The Green Brick Road of Safety is a long winding road that has been well traveled over the years by many people in search of the elusive safe workplace. The high traffic on the road is graphically illustrated by the strewn litter of fingers, limbs and other body parts along with the constant wailing sound of grieving family members and friends in the distance. The road is was paved with lots of good intensions, safety slogans & campaigns, disciplinary actions and unused PPE, as small groups of safety advocates travel the road like pilgrims on a mission. I’m here to tell you a safe workplace is not a fantasy or fairy tale but something that is real and attainable but YOU must be part of the solution by following the safety rules and saying NO to unsafe acts at work. Trips, falls and amputations, oh my! That sounds like this must unfortunately be another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
OSHA cites co-op in death of 73-year-old man – PREVENTABLE – Marvin Vincent Roesti, 73, was a husband, father, grandfather who loved farming, passed away 6 days after falling and hitting his head. The OSHA investigation that ensued found Farmer’s Cooperative had 1 repeat and 2 serious violations at the McCool Junction fertilizer plant. Apparently the Farmer’s Cooperative is not very cooperative when it comes to the safety of the people working there as they had failed to have a guard rail in the batching area a violation found in 2011 in Exeter and 2013 in Wilber. On top of that they also failed to provide fall protection to employees working on top of tanker trucks and NOT providing railings on stairways. All this is costing them $84,000 in proposed fines, but this is again another case where the fine is nowhere enough. Any body in the position of supervision who allows a worker to fill a tanker truck, working on top of it without fall protection is a criminal. I’ve witnessed several times how it saved a person’s life if not from serious disability for life.
OSHA fines Behr Iron following fatality – PREVENTION – Alfredo Arrendondo a 39 year old native of Beloit, Illinois had no idea that he would die on the job this day. He had worked in the pit before clearing it of scrap metal that had accumulated and he was use to the fact that his employers Behr Iron & Steel Inc, kept the unguarded conveyors running while he worked in there. But on this day, because Behr Iron & Steel couldn’t care less if workers were maimed or killed on the job, Alfredo’s arm was caught by the conveyor and he died, right in front of the horrified faces of his fellow workers who tried to scramble through the 2.5 foot X 3.5 foot opening to the pit. 7 willful violations were issued and 1 serious for a proposed fine of $497,000 as they were also cited back in 2010 for no LOTO program. In my opinion there should be company mangers in jail for there indifference to human life.
Ardmore plant cited by OSHA after worker dies from fall – PREVENTABLE – Christopher Cryer, 31, a family man who enjoyed fishing and hunting but most of all helping others died after he fell 15 feet, hitting his head and later died in the E.R. He was working at Atlas Roofing who for some reason didn’t think to provide it’s workers with fall protection and now have a pending $49,000 fine. What the hell is so hard about wearing fall protection? Because this company didn’t push it now several lives have been altered. A wife has lost her husband, children a father and who knows who else Christopher would have helped down the road. This is senseless and should no longer be tolerated.
OSHA: 22 Vallourec citations; worker crushed, injured in Feb. – PREVENTABLE – A full time operator was crushed between an activated transfer paddle and a stationary electrical box crushing him and causing several pelvis fractures. The following OSHA inspection at his place of work, Vallourec Star Factory turned up 22 serious (violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists) violations! They found that Vallourec didn’t have sufficient procedures to protect workers from moving machinery parts during servicing and didn’t train workers to recognize hazards and proper LOTO procedures in addition to improper machine guarding, unguarded floor openings and allowing the use of forklifts that needed repair. For all this the proposed fine is $94,000. Vallourec President Judson Wallace responded, “Workplace safety at Vallourec Star is a first priority.” Wow, if safety is the first priority, hate to see the second one. I think Mr. Wallace needs to begin taking a Gemba walk around the plant.
Customer dies after tiles fall at Menards in Chesterfield Township – PREVENTABLE – This is a very sad tragedy. A forklift operator had just placed a pallet of tiles on top of another pallet of goods on the top rack when the load shifted and up to 600 pounds of ceramic tiles fell on a customer’s head severely injuring him and he later died in the hospital. Retail stores can get busy and Managers tend to push workers to the point where little things get missed. I don’t know the circumstances here, and this could also happen in your warehouse but when ever you place a pallet of goods on top of another make sure the bottom pallet can handle the weight.
Rock Island trucking terminal owner fined and cited for alleged safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Central Transport LLC is a full service LTL that says they’re “Central to your success” but apparently not central to the safety of their workers. OSHA cited and fined Central Transport for repeat and WILLFUL violations and you remember a willful violation means they knew of the safety violations at their Rock Island terminal but couldn’t care less about them or if anyone got hurt. Their concern for their workers was so great they allowed them to operate forklifts that were in need of repair in fact they didn’t even have workers perform pre-shift inspections which was a repeat violation found in 2010 at their facilities in Massachusetts and Ohio. Portable fire extinguishers were not mounted and clearly labeled and workers were found using damaged extension cords as well. What I am also amazed about is that 103 years after the Triangle Factory fire in New York, OSHA found a metal bar across an exit door in their Rock Island warehouse locking it shut! For all this there were issued a proposed fine of $108,020. Their corporate headquarters needs to get out from behind their desk, get their heads out of their asses and put people before profit.
Christiansburg man killed in forklift accident – PENDING – Robert J. Tucker, a 50 year old forklift driver was killed when he tried to escape his forklift as it overturned. Robert was at the controls of the lift as it supported another worker in an elevated bucket while he trimmed trees and for what ever reason the forklift began tipping over and when Robert tried to get out he was hit by the elevated bucket. The young man in the bucket was flown to the hospital with serious injuries. Forklifts are designed not only for the daily tasks they perform but for your safety as well. The seat belts are there not as ornaments but to keep you in your seat for rollovers so you are not tossed and crushed. Your first instinct is to run, but to live you need to stay within the forklift cab for protection.
OSHA Investigating Deaths of 2 Florida Tree Trimmers – PENDING – Two men trimming palm trees in southwest Florida were electrocuted when their 30 foot aluminum ladder slipped and hit a live power line. They were rushed to the hospital were they were both pronounced dead. Like with any other tool that is not properly used, ladders account for about 136,000 accidents a year between work and home that result in about 13,600 requiring hospitalization in addition to 100 deaths. You can help minimize your exposure risk on ladders by first making sure the ladder is not in a state of disrepair and sits firmly on the ground and sturdy before climbing. If you are working around live power lines an aluminum ladder may not be the best choice and please contact the power company and let them know what you are doing.
OSHA Cites Douglass Colony Group Inc. For 11 Violations; Exposing Workers To Asbestos – PREVENTABLE – Douglass Colony Group Inc apparently has no problem exposing their employees to the hazard of asbestos as they were hit with 4 REPEAT and 7 serious violations by OSHA. What I find most horrendous is the 4 repeat, (June 2013) violations as 3 of them were for failure to provide a competent supervisor to oversee the removal of asbestos containing material, failed to conduct asbestos exposure assessment and provide adequate training for the workers. But you see that would cost money to do and cut into profits! The proposed fine is only $45,000 but for repeat offenses, especially when exposing workers to a substance that can cause a life time of disabilities it should be at least triple that along with jail time. Proposed penalties total $81,000 and the ironic part is they did provide proper fall protection for their workers to prevent immediate injury or death but wasn’t worried about the effects of asbestos that would come to light down the road as workers developed health issues.
OSHA citations over practices at company that led to employee death upheld on appeal – JUSTICE – The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has rules against Texas based Austin Industrial Specialty Services’ in its appeal of OSHA citations over circumstances that led to the death of a worker. The message is companies can’t send workers into dangerous conditions without proper training and assessment of hazards. People over Profits.
Prosecutors: PG&E ignored safety law on numerous gas lines – ACTS OF GREED – There is no doubt in my mind that corporate greed and arrogance by PG&E led to the murder of 8 people who were just trying to live their daily lives. A rate hike that was to go to gas line safety instead went into the pockets of corporate leaders as bonuses while their accomplice in this murder was the P.U.C. Now PG&E plasters the airwaves with their slick new ad campaign explaining they are not murderers but people with families just like you and me and that we’re taking safety seriously NOW, really we are. It’s too little too late and there should be corporate leaders of PG&E sitting in a jail cell right now.
AHF: $11K Cal/OSHA Fine to Porn’s Jake Cruise Media Reminds Industry that Condoms Remain the Law – SKEWED PRIORITIES – Oh how the mighty have fallen. The once proud agency was very good at their job a long time ago and even bragged how they were one step better than the Federal Government in protecting workers, has fallen on hard times due to poor leadership, benign neglect and budget cuts. With a reduced budget and limited resources, (a large number of inspector jobs have not been filled) you’d think their leadership would better prioritize the handling of worker concerns and concentrate on oil and energy companies as well as the construction industry who seem to have the highest accident rate and not checking for sexual PPE. I’m not saying spreading of disease isn’t a valid concern but to me that is more of a job and concern for Department of Public Health.
Utility Manufacturing Company Receives Gold Safety Award – SAFETY AWARD – Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company’s Paragould, Arkansas plant has received the Liberty Mutual Insurance Gold Safety Award. Congratulations!
OSHA honors Southeastern Mills’ safety program – ANOTHER SAFETY AWARD – Southeastern Mills based in Rome, Ga. has been recognized by OSHA for its creation of and commitment to a work environment free of safety and health hazards. Congratulations.
Well my friends, that brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. As always, please feel free to share these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting or safety committee meeting. Safety in the workplace begins with YOU and succeeds only with YOU. Be active in your companies safety committee and if they don’t have one, help start one. Report safety hazards and concerns to management immediately and don’t take NO for an answer. There is no reason you should not to expect to go home the same way you arrived at work, in one piece. There is no reason to risk injury or lose your life for one package or container of product. Stop the line, do proper L.O.T.O. wear the correct P.P.E and work within safety guidelines. The worst thing that’ll happen by doing it right is someone will get their item a day late. Until next month, stay safe.