Companies Behaving Badly – Don’t Be a Safety Fool. Fool.


toptenlistoshaOSHA has released their top ten list. (See the whole list here). Not as popular, entertaining or well known as David Letterman’s top ten list and definitely not as funny.  Unfortunately once again the number 1 issued citation continues to be FALLS.  Why? Look in the mirror.  It’s you who actually believes you can do the job without fall protection.  You actually believe nothing bad will happen because you are a man and don’t need no stinkin safety harness cramping your style. Any way you have great balance and agility and well, those things only happen to the other guy. As you continue to use luck and chance as your safety program, one day, your false sense of confidence overrides common sense and a gust of wind hits that 4X8 plywood board just right and suddenly, you’re in flight. If you’re lucky, you’ll snap your neck on impact and die instantly, no pain. Worse, you could just break your spine and spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair full of regret.  As mom used to say, “Just cause the other guys jump off a roof, it doesn’t mean you have to do it.”  You should be offered fall protection gear when working over 6 feet especially when there are no guard rails or other fall preventive barriers in place. ASK FOR IT. Don’t accept that’s not how we do things here. Insist. If they try to challenge your manhood or call you names or fire you for asking, CALL the OSHA national hotline – 800-321-OSHA (6742) and report them. You do not have to die trying to make a living no matter your status. Si usted es amenazado con ser despedido por negarse a trabajar de una manera insegura, llame a la línea nacional OSHA – 800-321-6742 e informar de ellos.Usted no tiene que morir en el intento de ganarse la vida, sin importar su estatus.  Well I do believe that this is unfortunately another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.


Missouri Manufacturer Named a Severe Violator by OSHA after Worker Killed on the Job – PREVENTABLE – A 58 year old maintenance worker believed his employer, Hussmann Corp. would keep him from being crushed to death while working on a scrap metal table.  In reality his employer knew of the hazard but couldn’t care less if anyone was injured or killed as they were found to have 3 Willful and 12 serious safety violations along with a proposed fine of $272,250 and placed in the severe violators program.  They couldn’t be bothered to train their workers on safety procedures, place devices on machinery to prevent sudden startup during LOTO, fix problems related to its LOTO procedures, effective guarding on machines and unsafe practices related to powered industrial trucks.  Don’t understand, since there was a death and willful violation why no one is sitting in a jail cell.  Don’t let anyone tell you not to do a proper LOTO.

OSHA cites U.S. Steel for ‘willful violation’ leading to two deaths in Alabama last year PREVENTABLE – U.S. Steel must have had a flash back to the early 1900’s as they instructed employees to commit a dangerous act that wound up killing Leo Bridges, 61 years old and Edward Bryant, 53 years old and injuring a third. This blatant disregard for human life earned U.S. Steel 1 Willful and 7 serious citations and a proposed fine of $107,900.  I couldn’t put it any better then OSHA, “Management knew that attempting to operate the valve while the furnace was still running placed workers at risk, yet they allowed them to do it because they didn’t want the production line down for hours. This employer chose productivity over the saftey of its workers, and two people died as a result of this decision,”said Ramona Morris, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham.  The person at U.S. Steel who made this decision to keep production going at the cost of human life, in my opinion should be on trial for murder.

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OSHA: Roofing Contractor Ignored Electrocution Hazards that Killed Worker – PREVENTABLEGreed is an awful virus that infects some companies to the point where they couldn’t care less what happens to their workers on the job and Kolek Woodshop Inc. is an example of that kind of company.  Their employee, Andrew “CK” Sakala Jr. was given an aluminum ladder to use while performing his tasks which happened to be very near a 7,200 volt power line, a hazard his employers knew about. His aluminum ladder came in contact with the power line conducting the electricity, killing him. However Kolek’s stupidity doesn’t end there as three days later, they sent another worker to finish the job Sakala Jr. had started and they exposed him to the same hazardous conditions that killed Sakala.  OSHA issued 1 Willful and 4 Serious citations and a proposed fine of $67,900.  The willful was issued for sending the second worker into the same hazards and they also found that they didn’t offer ladders with nonconductive side rails that would have prevented electrocution.  They also erected an aluminum scaffold too close to the power line, exposed roofing workers removing shingles to fall hazards and failed to train employees.  All that costs money and cuts into profits you know.

OSHA fines Dollar General $83,000 for ‘serious’ violations – PREVENTABLE – Don’t know what’s going on at Dollar General stores, but it appears they don’t spend any money on a corporate training program as quite a few of their stores have had violations found over the years.  In fact, since 2009 they have received more than 40 violations. This time one of their stores in Atlanta was found to have 3 Repeat safety violation and a proposed fine of $83,050 for blocked exits, locked exits and blocked electrical panels.  Dollar General issued a statement, “Dollar General is committed to providing a safe work environment for its employees and safe shopping experience for its customers. As such, Dollar General employs a number of policies, procedures and training programs to continually educate store teams to promote and facilitate a safe and welcoming environment.”  However Dollar General, there is a BIG difference between employing policies and procedures and enforcing them. You can have all the procedures in the world but if the corporate culture doesn’t support a safety program it’s just talk and they talk the talk but can’t walk the walk.

OSHA Finds Safety Violations at Fairfield Bowl – PREVENTABLE – Dave Geiger, a 53 year old employee at Fairfield Bowling Alley had no idea he would die that day.  He was probably doing what he did every day, unfortunately this time he may have been concentrating on a repair and forgot about the unguarded moving machine parts.  Imagine the horror he experienced the last few minutes of his life as his hooded sweatshirt got caught in a pinsetter and he slowly chocked to death.  The following investigation by OSHA turned up 8 Serious safety violations and a proposed fine of $45,500.  In addition to the lack of proper guarding of moving machine parts they did not have a plan to prevent the machinery from operating while employees performed maintenance.  They didn’t have a LOTO program. You do not have to operate any machinery with exposed moving parts and don’t accept the excuse the machinery is old and there are no guards for it. That’s a lie. There are plenty of companies that can fashion proper guards.


OSHA probe into Wallingford chemical spill finds ‘serious’ violations – PREVENTABLE – When ever, where ever you work and chemicals are involved, even just moving chemicals in sealed containers, you should receive training on what to do if there is a spill and what kind of PPE you need to use.  If they don’t do this they don’t care about you.  R+L Carriers Shared Services LLC’s terminal in Wallingford had a chemical spill when a drum of tetrahyrofuran, a highly flammable liquid was punctured.  The following investigation found 2  Repeat and 4 Serious safety violations along with a proposed fine of $86,900.  It turns out that the employees did not know how to evaluate the hazards involved, the appropriate PPE to wear and not trained on the procedure to contain a spill safely or as first responders because management lacked an emergency response plan.  Why waste time training what to do in an emergency?  This is not the first time either as OSHA found similar hazards at the Chicago terminal in 2011 but apparently the message didn’t get through to upper management.

Des Moines post office fined for defective forklift and tugs – PREVENTABLE – The U.S. Postal Service is an inept, obsolete and a poorly operated company that is totally devoid of leadership.  If they were a real company they’d be in bankruptcy and closed by now.  They have been cited several times by OSHA at facilities across the nation for putting workers in harms way.  You’d think a quasi-government agency would know better.  This time at the Des Moines main post office an employee had enough and called OSHA with a complaint.  The equipment they had a forklift and 2 tuggers were unsafe to operate but still were allowed to be used by management.  This little lapse in common sense is going to cost the USPS $49,500.  If management can’t be bothered to get the equipment you need to do the job repaired, don’t operate the equipment.  It’s unsafe.  You know damn well if you still operate it and wind up in an accident and injuring another employee the companies lawyer is going to throw you under the bus and ask you why you used it if it was unsafe.  A good manager would have taken care of this issue immediately instead of letting it fester like this.  Very poor leadership when you send mixed messages on safety.  One day you tell the employees don’t do unsafe acts and then the next you tell them it’s o.k. to use unsafe equipment.

Toy firm and builder in court over warehouse roof death – UNITED KINGDOM – A Lancashire based toy distributor and a builder have been sentenced after a worker plunged to his death through a warehouse roof.  He was not given any fall protection gear and now it’s jail time. Read the story.


API: DOE crude-by-rail report highlights importance of accident prevention & Facts, Science Must Guide Rail Safety Improvements RAIL SAFETY – This is a big issue especially if you live in a town that these trains travel through or may soon be passing through.  Can we really trust our infrastructure and can rail cars be improved?  Read both articles and then I’d be curious what you think?

Roofing company puts safety first – DOING IT RIGHT – There are companies out there who understand that their employees are their most important asset and taking the time to do proper safety training works.  Korellis Roofing is one of those companies and a great example of doing it right!

Well my friends, that brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read the articles.  Please feel free to use any or all of these examples at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting and would greatly appreciate it if you’d just mention you found them at  It is said that a company safety program works well as long as the CEO in the boardroom to the maintenance worker in the plant participate and commit fully to the program.  As true as that is, I can also tell you from fact that you can be the lone voice of safety in your company, plant or warehouse and commit to keeping those who work for you safe and that means catching people doing the right thing and reward and commend them but that also means those who you find violate the safety rules have to be called out on it and face the consequences.  I would pay for a lunch out of my own pocket to reward a safe worker and I found the time to write up reprimands when needed.  I have turned workers from both sides into safety disciples.  I would take flack from my own staff sometimes wanting to know why other shifts didn’t have to follow the rules like they did.  I told them because I cared more.  I would take flack from other supervisors or managers who called me a showboat or kiss ass.  Didn’t care what they thought, I knew I was doing the right thing and that along felt real good. Eventually our safety program grew from the warehouse up to the corporate level.  It wasn’t overnight but the change was subtle until everyone was doing it right.  Workplace safety won’t work without YOU!  Until next time my friends, take care and remember the life you save could be your own.


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