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Wisconsin work injury: OSHA focus on height and chemical hazards

OSHA is beginning to place increased scrutiny on employees who work at heights in Wisconsin and around the rest of the country. The emphasis appears to be on those involved in tree trimming or other workers who may be subject to a work injury because of unsecured ladders. They are also expected to scrutinize isocyanates, a product used in auto body shops that could cause respiratory issues if not 'properly controlled.'

One of OSHA's compliance assistance specialists stated that anyone using ladders should extend them by at least 3 feet beyond their resting point. Doing so could make it easier for people to get back on them when working. They should also be secured to the structure being worked on and inspected prior to its use. The issue of tree-trimming safety was also brought up and stressed that the dangers in such work goes beyond the dangers of power lines. Traffic can also cause a work injury and should be controlled prior to any work being performed.

Isocyanates could also be a concern for employees involved in the installation of truck bed liners. If not properly used, this chemical can irritate the respiratory tract, the eyes and also cause similar symptoms to asthma. In addition to height and chemical hazards, the specialist also stressed heat-safety. Employees working in hot areas should be aware that body temperatures can elevate to dangerous levels within just minutes, so water-intake and emergency plans should be in place in case of heat-related illnesses.

Wisconsin employees face many dangers depending upon the type of work they do. Preventing a work injury can be simple, but sometimes they still occur, even with all the precautions. Any employee who sustains an injury on the job will likely be entitled to receive workers' compensation to help with incurred medical costs or even lost wages. Many workers find the compensation system confusing and even contradictory, and they may benefit from seeking advice and assistance to ensure timely filing of claims and payment of all covered benefits.

Source: The News-Gazette, "OSHA focusing on height-related hazards," Don Dodson, Oct. 25, 2012

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