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Colorado Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Elevator repairman dies after being fatally injured at work

There are numerous areas on every construction site that have to be assessed for safety hazards prior to the commencement of operations. This is an enormous responsibility on the shoulders of any construction company owner in Colorado or another state. Neglecting hazard assessments can lead to employees being injured at work, and in some cases workplace injuries can be fatal.

The death of a worker in the elevator shaft of a building under construction in another state is being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. At first, it was reported that the worker had fallen seven stories in the elevator shaft of the high-rise apartment building. However, the county prosecutor's office  subsequently indicated that, instead of falling down the shaft, the man was actually trapped between the door of the elevator and the roof of the car, and he was dragged upward for seven stories.

Coffee processing workers may need ongoing medical treatment

Researchers at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recently reported on the dangers of diacetyl and the substitute 2,3-pentanedione. Workers in various processing facilities nationwide, including here in Colorado, are at risk of developing an irreversible lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans that may require life-long medical treatment. This occupational illness is also called popcorn lung. The chemicals apparently cause scarring and constriction of a worker's airways, and the symptoms include coughing, wheezing and breathing difficulties that may develop into more severe problems.

At-risk workers include those working at microwave popcorn processing plants, where diacetyl or its substitute is used to flavor the popcorn. This chemical is apparently also present in E-cigarettes, and research has indicated that workers who are present where coffee beans are ground, flavored, packed and stored are also at risk of contracting the lung disease. NIOSH says five coffee processing workers are known to suffer the condition, and researchers have subsequently determined that elevated levels of these dangerous chemicals are present in the air in coffee processing plants.

Worker fatally injured at work after fall of over 50 feet

The circumstances of a workplace accident at a landfill and recycling business in Colorado are under investigation after the death of a worker. The plant is known as Henderson Pit and is a landfill for construction items. According to the Adams County Sheriff's Office, the worker was fatally injured at work on a recent Monday afternoon.

Reportedly, a worker was performing maintenance on an elevated conveyor. He fell from a height exceeding 50 feet. He apparently landed on his head and was declared dead at the work site. No information related to a safety harness or any other personal protective equipment worn by the worker at the time of the fall was reported.

3 workers injured at work due to lack of lockout procedures

Many workplace accidents in Colorado occur because safety violations related to lockout/tagout procedures are disregarded. An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration into an accident in which three employees were seriously injured at work was recently completed. The company was cited for 12 safety violations, one of which was determined to be willful.

The incident that gave rise to the investigation took place in July 2014 on the premises of a recycling facility in another state that processes demolition and construction material. The workers were reportedly inside a trommel when they were injured. A trommel is a cylindrical screening device, and the workers were cleaning screens within the confined space. The machine had apparently not been locked out, and when another employee -- who was unaware of the presence of the workers in the trommel -- started the machine, there was nothing to prevent activation.

Workers' rights include protection against mercury hazards

It is surprising how many workers nationwide are unaware of hidden dangers that they are exposed to during every shift they work. One of the most basic of workers' rights is the right to a safe workplace environment. However, workers are often oblivious of odorless and invisible aerial substances that pose significant dangers.

A business owner in Colorado reported that he uses sophisticated equipment to measure microscopic levels of airborne mercury at industrial sites. The acceptable level of mercury exposure according to standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is 100 micrograms per cubic meter. Measuring the mercury level enables employers to protect workers, and the man says owners of industrial companies have strict safety training programs and protective equipment to prevent even minor exposures.

Electrician injured at work by falling part of crane

Whenever Colorado workers are on construction sites where there are cranes or other construction equipment, their lives may be at risk. There are specific safety guidelines for owners of construction companies. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration require employers to comply with safety regulations and ensure that workers are protected from being injured at work.

An electrician who was working on a construction site in another state suffered critical injuries on a recent Wednesday morning. A sheriff's report indicates that the workplace accident occurred on the site of a property development project. It was reported that the electrician was working directly under an 180-foot tower of a crane that was being assembled. For unexplained reasons, one of the 40-pound pins bounced out as workers at the top of the crane were attempting to put it in place.

Disregard of workers' rights to safety leads to burn injuries

Electricity poses multiple known workplace hazards to workers in Colorado and across the nation. For this reason, it raises concern when employers disregard workers' rights to safety and prescribed safety regulations according to which only qualified electricians may carry out certain procedures. Allowing untrained workers to perform electrical tasks that can cause life-threatening injuries was recently declared unacceptable by a spokesperson of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

This comment followed the completion of an investigation into a workplace accident that left a worker with serious burn injuries on his arms, hands and face. During the investigation, investigators found that a trainee blasting machine operator at a steel products manufacturer in another state had to change a fuse. An arc blast occurred that caused second- and third-degree burns.

Permanent disability: 3 workers suffer amputations in 4 months

Business owners in Colorado are expected to comply with the strict safety regulations that are prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. While many safety hazards are common in a variety of industries, some risks are more prevalent in industrial environments. Manufacturers typically employ machine operators, and failure to install the required safeguards for moving parts may lead to an injury that could cause permanent disability.

OSHA recently had strong words for the owner of an envelope printing facility in another state after a third amputation injury occurred within only four months. In all three cases, the injuries resulted from the lack of safeguards on machines that allowed employees to come into contact with moving parts. OSHA proposed more than $88,000 in fines for four serious and three willful safety violations.

OSHA explains prevalence of injured workers at mental hospital

Hospital employees nationwide, including here in Colorado, are typically exposed to a wide variety of safety hazards. However, those working in psychiatric hospitals have to face an additional range of potential risks. Injured workers are prevalent in these facilities, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently shed light on the work environments of employees at a psychiatric hospital in another state.

A number of employees at the facility were accused by state health officials of improper handling of patients, and criminal violations were investigated some time ago. Some workers were terminated, but none of them were charged criminally. An eight-month investigation by OSHA found that hospital workers suffered frequent assaults by patients. Evidence was found of employees being bitten and struck. Some suffered fractured bones while others suffered unconsciousness after being strangled.

Industrial company cited for repeated breach of workers' rights

Workplace safety is a primary concern in all industries nationwide, including here in Colorado. Exposing workers to known safety hazards is unacceptable, and it constitutes a violation of workers' rights. An industrial manufacturer in another state was recently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for multiple safety violations.

Following a second investigation this year, OSHA found that the company was again in noncompliance with federal regulations. An earlier inspection yielded 15 citations for safety violations in July. A second investigation had already been launched in June following a complaint about alleged health hazards to workers operating the spray booth at the company facility. Workers were reportedly exposed to the toxicity and flammability of the paints used in the trailer spraying facility.

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