Companies Behaving Badly – Summer Time Blues Are a Killer

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Unless you had the fortune to be born into the Wallenda family and have trained for years as well as the DNA to walk a tight rope or have been bitten by a radioactive spider, it is highly probable you are just like the rest of us, nothing more than a mere mortal. Chances are also very good that you are working with more young workers under the age of 24 as between the months of April to July, the number of employed youth 16 to 24 years old usually increases from 2.1 million to 20.1 million. That means there are a lot of youngsters out there who believe they are immortal but with your help and patience they can survive and be around to talk about their summer when school starts. Demonstrate to them what workplace safety is all about by leading by example.  There are no dues to pay or initiations needed, just reach out and mentor a young worker. Yes, some of them will be cocky and not listen to a word you say or they will know it all but then not everyone is the boss’ kid and there are young workers who will listen so why punish those who really show interest and are curious about the process.  Remember everyone learns differently and by being there for the young they will see that manufacturing, construction, warehousing industries can be a interesting and rewarding career.  With that said here are some sobering numbers, as of May 9, 2015, 775 human beings have died in industrial accidents. That is 4 more then this time last year, which is sad since it appears we have learned nothing about safety. That unfortunately to me sounds like this is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

   warehouseflow.com

warehouseflow.com

OSHA: Roofing worker’s death ‘preventable’ – PREVENTABLE – John W. Miles III had no idea that morning as he prepared for work, he would later fall and crash through a skylight dropping 24 feet to the ground below and later die in hospital from his injuries.  His employer Pinnacle Roofing Contractors Inc. couldn’t be bothered properly securing the skylight with a safety cage or using fall protection gear as that would have cost time and money.  As a result they were handed 2 willful and 2 serious violations and a fine of $154,000 as well as recommended to be placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  The willful were allowing employees to work at heights over 6 feet without guardrails or fall protection and not installing protective systems on skylights. A human life was lost because an employer didn’t care about their workers and someone should be on trial for manslaughter. Don’t be quiet about SAFETY.  Don’t become another statistic.  You are not a child any more and doing a stupid stunt like working on a roof while simultaneously balancing yourself so you don’t fall is unacceptable.

OSHA: Lack of PPE and Training Cost Electrical Technician His Life – PREVENTABLE – A little girl lost her father just a few weeks before Thanksgiving Day because another employer had total indifference to the safety of it’s workers.  Marreo Travis was testing transformers when he was electrocuted and died which triggered an investigation at Ferro Magnetics Corp. by OSHA who found 1 Willful and 14 Serious violations and a proposed fine of $106,400.  Ferro had used luck so long as their safety program they didn’t provide adequate PPE, didn’t follow safety procedures or provide training, in fact they didn’t bother to review the workplace to determine if hazards were present or likely to be present. Like an ostrich, management just hide their head in a hole in the ground and to quote Sgt. Shultz, “Saw nothing”. Exposing workers to multiple electrical hazards, moving machine parts, NO LOTO program and improperly stored chemicals as well as allowing use of damaged powered industrial trucks is one big accident waiting to happen and it did and the owner should be on trial.

Cal/OSHA Faults Employer In Window Washer’s Fall In Downtown San Francisco – PREVENTABLE – I wish CalOSHA would greatly increase their fines but unfortunately like most California Government Agencies including Caltrans and PUC they’re happy with the status quo no matter how archaic and inefficient it’s become.  However I digress. Century Window Cleaning was cited for 2 serious violations after one of their workers miraculously survived an 11 story fall and landing on a car, as lack of training and lack of fall protection equipment were the issues cited for $12,765. As the employee Mr. Perez did unhook himself to reach an extension cord and then lost his balance he is lucky to get that second chance and hopefully a life lesson learned.  That’s the point isn’t it?  That safety equipment is there for a reason, to protect you for that oops moment and keep you from dying. That’s why they’re called accidents and no on-purposes.  Use all PPE! This same company also has a history of worker safety issues as they were cited for 1 serious and 3 other violations in 2008.

Cal/OSHA Cites Two Companies for Lack of Safeguards Resulting in Accidental Amputation – PREVENTABLE – A 35 year old employee was assigned to help a co-worker in the cleaning and maintenance of a cement hopper as it was filled with concrete from trucks. Their employer, C.C. Myers didn’t think it was critical to give safety training to either employee on operation of the hopper.  While standing on top of the hopper to keep the flow moving, since they were not trained on LOTO, the worker slipped and his leg was caught and pulled in by a rotating steel auger inside the unguarded hopper and ripped his leg off up to his hip bone. For this total disregard for their workers C.C. Myers, Inc. was hit with 4 serious for a total of 8 citations and fined $90,935 and Terry Equipment, Inc. the equipment vendor received 1 serious for not placing a guard on the the equipment for $7,200. You should never have to work over moving machinery parts. There should always be proper guarding to prevent you from coming in contact with moving machine parts, if there is not don’t operate the machine and report it.  You can’t be threatened to operate unsafe equipment and if you are notify your union rep immediately and if no union call OSHA, (number at page bottom)  Whether there is guarding or not you should also practice LOTO to insure nothing can accidentally start up when you are working on it.

Sifco Industries Inc. faces potential $118,400 in OSHA penalties – PREVENTABLE – Sometimes a company gets complacent and lazy about safety and that appears it may be the case at Sifco Industries Inc. after OSHA found 1 willful and 9 serious violations and a proposed fine of $118,400 in a November 25, 2014 inspection.  The willful was for failing to conduct annual inspections and testing procedures for LOTO. You know it’s one of those things you have marked on the calendar but something else comes up and you meant to get back to it and wow has a year gone by already?  They also dropped the ball on making sure workers wore their eye or face protection. A company statement in part said, “The safety and well being of our employees is the top priority at SIFCO”.  Important enough they got citations for similar violations in 2011 and this is an example of a safety cycler.  They let things get lax, then enforce it, lax, enforce, you get the picture.  The rules need to be enforced on a consistent basis, not when it’s convenient for you, to ensure your employees safety and it sends a better message than being seen as wishy washy.

OSHA: 18 workers at Springfield manufacturer exposed to deadly gas levels – PREVENTABLE – 18 employees made a very unexpected trip to the hospital in November 2014 when they were exposed to carbon monoxide gas levels 6.71 times over the permissible limit. While testing a commercial industrial parts washer at JRI Holdings, that were powered by two natural gas heaters, apparently no one thought to open a door or ventilate the area.  For this lapse in common sense OSHA has cited them with 1 Willful and 3 serious safety violations along with a fine of $70,700.  Any piece of equipment that produces exhaust that needs to be used indoors should only be operated in a properly ventilated area.  If it’s by an open door or under a ventilating hood as long as you reduce your exposure to those invisible, odorless gases that will kill you.

Alfa Laval fined $477,900 by OSHA – PREVENTABLE – Don’t know if the folks operating Alfa Laval Inc. don’t care about what’s going on in their facility or just don’t want to finance a safety program but an OSHA inspection found 5 Repeat and 45 Serious violations including lack of protection of workers from machinery, lack of respiratory equipment and training for hazardous chemicals, no procedure to prevent machines from starting during service or maintenance and failed to maintain written fire protection and emergency management plans. OSHA also issued a $477,900 proposed fine and placed them in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  This is just an accident waiting to happen.

OSHA: Proper protection could have saved 4 DuPont workers’ lives in La Porte – PREVENTABLE – This event is really disturbing as 4 workers died as they were overcome by lethal gas from a leak and if their employer DuPont hadn’t been so damn lazy on safety and had procedures in place, they’d still be alive and with their loved ones.  The company that deals with all kinds of chemicals didn’t assess the danger involved or trained their employees on what to do if the ventilation system stopped working. How can you say with a straight face that safety is important when you dropped the ball like that?   Dupont received 1 repeat and 9 serious violations and a proposed fine of $99,000. The repeat violation is for not training employees on the building’s ventilation system and yet 5 years later 4 people are dead because DuPont did NOTHING!  Hope that plant manger enjoys his bonus this year.

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Studies: When A Chemical Spill Hits, Officials Get The Science Wrong – NEWS – When it comes to informing the public about how to deal with this disaster, 3 new studies have come to the same conclusion, science is often left out of officials’ decision making process.  Surprised?  Read the article.

Landscaping company lauded for accident prevention – SAFETY AWARDIt can be done as ISS Facility Services Landscaping has been awarded the Gold Medal Award from the Royal Society of the prevention of accidents.

OSHA Recognizes Newport News Shipbuilding for Outstanding Safety and Health Programs – SAFETY AWARD – OSHA has recertified Huntington Ingalls Industries for the 20th year as a Voluntary Protective Program Star Worksite.  Great Job.

Well my friends, that brings yet another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  As always please feel free to share these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  So is your company a safety cycler?  Safety is not an issue until someone gets hurt?  You know how it starts, liberties are taken cutting corners with safety, more and more short cuts putting workers closer to danger while your supervisor looks the other way because he’s under pressure to keep numbers up. The safety meetings that were held on a regular basis are occasional at best and management isn’t asking where are the sign-in sheets and minutes? First there’s a near miss and then someone needs stitches and you are grateful is wasn’t on your shift until finally someone loses a hand. Now it hits the fan and emails flow, fingers are pointed, regular safety meetings come back with a extra focus on the rules and punishments, a few are reprimanded and then it soon blows over into oblivion until the next cycle begins.  Gets old doesn’t it?  If you’re in management you can help break that cycle and still conduct your own weekly safety tailgate/toolbox meetings.  If you’re an employee don’t keep quiet about safety.  Ask why haven’t we had a toolbox meeting?  At anytime if you feel your job has become dangerous and are concerned about your safety and no one in management will address your concerns or have threatened you to shut-up call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).   Until June 15th. stay safe.

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