Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He was so right and that’s why he’s one of my favorite forefathers, well that and he was an awesome party animal. So today (April 15) is the day those of us living and working in the U.S.A. must file or extend filing because somewhere along the line some bureaucrat decided it was time for all of us to help pay for the upkeep of the country, (apparently not everyone was picking up after themselves). In fact the first income tax started in 1862 to support the Union in the Civil War but was ended 10 years later in 1872. Imagine those parties. Then the concept was brought back in 1894 but was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court the next year. Imagine those parties! However as we’re all aware The Federal Income Tax is permanent and here to stay after Delaware became the 36 state needed to ratify the 16th amendment on February 3, 1913 and here we are. The people who enjoy tracking these things, the Tax Foundation tells us that we have to work 111 days just to earn enough to pay our taxes and they have declared April 21st Tax Freedom Day. I’m paraphrasing here, they may take our lives and our money but they’ll never take our tax freedom day. Getting back to Mr. Franklin’s quote about nothing can be said to be certain. One item Ben wasn’t aware of but I can be certain about is at least ten people will die on the job today either due to their own fault or negligence by their employer which is sad that human life has taken a back seat to corporate profits. With that thought in mind, this unfortunately is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
Company fined for worker’s death at St. Paul Saints ballpark site – PREVENTABLE – Johnny Valek a 61 year old from Plymouth, was looking forward to his retirement after 25+ years of experience working in deconstruction and building demolition and he was also very excited about his daughter’s upcoming wedding, when on this day while working on site, a section of concrete collapsed onto the cab of his backhoe and crushed him to death. Rachel Contracting, the subcontractor he was working for was hit with three safety violations for not doing preparatory operations, not to remove walls and masonry sections until above floors were removed and continuing inspections to detect hazards which are the alleged violations totaling $51,650. Johnny had trusted they were doing their job as well as he did his.
Northern Minnesota worker caught in rising door, killed – PREVENTABLE – A 41 year old male resident of Fosston and long time employee of Bagley Hardwood Products was killed when his jacket became entangled on a door roughly 40′ W x 20′ H when it started opening up lifting him and then stopping halfway up. By time emergency personnel arrived it was too late to save him. This unfortunate accident is an example of why you always need to be aware of your surroundings when on the job, even going to and from breaks you have to pay attention! Wear appropriate clothing, PPE and don’t leave apron strings, jackets, sleeves dangling when near moveable machinery.
OSHA Alleges 45 Willful Violations by NY Real Estate Developer, Issues $2.3M in Fines – PREVENTABLE – Olivet Management LLC, of Wingdale, N.Y. is a real estate development and management company has demonstrated they have no problem treating workers as disposable like a used tissue. They allegedly had NO problem exposing it’s own employees as well as the workers of 13 contractors to asbestos and lead hazards during the cleanup of an old facility that they were fully aware existed. They not only didn’t tell anyone about the hazards but also provided no training, no monitoring of exposure levels, no respiratory protection and didn’t post notices, warning signs or labels about the presence of asbestos and lead because all that would have cut into their precious profits and they probably figured in the 20 -30 years it takes for these workers to began developing health issues no one could tie it to them. Luckily someone complained to OSHA and for their contempt of human life Olivet Management was hit with 45 willful violations for a total of $2.36 million in fines. That’s a good size fine, but if found at fault their executives should be doing jail time as well.
State slams glass factory with record safety fine – PREVENTABLE – Pilkington North America’s Glass Factory in Shelbyville was hit with a record state fine of $495,500 which could have been avoided if they had listened to state inspectors and cared about their workers. They first caught the attention of IOSHA when a worker was killed in 2010 and were issued several orders to fix safety issues. Pilkington demonstrated their commitment to safety when a follow up inspection in 2012 found violations persisted when another worker was injured. The issues ranged from workers exposure to pinch points or places where they can become trapped or crushed to inadequate warning signs and employee training. Nothing like a company that cares about it’s workers.
Fabric Facility Cited by OSHA Following Worker Hand Injuries – PREVENTABLE – Precision Custom Coatings LLC is another company that doesn’t understand that their employees are their biggest asset, and are in no rush to correct any safety issues that may harm their workers as they were at fault for alleged repeat and willful violations. OSHA became involved when two employees were injured with one having his hand crushed and another had a partial amputation of the hand. The company didn’t have proper guarding of machinery to protect them from rotating parts and portable grinder, lack of forklift training, lack of danger tags and lack of midrail on aerial lift platform are just a few of the gems. If they were in place, the accidents wouldn’t have happened and OSHA never would have come in, but now they face a $185,400 fine and could never put a price on loss of employee trust.
No culture of safety at NJ Transit, union official says – PREVENTABLE – The leadership of a company is where the type of corporate culture is handed down. If the leadership has no morals, then the company in general will be underhanded and backstabbing. If the leadership couldn’t care less about safety, then no one else down the line will and if you do want to take a stand on safety, be warned, it’ll be like trying to swim upstream on Niagara Falls. The N.J. transit system according to a union official said, it’s a culture where an on-time train is better than a safe train. However I do have an issue with the following statement, “We just go about our work every day and we’re not told anything — nobody ever talks to us about safety,” Michael J. Reilly, general chairman with the United Transportation Union, said during the monthly NJ Transit board meeting in Newark. My issue is the union could have begun the discussion of safety among it’s members and safety committees could have been formed as they could have filled the void of offering leadership and begin solving the issue.
Fatal fireworks warehouse explosion causes revealed – PREVENTABLE – The report is in from Quebec’s workplace health and safety board on the possible causes of the explosion at a Coteau-du-Lac fireworks warehouse that killed 2 workers last year. Use of electric equipment not suitable for that environment, use of ferrous iron tools, presence of pieces of previously primed fireworks, discharge of static electricity, friction on a pyrotechnic device’s fuse. They also found workers used wooden cases of fireworks as stepping stools and that could have caused an explosion as well. The cause may never be found, but it stands to reason the poor safety culture helped.
Gas Workers Risk Silica Exposure – ARTICLE – As we rush to find alternative sources of cheap energy within our own boarders are we looking at the whole picture? Let’s hope politics and thirst for profits won’t prevent people from harm. Read the article.
W.Va. Governor Signs Storage Tank Safety Bill – REALLY? – It’s nice that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed legislation imposing new safeguards on above-ground storage tanks and water systems, but doesn’t matter if you don’t bother enforcing the laws. There were laws on the books to prevent some of the issues that occurred last year so I guess the best way to deal with a disaster is make new laws. You can make all the laws you want but if they’re not enforced the laws are worthless. And the chemical industry wants to self regulate themselves…yea right.
Canada safety board urges faster phase-out of old rail tankers – PROACTIVE – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada renewed its call for the speedy phase-out of older oil-by-rail cars in light of last summer’s inferno that killed 47 people. Why wait for another tragedy?
Temporary Workers, Risky Situations – ARTICLE – OSHA is really working hard to keep temporary workers from being temporary on this planet as accidents of these workers are getting out of hand. Great article you should read especially if you hire seasonal temporary workers.
Removable Retaining Walls for Conveying – PRODUCT – No tools needed and easy to get inside. Check it out.
That my friends brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for stopping by and spending time reading these stories. Please don’t hesitate to share these articles at your next tailgate/toolbox meeting. Safety at a company doesn’t always have to start at the top and trickle down. It should also begin at the bottom and grow it’s way up like a vine. A safety culture is more than talk or cute commercials telling the world you’ve found safety and will continue to do it. As your have read even an expert can be injured or killed on the job but usually due to a breakdown in the chain of trust between people. Make sure you’re all on the same page of safety, get it done and go home and enjoy your family. If your company doesn’t have a safety committee, start one! Be an advocate for safety for the life you safe may be your own. Take care and be safe.
There will be NO May 1st edition of Companies Behaving Badly but will be back May 15th.