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OSHA cites film company for lack of fall protection

Minnesota fans of the "The Walking Dead" teexpect their favorite characters to face deadly dangers, but the film set turned deadly for a stuntman in July 2017. The 33-year-old man died as a result of injuries after falling 22 feet headfirst onto concrete. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the worker's death and cited Stalwart Films LLC for inadequate fall protection, which included a fine of $12,675.

According to a statement from OSHA, the employer has 15 business days to pay the fine, contest the agency's decision or meet with a regional OSHA director to discuss the matter. The citation described tactics the film company could have used to prevent the accident, such as personal protection equipment, additional personnel with crash pads to protect the performer or designing a stunt with a shorter fall distance.

A mild brain injury may severely affect your career

Workplace injuries can happen anywhere, no matter what career path you pursue. This is especially true of head injuries, which may lead to serious complications for victims, even if they do not immediately realize they suffered an injury at all.

Whereas many professional workplaces do not feature potentially dangerous machinery or require hardhats, any significant blow to the head can cause a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), which may impact many areas of a victim's work and home life. These injuries are common as a part of slip-and-fall accidents, which can occur in just about any workplace.

Increasing workers compensation to account for inflation

Ever since Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act in 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has had to adjust its penalties on an annual basis. This affects employers throughout Minnesota and the rest of the nation. The act dictates that agencies have to increase their penalties to account for inflation and increased cost of living. In compliance with the act, OSHA has announced that it is increasing its penalties for 2018.

To get an idea of what the new fines might look like, here are a few facts and figures: Violations that are classified as either other-than-serious or serious and failure to abate are now penalized by a total of $12,934, an increase of $319. Conversely, violations that are deemed as willful and repeat by an OSHA investigation are now fined $129,336, an increase of $2, 587.

Consequential injuries impact people following serious accidents

Consequential injuries are injuries that occur because of an event or other injury. For example, if you fall off your bike and break your arm, you may become anxious about riding a bike. That anxiety is a direct result of your initial accident and thus a consequential injury.

Consequential injuries happen to many people after they're injured. Common kinds of consequential injuries include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Consequential injuries also include other injuries that result from the initial injury. For instance, if you are on crutches from a workplace injury and fall, the resulting injuries from the fall are also considered to be consequential injuries and may be covered by workers' compensation.

Minnesota work-related injury rates at an all-time low

In Minnesota, the number of worker injuries and illnesses are at the lowest they have ever been since the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses began in 1973. The latest survey reports that in 2016, OSHA recorded an average of 3.4 nonfatal workplace injuries/illnesses per 100 full-time equivalent workers in the state. This came out to about 73,600 workers. In 2015 there were 75,000 workers were injured or became ill.

This is good news, considering how the number of employees in the state increased from 2.67 million in 2015 to 2.72 million in 2016. Officials say the past decade has seen a 33 percent decrease in injuries/illnesses. The average number of days off that victims took remained unchanged from 2015 -- 1 out of 100 FTE workers spent one or more days away after the date of the injury.

Workplace fatalities on the rise

Workers in Minnesota may want to know about the results of the 2016 report conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It reports a 7 percent increase in fatal occupational injuries from 2015 to 2016, with 5,190 people losing their lives in the workplace. This amounts to 14 workers being killed each day. For every 100,000 full-time workers, there were 3.6 deaths.

The report shows that transportation incidents were responsible for one out of every four workplace fatalities. Workplace violence, such as cases of employees assaulting other employees, was the second most common cause of fatalities. Another unfortunate trend is the rise in opioid-related deaths among workers, which have increased by at least 25 percent since 2012. Overdoses alone rose by 32 percent in 2016.

Work-related fatalities rise seven percent in 2016

Workplace fatalities have dramatically increased for the third consecutive year, according to a census conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Residents of Minnesota, especially those in the transportation, healthcare and food packing industries, should be aware of the trends and what's being done about them.

The year 2016 saw a total of 5,190 workplace fatalities: the largest number since 2008, which saw 5,214 deaths. This comes to about 14 workers dying every day, a seven-percent increase from 2015 to 2016. One in four fatalities were caused by transportation incidents while workplace violence came in as the second most common cause of fatalities. The current opioid crisis has also left its mark on the workplace, with drug overdoses rising 32 percent in 2016.

What are the signs you have a sick building illness?

Not all Minnesota buildings are safe for their workers. Some are filled with mold and other contaminants that lead to a host of physical ailments and other problems.

Certain illness symptoms can indicate that the building you're working in is a "sick building." Be sure to watch out for these symptoms, and if you suspect you're working in a sick building, reach out to management as soon as possible.

The culture of fear among poultry workers

Poultry workers in Minnesota and across the country face a unique set of hazards in the course of carrying out their work. However, some poultry workers feel afraid to tell federal inspectors about workplace hazards or workplace injuries they sustain. They're fearful that if they talk, they may lose their employment.

All of this has been challenging for OSHA. If employees are too scared to talk about the hazards or injuries they face, there is very little that OSHA can do to identify what the challenges poultry workers are facing are and to take steps to protect them. One challenge for the workers lies in the way that OSHA does interviews on workplace safety. OSHA interviews employees on-site, so anonymity is not an option.

How workers can avoid weather-related injuries during winter

Working outdoors during the Minnesota winters can be not only arduous but also dangerous to one's health. Freezing temperatures often lead to cold stress injuries as well as conditions like hypothermia and frostbite. Even in relatively higher temperatures, workers can be at risk for trench foot and chilblains.

There are several ways for workers to protect themselves. First, they should wear layered clothing. This will allow them to remove layers when temperatures rise and comfortably put on personal protective equipment. The fabric should be breathable; otherwise, perspiration will develop. Gloves and boots should be insulated and waterproof.

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