could a flu pandemic result in large number of deaths, it could disrupt the worldwide economy. The impact could affect consumer buying, along with the food supply, trade, travel, and tourism. Changes in how commerce operates may occur. In addition, the investment and financial markets also could be impacted. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, maintains, “As with any catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential.”
Although a pandemic does not currently exist because a new flu strain has not emerged, OSHA feels all employers should prepare now. Businesses can minimize the impact of a pandemic and help protect the safety and health of workers by being prepared.
Some events that could occur during an influenza pandemic are a high level of worker absenteeism, and disruptions in the supply chain so some products might not get delivered. For instance, grocery stores could run out of products, such as tissues and hand sanitizers, as consumers buy up needed supplies.
Facilities for healthcare may find themselves overwhelmed. Since the virus passes from person to person, though, businesses such as malls and movie theaters could be empty. Many people may stay home to avoid exposure to the influenza virus.