Individuals in Pennsylvania work in a wide variety of industries, many of which involve physical labor, such as construction, transportation and manufacturing. Unfortunately, occupational injuries and illnesses are not uncommon for many of these industries. Reducing the risk of onsite injuries requires cooperation from both employees and employers. While employees should follow safety protocols, it is an employer’s responsibility to create safe working conditions and provide workers’ compensation benefits. Employers must also provide personal protective equipment, which may reduce exposure to things that cause illnesses and injuries. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania had a higher-than-average rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2018. The national incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses for private companies in 2018 was 2.8 cases per 100 workers. In the same year, the incidence rate in Pennsylvania was 3.2 cases per 100 workers. BLS data also indicates that the most common causes of occupational illness and injuries vary by industry. For example, laborers and material movers have high incidence rates of injuries from overexertion or contact by an object. Transportation workers, such as truck drivers, are more likely to sustain injuries from same-level falls and roadway incidents. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that PPE may minimize the risk of serious illnesses and injuries by reducing exposure to workplace hazards. For example, protective gloves and respirators may help protect individuals from risks associated with workplace chemicals. Safety glasses and hard hats may protect workers from injuries caused by falling objects. Earplugs may reduce the hearing loss caused by exposure to loud machinery. OSHA states that it is an employer’s responsibility to provide workers with PPE that is sufficient for workplace conditions and that fits well. Employers should also train workers in using PPE and monitor job sites to ensure safe conditions.