On June 3, 1991, the Colorado Department of Health (CDH) was notified of a work-related burn sustained by a 20-year-old employee of a fast-food restaurant. The employee had been following the restaurant's standard procedure for cleaning exhaust filters located approximately five feet above a deep fryer. She had placed a wooden cover over three of the fryer's four bins, all four of which contained hot grease; no cover was available for the fourth bin. While standing on a chair she had placed on the wooden cover to reach and remove the filters, she fell, sustaining second- and third-degree burns over 10% of her body when she immersed her arm and shoulder in the hot grease contained in the uncovered fourth bin. She was hospitalized for 4 days and later required plastic surgery for scarring.(1)
Imagine that you’re a supervisor at a construction site, in a state where marijuana is legal. As you begin the day, you notice that one of your employees, Mike, doesn’t look like himself. His eyes are red, and he’s moving more slowly than usual. You think he might be under the influence of marijuana. Mike operates heavy machinery, and you’re worried about his and others’ safety. To play it safe, you follow company policy, have Mike get a urine test, and send him home until the test comes back three days later.
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When we think of workplace injuries, we often think of accidents—unexpected events where someone gets hurt. The danger of workplace hearing loss is that it can be so gradual that we don’t even know it’s happening. While it’s natural to be startled at an abrupt, loud noise, we can learn to ignore more consistent exposure, like a loud work area. Certain solvents and chemicals can also cause or lead to hearing loss. Impaired hearing can lead to reduced awareness, concentration, and fatigue, all of which can lead to greater risk of injury.