Companies Behaving Badly – Temporary Dead Labor

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Recruiting and supplying people for various jobs in various industries has gone on since the early years of mankind.  At one time the British navy used press gangs to recruit for many open positions (unwillingly) and now day laborers patiently wait in parking lots hoping to work as it’ll mean how hungry they’ll go to sleep tonight.  However, today it’s the temporary agencies that provide the bulk of labor to companies with workers and in some cases they’re nothing more than just grist for the mill.  For some agencies, who sign a big contract with a large corporation to supply their temporary workforce they become corrupted by the money and the people they’re supplying are no longer human in nature but a commodity with value. Like most corrupted people they don’t want the cash flow to end so they never bother to ask questions, never bother to inspect the potential employers premises, don’t want to understand what is done there or what skills are needed, don’t know what hazardous materials are used if any, what hazards in general they may encounter or bother to offer any kind of training or even the courtesy of a heads up that the temp is being placed in hell and could be severely injured or die.  OSHA has recently demonstrated that staffing agencies can no longer be ignorant or blind to the working conditions of the company they place workers.  All agencies should be on notice that you are responsible for your temporary employees and need to provide them with safety training, explain what PPE is required and why, and what kinds of materials they will be working with or around.   OSHA has already fined several agencies for their lack of care and will continue to do so, if you continue to provide grist for the mill. Speaking of which, we have passed the thousand mark in workers who have died in industrial accidents as 1,035 have passed as of July 25, 2015. (The latest data OSHA has compiled.  Apparently they’re behind in paper work).  The good news is at this time last year the total was 1,098, so we’re 6% drop. Nice work people.  However, that still unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Company owner disputes OSHA’s portrayal of ‘willful’ violations – PREVENTABLE – A 21-year old worker, excited to be working his first day on the job and ready to begin a career suffered amputations to 4 fingers on his right hand that was severely burned by molten plastic.  His employer, Quality Blow Molding Inc. not only didn’t think it important to properly train the employee on machine safety but didn’t report the accident. The company owner said, the employee was shown what to do.  That is such a vague statement when it comes to training and I’ve been on the end of that, shown what to do training is really like.  There’s the machine, here are the switches, get it done and be careful.  Was he shown LOTO or what to do if there was a jam?  I’ve found that when training on the first day, you don’t  get to see all the incidents that can happen like you don’t see a jam and how it’s handled.  OSHA also didn’t see it that way either and fined them $171,270 for 2 Willful, 2 Repeat and 1 other than serious violations.  Yea, 2 repeat, this company was told twice before, 2014 and 2010 to fix this problem on training, LOTO and machine guards but didn’t get the message and now a young man has been changed for life.

OSHA cites Dyson Corp. after worker loses part of finger – PREVENTABLE – Another young man, a 23-year old has paid the price for his employers lack of a safety program and had trusted that his employer, Dyson Corporation would keep him safe. The inspection that followed the accident found 2 Willful, 3 Repeat and 3 Serious violations and handed a proposed fine of $170,170 as well as placed into the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  Workers were not trained on safety procedures or placing machine guards.  This will be interesting to follow as the company brain trust has reached out to OSHA and after years of repeat violations may have gotten the message and wants to change their evil ways. Let’s hope it’s just not talk to reduce their fine and they do make an honest effort to improve safety.

Lancaster battery recycler facing OSHA fines – PREVENTABLE – How would you feel if you found out your employer was exposing you to lead and other harmful substances on a daily basis even after they’ve been told to fix the problem by OSHA?  Well that’s how employees of Retriev Technologies Inc. must feel as they were cited for 8 Repeat and 1 lesser than serious violation and a proposed fine of $74,250.  The biggest issue is improvements to the plant’s ventilation systems to remove the toxins from the air.  However if workers are being exposed to unsafe levels of toxins I don’t understand why the plant is allowed to continue as it seems we’re only creating future illnesses requiring treatment down the road.

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OSHA cites moving company for heat-related death – PREVENTABLE – A 49 year old worker for Select Van and Storage was packing and loading boxes inside a moving truck where the heat index reached 112 degrees. The worker suffered heat stroke and later died.  The OSHA investigation found 1 Serious violation for exposing the worker to such extreme temperatures.  They were also cited for not reporting the death within the specified time and this earned them a fine of $12,000.  This death was senseless and preventable. Learn the signs of heat stroke and stay hydrated by drinking water and take breaks to cool off when working in high heat.

Federal regulators again cite Latite Roofing for worker-safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Latite Roofing and Sheet Metal doesn’t seem to have a problem putting their workers in harms way.  They have been cited again for exposing their workers to dangerous falls of 10 – 20 feet and not providing fall protection.  This time 6 Serious violations were found at a work site and a proposed fine of $136,000 was issued.  They have been cited 9 times in the past 5 years including the death of a 55 year old worker who was told to keep working during a thunderstorm and was killed when struck by lightening.  Why a company is allowed to continue to disregard workers safety is beyond me.  This company also is one of hundreds of contractors who illegally misclassify its employees as independent on government building projects so they can skip out on federal taxes and undercut when bidding against companies who do it the legal way.  So you can see why the owner has no problem putting workers in danger, he has no morals at all, just the love of money.

Maine roofing contractor held in contempt for OSHA violations – PREVENTABLE – Like we used to say in the 70’s, Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. That would have been great advice for general contractor Stephen Lessard who is now being held in contempt of court for outstanding fines of $405,000.  The company Lessard Bros. Construction Inc. had 11 safety violations at 11 different worksites between 2000 and 2011. He had no problem putting his workers at risk during that time period by sending them to work of roof tops without any safety equipment while he collected his money for the jobs while he then refused to correct the violations or pay the fines and now he stands the chance of going to jail. Why he wasn’t in jail sooner for his lack of safety for workers only makes one wonder and the best thing that could happen is he is totally put out of business so he can no longer put people in danger.

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OSHA records show previous citations for roofing company in Vikings stadium accident – Jeramie Gruber, a 35 year old construction worker and husband who greatly enjoyed the outdoors and being an uncle had no idea that today would be his last day alive as he fell 50 feet to his death off the roof top of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.  His employer, A Berwald Roofing Company has a poor record of safety for their workers as they have received numerous citations.  Even though this company has been cited 9 times for Serious safety violations in the last 5 years, 6 for lack of fall protection, they were still awarded a $3.4 million contract on the new stadium.  In fact fall protection was the most cited standard in the construction industry in Minnesota as 564 were issued in FY2014.  The most telling sign of this company’s lack of commitment to safety was the comment made by one of the moron owners Eugene Berwald, “People do foolish things. They don’t hook up their lanyards”.  Eugene apparently doesn’t understand the concept of supervision or disciplinary consequences when safety rules are not followed.  When you put a project out to bid the lowest price isn’t always the best value as the safety record of a company should also be considered and if OSHA ever gets there national registry completed, people will be able to see which companies don’t care about the safety of their workers.

Workplace safety Bill passes, faces criticism – NEW ZEALAND – After much debate and input from workers and companies New Zealand has a new workplace safety bill even though there is criticism that the bill has been watered down as it was developed.  We’ll keep an eye on the developments going on here.

Contractors awarded for safety record – SAFETY WINNER – There are honest and safety oriented contractors out there that have proven you can do it the right way as Newtron Beaumont LLC was recognized for their efforts and commitment of getting all their workers to go home in one piece at the end of the day.  GREAT JOB!

IN DOL Honors Kimball Office-Salem as a Leader in Workplace Safety and Health Excellence – SAFETY WINNER – Kimball Office-Salem has achieved certification in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program and recognized as leaders in workplace safety.  It can be done folks.
That brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you for taking time out of your hectic day and stopping by to read the blog.  As always please don’t hesitate to share any or all of these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Safety is very much like a team sport as it takes everyone, fully committed to make the program work. It is not just up to the company to keep you safe, it’s up to you as well. Never keep quiet about safety and if you feel that your life is in danger at work, or the company is not listening to your concerns about safety or you have had your job threatened because you refuse to commit an unsafe act, call OSHA and file an anonymous complaint at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  The life you save may be your own.  Until the 15th. stay well my friends.
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