Companies Behaving Badly – Groundhog Day

There are some movies that come along and are just destined to become all time classics and then there are movies that are directly tied to specific times of the year and you know when that season arrives it’ll be shown over and over.  One of my favorite seasonal guilty pleasures is Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.  I can watch it every time it’s played.  What makes this movie appealing for me is that each and every morning Bill awakes to another opportunity to correct the previous made mistakes in his pursuit of happiness.  Yea, at times his intentions are questionable but imagine being able to re-do a scene in your life so the outcome would be completely different!  This would be awesome when it came to workplace safety as workers wouldn’t have to bother with machine guards and worry about amputations.  Employees would not have to bother with wearing tethers and using guard rails to prevent falling to their death since all they would have to do is wait until the clock radio alarm woke them again at 6 a.m.  However, as we all know, this is not the case and when you cut your fingers off they’re gone forever and when some one dies, that original masterpiece is gone forever.  With those thoughts in mind, this unfortunately is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Credit Courtesy Jon Rongey

Credit Courtesy Jon Rongey

Year After Cell Tower Climber Fell, Question Remains: Who To Blame? – PREVENTABLE – Mike Rongey, a 32 year old who was a seasoned climber and had a great love for the outdoors, died a year ago when he fell to his death from a cell phone tower.  This is a sad story about trusting equipment and lack of blame that I can’t do justice to in a synopsis here.  It’s something you must read for yourself and I strongly suggest that you take the few minutes to do so.

Death of New Bedford worker under investigation – PENDING – When Victor Gerena, a 35 year old man left home to work the night shift at Sea Watch International Seafood Company he had no idea it would his last day on earth.  While flushing out a shucking machine, something he’s probably done night after night he must have been quite surprised when the rotary turbine engine started up and entangled him.  It took the Fire Department responders an hour to free his body from the dismantled machine.  I am going to guess that LOTO (Lock Out Tag Out) procedures were not followed which is a shame since taking those few minutes to LOTO the equipment could have saved Mr. Gerena’s life.  According to MassCOSH, 22 people have died crushed in machinery since 2000, mostly because of inadequate safety measures.

3 workers hurt in S.F. scaffolding collapse – PREVENTABLE – A makeshift scaffolding, that lacked proper permits in addition to violating safety codes, collapsed sending all three workers to the hospital with 2 of them suffering life threatening injuries.  The scaffolding that was nothing more than a wooden platform nailed into the side of the house, broke, plummeting the workers 25 feet onto a hard concrete surface below.  As if the scaffolding wasn’t enough to try and kill the workers, they were in the process of removing roof tiles that contained asbestos of which none of the workers had a permit to do nor the proper training. What kind of low life individual takes advantage of people who are trying to feed their families and knowingly puts them in harms way?  In this case his name is Robert Dolan.

J.B. Stamping cited by US Labor Department’s OSHA
after inspection finds 21 violations at Cleveland metal stamping facility
This inspection was instigated by a complaint from an employee and based on the following comment it’s no wonder. “It’s unacceptable that J.B. Stamping Inc. failed to ensure adequate guards were placed on machinery. This could cause serious injury to workers,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “Companies must implement safeguards, create a culture of safety and provide workers with adequate training for the hazards that exist in their facilities.”  Included in the 20 serious violations were several electrical issues, lack of machine guarding on flywheels, belts and sprocket assemblies as well as several power press violations.  Nothing like the fear of amputation to keep you focused on the job.

OSHA Hits NE GA Company with 12 Violations – PREVENTABLE Again, an employee of Barrette Outdoor Living, Inc. felt that his safety was being compromised in the workplace and filed a complaint to get OSHA to inspect the facility.  It turned out the company didn’t provide training on hearing protection, require PPE by those handling corrosive chemicals, develop a written hazard communication program for chemicals, bother with a noise monitoring program, provide an eye wash station or equipment guarding as some of the violations adding up to 12 total.  Now there’ll be lingering bad feelings between management and the workers because the company wanted more profits at the workers expense.  A good honest conversation on safety between the two groups could have avoided all this.

Chicago Company Allegedly Put Workers at Risk from Cave-Ins – PREVENTABLEPan-Oceanic Engineering, Co. was hit with $105,600 in fines for allegedly exposing workers to trenching hazards.  Workers were found operating in a trench that was more that 8 feet deep with NO cave-in protection provided at all!  On top of this they were also hit with two repeat violations that were associated with trenching.  Did you know that in a trench cave-in you usually die from suffocation.  Slowly, agonizingly die as you struggle and fight to get a breath of air that never comes.  I personally don’t understand why you expose workers to this?  Sure you might get away with it a few times but can you live with that guilt for the rest of your life on that one time your luck ran out?

Teen Challenge Facing Nearly $229,000 in OSHA Fines for Safety Violations – PREVENTABLE Teen Challenge of Florida, Inc. a nonprofit rehabilitation program who’s mission is to help people was hit with 25 safety and health violations at it’s Pensacola facilities following an employee complaint. Apparently one of the young men there didn’t want to begin his new life with a limb amputation.  While these young men struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism and other life issues were trying to get themselves back on track they were exposed to amputation hazards, severe electrical hazards, tripping hazards, uncertified forklift drivers and more.  Very confusing message indeed.

Grimes Warehousing Services Celebrates 3 Years of Safe Days – AWESOME ACHIEVEMENT –  GRIMES Warehouse Services reached an significant safety goal on January 23rd 2014.  They went 3 years without a lost time accident in the warehouse.  This demonstrates that when the company, it’s management teams and employees work together a safe workplace can be achieved.

Injured warehouse worker awarded $12 million – WAS ALL PREVENTABLE – Kenneth McGowan received the award after being hit with a 1,000 pounds of dog food that fell 20 feet, in the head, neck and back, breaking 18 bones in his spine and paralyzing him from the chest down.  17 days earlier the warehouse operations manager sent an email warning employees to stop loading racks from the back side due to danger to workers below.  Sadly the message didn’t get to the floor in time to prevent this.  

Safety Break for Oregon – INFO – Heads up Companies in Oregon. Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) is encouraging employers across Oregon to promote safety and health in their workplace during Safety Break for Oregon on Wednesday, May 14. Employers can participate by hosting a safety training, award recognition event, or hands-on demonstrations.

OSHA releases memo on classification of combustible dusts under revised Hazard Communication Standard – INFO – OSHA has issued a memo to provide guidance around new combustible dust classification. Suggested reading for those generate dust.  By the way, do you have your Hazard Communication program in place?

That folks, brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you for stopping by and please don’t hesitate to share these stories at your next tailgate/toolbox safety meeting.  Remember, you are an original masterpiece that took years to grow, educate and develop to the point you’re at now.  Don’t let anyone put you in a position where you jeopardize that masterpiece, just to save a few dollars and a few minutes that could have consequences of guilt lasting for a life time.  Be a safety advocate a your place of work.  Be active on the safety committee and if there isn’t one where you work, start one!  The life you save may be your own.  Until next month….

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