Can we talk? It’s a sensitive subject but we really need to talk. Let me just get it right out there. You’re going to be dead for a long time. Maybe as long as eternity! So why be dead longer then you have too be. What’s the rush? Dead isn’t going any where and will always be lurking around. What if I told you that you can reduce your dead time. You can. Let’s begin to reduce that dead time by first clearing up some misconceptions out there like the confusion about training. Some of you are under the impression that it’s optional. IT’S NOT. Some of you believe that training works through osmosis. WRONG! Some of you think that training is simply handing an employee a sheet of paper with bullet points listed. NOPE! Training is the most critical part of safety. It’s when you tell your employees the only acceptable way to do what ever it is on the job assigned. How to do LOTO when making adjustments on machines, not to operate equipment not rated for the task you want to perform or does not have proper guards in place. What PPE is required and how to wear and use it. How to recognize hazards. How to respond to emergencies. Review training when ever you have older equipment refitted or new equipment installed. There is always going to be training on the job, especially if you respect your employees and want them to go home the same way they arrived at work that day, in one piece. Make the time to do training and document it. If you begin a new job or promoted to a new position at your current job and you receive no training or safe guards are removed from equipment and no one is listening to your concerns at work. Call OSHA, 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). It’s all anonymous. So you see, training reduces you time dead and that unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
Trench collapse seriously injures worker, leads to $424K fine for employer – PREVENTABLE – Imagine the wave of panic that must first hit you as the walls of a 8 foot deep trench you’re working in collapses around you and buries you alive. You begin gasping for air as your instincts for survival kick in and you claw around trying to free yourself. Oxygen becomes less and less, it’s gets very warm and you can barely breath then begin to fade out but in this case luckily co-workers furiously dug an employee out even using their bare hands. Right after they pulled him out the trench, it collapsed again. The worker was hospitalized for his injuries. The employee had trusted that his employer, Hassell Construction Co. Inc. would protect hm while he worked deep in the trench but they offered no retrieval gear or proper shoring and even though they knew of the dangers, they didn’t care what could happen. There lack of care for their own employees led to 6 Egregious Willful and 9 Serious violations along with a proposed fine of $423,900 as they also did not provide a safe means to get in and out of the excavation or conduct atmospheric testing inside after a sewer leak. This all earned them a spot in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Have to wonder what their Workers Comp insurance carrier is hiding?
OSHA cites Texas firm, staffing provider for worker’s fall from roof – PREVENTABLE – Again in the great state of Texas, another company, this time Cotton Commercial USA didn’t bother to have it’s workers wear fall protection gear or training to go along with it, that is until a temporary worker fell through a roof, dropping 12 feet to the ground and fractured both arms and received severe contusions. The resulting investigation found 1 Willful and 4 Egregious Willful violations and received a proposed fine of $362,500. The temp agency that provided the grist for the mill of course had no idea what kind of dangers they placed their worker in, was fined $4,900 for failing to conduct frequent and regular inspections of the job site. Why would you care what happens over there as long as you’re getting paid for providing bodies, it’s all good. John Hermanson, the OSHA Regional Administrator commented on this incident, “Cotton Commercial was well aware of how to prevent safety hazard and, in fact, on the following day Cotton made sure all workers were provided with the required safety equipment.” Safety is not for special days, it’s for everyday.
OSHA: IP could have prevented man’s death – PREVENTABLE – Another large corporation has tossed it’s safety programs out the window as Jorg Borowski, a 57 year old father and grandfather who enjoyed the outdoors had his life ended because his employer International Paper couldn’t be bothered to train him or provide safeguards in a job they knew was dangerous. The investigation found 2 Willful, 1 Repeat and 3 Serious violations and were given a proposed fine of $211,000 and placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. You remember what willful means, that they knew of the danger involved with the job but couldn’t care less if anyone was injured or killed. IP’s spokeswoman, Donna Wadsworthin gave the usual propaganda all companies say when they kill a worker, “Ensuring the safety and well being of our team members is a core value and our top priority.” In fact it was such a priority that after the same safety issues were found at two other of their plants in 2011, NOTHING was done to ensure the safety issue was corrected here. No training, no proper equipment, no PPE. Nothing. That action alone by IP tells you what a priority safety really is to them. Right after profits.
Lauren Mfg. cited by OSHA – PREVENTABLE – A 62 year old machine operator wound up crushing their left hand and breaking several bones due to the lack of proper guarding. Employed by Lauren Manufacturing LLC for 15 years, the employee has been unable to return to work even after 3 surgeries. OSHA only found out about the accident after receiving an employee complaint about the incident as it wasn’t reported within 24 hours as all incidents of hospitalization must be. What OSHA found in their inspection was 1 Willful and 4 Serious violations and handed out a proposed fine of $105,000. Apparently Lauren Manufacturing couldn’t care that their workers were exposed to moving machinery parts or couldn’t be bothered to develop and train workers on LOTO during maintenance or mold changes. Of course they also issued a statement that said in part, “we remain committed to providing a safe work environment for all of our employees.” They are so committed to safety they allowed workers to make mold changes while the equipment could start up at any point. Real safe but then when you stop production you are eating into profits and profits are more important than workers lives. There is NO excuse to not do a proper LOTO.
OSHA Cites Ashley Furniture After Another Amputation – PREVENTABLE – Ashley Furniture is the 117th largest private company in America with annual revenues of $3.85 billion, (as of Oct.2014) and yet the brain trust of this corporation can’t seem to get the message on safety as they are fully aware of the hazards on the job but couldn’t care less who loses a finger or possibly killed as long as customers get their furniture. The same outrage you have when you read of people forced to work in unsafe conditions overseas is the same outrage you should have in this case and here’s why. Ashley was found to have 2 Willful violations in the investigation of a 56 year old employee who had his right ring finger amputated, which is the second amputation incident this year. They were also cited for failing to keep accurate injury records which should be no surprise at all. Why keep records when you don’t prevent accidents. They were given a proposed fine of $83,200 and this is in addition to the $1.766 million citation issued this past January for 38 safety violations at their Arcadia location, of which they are contesting. They’ve had over 1,000 work related injuries in 3.5 years. This is a company that doesn’t care about their employees, only your money. Is this a company you want to buy from?
$38,000 fine over Highway 101 worker crushed by pipe – PREVENTABLE – If only CalOSHA could raise their fines to fitting levels. Maggiora & Ghilotti a construction firm was cited and fined for 3 violations at $38,250 for an accident that crushed to death their employee Jared Overfield, 28 years old. The company failed to secure and plan for the transporting of a 40 foot, 8,000 pound pipe. He was standing in front of the path of a forklift transporting the pipe, which was sloping forward when it slid off the forks and rolled over him and down the slope. There was nothing in place on the ground to prevent the pipe from rolling. Except for the incredible lack of common sense displayed here, there are two things I’m going to tell you right now, never stand directly under a piece of equipment or construction material held by rope or wires and never stand directly in front of any materials especially when they can roll down hill. Be aware of where you are positioned when things are moving around you.
Cal-OSHA issues citations in January Willits bypass viaduct collapse – PREVENTABLE – Phillip Lappe, Fermin Jaramillo and Jullian Lamas are lucky to be alive after the collapse of the viaduct falsework as they received serious but survivable injuries. After their investigation, CalOSHA has fined all entities involved with the project. Flatiron West was fined $93,900 for 4 Serious and 1 other violations. The Joint Venture was fined $49,500 for 4 Serious and Caltrans was fined $21,600 for 4 Serious violations. CalOSHA determined the falsework was not properly designed, was not erected as per the design plans, was missing components, deficiencies were not identified when inspected and signed off by the project engineer for the company erecting it. Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie described the system of double checking the falsework as, “redundant inspections,” which he said were done by CalTrans and contractors. CalTrans! Yes, the same group who inspected the steel rods before being placed into the new Bay Bridge eastern span that snapped, crackled and popped and has put doubt into many minds, as new problems have appeared, if it will withstand a significant sized earthquake even after going $5.5 billion over budget. If you are going to inspect something, whatever it is, don’t just sign-off to be one of the boys or go with the program. Do your job the correct way.
OSHA cites firm in fatal I-75 overpass collapse – PREVENTABLE – Another construction worker lost his life due to under estimating the hazards. Kokosing Construction Co. was cited for 2 Serious safety violations for exposing workers to being crushed by and struck by hazards while working on the bridge deck and using a tracked excavator for demolition on a surface not strong enough to support it. They also failed to stop demolition after an engineering error was discovered. A family with 4 children have lost a husband and father and Kokosing pays $14,000 in fines. Go figure.
OSHA Cites Wood Pallet Factory Where Teenager Lost His Hand – PREVENTABLE – A 14 year old boy working his summer at the Shady Knob Pallet Company was allowed to operate a piece of equipment he wasn’t trained for and was also legally under age to operate and paid a large price by losing his hand. The following OSHA inspection found 17 Serious safety violations, from not training staff to provide first aid to not storing flammable liquids correctly and were fined $43,200. A young man trying to earn a little summer cash has been traumatized and has to live the rest of his life with this memory because of a case of stupidity at Shady Knob. Never operate equipment you’ve never been trained on.
Buried in a bin: accident survivor emphasizes safety – SURVIVOR – Not everyone gets to survive an accident and get a second chance but sometimes that’s what it takes to make a safety advocate. Arick Baker was buried alive in a grain bin but was lucky and has lived to share his story. Check it out.
OSHA Chief: Accidents Reflect Lax Safety Culture in Texas – BAD DEAL – Texas has been busy attracting companies to come to the great state by offering low taxes and cost of doing business and that must include a very lax safety culture. Great read.
Well my friends that brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. As always I appreciate you stopping by and taking time out of your busy day to read the blog. Please feel free to use any or all of these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting. As of June 27th, for fiscal year 2014 – 935 people have died in industrial accidents. The good news is that’s 35 less then this time last year but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Don’t rely on just your company to protect you. Be aware of what’s going on around you, watch out for each other and never stay quiet about safety. The life you save may be your own. Until the 15th. stay safe.