It would be nice to believe that others are actively looking out for your safety but unfortunately that is not always the case. Some corporations have been so seduced by profits they’ve totally abandoned their ethics and all too easily turn a blind eye to lapses in safety when it benefits production. You must learn to depend on yourself for survival at the workplace. Depending on the company you work for there may be gaps in the training you received if you were lucky to get any training. Ask questions, observe and learn to bridge those gaps. Never be afraid to ask questions and there is no stupid question when it comes to safety, especially when it concerns emergency shut offs or LOTO. Observe what goes on around you, are there missing guards on machines, forklift drivers that don’t look before backing up? Then be a sponge and learn everything but this will all help if you have common sense. I’m not here to debate what or if common sense exists, let’s say it’s a part of your brain that tells you something is not right. Like using an open flame around chemicals, flammable liquids or areas of high dust concentration or always making sure there is plenty of ventilation in a confined area where you’re using chemicals or dangerous liquids. Even if your supervisor doesn’t tell you not to do that, a voice in your head should say, Danger Will Robinson, Danger! You also don’t have to be working outdoors to get sick from high temperatures. There are warehouses and manufacturing facilities that can reach inside temperatures of 100 degrees or more. Even hotter if you’re unloading overseas containers of apparel or cookware. Would you know the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke if a fellow worker displayed them? (see below). You know this unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
Pitfalls of Trench Work Reprised in Fatal Louisville Accident – PREVENTABLE – We begin with the loss of another teen worker. Jonathon Moore a 19 year old construction worker for Josh Lefevre Construction Co. was buried alive in a trench cave-in and died of traumatic asphyxia and blunt impact injuries. Emergency workers pulled his body out of the 10 foot deep trench that excavated debris which included concrete slabs and dirt slid back into the hole. “When you put workers in an unprotected trench, you are putting them in a grave,” said William Cochran, director of OSHA’s Nashville area office. “These hazards are easily identified and totally avoidable. There is no excuse to expose workers to unprotected trenches.” His co-worker was lucky and survived but it took rescuers 5 hours before they freed him. As the investigation of Lefevre Construction goes on, they’re past history involves citations for 2 serious violations in a 2011scaffolding accident and paid a fine of $3500. OSHA issued 1,462 citations for trench safety violations across the country for FY 2013. 32 Willful and 103 Repeat for a total of $4.9 million in fines. Do not work in a deep trench unless there is an escape route for everyone working in the trench. Don’t put your life at risk, don’t believe me? Ask Jonathon.
Man’s death falling from Stockton tower prompts OSHA fines – PREVENTABLE – Thomas Lucas, a painter was probably enjoying the view that day from the tower he was painting when something went wrong and he fell 9 stories to his death. The following OSHA inspection found that his employer, Sherwood Tower Services failed to provide a adequate fall protection system and were fined $114,800 for 2 Willful and 1 Serious violation which they are contesting. As OSHA stated, when companies ask their employees to work above the ground they have a responsibility to provide adequate fall protection to workers. OSHA also found a harness used by Lucas should have been replaced as it showed visible signs of wear, damage and deterioration and that Sherwood had NO safety and health program. Working more then 6 feet off the ground you should be offered fall protection gear. Make sure it is properly hooked up before using but make sure it’s used. Don’t let anyone stop you from wearing and using it. Why become another statistic?
Nebraska Worker Killed from Lack of Struck-by Hazard Protection – PREVENTABLE – A 26 year old employee, was trying to tow a concrete truck that had become stuck in the sand by using a tow rope and chain with his front-end loader when a link in the metal tow rope connection failed causing the tow rope to snap back like a rubber band, smashing through his cab window, striking him in the head and killing him. If his employer Gehring Construction & Ready Mix Concrete Inc. had bothered to protect it’s workers from struck-by-hazards this married father of 3 children might still be here enjoying his family. OSHA cited the company for 2 Serious and 1 other-than-serious violations with a proposed fine of $14,630, for failing to properly train employees in towing methods, connecting techniques and the usage of appropriate towing components as well as not notifying OSHA of the worker’s death within 8 hours. You don’t have to wait for your employer to tell you of hazards on the job. When you see them, speak up! Don’t keep quiet about safety.
Griffin Lumber Cited by OSHA as Worker Loses Arm – PREVENTABLE – Imagine the horror of being dragged and pulled into moving machine parts and there’s no way to stop it! That’s what a 29 year old temporary employee experienced working at Griffin Lumber & Hardware as his jacket was caught in the exposed drive shaft of a conveyor belt and watched as his left arm was amputated. For exposing workers to unguarded sprocket wheels and chains on conveyor belts OSHA issued 1 Willful violation and a proposed fine of $56,000 for knowing there was a dangerous hazard but couldn’t care less about fixing it or if anyone became injured. In previous inspections by OSHA they were cited for unsafe forklift usage, unguarded machinery and other workplace hazards, so as you can see safety is not a priority at all here.
OSHA cites Rome company – PREVENTABLE – Some companies just don’t understand the principles of workplace safety or even to correct issues that are pointed out by their employees like Cycle Tex Inc. who turns recycled plastics into pellets. An employee finally had enough and filed a complaint which led to 2 Repeat and 6 serious violations and a proposed fine of $58,000 by OSHA. The repeat citations were for failing to develop L.O.T.O procedures and exposed workers to flying debris from a grinder that was missing a safety guard. How hard was it to replace that guard? Two of the serious violations were for exposing workers to fall hazards and not providing P.P.E. Obviously it is cheaper for Cycle Tex Inc. to just pay the fines rather then replace guards, issue P.P.E. and putting in railings to prevent falls. This tells me the fines need to be raised drastically. If you are put into danger by your employer, if it doesn’t look safe and the company won’t listen to your concerns do what this worker did, don’t keep quiet. Call OSHA. 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
EG Company Fined by OSHA for Lack of Employee Safety Safeguards – PREVENTABLE – Here is another instance where an employee’s concerns on safety were ignored and had no other choice then to go to OSHA to file a complaint. OSHA found 9 Serious and 1 other-than-serious violations along with a proposed fine of $62,000. The employer Provant Health Solutions, a company that ships clean needles to clinics that are then shipped back for disposal did not protect it’s employees from needlesticks as boxes were unpacked. Boxes also lacked required waning labels and Provant did not use an authorized carrier to return the contaminated needles as well as failed to train employees about hazards as required and didn’t record injuries properly! Why tell workers about hazards when you have can’t be bothered with a solution to protect them and well that would also cost more money and cut into profits. If your employer won’t listen to you about safety issues, they don’t care about you. Either quit or do something about it like calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
OSHA Blames Oil Rig Fire That Killed Three on Open-Flame Heater – PREVENTABLE – It is totally irresponsible to me when a hazard is pointed out to you and you do nothing to correct it from happening again and then workers wind-up killed because of your indifference. That’s what happened with Dan D Drilling in Oklahoma as OSHA cited them in 2013 for having an open-flame heater in the rig. Now in December 2014, 3 young workers are dead, (2 died at the scene an the third died 16 days later after suffering excruciating pain from his burns) and 2 more suffered extensive burns because an open-flame heater on the floor of the rig began this fire. In addition to the open-flame Dan D Drilling was also cited for not providing workers with flame-resistant clothing, not giving employees who work with corrosive materials a quick drenching shower, and not providing training for workers on the chemical and physical hazards of chemicals at the work site or a proposed total of $221,200 in fines. These deaths were preventable and never should have happened but then you have to care about your workers health and safety to begin with. In my opinion these fines should be tripled.
Roofing Contractor Held in Contempt of Court for Failing to Comply with OSHA Safety Standards – PREVENTABLE – GP Roofing & Construction, LLC thought they were above the law. They thought consistently putting their workers at risk no matter what the laws of the land said was business as usual. You other owners of companies that ignore workplace safety regulations are on notice. Guillermo Perez, president and Elma Maldonado, vp of GP Roofing were arrested on warrants issued by the 11th Circuit Court for multiple willful, repeat and serious violations of OSHA fall protection, eye and face protection and safe ladder and other standards as well as the unpaid outstanding penalties of $195,170 plus interest and fees and prove that all hazards have been corrected now and in the future. What I am most curious about is how these two people can look at themselves in the mirror when they put employees in constant danger and would only hope the state pulls their licenses and does not allow them to bid on any state, city or county projects.
DuPont contesting OSHA violations in quadruple fatality – BALLS – DuPont the company that also brings you behavior based safety programs you can purchase for your company has the balls to contest OSHA’s findings and will not take responsibility after Dupont murdered 4 employees. But can you blame them, who would buy a safety program from a company that kills it’s own workers. I would have first fired the plant manager for not properly training the workers on the building’s ventilation system and other safety procedures like how to respond if the fans stopped working, which is what the repeat violation is based on but he must be making his monthly goals which is why he’s still there and well you know, profits are more important than people. Then I would have addressed and corrected each safety issue. Even the worker’s union is telling Dupont to just accept the fine and fix the problems but Dupont’s pride is at stake since the repeat violation will put them in the Severe Violator List. TOO BAD! Accept responsibility and take care of your employees, no matter how big a corporation you are you are NOT above the LAW!
Well that definitely sounds like the end of another episode of Companies Behaving Badly. Thanks for taking time and stopping by to read these stories and please don’t hesitate to use them at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting. Don’t keep quiet about safety. When you begin a new job in a warehouse or manufacturing facility you should receive training before being allowed on the shop floor. It should be demonstrated how to properly wear required P.P.E. There should be emergency procedures in writing and a certification process for forklifts and other vehicles. There should also be a process in writing on how to address safety issues and concerns. If you do not get any training, quit. You are not going to learn anything working here except how to dodge injuries and death and they’re never going to listen to your concerns. If your company has a safety program that has deteriorated you can either quit or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Become a safety advocate and never be quiet about safety. Until the 15th. stay safe.