What are you prepared to die for? For Country, freedom, equality? All noble causes but are you willing to die for the company you work for? Is it worth you laying down your life so the company won’t lose the production of 4 or 5 cases of product? How much time do you think is really saved by not doing L.O.T.O. when you need to clear a jam or make adjustments to the equipment. How much time do you think is really saved by not putting on fall protection gear when doing repairs at a great height? Oh sure, you got away with it before, worked in the past and so what if you’ve had a few close calls, just a few nicks, nothing serious and it makes for a great story in the locker room. Then one beautiful sunny day, the production line comes to a screeching halt, people shake their heads in disbelief, others comfort and hug fellow workers as they watch you being wheeled out in a body bag, your luck just ran out. An eerie quiet will settle on the plant as OSHA inspectors look at records, inspect machines and question witnesses while people point fingers at each other, the union, the company and employees reminisce about what a nice guy you were and how you’ll be missed. Between the lost production time investigating your death, the pending OSHA fines, the lawyers, the grief counselors and the wrongful death suit you can see how your efforts over the years to save the company money by not following safety guidelines such as LOTO or wear PPE has paid off. Wow, that sounds like this is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
State fines company for safety violations after workers die in Henrico construction fire – PREVENTABLE – Christian Martoni a 24 year old was probably thinking about Thanksgiving with his fiancee while his co-worker Jason Romanczuk, 37 years old were working together salvaging items in an old printing warehouse for Hadley Construction Company of Pittston, Pennsylvania. Both men had trusted that their employer had inspected the premises for any potential hazards before they began using power tools that created a spark, igniting the chemicals that was mixed with the old printing ink in the pipe causing a flash fire. Christian died the next day while Jason agonized for 5 days before succumbing to his burns. Even though the presence of the hazard was apparent or suspected, Hadley Construction didn’t bother to ensure their workers had a safe environment to work in. They didn’t test or purge or even be bothered with it and now 2 employees are dead along with a $17,880 fine for 8 violations. This is only a slap on the hand with no jail time to prevent future acts of negligence.
OSHA investigating Pilgrim’s Pride fatality – PREVENTABLE – Bobby Joe Beall a maintenance worker at Pilgrim’s Pride in Texas was swapping out a pump when he touched an energized wire and died from electrocution. I hope the investigation doesn’t reveal that L.O.T.O. was not followed or is discouraged so they don’t stop production too long. When ever you work with electricity make sure the power source is off and properly tagged out to let others know you are working on this. If it’s a very old power box and you can’t lock out the lever, pull the damn fuses if necessary.
OSHA Fines Idaho Company After Worker’s Death – PREVENTABLE – Roy Frazier a 53 year old was moving a steel beam with his forklift when it fell on him and killed him. After the accident investigation by OSHA his employer Rule Steel was fined $4,500 for violating rules involving forklift safety. If something isn’t right to you and they tell you it’s o.k. we’ve done it that way before, GO with you gut, don’t do it. Forklifts are not one type fits all situations. There are forks, slip sheet, and clamp forklifts. Use the right one for the right job and also check the manufacturers plate before operating for weight limits. Don’t become a statistic.
Home Depot USA’s Chicago store cited by OSHA for lack of training & other violations – PREVENTABLE – A Chicago area Home Depot USA Inc. was demonstrating their tag line “more saving & more doing” by saving dollars by not training employees on the proper use of powered equipment. Of the 6 citations OSHA found, two were repeat with 1 WILLFUL and 3 serious! That’s right, the home improvement store didn’t care that their own workers were driving a forklift that had no business being in service because of it’s state of disrepair. They were hit with a $110,700 proposed fine. Have a nice day and thank you for coming. In my opinion, the store manager should be fired for allowing this to go on. It’s also confirms my concern about the lack of training for workers in these retail stores and it’s not just Home Depot. I see it in Safeway, Costco and others as employees have no clue on food safety, basic work safety or just how to properly stock a shelf.
Clarkston Co. Cited by OSHA, Exposing Workers – PREVENTABLE – Some companies go for glory by helping people or being environmentally friendly but then there are companies who attain fame by the number of OSHA violations that can be found. Take Rust-Oleum Corporation, doing business as Synta Inc. who was hit with 33 serious health and safety violations by OSHA following up on a complaint from an employee. The employee was smart enough to see full time and temporary workers exposed to crystalline silica dust, amputation and electrical hazards and the improper storage of material and inadequate forklift training. For the love of their workers they were given a proposed fine of $188,500.
Texas Plastics Maker Hit with $174K OSHA Fine – PREVENTABLE – Our runner up (Sterling) this month is Plastic Systems LLC of El Paso, Texas who was cited with 21 violations including 6 repeat ranging from inadequate LOTO procedures to improper equipment maintenance to lack of fire extinguishers and no training to operate them. The total of proposed fines for this accident waiting to happen is $174,240. You do not have to work under these conditions.
OSHA cites Seeler Industries for safety, health violations – PREVENTABLE – Third place (Brass) this month goes to Seeler Industries Inc. who received 19 health and safety violations including 1 WILLFUL after a employee complaint driven inspection by OSHA. The transfer terminal of bulk liquid and dry chemicals didn’t think it was important enough to be bothered to educate their workers on the safe handling and use of hazardous chemicals. All this led to a proposed fine of $134,400. Chemicals are dangerous as they can kill you immediately upon contact or cause health issues 20 years later. Make sure you work and use proper PPE and there should always be a eye wash and shower station nearby.
AB InBev Brewery Cited For Serious Violations – PREVENTABLE – The Clydesdales are not holding their heads to high today as the Anheuser-Busch plant in Columbus, Ohio was cited for 2 repeat and 8 serious violations for a total of $92,400 in proposed fines. A-B was found to have failed to develop procedures for the normal and emergency shutdown and restarting of the ammonia refrigeration systems as well as failed to have plans to handle over pressurization and ammonia release including no proper ventilation system. I suspect the A-B is only addressing this issues as they are caught by OSHA since their plant in Cartersville, Georgia was found to have the same violations in 2010. If they cared they would have done internal procedural fixes after that incident but obviously did not.
AFAM Concept Fined for Repeat, Serious Violations – PREVENTABLE – AFAM Concept Inc. a Chicago based company was found to have 1 repeat and 12 serious violations for a total of 14 after a filed complaint generated inspection by OSHA. For exposing their employees to dangerous machinery, amputation hazards, fall hazards and respiratory hazards they were fined $59,700. They didn’t bother with LOTO or placing guards on machinery or use of fall protection above ten feet. Now you know why the complaint.
Boys Are Reckless, Say Experts – SCIENCE OF ACCIDENTS? – Researchers in the UK claim boys are bigger risk takers than girls and demonstrate more reckless behavior. Does this translate into why the number 3 killer of men is accidents? Read and decide for yourself.
OSHA’s List of Severe Violators Grows by 23 Percent – PREVENTABLE – A disturbing trend is beginning to emerge in the country as the Severe Violators Grew by 23%. We need to take a serious look at penalties and jail time to reduce these incidents.
Indictments handed down in Milpitas worker death – PREVENTION – A grand jury in Santa Clara County indicted 2 company officials in connection with the death of Raul Zapata, 39 years old when he was buried alive as a 13 foot retaining wall collapsed on him. Due to safety concerns he body remained entombed until they were able to retrieve him 2 days later. This is the way to handle employers who willingly send their hard working employees into hazardous conditions. Many will stop and think is it worth jail time and help change the culture.
Ohio Business Cited for False Documentation – Can’t Coach Stupid – Formed Fiber Technologies LLC has demonstrated their blatant total disregard for the safety of their employees and then lied to OSHA that they corrected all the safety issues and now owe $816,500. OSHA needs the ability to red tag a business like this and just shut them down until they do correct those issues and how does an employee feel when their employer couldn’t care less if they live or die on the job.
Leak Detection Flashlight – NEW GADGET – Great new tool to help safely detect fluid leaks. Check it out.
That my friends brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Hope you find it useful in your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting. Please feel free to share your on the job safety experiences or any other feedback on the blog. You do not have to tolerate an unsafe working condition. You depend on that job for your livelihood, not to end your life. Let’s put an end to accidents being the number 3 leading cause of death for men. We are all as original and special like a snowflake. Hundreds of thousands of snowflakes fall and no two are exactly alike. Like us, each one has it’s beauty, talents, personality and other traits that makes you, you. Not better, not worse, just different. Don’t let an unsafe job or unsafe act rob us the pleasure of your essence. Be safe and take care until next month.