In another time, long before the world of political correctness descended upon the land, April Fool’s Day was a day that you were pretty much given license to do whatever and to whomever you wanted in a merciless assault of pranks, hoaxes and practical jokes that was unleashed on your co-workers, friends and family. From covering toilet tops with plastic wrap to putting food dye in the soap dispenser to listing a neighbor’s house up for rent, the hardest thing to do is keeping a straight face as your victims react. The jokes from my childhood will always be classic to me, putting cooties or spider on a girl’s blouse, ringing door bells and running away. There was also no caller I.D. then either, so you could ask the local grocer if they had Prince Albert in a can or go catch the refrigerator that was running. When did this annual embrace of immaturity and nonsense start? No one is really sure but there are two theories that seem to have the majority of believers. One has to do with the changing of when New Year’s was celebrated as those who now partied on January 1st, the hipsters of medieval times, poked fun of and pulled pranks on the old timers who still celebrated it on March 25-April 1st. Sounds like society. Another theory is it started during Constantine’s time when court jesters and fools insisted they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine allowed one jester, Kugel to be king for a day who then passed an edict for april fools day celebration and it stuck. What ever the origin, it appears it’s here to stay. One classic, in 1957 the BBC broadcasted a story on the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest showing farmers harvesting the pasta from trees. The BBC was flooded with requests on where to purchase a spaghetti plant and they finally had to come clean that it was a prank. I myself woke up today to front page headlines proclaiming that there were no more industrial accidents occurring! No amputations, no falls, all machines had guards in place, LOTO was practiced religiously and no employees were killed from management’s neglect while everyone was wearing the latest and greatest in PPE…April Fool! So that must mean, unfortunately this is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
OSHA finds company at fault for worker’s death – PREVENTABLE – A 42 year old worker believed his employer, Jack Smiley Plaster Company would provide proper scaffolding to protect him from falling while performing his task of applying stucco to a building. He fell about 19 feet to his death due to the scaffolding not being properly built and Jack Smiley was hit with 5 violations including one willful. A willful violation is issued when the employer intentionally, knowingly or voluntarily disregard requirements, or have an indifference to worker safety and health. A bureaucratic way to say they couldn’t care less and this landed them on the OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program and proposed fines of $57,000. Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry and you can help stop this. Notice how pilots walk around their planes before getting in and taking off. Be a pilot. When you arrive on the scene before you climb that scaffolding, check it out and make sure it’s put together correctly. If it’s loose, don’t go up and look where your safety harness ties off? Afraid the foreperson will get angry….it’s your life not his. As far as I’m concerned, a willful act that gets a person killed, that person who committed the willful act should be in prison.
Coroner: Schuylkill Haven man died of blunt force trauma – PREVENTABLE – Terry Lee Warner, 66 of Schuylkill Haven was employed at Classtex Knitting Mills, Inc. in the receiving department where he unloaded trucks and also served as a mechanic. When Terry Lee woke up for work on this chilly Thursday morning he had no idea or belief he wouldn’t be coming home that evening. Indications are Terry was killed by blunt force trauma to the torso caused when he was struck by a tractor trailer that was backing into the loading dock. He somehow found himself caught between the fence and the truck as his body was found next to a broken fence on the driver’s side of the rig. There is NO reason to be behind a truck whether it’s idle (you don’t know when it’ll begin to move) or backing up. If you do need to direct a backup make sure the driver knows where you are at all times. Stop and tell him that to his face and then make sure to maintain eye contact with him at all times. Don’t assume the driver is always paying attention and looking for you.
OSHA proposes $117,000 in penalties for ConAgra violations – PREVENTABLE – Here we are again, with a company, this time it’s ConAgra Foods, who’s expecting their workers to meet their daily production goals yet keeps putting up roadblocks to their efforts by exposing them to unnecessary hazards like machines lacking guards and exposure to falls greater than 7 feet high, which by the way both are also repeat violations. In fact OSHA found a total of 13 violations with 3 repeat and 10 serious which then begs the question how can employees take a company seriously that they’re watching out for them when hazards to workers are tolerated and not repaired? You can’t do a very good job when you’re having to continually dance around hazards.
Telecommunication Towers Claim More Lives: Two Workers Dead in Kansas – PREVENTABLE – How many more Tower workers have to die before something is done? Martin Powers, a 38 year old husband and father from St. Charles, Mo. and Seth Garner, a 25 year old son and brother from St. Peters, Mo. are the two latest victims in what’s become a death toll spiraling out of control as 6 have perished so far this year in Telecommunication towers following 13 deaths last year. This is totally unacceptable and it’s time to stop and take a serious long look at how and what we’re doing to protect workers as we fill our need for cell service across the country.
Worker Trapped in Hot Asphalt Nets OSHA Fine for Florida Company – PREVENTABLE – L.O.T.O. is one of the easiest safety rules to follow yet companies seem not to have the time for it and prefer “chance” instead. Atlantic Coast Asphalt, a part of Hubbard Construction Company ignored permit required confined space entry and LOTO procedures that resulted in an employee being severely burned as hot liquid began to fill the tank he was working in and then it took 8 hours to remove him. For their lack of attention to detail and not bothering to check all hazards were identified, documented, measured and controls put in place prior to the employee entering the space, OSHA has cited Atlantic Coast Asphalt $63,360. Don’t crawl into any confined space until you make sure that LOTO has been performed on all pipes or conveyors leading to your space. Don’t take anyones word not to worry about it. The life you save, will be your own.
Roofing Material Manufacturer Cited by OSHA – PREVENTABLE – At the Harvey, La. facility of Minerals LLC. they also seem to rely on “chance” as their safety model as well as a means to save money by not training or protecting its workers for confined spaces and L.O.T.O. So they were hit with 11 violations total including failure to protect workers from high noise levels, forklift driver training in addition to the LOTO and confined space. The one repeat violation was for failing to conduct annual inspections of the company’s LOTO procedures. It’s a shame that a company would have so little regard for the health and safety of its workers because profits were more important than human life.
Man dies on rig site in Dunn County: OSHA investigated 37 workplace deaths in Oil Patch since 2010 – PREVENTABLE – Deadwood, South Dakota of the 1870’s old west was a dangerous place to be but it has nothing on the new oil fields of the Dakotas as 37 workers have died there in 4 years. That’s right, it averages about 9 deaths per year in the one area, like a serial killer. The latest victim, 32 year old Kristopher Barnes who leaves behind a wife and 3 children was struck by a traveling block and later died from injuries. So you know it is one of the five most common oilfield safety hazards along with fall hazards, electrical fires and explosions. There should be a outrageous indignation that these young men are going off the these new fields and dying because these greedy companies are putting safety and training in as an after thought, if at all.
Mine safety quietly cut in House budget bill – BAD MESSAGE – With no explanation and little discussion, the House budget bill passed this month slashed Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposals for mine safety by nearly $2.3 million a year, raising concerns among safety advocates that there might not be enough money to conduct required inspections. This is very sad news as the mining companies will take this as a sign that they can cut corners on safety. I would love to see this politicians get up off their brains and spend a few hours in a mine shaft operating equipment and see if they still feel the same afterwards. Write your politicians and ask why?
Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Issues Guidance on Recordkeeping Duties for Temporary Workers – HELP FOR TEMPS – OSHA has issued new guidelines on recordkeeping and other responsibilities for temporary employees which is great since many are suffering serious or fatal injuries their first days on the job. Enforcement, outreach and training will all be key to keeping temps safe.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry Files Letter Against OSHA’s Silica Rule Proposal – OSHA Begins Long Silica Public Hearing – DEBATE – The new debate going on now is the new levels of Silica exposure in the OSHA rule proposal. The Governor of Texas has filed a letter against the new proposal. Read what’s going on so you may decide for yourself. Remember at one time asbestos was not considered a hazard either.
That my friends brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for stopping by and taking time out of your busy day to read. Please feel free to share these stories at your next safety meeting or safety tailgate/toolbox gathering. Workplace safety is just as much your responsibility as it is for management and the company. Before you enter a confined space, perform maintenance on a piece of equipment, work on a elevated platform or drive a forklift make sure you check it out first and make sure it is safe. Don’t assume it’s O.K. Remember NO ONE can make your perform an unsafe act on the job. If you feel you’re being pressured to do so, get your union representative or H.R. person and talk to them. Become a safety advocate and be part of the safety committee. The life you save may be your own.