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Reducing overhead danger in the workplace

Many workers in West Virginia are at risk from overhead hazards, particularly those who work in the gas, construction and oil industries. It is important that workers and their employers take the necessary precautions to reduce such risks.

While hard hats are an important part of head and face protection, alleviating overhead danger requires more, as indicated by an enforcement action by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An auto parts company in Massachusetts was cited for over a dozen serious violations and assessed $27,157 in proposed penalties in response to an accident that occurred in October 2016. An employee sustained fatal head injuries while attempting to climb a multi-piece rim wheel on a vehicle. According to the OSHA office in Braintree, MA, in addition to personal protection equipment violations, there were also violations related to training, HazCom regulations, electrical safety, powered industrial trucking and exit route signage.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 240 workers died in 2014 as a result of being struck by falling equipment or objects, which made up almost 5 percent of workplace fatalities. In 2016, the International Safety Equipment Association announced that some of its member companies were creating the first industry standard for the minimum performance, design and labeling requirements for products that prevent incidents involving dropped objects in occupation and industrial situations.

Head and neck injuries comprised 12 percent of the injury-related visits to the emergency room in 2011 in the United States. Injuries related to the head or central nervous system were the most expensive claims from 2012 to 2013.

Individuals who sustain a work injury, such as a head injury, may receive workers' compensation. A personal injury attorney may also file a lawsuit against an employer on behalf of a client if state or federal work safety standards were violated.

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Stephen P. New, Attorney at Law
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