I was very lucky as a school child, I learned at one of the greatest educational institutions in the world, (at that time it was), the New York City Public Schools. In addition to the great teachers I had we also got to take some great field trips; the Bronx Zoo, Museum of Natural History, The Planetarium, Museum of Modern Art (mona lisa), Museum of the American Indian, The New York World’s Fair 1964, Polo grounds (Houston Colt 45’s vs NY Mets) and Washington, D.C. Also back then, when February came around we knew we had two holidays that would require arts & craft activities as well as days off from school. To meet our Feb. 12th deadline, came the drawings of log cabins and honest Abe’s stovepipe hat along with a school play in the auditorium. Then a week and a half later Feb. 22 brought drawings of cherry trees and axes titled, “I can not tell a lie” followed by another assembly where 6th graders danced the minuet as George and Martha. It was a different time and there was none of this pooling of Presidential birthdays the 3rd Monday of the month, you took your chances on what days it fell on. I know things change, times change, thanks for the sentiment old timer but this is 2014 after all. Change can be good or bad, but unfortunately one thing that hasn’t changed, Companies Behaving Badly and this is another edition.
OSHA: Serious safety violations led to explosion that killed worker at Canastota wastewater plant – PREVENTABLE –Richard C. “Rick” Whitney Jr. a 58 year old who enjoyed sports, lingered in extreme agony for 3 days before finally succumbing to the third degree burns over most of his body. He had trusted that his employer, Joy Process Mechanical Inc. of East Syracuse and M. Hubbard Construction Inc. of Mottville who hired them would take all precautions to ensure his safety on the job. Unfortunately they both let him down and he paid dearly for their neglect and lack of attention to safety and the wellbeing of their employees. This death did not have to happen!
OSHA Fines Company $697K in Machine Guarding Fatality – PREVENTABLE – Another young man, 32 years of age was killed on the job when he entered a wire mesh manufacturing machine to retrieve a fallen metal bar. He did this because he trusted his employer, Wire Mesh Sales, LLC of Jacksonville, Florida to have a working light curtain that would automatically turn off the machine before he could enter. His trust got him killed as the safety device that would have prevented this accident was disabled, and this in addition to the 8 per-instance willful violations and 22 serious were found at the company. This has earned the company a spot on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program and $697,700 in fines. Seeing the financial penalty this high is nice but I personally think the person who gave the O.K. to disable the safety mechanism should go to jail. Should be routine to check that all safety features are fully operational wherever you work and if it’s not, ASK WHY?
Flavoring Company Cited After Worker Is Severely Burned – PREVENTABLE – Carol Callahan, doing business as Natural Advantage was cited for 19 serious violations found after an inspection prompted by an employee getting badly burned. The injured employee and his fellow workers trusted the company to make sure they were able to work in a safe environment, however the company overexposed them to methylene chloride, failed to provide appropriate respirators and failed to implement a program to detect chemical leaks or ANY related training. This may cost the company up to $91,000 in fines but you could never put a price on the lost trust of the employees. Learn about what’s going on in your work environment and the chemicals being used.
OSHA report on Blue Rhino propane plant paints troubling picture – PREVENTABLE – Despite claims early on by Tavares city officials about how they trusted the safety program at the Blue Rhino plant, an investigation by OSHA after an explosion at the plant, shows a totally opposite culture where safety was consistently ignored and found 26 violations including 20 serious ones. In OSHA’s opinion it was the combination of these safety infractions that caused the explosion and sent 8 workers to the hospital as Blue Rhino not only failed to prevent propane being leaked into the environment but allowed workers to vent it into the atmosphere, they were allowed to sandblast canisters that still contained small amounts of gas while forklifts operated nearby. The company leadership not only didn’t have procedures for handling an emergency in place but didn’t bother to educate the workers on how to identify let alone deal with an emergency! They also didn’t bother training on tank filling warnings, checking the valves or for leaks or required PPE. A place totally out of control and allowed to continue like Justin Bieber on a night on the town. Leadership was nonexistent leadership. To bad there weren’t any adults around. If you begin a job and they just point you to work with NO training what so ever, find another job. You’ll probably live longer.
OR-OSHA Cites Company for the Seventh Time – PREVENTABLE – For whatever reason, the management at Bravo’s Construction Services of Woodburn, Oregon is not getting the message from Oregon OSHA on fall protection for employees as they were cited for the 7th time since February 2013. They also didn’t bother to hold regular safety meetings to educate workers on the dangers involved with construction. I don’t understand how you trust a company who puts you directly into the path of danger like that and why they haven’t been shut down and cease to operate even less.
OSHA cites Thomson automotive parts manufacturer, staffing agency for safety violations – PREVENTABLE – H.P. Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc along with the staffing agency, Sizemore Inc. have been hit with 22 safety violations totalling $207,100. Apparently employees no longer trusted either company to ensure their safety at work as they called in OSHA for help. Pelzer had no problem with continually exposing temporary workers to amputation and laceration hazards as they were also cited in 2008 and 2009 for lack of machine guarding along with 11 total violations while the temporary agency didn’t bother to train workers on handling formaldehyde. By demonstrating this total lack of concern for employee safety they really were really trying to make employees temporary. Temporary employees are not a disposable lower class of citizen in this country. They are human beings just like regular workers and management and shown the same respect.
Philadelphia Macaroni cited by US Labor Department’s OSHA; fines total more than $75,000. – PREVENTABLE – Philadelphia Macaroni was inspected under OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting Program that directs its resources to workplaces with the highest injury/illness rates, (what does that tell you) which is a good thing as they found 13 alleged violations, 5 of them being repeat. It seems electrical hazards like improper use of electrical equipment, blocked electrical panels, deficient emergency eyewash system and other safety issues weren’t the only assorted breakdowns in trust.
Oregon OSHA releases top workplace safety violations of 2013 – Sobering Data – Sad that the #1 cited safety violation in Oregon for 2013 was also the easiest to avoid! Safety committees and safety meeting violations, which is ridiculous since safety committee rules have been in place for more than 20 years and that Oregon OSHA provides supporting resources and training. It takes 5 minutes to have a safety tailgate or toolbox meeting and can be done weekly using stories like these to make your point. Just Do It.
Pa. Man Paralyzed By Tipped Toilet Prank Gets $5M – PREVENTABLE – A man left paralyzed from the shoulders down when the portable toilet he was in was tipped over has settled his lawsuit. Now granted, this happened between family members but it serves as a good example of why HORSEPLAY should NEVER be allowed in your warehouse or facility. Someone gets hurt from just plain good old fun and next thing you know everyone’s lawyered up! You think you’re being a nice guy for letting it go on and will earn you something? Their lawyer will remember when you’re subpoenaed for a deposition or giving testimony.
That brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for joining me and taking the time to read this blog. Remember to Learn of your rights to having a safe workplace. You are never required to put you life or limb at risk and you should always ask questions especially when dealing with chemicals, machinery or any new process that is put into place. Do I need PPE? Do I need training? What am I handling? If your company can’t give you answers to those questions, call OSHA. The life you save may be your own. Hold safety meetings regularly, be active on the safety committee, listen to feedback from everyone and treat each other with respect. See you all next month.