I’m sure there has been several very significant times over the course of history when people living in that era saw something so new that looked like not of this world, for the first time ever and said, “holy s..t! Is that for real?!” I’m sure it was said when man first discovered fire, when man invented the wheel, the invention of the printing press, the invention of the steam engine, invention of in-house plumbing and bathroom, the first flight, the radio, the personal computer and the power of the Atomic bomb. The A-bomb and I have a long standing relationship as it was something constantly hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles while growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Preparing for the A-bomb had us doing duck and cover drills in school and by the 4th grade I could duck and cover faster than anyone since my wooden desk would protect me from any Russian made mushroom cloud, or so I believed at the time. The movies shown during the Saturday matinees’ only reinforced my A-bomb relationship as the big screen had blamed it for creating such monsters as giant ants to grow in the New Mexico dessert later moving to the sewers of Los Angeles (THEM), The attack of the 50 foot woman, The incredible shrinking man, The beast from 20,000 fathoms, On the beach and how can I forget the incredible, charismatic Godzilla. This source of great energy first exploded onto the scene at 5:29:45 a.m. on July 16th 1945 (code named:Trinity) when all the work of the Manhattan Project came to full fruition in Alamogordo, New Mexico. It was first a great weapon to end the World War but it was also suppose to change how we were going to live and be a new source of energy for our homes, businesses as well as power our flying cars and spaceships to Mars. However except for the threat of mutual world annihilation it has not lived up to it’s potential and the debate still goes on 69 years later. It’s sort of like workplace safety. You know there are times the job can be dangerous with all the moving machine parts, electrical wires and people still say “Holy S–t, is that for real?” when someone does something incredibly stupid with a forklift but they laugh it off. Even though it’s been proven that safe working companies save money while also helping to save human lives, the debate still goes on, is profit more important than human life? So that must mean that this unfortunately is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly. Worker Buried Alive After Sugar Plant Pulls Safety Device – PREVENTABLE – When Janio Salinas woke up on February 25th to go to work at the CSC Sugar warehouse he had no idea it would be the last day of his 50 years on earth. Janio would still be here but the plant manager decided that profits were more important than the life of a temporary worker and ordered the removal of a safety screen the warehouse manager had campaigned for to protect his employees. Sugar clumps were causing stoppages and delaying production to clear them. So instead of tackling the problem of what was causing the clumping of the sugar (moisture) or installing a vibrating screen to break up the clumps the plant manager instead put workers in harms way because it is cheaper to pay the fines as normal part of doing business than pay for the proper solution and it took Janio’s death to see it was the wrong thing to do.
OSHA proposes $14K in fines after roofer death – PREVENTABLE – George Fifield a 51 year old husband, father and grandfather who loved the outdoors fell 9 feet off a roof while removing shingles and died the next day in hospital. The company he worked for, Jared Langley Roofing didn’t provide him with any fall protection gear and they were also cited for the same offense in January 2013 but obviously didn’t learn a thing. OSHA has proposed a $14,000 fine which is not enough. I understand jobs are hard to come by but the fall deaths have to stop and YOU have to start saying NO, not doing the work without the correct PPE. Enough voices together can change how safety is addressed at construction sites.
OSHA Cites R.R. Dawson Bridge Co. Following Worker Fatalities – PREVENTABLE – Yet 2 more construction workers died on the job when they fell 90 feet to their deaths and the following investigation by OSHA found one willful violation. A willful violation means that R.R. Dawson Bridge Company, LLC knew of the dangers for the workers but did absolutely nothing about correcting it. The employees working near the edge of the bridge were not issued required fall protection gear. Every man for themself! The fine of $54,500 is nothing for this loss of human life. Jail time is more appropriate.
Two Ontario worker deaths result in a call for action – PREVENTABLE – Patrick Dillon the Building Trades business manager in Ontario put it well, “We are tragically witnessing a pattern of needless, completely preventable workplace deaths.” Within the span of four days, 2 workers were killed. On June 23 a 22 year old, Sarmad Iskander fell 28 stories at a condominium project in downtown Toronto. Then on June 27 a 46 year old construction worker was struck by a dump truck backing up and killed. These companies need to be held accountable for worker safety and The Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board need to make sure this happens.
OSHA Cites Marietta Co. for Major Violations – PREVENTABLE – Jose M. Hernandez Cruz, doing business as JA Siding Construction Services LLC was found to have 3 repeat violations in addition to the 4 serious violations for a total of $42,240 in proposed fines. Apparently JA Siding didn’t understand when OSHA first brought the violations to their attention in October 2013 for failing to ensure employees working on scaffolding systems more than 10 feet above the ground were protected from falls; to provide workers with fall protection systems; and to secure the scaffolding system to a base structure. The serious violations involved failing to provide eye and face protection; monitor for safe operating pressure for hoses and pipes; and no training for fall hazards. OSHA needs to look at tripling the violation fees for repeat offenses.
Fruit processor fined $135k for worker safety failings – PREVENTABLE – If Fresh From Texas Company the fresh fruit and vegetable processor for H-E-B Grocery stores had taken care of the violations OSHA found in 2012 maybe employees wouldn’t have felt the need to call OSHA to file a complaint. This time they found 12 serious violations and 2 repeat in which the company again failed to ensure sufficient working space around electrical equipment and unobstructed access to fire extinguishers. Some of the serious violations included exposure to hazardous chemicals and high noise levels that could lead to permanent hearing damage in addition to no training and no signage on machines to warn workers. There is no motivation for workers to do a good job when the companies message is “we don’t care if you get hurt or die!” This leads to our next story…..
NIOSH: Lockout/tagout failures cause numerous injuries in food manufacturing – PREVENTABLE – Food manufacturing workers experience a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than workers in private industry according to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH). Failure to do LOTO is one of the easiest things to do to prevent injuries but when you’re under pressure to make your daily production goals management conveniently looks the other way to ensure goals are made. Don’t forget, their bonuses depend on meeting production goals and LOTO is time consuming. Don’t allow this to happen. Always perform LOTO when doing adjustments or repairs on your machine. I worked in a food plant with an employee who thought he was faster than the machine he operated when he tried to clear a jam, didn’t follow procedure and didn’t do LOTO and lost 3 fingers. His reward for trying to save the company time and money was a 5 day suspension and 3 lost fingers. Was it worth it? HELL NO!
OSHA fines Florida contractor $228k – PREVENTABLE – Burgos Construction Corp. was hit with a whopping $228,690 fine for 4 willful, 1 repeat and 2 serious safety violations at four of their work sites in Florida. The willful violations were cited since the employer didn’t provide fall protection for it’s workers at any of the 4 sites which as we’ve said before translates into, they couldn’t care less if an employee fell off a building. They also didn’t provide training on fall hazards which should be no surprise since safety may cut into the profits. OSHA has found numerous violations with this company over the last eight years. The only way to stop this is to shut them down and put the owner in a jail cell for his total contempt for human life and people trying to make an honest living so they may provide for their families.
Oil boom and fracking cause spike in energy industry workplace deaths – PREVENTABLE – The oil boom in the Dakotas and other midwest states may not only be the cause of earthquakes and poisoning the water table but is also causing an extreme number of workplace deaths. This continued greed by a few for today may leave our part of the world in shambles tomorrow and needs a good deep look. We need to stop the killing. You should check out this article by Stephanie Goldberg.
If You Can’t Stand the Heat . . .You’re Not Alone: OSHA Kicks Off its Annual Heat Illness Campaign – PREVENTABLE – It’s that time of year folks. Please make sure your workers are protected from high temperatures. Learn the symptoms of heat stroke and provide plenty of water and shade for workers.
Kitchen Magic Receives Acceptance Into Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program From U.S. Department of Labor – BRAVO – Cheers and congratulations to Kitchen Magic for demonstrating Workplace Safety is achievable especially when all are involved.
That my friends brings yet another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Please feel free to share these stories with your staff and co-workers at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting. Remember, you are just as responsible for safety as is the company. If you see a safety hazard, speak up! If your machine is missing it’s guards, speak up! If your supervisor tells you we don’t have time for LOTO, speak up and tell him to put his hands in there. You can not be forced to perform an unsafe act. If your job is threatened for not complying with an unsafe act call OSHA or call the whistleblower hot line. Silence kills and when you are silent, you are condoning the companies lack of regard for you. Be safe and we’ll see you back here August 1st.