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The US Department of Labor has reported a drop of about 3.5 cases for 100 workers in 2010 compared to the 3.6 cases per 100 workers in 2009. These numbers translate to 3.1 million injuries reported from the private sector in 2010 from the 3.3 million in 2009.

According to the Labor Secretary, Hinda Solis, the decline was the direct result of the joint efforts of the government, labor unions, business and other organizations to strengthen the safety guidelines enforced in the workplace. But the decrease in the number of injuries from 2009 to 2010, according to Solis, is only the tip of the iceberg. About 3.1 million cases of workers’ compensation claims are still quite high and broader laws need to be implemented to force these numbers farther down.

Injuries in the workplace affect not only the employee but also his immediate family. The inability to work could easily remove his family from the middle class. Children could stop going to school and basic needs would have to be sacrificed just to put food on the table as the head of the household is still recuperating from an injury sustained while on duty. In no case should earning a living be a health risk to workers.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to put more focus on the health care and social assistance industry because this is where most workers’ compensation claims are from. Laborers in the manufacturing and construction industry have the highest rate of injury, regardless of the state. Injuries and illnesses from these industries are at 5.2 cases for every 100 workers. But the fight is not the Department of Labor’s alone; workers and labor unions also take part as well as employers.

Other than improving the safety guidelines of industries, the Department of Labor also stresses on the importance of accurate record keeping. The correct keeping of records will help employers determine a pattern in injuries and illnesses reported by employees and based on the data accumulated, create a more suitable working environment. On the other hand, employees will also benefit from accurate record keeping in the sense that it serves a strong proof to support the validity of their claims. And if their claims are wrongfully denied, they will have a record to hold in court.

The noted decrease in the number of workers’ compensation claims is not significant enough to cause for a celebration. There is much work to be done. If the collaboration of all affected sectors were to continue and new plans for safety in the workplace are implemented, then perhaps we are nearing a future of little to no injuries.

Despite the efforts exerted by the Department of Labor as well as labor unions, private organizations and the like, they are still not enough to help employees who have been wrongfully denied their benefits by insurance agencies. Hence, what is lacking is a control on insurance companies to make sure that employees will be constantly given the benefits that is due them. In any case, workers’ compensation lawyers are there to back employees up in their fight for proper and fair treatment.

People working in noisy areas, such as in manufacturing plants and at construction sites, usually think that the loud noises in their places of work are just part of their jobs. Thus, even though the workers are annoyed by the noises, many of them just resignedly accept the racket as a minor yet permanent disadvantage of having a paying job.

What most people know is that working in a very noisy environment on a daily basis could lead to ear problems and even to slight deafness. However, a recent study from Quebec, Canada suggests that being exposed to too much noise at work could also raise the possibility of the workers getting involved in accidents at work or on the road. Thus, law makers should think about considering noisy workplaces as hazards to the health and the safety of workers.

Researchers from the Université de Montréal, the Université Laval, and the Institute National De Santé Publique du Québec conducted the study with 53,000 workers in Quebec, Canada. Quebec, Canada has 650,000 workers in the field of manufacturing. Many of these workers, particularly those in the industries of metallurgy and sawmilling, work in extremely noisy areas every day.

According to the study, approximately sixty percent of the sample of 53,000 workers experienced noises that have an intensity of about 90 decibels. While the volume level of normal conversation is only 60 decibels, being exposed to noise with a loudness of 90 decibels is equivalent to listening closely to the sounds that a lawn mower or a tractor makes.

Moreover, a great part of North America, including several other Canadian provinces, has a workplace noise norm of 85 decibels. So, anything above 85 decibels is not acceptable and is also damaging to the employees since prolonged sustained exposure to noises that have a loudness of 90 decibels could cause ear problems or even irreversible ear damage.

The study also indicates that workers who had been exposed to noises with the intensity of 90 decibels and above are 6.2 percent more susceptible to have work-related accidents. The risk increases if the worker develops hearing problems because of extended exposure to the noise.

In fact, 5,287 of 43,250 reported work accidents were linked to loud noises in the places of work. The researchers were especially worried because the employees were being exposed to loud noises at a young age, for example early twenties to mid-twenties. By their thirties, these employees would most probably have permanent ear damage.

The researchers also paid special attention to the driving records of 46,000 men who work in noisy workplaces where they were exposed to noises with the loudness of 100 decibels. The researchers discovered that employees who have not developed ear problems yet were six times more prone to having road accidents while employees who already have hearing problems were thirty one times more likely to be involved in car collisions.

Are you having workplace problems or workplace related injuries? Contact us by calling the toll free numbers 1-866-994-1912 or 1-504-891-3303, or by sending a message via electronic mail at johnfoxassociates@cox.net.

Reference: University of Montreal (2009, March 10). Noisy Workplaces Can Make Workers Deaf.ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2009/03/090310155601.htm