Companies Behaving Badly – Can’t Coach Stupid



I once had a boss, who whenever an employee dropped the ball on customer service used to love saying, “You can’t coach stupid.” After a while, I would cringe every time he said it, especially since I didn’t think that was a solution to the problem and also believe to this day that good coaching could cure most employee issues.  However, with that said, what can one say when they see an employee working on a roof without using any fall protection gear, or worker reaching into moving machine parts to clear a jam?  Stupid, dumb, ignorant, dense, dumbass? All sound very awful ways to get a point across but maybe that’s what it takes some time to get a worker to take safety seriously or the courage to say NO to a stupid supervisor’s unsafe request.  By the simple act of not using safety equipment or procedures insults all the people who have come before you, that have fought and died for workplace safety so you can be stupid. Some sobering numbers for you. As of September 19th, 2015, the latest available from OSHA, 1,258 human beings have died in industrial accidents this fiscal year. We still have a long way to go.  That sounds very much like a new episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

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OSHA Says Safety Mechanisms Would Have Prevented Worker’s Death – PREVENTABLE – This could have been a very simple fix to prevent this accident but you have to care about your employees or about people in general.  However, Endicott Clay Products decided that luck was a much better safety plan and had an employee crushed to death in a brick setting machine because it didn’t have the required safety guards. What a terrible way to die. After the inspection by OSHA, they hit them with 3 Serious safety violations as the machine lacked guarding, there was inadequate guards on moving belts and missing railings on the brick setting platform so workers were exposed to moving parts and falls.  You don’t have to work under these conditions. Don’t keep quiet about safety.

OSHA fines NY contractor $85K after worker dies from fall – PREVENTABLE – Vidal Sanchez, a 51-year-old construction worker was busy doing his job for J&M Metro General Contracting, raking freshly poured concrete near an unprotected edge.  Mr. Sanchez was not given any required fall protection gear and they didn’t bother to train him or his fellow workers how to minimize fall hazards. Mr. Sanchez wound up falling off the exposed edge and dropped 6 stories to his death.  J&M Metro General Contracting was issued 1 Willful and 5 Serious safety violations along with a fine of $84,600.  As far as I’m concerned, the fine is ridiculously low and a death related to a willful violation should mean jail time for the site supervisor and owner(s).  You never know when you’ll lose your balance, slip, trip or slide.  That’s why it’s called an ACCIDENT!  Your employer must supply safety equipment including fall protection gear and equipment.  If you feel your life is in danger and no one in management is listening to your concerns, call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

OSHA eyes $49,600 fine for East Earl roofing contractor – PREVENTABLE – Yet another contractor who apparently has no problem putting their workers in harm’s way, but maybe since they were working on a medical center maybe they figured there wasn’t far to go.  Fortunately, no one was injured but Weaver Construction & Roofing exposed their workers to a 13-foot fall with no benefit from guardrails, safety nets or other devices. The money they saved to by-pass workplace safety will help pay the $49,600 fine for 1 Willful and 2 Serious citations.  Oh, by the way, these idiots also thought it was o.k. to support scaffolding with a forklift and were cited 3 years ago for fall hazards.  Just an accident waiting to happen.


OSHA cites two Utah companies after fatal accident – PREVENTABLE Two companies were fined by OSHA after Benjamin Sandmire, a 30-year-old was hit with a pre-fab concrete wall that was being put into place by use of a forklift and later died at the hospital.  Far West Construction Company and Empyre Builders Inc. were both cited 2 Serious and $50,000 fines for not using proper equipment to place the wall.  Don’t let anyone talk you into doing something unsafe just to save a few steps and time.  Chances are you’re the one who’ll get hurt or die.

Diver who died in Portland Harbor apparently was hit by spinning propeller – PREVENTABLE – No matter where you work, on land or sea, when it comes to working on any piece of equipment that is powered by a motor of some type you need to LOTO. That turns it off, shut it down and lock it out so no one can come along and turn it back on while you are still working on it!  Dennis McGrath a 56-year-old diver was removing rope that was tangled on the prop of a fishing boat.  Imagine his surprise when he freed the rope that the propeller began spinning and then killing him.  It looks like no safety protocol was used at all as the industry standard for the shipping industry is at least 3 people involved in such repair.  There should have been a supervisor, a primary diver, and a tender.  But when you want to save a few bucks and do things on the cheap safety never enters the conversation.

OSHA fines Mars excavating company for March trench collapse – PREVENTABLE – Can you imagine what you would do if a trench you were working in to install a new sewer line suddenly collapsed on you?  Well, that’s what an employee of Mark Mashuda Excavating endured as he was trapped up to his waist in mud and dirt for more than 2-1/2 hours because his employer didn’t think it was important enough to provide cave-in protection for his employees.  The cost of safety would have cut into his profits and well those things never happen to me.  OSHA fined the company $147,000 and this is the 3rd time they’ve been cited for safety violations as they were fined twice in 2013 which tells me they don’t care about the safety of workers.

Swanson Bark fined $17,100 for fatal accident – PREVENTABLE – Like the sword of Damocles hanging over your head, if you don’t work safe, eventually it’ll catch up with you.  Swanson Bark & Wood Products lost their owner, John Leber when he was critically injured when a wall of concrete blocks fell on him.  The retaining wall being built was placed on top of soft sand and not properly fixed in place.  The states Labor and Industry department issued a fine of $17,100 for the violations which also included failing to train employees how to safely build such walls. The company was cited back in 2014 for 11 violations when a worker trying to clear a jam in a machine that breaks up bark was suddenly pulled into the machine and suffered severe injuries.

Seinfeld television show
Seinfeld television show
Bureaucracy Corner –  It is a very sad state of affairs when government agencies are being cited by OSHA. They should be setting an example, but then, workplace safety is more about politics than people.

Mail distribution center hit with OSHA fines – U.S.P.S. is at it again putting workers at risk neither rain nor snow nor heat nor gloom of night. The Greenville, South Carolina center was cited for 1 Willful and 2 Serious safety violations for blocking and restricting traffic flow in aisles shared by industrial trucks and pedestrians, allowing workers to operate forklifts without wearing seat belts and exposing workers to falls of up to 8 feet. In case you don’t remember, a willful citation means the brain trust at this distribution center knew of the safety hazard and that it could seriously injure or kill a worker but couldn’t care less about fixing it. Just how you want them to treat our mail, right?  The proposed fine is $79,900. This is the result of poor leadership and poor choices.

OSHA Cites National Forests In Oregon For More Than 200 Violations – National Forest Service – Since 2010, OSHA has cited various national forest offices a total of more than 200 times over the past 10 years in Oregon alone and would have added up to $325,000 in fines if OSHA could fine other federal agencies.  The Agency charged with preserving our National Forests for future generations must work under conditions that can kill them. Circuit breakers missing blanks or breakers, Electrical junction boxes, and outlets without covers, no eye protection when working with caustic chemicals, flawed ladders, woodworking machines without safety features, unacceptable guardrails and seasonal housing with insufficient secondary fire exits.

B.C. introduces more legislation to improve workplace safetyCANADA – British Columbia is trying to improve workplace safety laws in their province with new legislation. Let’s wish them the best of luck.

Three Kansas businesses honored for safety records, including McPherson manufacturer – SAFETY WINNERS – It can be done. 3 Kansas businesses were recognized for their accomplishments in workplace safety.  Among them, American Maplan Corporation has gone 13.5 years without a lost time injury.  Fantastic.

Well, that brings yet another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for stopping by and please don’t hesitate to use any or all of these stories at your next tailgate/toolbox safety meeting.  The more you know about safety, the better you can protect yourself.  You have the right to work in a safe place and that means being provided with PPE for the job, training and the ability to express your concerns about safety.  You do not have to perform dangerous jobs without proper training.  If anyone tells you it’s o.k. to do it this time, or overrides any safety shut off devices or does not give you fall protection when working over 6 feet off the ground and no one is listening to your concerns, call OSHA’s toll-free number at 800-321-OSHA (6742).  Until November 1st. stay safe my friends.



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