Companies Behaving Badly – Knocking At Death’s Door

My first real job was working at a supermarket.  It was full of dangers and accidents waiting to happen and I was young and stupid, not a good combination.  There was no safety or other training back then as you were just pointed to your work station and told to watch someone else do it for a while until you were told you’re ready.  We had a conveyor belt in the supermarket that ran from the basement to the first floor to get product up or down and we also used it as a short cut to get here and there as quickly as possible.  One day coming up the belt I slipped and my foot got caught in the gap between the top roller and wall but I was lucky and pulled it out quickly escaping injury but putting a good scare into me for a little while. Then one day an employee got their hand crushed using the conveyor and we were told not to use it for transportation any longer, but we still did as the consequences were, well never really spelled out what they were.  Soon after I had my first industrial accident.  While using a box cutter I committed a rookie mistake and cut towards me and wound up putting a nice gash in my thigh.  At first I was more upset about cutting my jeans then my thigh. Remember there was no training and we were never told what to do in an emergency.  You learned as you went.  Our assistant manager was on duty at the time but he usually would take naps in a corner of the basement on his bed of paper products after a few shots.  He was a dear man sober but a SOB when drunk and was out cold when I found him so I left and went to my doctor since the bleeding was beginning to upset some of my co-workers.  I returned the next day all stitched up and ready for work when I ran into the Spanish Inquisition. The manager and the assistant manager berated me publicly as the RULES were finally explained to us on injuries, report it to them first!  Privately I was thanked by the assistant manager for my discretion since I didn’t explain why I couldn’t report it and was given this advise, “If it happens again, or any emergency, don’t be afraid to wake me!”  I was lucky and I was able to learn and grow from my experiences.  That was 45 years ago so I have a real problem that in 2015 a 19 year old dies a horrible death on his second day on the job because he didn’t receive any training and his peers weren’t any help either!  He never got a chance to make a mistake and learn from it.  Like I was 45 years ago, he was just pointed to his job and told, get going.  Any job you begin and you don’t receive any training and told what Personal Protective Equipment you need to wear or what to do in an emergency – LEAVE!  They don’t care what happens to you.  Oh man, this really unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

       Bradley Hogue
Bradley Hogue

State agency asks for criminal charges in teen’s workplace death – PREVENTABLE – We first covered this tragic story of Bradley Hogue, a 19 year old who was killed on his second day on the job, in the January 15th issue of Companies Behaving Badly.   After their investigation, the Washington State department of Labor and Industries fined Pacific Topsoils $199,000 for 2 willful and 12 serious violations as Bradley died trying to clear a jam in an auger that was spreading bark.  He was not trained, not shown how to properly clear a jam or how to do LOTO.  A moving conveyor was the only place to stand to clear the jam.  This could have been prevented but NO ONE at Pacific Topsoils bothered to tell him it was ok to turn it off before standing on it and apparently was the common practice to keep it running.  Now Washington L&I is seeking criminal charges against the company for their blatant disregard for a human life cutting short his journey.  WELL DONE!  Since there were 2 Willful violations related to the death, prison time is well in order.

Nabors Subsidiary Sanctioned by OSHA for ‘Preventable’ Death – PREVENTABLE – Dustin Ray Payne had survived tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and as a Marine, always knew the members of his unit had his back under any conditions.  After serving his country proud Dustin was ready to begin a career, settle down, he got engaged, and pursue his version of the American dream.  When he began working for Nabors Completion and Production Services Company, Dustin believed his employer would have his back and not let him weld on a tank that wasn’t washed out and still contained explosive vapors. The explosion ended this 28 year old’s journey as a company killed him in America. OSHA found 1 Willful and 4 serious violations along with a proposed fine of $92,000 and placed them on the OSHA’s list of Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  This was willful intent and someone should be on trial for this Marine’s death.  However Nabors Industries LTD.,a Bermuda-based company has a history of killing workers.  Read the article and wonder as I do how the leadership of this company can look at themselves in the mirror while they comfort their guilt with the profits they reap.

OSHA: Lack of Cave-In Protections Led to Trench Collapse PREVENTABLE – Oscar Portillo and Selvin Zelaya were probably caught by surprise as the walls of the deep trench they were in collapsed onto them and suffocating them to death.  There was no retrieval system in use and the trench that ran 9-13 feet deep had no supports to keep the walls up.  Their employer, Bednar Landscape Services Inc. had put them in harms way as OSHA issued 1 Willful and 9 serious safety violations.  As you know a willful violation means that Bednar knew of the danger they put those men into but couldn’t care less what happened to them.  Shoring those walls and having cave-in protection costs money and that cuts into profits.  The $77,000 fine issued by OSHA is nothing and again this is a case where management should be on trial.


Southbury Builder Faces $52K Fine for Exposing Workers to Potential Fall Hazards: Officials PREVENTABLE – Some companies for what ever reason just don’t seem to care what kind of dangers they place their employees into.  Rock Hard Homes, Inc. (like their heads) was cited by OSHA for 4 repeat and 1 serious violation of workplace fall safety standards along with a proposed fine of $52,360.  The repeat violations are related to the same lack of fall protection at their worksites in 2011 and 2013 as they failed to give workers adequate fall protection systems while they worked on a pitched roof 28 feet off the ground, allowing workers to walk on surfaces without fall protection while exposed to falls through holes and improper use of portable ladders to access upper landings and use of defective equipment.  With falls being the number one cause of death in the construction industry the workers need to start speaking up and not putting up with this any longer.  Protect yourselves and wear fall protection.  If they don’t offer it call OSHA – 800-321-OSHA (6742)

Barron company facing penalties from OSHA PREVENTABLE – An employee of Koser Iron Works Inc. had seen enough and called OSHA to file a complaint. No wonder he called as they found 2 Willful, 4 repeated and 12 serious safety violations which included lack of training and PPE.  For this a proposed fine of $102,180 was issued as similar hazards were found in 2013 (also based on an employee complaint) like no LOTO, failed to ensure safety mechanisms were in place.  They also didn’t bother to certify or train their forklift drivers and exposed workers to fire hazards or issue PPE.  As these employees who filed complaints decided, you don’t have to work under these conditions.

Beacon Industries Fined for OSHA Violations PREVENTABLE – Beacon industries must use LUCK as their safety program as they went for the gold a were found to have 18 serious violations of workplace safety standards along with a proposed fine of $71,100.  The violations ran from employees exposed to dangers that could cause cuts, crushing injuries, electrocution and amputation.  They also didn’t bother to properly train workers and weren’t issued PPE.  Again, why bother with safety, it costs money and cuts into valuable profits and bonuses. Don’t become a statistic.

USPS out of order as usual
USPS out of order as usual

OSHA Demands Changes To Workplace Conditions At Lincoln Park Postal Facility – PREVENTABLE – Yet another US Postal Service facility is cited by OSHA and this time it was based on an employee complaint.  Sad when one quasi-government organization feels that it has to call another government organization to get protection for the workers.  The inspection found 2 repeat and 5 other violations with a proposed fine of $63,540.  The repeats were electrical outlets not used properly and improperly grounded fans.  They also found unapproved electrical equipment and improperly spliced cords. True to form the USPS said it is addressing the problem but offered no timetable.  They can’t as their leadership is so inept they never know when they’ll fix a problem if at all.  They would never give us any estimates on completion and it took 82 days to replace a community mail box and the machine in the picture above has no estimate for repair either.  It’s time to shut down this waste of time, money and labor called the Postal Service.

OSHA Issues New Guidelines on Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare – Workplace violence is very much a safety issue and should be taken very seriously.  OSHA has released an update to its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers.  Please take the time to read this well written article from the National Law Review.

Gateway Safety’s Glasses-To-Goggles Eyewear – PPE – Gateway Safety has announced the launch of Swap MAG, a unique safety eyewear solution that converts from safety glasses to goggles, now with bifocal magnification. Check it out.

That brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for stopping by a taking time to read the articles and as always please feel free to share any or all at your next tailgate/toolbox safety meeting.  I would ask that you just mention you found them here, witzshared.  We all need to work together to make workplace safety happen.  If you see a new guy about to make a horrible mistake don’t just shake your head and mutter, “moron” but be a hero, be a mentor and show them the right way.  It only takes a few minutes and it doesn’t hurt to be kind and you never know what new friendships can develop. You were there once and you know you would have loved to have had someone show you the ropes.  We want our young people to succeed and develop not die young.  Remember the life that you save may be your own.  Until next month my friends.

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