Everyone deserves to work in a safe environment. When you go to work in the morning you expect that you will be protected from harm and that you will not be injured. Some jobs are more dangerous than others. While you may not realize it, there are some common jobs that are known to result in a higher incidence of injuries than others.
CareerCast, an online employment company, cross-referenced data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA to determine the most dangerous jobs in the country.
Dangerous Jobs in Atlanta
While there are many dangerous jobs in the country workers in these jobs may not be adequately compensated for their hazards. Some of the jobs on the list of dangerous occupations include roofers, aircraft pilots and engineers, refuse and recyclable materials collectors, construction workers, truck drivers, maintenance workers, landscapers, taxi drivers and police officers.
If you are working in one of these dangerous jobs, or any career, it is important that your employer take steps to keep employees safe while on the job. The employer needs to comply with local and federal safety laws to provide safe working conditions. It is more essential than ever that your company take steps to protect employees from conditions that could be harmful or potentially hazardous. The failure to do so could be considered negligent. If you are hurt while on the job the company could be responsible for your injuries. Report the accident immediately to your company.
There is no doubt that the idea of science in action can be fascinating. When most people think of someone working in a laboratory, they think of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, or a place where interesting and highly technical experiments are carried out on a daily basis. All across Georgia, laboratory workers spend their days dedicated to their scientific pursuits and making scientific advances. While their work can be rewarding, sometimes it is dangerous as well.
Laboratories may be held privately, i.e., by a private company, by a government entity or institution, such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, or by a university or research center – and all of these types of laboratories employ lab workers. Yet, a laboratory can be a highly dangerous place to work.
There is a lot of potential for a lab worker to become seriously injured while performing his or her job duties while in the lab. Whether it’s a chemical laboratory, a biological laboratory, a medical laboratory, a pharmaceutical company, or a biotech firm, every one of these location utilizes laboratory space when conducting research as a regular course of conducting business, and each lab space is choked full of potential hazards.
When a laboratory worker is injured while on the job, he or she may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits help to provide the injured employee with financial support while he or she makes a recovery after having a workplace accident or suffering a work-related injury. Workers’ compensation benefits cover medical expenses, and a portion of the injured worker’s lost wages during his or her recovery.
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What Industries Are at Higher Risk for Work-Related Injuries?
It makes logical sense that workers who are employed in more dangerous lines of work are going to be exposed to a higher risk of suffering a work related injury, and thus these industries would have a higher rate of work-related injury reports. Workplace accidents and injuries in Georgia have increased in certain industries over the years, including manufacturing, production, mining, agriculture, and construction.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks work related injury data by state, some of the industries in Georgia with the highest rate of non-fatal injuries for 2014 include poultry processing, home center building material and supplies retail, paper manufacturing, printing, and manufacturing of carpets, rugs and fabrics. The industries with the highest rate of worker fatalities in 2014 include agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, mining operations, quarrying, and oil and gas production, construction, and manufacturing.
Some of the most dangerous types of jobs that workers can have place workers at risk for suffering physical harm from their work environment. Some of the most dangerous jobs in Georgia include:
- Demolition jobs;
- Construction jobs;
- Metalworking jobs;
- Masonry, stone and tile work;
- Excavating jobs;
- Mining and quarrying jobs; and
- Oil and gas extraction jobs.
These jobs are so dangerous because workers are constantly working with large, heavy and dangerous equipment or they work with explosives. This puts workers in danger of suffering crushing injuries, pinch injuries, blast injuries, amputations, impalements, injuries from falling objects or tools, injuries from falling from heights, platforms, or ladders, and injuries from explosions or fires.
Transportation is another line of work that is very dangerous for workers. Whether workers are driving big rig trucks for long-haul deliveries, or workers are just driving across town to give a sales pitch as part of their job, a worker being in transit is one of the most dangerous lines of work.
When it comes to worker fatalities, roadway accidents and other transportation accidents are the leading cause of worker death in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is because these workers drive for a living and are place at a higher risk for being involved in automobile accidents while driving for work due to the frequency by which they are on the road in the first place.
There is also a realm of workers who are exposed to less traditional forms of harm while on the job. Workers who are employed in the healthcare, scientific, and research worlds are also placed at risk while on the job. These workers are exposed to biological hazards, such as blood borne pathogens or contagious diseases, and may be regularly exposed to poisons, chemicals or toxins while performing their job duties.
While there are protocols for promoting safety for these types of workers, such as using appropriate personal protection equipment (e.g., gloves, lab coats, eye protection, respirators, ventilators, etc.), and safety protocols and procedures for workers to follow, accidents always happen. A nurse could accidentally be stuck by a used needle, a lab tech could accidentally mix incompatible chemicals, or a researcher could drop, or improperly seal, a hazardous sample. Any of these example scenarios could lead to workers becoming sick or injured while on the job.
All Workers May Suffer a Work-Related Injury
But danger lurks in all types of jobs, no matter what industry you work in. Accidents can happen in any work environment, from a classroom, to an office, to a retail counter. Even in what would seem to be the safest of work environments, there is still room for freak accidents, or minor mishaps, that can cause serious injuries to workers. A few typical workplace accidents that could happen in any work environment include:
- Catastrophic accidents, such as roof collapses, building collapses and work-related injuries that are the result of acts of nature.
- Motor vehicle accidents.
- Slip and fall accidents occurring on a work premises.
- Repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, from years of doing the same task over and over as part of your job.
- Eye strain injuries from working at a computer for too long, or from reading overly small text in inadequate lighting for too long.
The dangers that workers face in the workplace are real and multi-faceted, and each job offers its own version of workplace risk for workers.
Examples of Dangerous Laboratory Hazards
Laboratory spaces are unfortunately the setting for a number of potentially hazardous situations. Lab workers are diligently trained on how to safely work in their lab space, however, accidents still happen and lab workers can end up injured or their health can be placed in jeopardy. Some examples of dangerous laboratory hazards include:
- Safety Protocol Is Not Followed. There may be situations where a lab worker is instructed by his or her employer not to follow appropriate safety protocol in the laboratory. Alternatively, the lab worker might have failed to properly adhered to the appropriate safety protocol while working in the lab. Safety protocols exist for a reason, and that reason is to prevent injury to workers in the lab space. However, workers’ compensation in Georgia is not based on fault. As a general rule, it does not matter whether the employer or the employee was at fault for causing the workplace accident or injury – the injured worker is still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Safety Equipment Was Not Worn or Not Worn Properly. Proper personal safety equipment is necessary to work in a laboratory setting. Workers might be required to wear lab coats, protective eyewear, respirators, and gloves as a regular part of their normal personal safety equipment. If a worker fails to wear the appropriate personal safety equipment, or the personal safety equipment is defective, the worker might be injured by exposure to the dangerous chemicals or materials that they are handling in the laboratory.
- Broken Glassware Exposes Lab Workers To Danger. In virtually all laboratory spaces, workers are required to handle chemicals and other materials or samples for analysis that are contained in glass containers or vials. Glassware is critically important in the laboratory space because it is easily cleaned and sterilized for repeated use in the future. Glass is also highly stable, and does not react with a majority of chemicals. However, glassware can easily get broken, spilling the contents that were contained inside the glassware. A lab worker could be exposed to contaminated blood, dangerous chemicals, or other toxic substances when glassware accidentally breaks in the lab.
- Risk of Explosion or Fire. It might be surprising, but laboratory work environments are often at high risk of experiencing an accidental explosion or fire. Chemicals may be stored in the laboratory under high pressure in canisters, and if something is wrong with the canister it could explode. Also, chemical interactions could produce an explosion or fire, so if two incompatible chemicals are accidentally mixed together, and explosion could result. Labs are also often stocked with a number of electronic devices and lab equipment, and an electrical malfunction in one of these devices or pieces of equipment could cause a fire.
- Exposure to Biological Hazards. Lab workers who work in a biological laboratory space run the risk of being exposed to biological hazards, such as infected blood, dangerous pathogens, and hazardous microbes. Containment is critical when dealing with biological hazards, but sometimes things go wrong. Samples could be mishandled, a container holding a sample could be damaged or broken, or a workspace could be improperly cleaned or not sterilized after being used during the handling a dangerous biological samples.
- Exposure to Sharps. In a laboratory setting, especially a medical laboratory setting, laboratory workers might be exposed to contaminated “sharps.” “Sharps” are any medical tool that has a sharp or pointed end that is used to cut or puncture skin. Sharps are inherently dangerous because – like their name suggests – they are sharp. But sharps are also extremely dangerous when they are contaminated. If a worker is accidentally cut or punctured by a contaminated sharp, the worker could be exposed to whatever biological hazards are on the contaminated sharp. The sharp could be contaminated with an infectious disease, blood, or other biological materials, which can be transmitted to the worker who accidentally cut or punctured him or herself.
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Workers Who Are Exposed to Chemicals
Workers in a variety of industries are exposed to chemicals that are potentially hazardous. Some examples of workers who are routinely exposed to chemicals during the normal course of performing their job include:
- Laboratory workers;
- Chemical manufacturers;
- Shipyard workers;
- Oil rig operators;
- Water and sewer treatment workers;
- Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians; and
- Janitorial workers who have to use caustic cleaning supplies.
Chemicals can harm workers in a number of ways. Not only are there a number of different means by which a chemical substance can cause harm to a worker (i.e., inhalation, accidental ingestion, accidental skin exposure, etc.), but the types of injuries that chemical exposures can cause are also varied. Some common chemical exposure injuries workers suffer include:
- Irritation (skin, lung, eye, etc.);
- The development of a skin rash;
- Chemical burns to the skin, eyes, airways, etc.;
- Sensitization or desensitization;
- Inhalation injuries;
- Dermal injuries due to chemical burns on the skin;
- The development of cancer;
- The development of benign tumors;
- Neurological damage;
- Brain damage; and
Injuries that are caused by chemicals are often long-lasting. Chemical burns to the skin and airway tissues often produce serious scars during healing, that can be disfiguring. This can cause an injured worker to suffer psychological harm (i.e., due to disfiguring facial scarring from chemical exposure) or physical difficulty breathing (i.e., if lung tissue and other airways are so severely damaged by exposure to chemicals that scarring forms, making breathing more difficult).
Protections for Workers Exposed to Chemicals
The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide workers with safety protocols, safety equipment and proper and regular training to ensure that workers are not exposed to undue risk when it comes to handling chemicals in the workplace. Some of these regulations include:
- OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits. OSHA prescribes certain chemical exposure limits that are considered safe for workers. While there is a general industry standard of OSHA permissible exposure limits, there are also special standards for marine terminals, longshoring, shipyard employment and construction.
- Access to Appropriate Safety Equipment. Workers are to be provided with the appropriate safety equipment and personal protective gear for the chemicals that they are handling. This could include protective clothing, gloves, eye protection, respirators, etc. and access to the appropriate equipment necessary to handle the chemicals safely, such as a ventilated hood rated for the type of chemical used or adequate fans to produce sufficient airflow in the chemical handling area. Employers are required to train their employees on the proper and effective use of the safety equipment and personal protective gear.
- Hazardous Material Regulations. There are a number of regulations concerning hazardous materials that employers must follow. For instance –
- Inspections of chemical containers, such as compressed gas cylinders, must be conducted regularly.
- Flammable liquids must be labeled and handle in a particular way.
- Chemicals are required to be labeled with their safety indications, and material data sheets are to be made available to employees.
On the Job Chemical Exposure and Workers’ Compensation
Despite there being laws in place to protect workers from chemical exposure injuries while on the job, countless workers are harmed by chemicals every year. The exposure might be due to a workplace accident, or because a safety protocol was inappropriate, or because inadequate safety equipment or personal protective gear was provided to the worker. Whatever the case may be, a worker who is injured on the job by chemicals can seek workers’ compensation for his or her workplace chemical exposure injuries.
A workers’ compensation claim can be filed for worker injuries due to on the job chemical exposure, but it is important that workers report their injury to their employer as soon as possible after the exposure occurs, but not later than thirty days after the exposure. After reporting the chemical exposure, workers have up to a year to file their workers’ compensation claim.
As a general rule, workers’ compensation in Georgia is not based on fault, with limited exceptions. This means that the employer could be at fault for the worker’s chemical exposure (e.g., employer provided inadequate safety equipment or protective gear for the worker’s use), or the worker could be at fault for the exposure (e.g., worker accidentally knocked over a container of the chemical and experienced an accidental exposure).
In some situations where exposure to the chemical is due to the worker’s willful negligence or wildly inappropriate behavior, the worker’s workers’ compensation claim might be denied. For instance, a worker who suffers chemical exposure on the job while high on drugs, or drunk, may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers: Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyers When You Need Them
Employees who work at a laboratory and are injured while on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If you have been injured while working in a laboratory in Atlanta, you need to speak with an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you are able to after your work-related accident or injury. Please feel free to contact the dedicated workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers to discuss your workplace accident or injury. We are ready and available to help you get the workers’ compensation benefits that you need.