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Saint Paul Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Workers' compensation less important than workplace safety

The widespread use of temporary workers has become a concern for many advocates of workplace safety in the United States, including those in Minnesota. The increasing numbers of workplace accidents and injuries involving temporary workers suggests that these employees are more vulnerable than permanent workers.

Consider a fatal workplace accident in Pennsylvania that prompted that state's U.S. Senator to question the efforts of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect temps. In February 2013, a 50-year-old temporary worker died at the CSC Sugar Plant near Philadelphia after being buried in a sugar hopper. OSHA later found out that a safety device that could have prevented the temp worker's death was removed from the equipment 13 days before the accident because it was slowing down production capacity. Senator Bob Casey has requested that OSHA boost its efforts to regulate workplace safety for temporary workers.

Forklift accident crushes Minnesota worker to death

Employees are the primary core of any company. And although employers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business, the company's performance and stability relies on employees. These day-to-day operations are not always perfect, however. There are times when workplace accidents occur resulting in workplace injuries, lost working hours and productivity. In the worst case scenario, a work-related accident is deadly.

One such incident in Hennepin County, Minnesota, made headlines recently. This accident can serve as an important reminder to employers about the significance of worker's compensation insurance and workplace safety. There, a 36-year-old Minnesota worker died in a deadly forklift accident. Authorities stated that the employee was working his shift at AA Container and Reload at the time. Police say that the accident victim was stacking bundles of wooded products with a forklift, but when he got off of the forklift, a stack of wood fell and crushed him to death. Multiple blunt-force injuries were listed as the cause of death. Minnesota authorities, together with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, are conducting an investigation into the tragedy.

Minnesota public workers hospitalized after serious collision

Blue collar workers are typically at a greater risk of experiencing a workplace accident than white collar workers and individuals engaged in non-manual labor. Industrial workmen and ground workers with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, for example, have to face certain occupational hazards as a part of their work. Although an employer can take reasonable measures to ensure worker safety, there is always a limited margin of error for unforeseeable accidents, often resulting in injury.

Last week on Sunday afternoon, two workers with the Minnesota State Department of Transportation were injured in an accident while on duty. The workers were engaged in laying down traffic cones to demarcate a lane closure when the incident took place. Their truck was hit by a car failing to move over. One of the victims, a 43-year-old man from Champlin, was hospitalized at a local medical center and listed in critical condition. The other worker, a 57-year-old from Rockford, received non-life-threatening injuries.

Zero Excuse campaign seeks to eradicate on-the-job hand injuries

Everyone knows that hands are one of the primary ways we interact with the world. They are important whether one is a typist, an artist, a chef or a construction worker. Unfortunately, hands are also vulnerable to injuries. These hand injuries lead to hundreds of thousands of job absences and emergency-room visits every year in the United States, including in Minnesota.

For these reasons, the online magazine EHS Today in cooperation with materials manufacturer DSM Dyneema launched a "Zero Excuses" campaign in October 2012 with the goal of eradicating on-the-job hand injuries. At a recent event in Florida held by the partnership at a conference run by the American Society of Safety Engineers, a spokesperson said the term "zero excuses" was not just a clever phrase but a reminder that employers are accountable for workers' safety. The event was intended to help create a workplace hand-safety program.

Hair treatments may result in deadly workplace illness

Cancer is one of the diseases that kills thousands of Americans every year. Some of these fatalities include workers who did their jobs despite the risk of workplace exposure. Workplace illness, such as liver cancer and lung disease, can result from exposure to hazards including silica dust and toxic chemicals. Many residents of Ramsey, Minnesota may think that only those that work in industrial plants and construction sites are exposed to such risks. However, a recent study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine included another surprising group of workers.

According to the report, salon workers are no different from industrial and construction workers regarding the possibility of developing work-related illnesses due to chemical exposure. The report found that hairdressers and salon staff are usually exposed to carcinogens, including formaldehyde. The study analyzed 32 people who regularly used hair dying products, 60 people who frequently got hair treatment and 295 female hairdressers. The researchers discovered that blood carcinogen levels are high among hairdressers who regularly provide hair coloring treatments.

Woman dies in workplace accident at Amazon facility

Amazon is one of the leading companies that provide jobs to many Americans, including those in Ramsey, Minnesota. What comes with providing a job is the responsibility of the employers to give access to reasonable wages and benefits to workers, such as workers' compensation insurance. It is also the obligation of the employer to protect workers from workplace accidents that can either injure or kill them. Otherwise, a fatal work accident may put the employer in jeopardy.

Many workers in Minnesota may be interested in a recent workplace accident at one of the warehouse facilities of Amazon. According to the report, a 52-year-old woman, employed at an Amazon warehouse, died on-the-job. The authorities stated that the woman driving a pallet truck when she suddenly crashed into some shelves. The worker's cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries.

Minnesota employers should be wary of common workplace injuries

June is known as the National Safety Month. For this reason, it is an opportune time for Saint Paul, Minnesota, employers as well as employees to assess the safety of their workplace. Part of reviewing safety practices is knowing the most common workplace injuries so that employers can identify and eliminate the factors that contribute to a workplace injury.

According to the Workers Compensation Fund of Utah, in 2013, slip-and-falls was first on the list of most common injuries, contributing to 20 percent of the workplace injuries. Second was receiving cuts at 17 percent, closely followed by a worker being hit by an object at 16 percent. General strain, and strain by lifting, each cause 12 percent of the workplace injuries. Injuries after being caught in an object, receiving burns and being involved in a motor vehicle accident rounded off the other frequent injuries suffered by workers. Although the data is from Utah, workplace injuries in Minnesota likely follow a similar pattern.

What Minnesota's outdoor workers should know about heat illness

We usually associate work-related illnesses with diseases such as asbestosis, silicosis and even asthma. However, sometimes common illnesses are overlooked such as heat illness, which can be life-threatening. As summer weather arrives, workers throughout Minnesota should careful when working outdoors in above-normal temperatures.

Underestimating the effects of a workplace illness such as heat stroke is easy. The bottom line is that prolonged exposure to the sun - whether direct or indirect such as while working in enclosed spaces that do not have air conditioning - poses serious risks for workers. Employees who work on construction sites, landscaping jobs or agricultural projects are prone to this danger, which claims scores of lives across the country every year.

Long-term exposure to solvent vapors can lead to impairment

Workplace safety can be a tricky issue. Many workers in Minnesota may be deceived by the innocuous appearance of items commonly used on the job such as solvents. Unfortunately, being around these substances for any period of time can be dangerous. One recent study, for example, concluded that workers who inhaled solvent vapors over long periods of time would begin to see the hazardous effects of toxic exposure long before they left the workplace.

As noted in "Neurology," the American Academy of Neurology's medical journal, workers exposed to hazardous chemicals such as glue, paint and degreasers can suffer problems with their cognitive functions several decades after being exposed to their fumes. Cognition and memory are among the abilities hardest hit by such exposure.

Rescue tubes can help prevent grain bin injury and fatality

Working in a grain bin seems like a simple and straight forward job with few risks. But in reality, workplace accidents involving grain bins in Minnesota have been on the rise lately. However, to address the growing safety concern, a company donated 20 rescue tubes to local fire fighters and rescue teams.

In the first three months of 2014 in the Upper Midwest, eight grain bin accidents occurred. There were also two deaths -- both from Minnesota. In 2010, Minnesota was second only to Illinois when it came to grain bin accidents. There have been 180 fatal grain bin incidents nationwide from 1984 to 2012. Eleven of those incidents were in Minnesota.

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