The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced its yearly inspection plan for 2011. The Site-Specific Targeting (SST) program’s goal is to focus the agency’s resources on highly dangerous workplaces which have demonstrated a high rate of occupational illnesses and injuries.
Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers in Greensboro are familiar with the SST program, but are concerned that it doesn’t include construction job sites.
OSHA’s SST program inspects workplaces that have at least 20 or more employees and that are not related to construction. To be identified as a high-hazard workplace, companies must have above-average rates in work-related illnesses and injuries. These rates are determined through data gathered from OSHA’s 2010 Data Initiative survey.
This assessment includes 80,000 large businesses from high-hazard industries. Businesses are randomly picked for inspection from a list of at least 3,700 non-manufacturing, manufacturing, and personal care and nursing facilities. A spokesperson for OSHA feels that through these inspections, flaws in health and safety practices can be found and corrected thus making these high hazard workplaces safer.
Changes in the SST program since 2010 include the number of employees per company went from 40 to 20 and new this year is an evaluation process to see if the SST program recommendations and assistance is making a difference regarding future OSHA inspections.
OSHA additionally has a National Emphasis Program (NEP) that has a total of 14 individual programs including lead, amputations, crystalline silica, trenching/excavations, shipbreaking, covered chemical facilities process safety management, hexavalent chromium, recordkeeping, diacetyl, federal agencies, monitoring air traffic control towers, combustible dust, petroleum refinery process safety management and primary metals. The NEP does a much more in depth inspection in these areas.
OSHA also has about 140 Local and Regional Emphasis Programs (LEPs and REPs). The SST- 2011 plan can be viewed in its entirety on OSHA’s website.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, construction workers are engaged in many hazardous tasks, including working at elevated heights, digging ditches and trenches, working in environments with extreme noise and/or dust, using all kinds of power tools and equipment, working in close quarters/confined spaces and being near high voltage electricity.
In 2009, construction workers had the most fatal injuries of any private sector industry. Falls made up over one-third of fatal injuries in construction (34 percent). Forty-eight percent of all private industry fatal falls happened to construction workers. Transportation-related construction incidents accounted for 25 percent of fatal injuries and coming in contact with equipment or objects caused 19 percent of fatal construction injuries. Over 92,000 construction workers in 2009 suffered a non-fatal injury or illness that required time off from work. That is a rate of 4.3 incidents per 100 full-time workers.
Workers’ compensation lawyers in North Carolina are concerned that the agency has skipped over one of the most dangerous industries in our state, but rather focused on a wide variety of areas in the SST program. We don’t take away the importance of safety in other industries, but inspecting for safe environments at construction sites should be equally as important. If you have been injured at work, find an experienced attorney that is on your side and will help you work through the complexities of the case.
If you been injured in a work-related accident don’t try to handle it on your own, contact the experienced attorneys at the Lee Law Offices, P.A. for help regarding your case. Call 1-800-887-1965 for a free initial consultation to discuss your case today.
More Blog Entries:
Circuit Breakers a Workplace Hazard Leading to Electrocution Injuries of North Carolina workers, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, September 20, 2011.
Online Courses for Job Safety Training Can Help Reduce Injuries at Work in Gastonia, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, September 18, 2011.