Companies Behaving Badly – Running The Holiday Gauntlet



“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief…”  Not only is that the beginning of a Dickens classic but also best describes the period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day or as I like to call it, the Holiday Gauntlet. This span of time of only 36 days becomes the most dangerous time of the year at work, on the road and at home.  At work production is in full swing as your company pushes to make sure there is plenty of product on the shelves and there is more than enough over time for everyone. The road becomes an exercise in survival as the number of traffic accidents and deaths more than double than any other time of year.  At home anxiety builds and the number of in-home accidents and kitchen fires double because you’re distracted by planning menus, making travel itineraries.  Either way you’re burning candles at both ends and before you know it, those over time hours seem longer and fatigue sets in clouding your judgement and you begin to make bad decisions. Your machine jams and you’re close to the end of your shift and your supervisor is pushing those production numbers, not thinking instead of doing LOTO you just innocently go to grab that crumpled cardboard holding you up and BAM!   You’re sitting in pain in the emergency room, with 2 of your fingers in a plastic baggy sitting on ice while you’re praying for a doctor to save your hand so you won’t have a ruined holiday. That unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.


Bremer Mfg. cited by OSHA in employee death – PREVENTABLE – A 55 year old employee with over 38 years of service with Bremer Manufacturing Co. was found passed out in a restroom and then later died.  It seems his employer failed to provide safety training or a written safety program on the physical and health hazards related to the handling of chemicals in the workplace and was issued 1 Willful  and one serious citation with a proposed fine of $81,900.  As you know a willful violation means that Bremer Manufacturing knew the chemicals workers were using were dangerous but couldn’t care less if they were properly trained or protected.  So a loyal worker is dead and some poor young person filling his spot is now slowly dying unless he gets proper training and PPE.

Chatsworth man loses battle after toxic release PREVENTABLE – Jason Jeffers, a 28 year old father of 2 with a third child due on November 25th lost his 4 month battle for life as he passed on November 5th.  Back on July 7th while working at MFG Chemical, Inc. plant a toxic chemical was released burning his entire respiratory tract.  The internal damage was just too much for his system and doctors to overcome.  The investigation is on-going as to why this happened and why he didn’t have any respiratory protection while doing his job but then MFG has a history.  In April of 2004 a runaway reaction released toxic, flammable chemicals into the air forcing over 200 families to evacuate.  One worker was injured and 150 people were treated for exposure.  Then in May 2012 there was a reactor explosion and 40 people were sent to the hospital for treatment.  OSHA cited MFG in 2004 for failing to adequately prepare an emergency response and failure to anticipate the potential chemical hazards of the runaway reaction.  If you take a job working with chemicals and they don’t train you on a emergency response for any hazards, QUIT, it means they don’t care about you as a human being at all.

         Elbert Woods
Elbert Woods

OSHA Cites Railroad-Track Manufacturer After Worker Is Crushed to Death – PREVENTABLE – Elbert Woods a 45 year old father and husband with 16 years of experience at Cleveland Track Material never could have imagined that Thursday, August 21st. would be his last day on earth as he tried to adjust a set screw on a rolling mill when he came into contact with a spinning shaft that crushed him to death.  OSHA found that his employer had no problem exposing him or other workers to dangerous rotating machinery parts as they were found to have 7 serious violations. OSHA is proposing $49,000 in fines which is nothing.  For purposely exposing workers to a serious hazard like this the fine should start at a million dollars and the person in charge of the floor should be in a jail cell.  DON’T let anyone tell you it is o.k. to operate a machine that lacks proper guarding for moving parts.  It’s NOT o.k.

OSHA fines Penda Corp. in Portage – PREVENTABLE – Yet another company working with dangerous chemicals and they don’t have a clue what they’re doing.  Penda Corporation has been hit with a $49,000 in fines following a chemical spill in September because OSHA found they didn’t have a response plan for spills in place nor did they bother training their employees how to deal with spills.  It costs money to do those things and after all who wants to take a hit in the profits for protecting workers.

Circus Cited for Hair-Hanging Stunt That Injured 9 – PREVENTABLE – OSHA has cited the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus a $7,000 fine for improperly loading a carabiner clip, a key rigging component in the hair hanging stunt.  The overloaded clip broke sending all 8 performers to the ground from a height of 15 feet, while the chandelier like apparatus fell on top of them.  All 8 performers including one on the ground sustained injuries, most of them severe in nature.  Always follow manufacturers recommendations an guidelines.


OSHA fines contractor $100,000 for exposing builders to falls – PREVENTABLE – Good to see that the city of Brotherly love came through as the city of Philadelphia alerted OSHA to dangerous practices allowed by Vyacheslav Leshko, doing business as T and S Masonry LLC at two different construction sites.  Workers laying bricks at a height of up to 30 feet had no fall protection gear and to make it more interesting were working on scaffolding that was not up to code.  In addition, the workers had not received proper safety training which should be no surprise as T and S was fined twice in 2012 and earlier in 2014 for similar violations.  Even though it costs a little time and money to have employees attend a safety toolbox meeting it still would have been cheaper than the fine but when you only care about profits why bother!  So for the 8 repeat and 5 serious violations for using corrosive cement without proper PPE the proposed fine is $100,560.  This company should have their state license pulled and the owner sitting in a jail cell for their contempt of workers.

OSHA issues citations, proposes fines to 2 Arkansas companies over alleged safety violations. –  PREVENTABLE – Competition between companies isn’t bad unless you’re competing to get more OSHA violations than the other.  Good Old Days Food Inc. is trying to bring back the old days as they racked up 14 violations for exposing workers to amputation and electric shock hazards to the tune of $47,600 in fines, that’s a lot of bread.  Meanwhile over at AGE Industries Ltd, they could only tied Good Old Days as OSHA found 14 similar health and safety violations there as well for a proposed total of $79,000 in fines.  Workers are your biggest asset and not a disposable item, you should do all that you can to protect them.

OSHA proposes $77,000 in fines against company – PREVENTABLE – Hitting the trifecta at the race track is a great accomplishment but it’s not good at all when it happens at a Steel Company.  Employees of TimkenSteel Corporation’s three plants in Canton, Ohio agree as they called OSHA to complain about the unsafe working conditions.  They were tired of being constantly exposed to amputation and fall hazards by their employer who was found to have a total of 12 serious violations between the 3 locations.  Holes in floor or missing guardrails on platforms with exposure to 8 foot falls, no guards on cranes and crane trolley runways exposing workers to falls of 40 feet and exposure to moving machinery parts during maintenance of equipment.  The company message of we don’t care is loud and clear.


Ardsley contractor fined $8,800 for trench safety lapses – PREVENTABLE – In another instance where employees had to file a complaint with OSHA because they felt their employer was exposing them to hazards, Plumb-Rite Inc. was fined for $8,800 for 4 violations like failing to take the proper safety precautions while digging a trench.  Their fears were founded by the fact that Plumb-Rite was down right wrong by not offering excavation protective systems or signage to ensure workers wouldn’t be buried alive.  Yes you may get away with it sometimes but when that one oops happens it’s too late.  It’s time we respect human life more than the love of money.

Around the world rap up – Alcoa pleads guilty to safety breach after workplace death at Wagerup refinery – AUSTRALIA – A resources company Alcoa has plead guilty to breaching safety laws after a 50 year old worker and father of 3, fell to his death.  Mr. Fry an employee of Transpacific Industrial Solutions was contracted by Alcoa who has already paid $170,000 in fines for the death.  What is so sad this could have been prevented if a “scaff bar” a piece of scaffolding had been put across a manhole to stop workers from entering a section of tank.

Grocon admits workplace safety breach over fatal wall collapse – AUSTRALIA – Grocon, a construction company has pled guilty to a workplace safety charge over a fatal wall collapse in Melbourne where 3 people were killed including 2 teenagers.  The guilty plea is not out of remorse but more for monetary reasons as the case will not proceed to County court where the max fine could have been $1.1 million but stay in the Magistrates Court where the max penalty is only $305,350.

Companies given hefty fines for workplace safety violations – CANADA – Glad to see some of the Provinces reminding employers that they’re workplace needs to be safe for employees.  Some idiot at Norbert’s Manufacturing Ltd told an employee to remove the protective guard on a hydraulic shear which then resulted in the worker partially amputating four of his fingers.  The company was fined $50,050

Thursday is worst day for work safety – GREAT BRITAIN – Interesting article how Thursdays have become the most dangerous day at work in Great Britain. Do you agree?

Creating a safe workplace is smart business, as well as the right thing to do – REQUIRED READING – For those companies that believe having an active safety program costs to much to operate or don’t believe there is a return on the investment should read this article.  According to studies by insurance carriers investment in a proactive workplace safety program can yield a return of about $6.15 for every $1 spent.

   Your social success
Your social success

Well that my friends brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  As always, please don’t hesitate to share these stories at your next Safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  If you work for a company that handles chemicals and when you are hired there is NO emergency plan explained, NO PPE required or associated training, CALL OSHA!  It means they don’t care what happens to their workers and your life there is worth nothing.  If you work for a construction company and they allow you to work in a trench or on top of a building without any protection gear, CALL OSHA!  If you work for a company and they tell you it’s O.K. to operate a machine without guards in place to keep you from losing body parts, CALL OSHA!  They’ll try to bully you to do the job and say you are not a team player, or that everyone else does it.  Don’t buy into that bull, it’s just intimidation.  Why help a supervisor or manager obtain his year end bonus at the expense of your body part or life?   You did not become you in a day, it took years of learning, growing, developing and experiences to become the very unique person you are and there will not be another you any time soon.  Don’t throw your life away, NO job is worth it.  Until next month, stay safe.



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