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How can Pennsylvania workers safely use heavy machinery?

Construction workers are arguably society's backbone. The construction of Pennsylvania roads, schools, bridges and houses would not have been possible if not for their contributions. Despite their contributions to society, people often forget that these workers are always in peril. Construction is one of the most dangerous industries to work in and heavy machinery is often the cause of injuries and workplace deaths. This, of course, is a problem because heavy machinery is essential in construction. However, there are ways to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.

How dangerous is the use of heavy machinery in the construction industry? In 2013, 824 construction workers lost their lives and almost 150,000 suffered injuries. About 14 percent of these deaths and 35 percent of these injuries were attributed to heavy machinery accidents.

What safety measures can prevent such unfortunate situations? The first is to invest in training. The most basic way to prevent an accident is to understand how it happens and how to properly operate machinery through proper training and education. The second is to inspect the machinery. Every machine needs to be in peak operating condition, not just so it can serve its intended purpose, but so it can also prevent injuries and deaths. Employers should regularly maintain and inspect their machinery.

Step three is to avoid rushing. While deadlines are part of any job, that does not mean workers and employers should cut corners in terms of safety. The fourth step is communication. Just like in any workplace, constant communication is necessary on a construction site. It is very important for workers to know safety policies and to be aware of any changes in procedure.

What steps can be taken when a worker is injured or dies in a workplace accident involving heavy machinery? If a workplace injury occurs, Pennsylvania workers can file a legal action to hold the negligent party responsible. On the other hand, a worker's family can file a wrongful death lawsuit if the workplace accident was fatal.

Source: EHS Today, "5 Tips to Safely Operate Heavy Machinery," James White, Nov. 20, 2014

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