Companies Behaving Badly – The Killing Fields

The dying continues in the killing fields of American businesses’ that allow workers to earn a pay check as long as they can survive the falls, spills, electrocutions amputations, and a quick death but those are the lucky ones as some will die slowly over 15-20 years from inhaled asbestos, vinyl chloride or some other hazardous concoction.  No matter what the latest in technology offers in safe-guards or additional layers of regulation and penalties passed the way of doing things to improve safety it is still only as effective as those who do it the correct way in the first place, following the regs and laws.  We want to have our management teams and workers being productive and improving that productivity but not by figuring ways around the safe guards to increase productivity. Safety should be viewed as natural way of protecting life and limb and not some burdensome chore. Manufacturers spend hours testing and modifying their products so they can be operated safely so why would your boss override it?  Because he cares more about his bonus then he does about your well being.  You know, this unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
Cal/OSHA Cites Disney Construction for 2 Worker Fatalities: Faulty Equipment, Untrained Staff Caused Deaths at Job Site – PREVENTABLE – Marcus Z. Powell a 25year old who enjoyed life and Glenn Hodgson a 49 year old had trusted that their employer, Disney Construction Inc. of Burlingame, Ca. would not put them in harms way that is until May 30th when both men plummeted 80 feet to their death from a crane hoisted platform. The company they had trusted didn’t bother to certify or visually inspect the crane for defects, didn’t bother to perform an unmanned trial run or inspect the rigging and platform before use and had no qualified, trained signal person to assist with the lifting operation.  Cal/OSHA also cited Disney Construction for not thoroughly surveying the conditions of the worksite for predictable employee hazards and neglecting to implement the necessary safeguards required to perform this type of operation, but then that would have cost money and time. For their neglect the fine is only $106,110 as two families try to put their lives back together.
Chemical Plant Where 4 Workers Died Hadn’t Had Workplace Safety Inspection In 7 Years PREVENTABLEIt was another Saturday morning at the La Porte, Texas DuPont plant and with Thanksgiving Day around the corner the conversations amongst workers probably was about food, family and football until methyl mercaptan leaked out into the plant killing 4 workers and hospitalizing a 5th worker who was later released.  What is so sad is that the warning signs of this event were staring everyone in the face.  Even though the use and storage of this and other chemicals like it are so highly regulated this plant wasn’t inspected for 7 years even after the 2 serious violations cited and fine of $3400 in 2007 for the lack of safe management of highly hazardous chemicals!  Then their run in with the EPA in 2012 and 2014 and related penalties of $117,375. On top of all this over the last 5 years they were cited by the state at least 24 times for failures related to performing routine safety inspections, keeping equipment in working order and preventing pollution leaks.  By their actions, DuPont has said they don’t care about their workers, the community and the surrounding environment, but they are not alone in this tragedy.  Why did OSHA wait 7 years for an inspection, why don’t agencies state and federal work together and do what they are charged with, protecting human life?
Report: Plant’s Chemicals Not Listed in 911 Call – ALSO PREVENTABLE – Continuing on the leak at the DuPont plant, to make matters worse, it was an hour after they knew of the leak before anyone called 911 nor did they bother to tell the dispatchers what chemicals were involved!  Not only did the plant contain methyl mercaptan which is highly flammable but methyl isocyanate, the chemical that killed 2,200 people in Bhopal, India in 1984. So you have to wonder why the shift supervisor made no mention of this to the 911 operator who was going to send response teams into danger!  To say that DuPont’s response to the leak was inadequate and slow is an understatement.  There was also no quick access to breathing equipment that would have given the four workers a better chance of survival but then that would have cut into DuPont’s profits and management’s bonuses.
Vernon company fined $59K for workplace violations – PREVENTABLE – This fire was a timely wake up call for Soldream, Inc. as the OSHA inspection it prompted turned up 20 safety and health violations along with a proposed fine of $59,290.  One of the most serious violations was the company, I’m sure with the best of intensions, bypassed interlock mechanisms on equipment, which allowed them to keep operating even with their access doors open.  This  could have led to their workers being caught in the machines but then that would have been their fault for not being careful.  In addition to this incredibly stupid move their dust collection system was inadequate and there was little to no training of employees.
OSHA cites Nissin Brake for safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Nissin Brake Georgia Inc. was inspected by OSHA as part of it’s Regional Emphasis Program for Safety Hazards in the Auto Parts Industry and with good cause as they found 11 violations, 9 serious with a proposed fine of $53,000. Employees were allowed to adjust and bypass safety guards when servicing potentially dangerous machines.  Apparently L.O.T.O. has too many letters for them to understand it’s purpose and also explains why they didn’t have any safe practices training.  But then safety meetings take time and slows production.
OSHA proposes $330G in fines to shipper for Billerica violations – PREVENTABLE – Things seem to continue to spiral out of control at Central Transport, LLC as yet another of their terminals, Dunham Road in Billerica, was found to have OSHA violations and proposed penalties of $330,800. Inspectors brought several hazards to management’s attention, but the company took no corrective action. One instance the buildings roof leaked water on to the work floor where electrical cabinets and forklift battery charger were located.  Imagine employees standing in water while plugging in battery chargers and driving forklifts in wet, slippery conditions.  The owners must be proud of all the money they’re saving with the elimination of safety protocol.
Dollar General store cited by OSHA for second time – PREVENTABLE – A Dollar General store has been cited by OSHA for not only the second time but for the same violations found in 2010.  Apparently blocking exit routes, blocking access to fire extinguishers and electrical panels with merchandise, display racks or supplies is part of their deadly charm.  In addition to these violations, they didn’t bother having the portable extinguishers inspected putting their employees and customers at risk.  Nothing says “we appreciate you as a customer” more than yelling in an emergency – we’re trapped!!  The proposed fine is $51.700.
Norfolk Shipyard Fined $101,000 by OSHA – PREVENTABLE – Colonna’s Shipyard Inc. in Norfolk was found to have 12 violations including 4 repeat.
Could be the main reason the injury/accident rate for shipyard work is more than twice as high as the rate in construction or general industry.  Workers at the shipyard were exposed to open manholes, lacked fall protection and workers were expected to use damaged electrical equipment or work around unguarded machinery.  Yet another company who only cares about how much profit they make.  Violators should not be allowed government contracts.
Repeat OSHA violations result in $342K penalty – PREVENTABLE – I don’t know about you but when there’s a chance my in-laws may drop over we keep the place neat an tidy.  However the folks at Tenneco Automotive Operating Inc. has decided to become the OSHA training center as they have been inspected 11 times in the last 5 years.  In 2013 there were fined $62,000 but they apparently wanted to contribute more to the government coffers as an employee complaint brought them back this year and OSHA found 27 safety and health violations for a proposed fine of $340,000.  With $242,550 of the fine for repeat violations, this company has shown total disregard for the health and welfare of their employees by keeping them in harms way.  This is where the OSHA laws need to be toughened and this plant should be closed down for a period of time or drastically raise the fines.
Another NY dairy farm worker dies; voluntary safety enforcement isn’t working (Commentary) – I always find it interesting when industry says they don’t need the government but can self regulate themselves and do a better job.  Earlier this year there was a big uproar when OSHA began inspections and enforcement on small farms.  The farmers went crying to congress and OSHA was told to back off.  So how well has self regulation worked? Like any place where the inmates run the asylum.  Read for yourself.  NOT.
Ex-WSI insider says safety took a backseat – MORE GREED – As the money from shale production became lucrative, the Dakotas were once again flooded with people in search of their fortune and like the prospectors of yore, are dying to get it.  The love of money is once again putting the safety and lives of people to the end of the line.  Good article to read.
Well my friends, that brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Glad you stopped by and please don’t hesitate to use any of these stories in your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Do not become a victim.  NO ONE can make your bypass any safety mechanisms. They are there for a reason, to protect you!  You have every right to go home the same way you arrived at work, in one piece.  If your company disables any safety shutoffs immediately complain, to your supervisor, union rep, HR rep and if necessary OSHA.  Would you go to a hospital that let their Doctors bypass safety?  Would you drive a car that had no breaks?  Just say NO! Remember, the life you save may be your own.  Until next time, be safe and keep the discussion going.

2 thoughts on “Companies Behaving Badly – The Killing Fields

  1. “The farmers went crying to congress and OSHA was told to back off.” Unfortunately it is the same all over the world . Politicians want to keep their “customers” happy. That’s why there are only financial penalties and of cource pressure to the organisations to “back off”. Serious accidents or repeated violations should not be punished with money but with some time behind bars.


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