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Is there a core group of injury contributors in American workplaces?

Candidly, health and safety regulators focused on America’s vast and varied workplaces don’t confine themselves to limited terrain in searching out and addressing dangers to workers. They know that dangerous sources and linked injury catalysts exist across a broad universe.

Still, though, a few prominent culprits that threaten workplace safety routinely emerge year after year as top-tier regulatory concerns.

Put another way: Whereas it is not inconceivable that lightning might strike a worker in Louisiana or elsewhere, it is exponentially more likely for an employee to be struck by a forklift or injured by a defective machine part.

Or to suffer from an on-the-job fall. In fact, falls are a sadly recurring and tragic workplace nemesis, a fact that has been repeatedly spotlighted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the years. Fall incidents (e.g., from ladders and scaffolds) time and again top OSHA’s annual “Top-10” list of safety concerns for American workers, just as they did last year. In fact, fall protection topped the agency’s list for the ninth consecutive time in 2019.

A handful-plus of other customary entrants were also predictably on that list. They include these danger concerns:

  • Substandard communication concerning the handling of chemical hazards
  • Issues relating to the operation and maintenance of industrial trucks
  • Inadequate protections against respiratory challenges posed for workers
  • Lack of comprehensive safeguards against machine-generated dangers (for example, operational defects, flying parts and sparks/fires)

OSHA officials have seemingly grown impatient with repeat violators and the need to issue constant warnings. The agency’s discontent clearly emerges from one senior regulator’s comment that “employers shouldn’t feel like these are very complex issues.”

They are apparent, though, and more obviously needs to be done by employers to safeguard workers against the dangers.