November originally began as the 9th month of the year until the Romans bumped it down to 11, but this month is still dear to us as it’s full of special days and begins to take control of our social calendars as we move further into the fall season. It’s also a month that we get to exercise our right to vote and voice our opinion on initiatives and referendums. We also honor our heroes who have defended this great country as well as using this month to spotlight Diabetes awareness, lung cancer awareness, native american heritage and healthy skin. Even with all that, the best thing about this month is we gain an extra hour of sleep. So fluff up that pillow, pull your blanket up tight and please remain in the horizontal position for this is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
Milton firm cited in grain bin death – PREVENTABLE – United Ethanol, LLC was cited for 15 violations after the death of one of their own and it earned them a spot on the OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The company failed to lockout conveyors used to empty the grain bins, which exposed the now-deceased worker to the engulfment hazard which is a willful violation. It would have taken a whole 5 minutes to LOTO the belts but United Ethanol didn’t stop there in tempting fate. They also didn’t bother to guard floor chute openings, prevent exposure to moving grain hazards, prevent workers from entering bins when hazards existed and had NO observer oversee entry procedures. Surprised they didn’t blind fold them first and spin them three times first.
Archbold firm fined $147,600 for 16 alleged safety offenses – PREVENTABLE – Apparently, Napoleon Spring Works, Inc. had no problem exposing employees to amputation hazards by failing to properly guard machinery and then didn’t bother to listen to the employees who had to finally file complaints with OSHA. They found Napoleon Springs in willful violation, which is “committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.” Do you feel the love as well? In addition to the monetary fines maybe the owners and management should be forced to do the job as well, hazards and all and see how they make out. Napoleon Spring Works is a subsidiary of Lynx Industries Inc., based in Canada.
OSHA Cites Sinclair Refinery for $707,000 – PREVENTABLE – If there was a winner, (there are really no winners here) for this month’s worst company behaving badly Sinclair Refinery would take first by pulling in 22 violations and fines totaling over $700,000. Here again, employees had to resort to calling OSHA themselves since they wanted to be able to go home at the end of their shift in one piece and uninjured. The refinery was cited for SIX willful violations and further demonstrated their concern for employees by the SIX Repeat serious violations and TEN new serious violations. I’m sure the refinery management is scratching their heads wondering why someone called in OSHA…DAH!
Mira Loma warehouse fined for unsafe working conditions – PREVENTABLE – Olivet International is another one of those contract warehouses that Walmart and other large companies use so they can turn a blind eye to working conditions while they give you those low, low prices. These contract warehouses are nothing more than sweatshops not unlike those found in Bangladesh and India as the 12 violations found will attest. Blocked fire exits, falling boxes of merchandise, insufficient number of restrooms, no plan in the event of an injury on the job, no effective training on heat exposure or heat illness, blocked aisles and insufficient lighting. Sound familiar? The fines totaled $34,400 which I’m sure will be passed on to consumers as special service charges for the holidays.
OSHA fines Avon co. in death – PREVENTABLE – A young man was crushed to death when a concrete form he was tethered came loose and fell on him. It was found that Diaz Construction Company failed to frequently and regularly inspect the job site and materials and equipment used there including the concrete formwork for stability prior to workers climbing on them. They also didn’t adequately train the employee in the hazards associated with improper anchorage and installation of the formwork systems. If you think they’ve learned from this incident don’t bet on it since they have had 19 violations since 2005. Don’t take safety for granted. Always inspect equipment at the beginning of your shift and don’t assume the previous shift left it in operational condition and report any unsafe conditions immediately.
Employees Feeling Less Safe at Work – INFO – Only 31% of U.S. employees polled believe their workplace is proactive about emergency preparedness. Based on the blurbs above what I have posted in the last few months this is not at all surprising. Remember though, safety is NOT just management’s issue, it’s yours as well. Bring these issues up to management and get a safety committee going. Hazards don’t go away on their own.
OSHA orders Connecticut trucking company owner to pay whistleblowers – INFO – Listen up! This is happening more and more where companies have tried to intimidate and/or punish whistleblowers. OSHA is making sure you don’t get away with it. Be smart, do workplace safety correctly in the first place, listen to your employees and you won’t have to worry about being tattled on.
OSHA Recognizes Cintas Uniform Rental in Lafayette, Louisiana with Highest Safety Designation – APPLAUSE PLEASE – Wow, it can be done! Congratulations to Cintas, Lafayette, Louisiana for demonstrating safety can be done right!
Hand Held Lights For Hazardous Environments – TOOLS – Streamlight, Inc. has added two new safety approved models to its family of Knucklehead flashlights. Check it out.
That concludes this episode of Companies Behaving Badly and I thank you for taking the time to read it. Please feel free to use these stories as topics for your safety meetings/ safety tailgates or toolbox meetings and get a discussion going. The lessons learned here are valuable for reinforcing workplace safety. You have every right to expect to go home in the same condition as you arrived at work. In one piece. No one can order you to risk you life or limb just to save a few minutes or for a few dollars more. One day human life will be the focus instead of profits. Take responsibility for safety and speak up. Help get fellow employees and management involved and form safety committees and begin the discussion before OSHA tells you how.
Be kind to each other.