RBMB-Exceeded Limitations


We all deal with limitations of one sort or another and at times we have depended on machinery of some type to help us compensate for those limitations.  However, we tend to become enamored by their speed and strength and forget that those pieces of industrial powered machinery have limits themselves as we take them for granted and push them beyond the tasks they’ve been designed for.  That means it falls upon us humans to protect the machinery and make sure they don’t exceed their capabilities so they can keep us safe at the same time.

It really burns my butt that workers are being injured and killed due to mis-information or lack of communication on what task their machine can do safely or the weight capacities of equipment.  By following the steps below, you can protect yourself, prevent accidents or serious injuries at work if YOU know what to look for when it comes to equipment limitations .

Step 1 – Certification:  When you were hired and your job involves the operating of any kind of industrial powered trucks/equipment you should have first received a general safety orientation and then been trained and certified by the company to operate that piece of equipment.  If you were certified on a powered pallet jack and you need to operate a forklift, you need to be certified again for the operation of that forklift as well.  


Step 2 – Data Plate:  During the certification process you were introduced to the “data plate”.  This plate is very important since it’s an I.D. the manufacturer has put together to tell you how much weight you can move safely in the facility without having to worry about tip over.  It will also come in handy and help you for those times you may have to operate a different type of forklift.  The weight you can move with a diesel powered forklift is more then an electric and you would learn this by reading the data plate.  In fact, the data plate is so important that it is a OSHA violation to operate any powered vehicle without a date plate.  So if your industrial powered truck is missing the plate, immediately inform your supervisor via the daily checklist and verbally.  

Step 3 – Seatbelt:  Always wear a seatbelt when operating your forklift.  The manufacturer has designed your forklift to protect you within it’s cage, so if you do unfortunately experience a tip over, the seat belt will keep you within that cage and safe so you don’t wind up under a 8,000 pound forklift.

Step 4 – Modifications to any piece of equipment should be approved and done by the manufacturer of the equipment only!  They know how to safely add any modifications so the equipment will continue to operate properly.  As soon as the modifications are completed it is critical to have retraining of operators so they know how the modifications affect operation.

Step 5 – New Equipment:  When ever you get any new piece of equipment, before anyone is allowed to touch it, training needs to be given.  Why?  Where is the emergency shut off, what are the weight limitations, are there exposed moving parts?  I always reccommend that the manufacturers representative do the initial training to management and staff so questions can be asked by all on the equipment and then later you can develop your own training for in-house use.  


Step 6 – Quick huddle:  When you find that your crew has to operate equipment that hasn’t been used in a while, like seasonal equipment such as a snow plow or large industrial vehicles like a boom lift, take the few minutes and have a quick huddle to go over and remind everyone on proper operation, it’s limitations and any safety reminders related to operation of the equipment.  Those few minutes taken to explain and remind can avoid hours of accident investigation and/or a trip to the E.R.

Don’t let anyone ever push you to operate equipment beyond it capabilities, limitations and safety limits.  Don’t let anyone ever push you to operate equipment in need of repair and unsafe to operate even if it’s “only this once”.  If it doesn’t sound right to you, ask questions and if you don’t get answers and still being bullied to do the wrong thing, call the OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).  Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.


Really Burns My Butt – Die Young


Kelsey “Bug”Hagenson

When a young person dies in war, it is heartbreaking and only somewhat comforting that it was in the service of their country.  When a young person dies in an industrial accident it is just as heartbreaking and in both cases the world has lost an original masterpiece, someone who later in their life may have gone on to invent or discover or paint or write something that will improve the world or produce the offspring that may accomplish all that.  The Army gives at least 10 weeks of basic training to ensure civilians become soldiers and 14 – 16 weeks in some cases of specialized military functions so they are prepared and ready before being sent into a dangerous situation.  So when I see a young man die in an industrial accident because he was thrown into a job like grist for the mill my feelings turn into anger.  Kelsey “Bug” Hagenson, an 18 year old who enjoyed the outdoors and just beginning his journey in life, had been on the job only 3 months, when he was mixing concrete at a construction site when a forklift, driven by another employee, 15 years on the job, with inadequate training and no use of his right hand, hit and killed Kelsey.

OSHA has cited the company, Lunda Construction Company for 1 Willful and 5 Serious safety violations along with a proposed fine of $105,000.  For those of you who don’t know, a willful violation means the company knew there was a hazard that could kill one of their workers but couldn’t care less to do anything about it.  Too me, that’s manslaughter especially when you take into account that Lunda has a history of worker deaths and safety violations being inspected 30 times over the last 5 years, receiving 12 Serious violations and earning a spot in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  With this history, they also should be barred from competing for ANY Federal, state, or city construction contracts .

Let’s not allow Kelsey’s death be for nothing and turn this into a positive.  On any construction site in any state, watch out for each other.  Pair up with the younger workers, be their buddy and mentor them on safety, the job and how to go home in one piece.  You are there to do a job under dangerous conditions.  There is no room for horseplay or joking. Yea, there will be times they may come off as a know it all, talk to much, or you think their music sucks but guess what, you were like that when you were young too.  Just because you were treated like crap and weren’t shown anything when you began years ago doesn’t mean that has to continue.  Be a mentor, share knowledge, be kind and let’s prevent another senseless death of a young worker.  For you young workers, if you don’t receive any training on how to recognize hazards at the job site, or how to operate machinery or how to use fall protection gear, you must make an important decision.  Is the job worth your life?  If it’s a union job, get hold of your representative immediately and if there is no one there to protect you, CALL the OSHA hotline – 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Also check out the OSHA website for information in both Spanish and English on what to expect on the job.  The information could just possibly save your life.  Don’t become a statistic and never keep quiet about safety, it’s the best way to honor the memory of Kelsey.











Burns My Butt – Double Standards

wait-whatThis week Americold Logistics, was issued 2 repeat and 2 serious citations from OSHA at their Manchester facility based on complaints from 3 employees.   The employees were forced to use forklifts in need of repair and were not taken out of service as they were trained to do.  This really burns my butt.  You spend all that time and money training forklift drivers to work safely, to do daily inspections and red tag unsafe equipment under the penalty of reprimand or termination and then you tell them to forget all that training and go ahead and use the unsafe forklifts?  What kind of message about safety are you sending?  What double standard is this?  If anyone of those workers had used a red tagged forklift and were injured or worse you know damn well that Americold would have thrown them under the bus.  There is only one message – SAFETY.

I commend those 3 employees who obviously were paying attention during training, however the supervisors and managers there need some retraining now!  If you know a piece of equipment is not safe to operate, RED TAG it and don’t let anyone use it.  If your boss tells you or threatens you to use it, CALL OSHA!




Companies Behaving Badly – Willful a Few Dollars More

Nothing says “I care about you” more than a willful safety violation.  OSHA’s definition of a WILLFUL violation is ” a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.” I put that into these terms: Company management knew of the safety hazard but couldn’t care less if anyone got injured or killed let alone fix it.  Not our problem, you need to be careful that’s what we said in our last safety meeting.  Didn’t you pay attention?  You do not have to work in an unsafe environment and NO ONE can force you to commit an unsafe act.  Report safety issues to your supervisor and if nothing happens report it to your union representative and if nothing still happens call OSHA. The company will feed you lots of bull about we’re working on it, or that parts are backordered, but in the meantime, it’s o.k. to use.  Just break sooner.  Because if you do use it and get hurt, the company will throw you under the bus in a minute, their lawyers will insist on it.  You have only one life on this planet, why would you risk it for some company that couldn’t care less about you.  As of September 13, 2014 – 1,315 people have died on the job.  After those remarks I know this has unfortunately got to be another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Somerville cabinet company exposed workers to carcinogens, OSHA says – PREVENTABLE OSHA as part of their Site-Specific Targeting Program for industries with high injury and illness rates couldn’t have come to Choice Cabinetry of Somerville, New Jersey soon enough as they found15 violations including 3 WILLFUL and 7 serious.  They use methylene chloride at this plant, a chemical that when a worker is exposed, has an increased risk of developing cancer and skin and eye irritation as well as possible adverse effects on the heart, central nervous system and liver.  So of course the willful violations were lack of a hazard communication program, hazard communication training and methylene chloride training.  They also didn’t have proper P.P.E. or eyewash facilities. For all this love they have been hit with a proposed fine of only $136,290.

Florida Roofing Contractor Faces $340K in OSHA Fines for Fall, PPE Hazards – PREVENTABLEMore Willful choices as GP Roofing & Construction LLC seemed to have no problem at all exposing their workers to falls or injuries at their two residential work sites.  You know safety costs time and money and just cuts into that profit margin.  So GP Roofing was found to have at total of 12 safety violations including 3 WILLFUL and 4 REPEAT violations.  They willfully failed to provide workers with fall protection systems as well as repeatedly allowed workers to use powered nail guns without eye and face protection and for failing to extend ladders three feet above the landing surface for roof access.  Yes, I know, another company that shares the love.


Man dies in Valley forklift accident – PREVENTABLE – George Young a 54 year old employee of Midwest Manufacturing wasn’t expecting to be killed by his forklift that Monday evening.  He had been employed there for 2 years before the standup forklift he was using backed into some shelving and he became pinned.  Don’t know if his forklift didn’t stop in time or how he became dislodged from his standup to get pinned but this should remind everyone that forklifts are secret killers in your warehouse if not properly maintained and your drivers trained.

Pedestrian killed in forklift accident in Lancaster County, police say + Postal employee taken to hospital after forklift accident – PREVENTABLE – Two forklift accidents that were both avoidable if only the drivers were paying attention.  The driver in Lancaster county wasn’t paying attention or watching the road when he struck Debroahlee Pinot who was walking towards him on the road shoulder.  The postal worker was not paying attention or he would have seen the support beam before he hit it. A forklift like any other motorized vehicle is only as safe as it’s operator drives it and driving distracted will almost always end with an accident.  The notion that you’re the only one on the road or warehouse is ridiculous and you should always operate under the guise there are folks around.  LOOK before you drive!!!  In fact if you see any of your forklift drivers back up without first looking, pull them off, suspend their forklift license and have them go through the training course again.

Supervisor Fatally Injured at Ohio Plant – PREVENTABLE – Imagine the thoughts that went through the mind of the 48 year old supervisor as a heavy metal door struck him and slowly squeezed the last breath out of his body.  He had worked for Certified Heat Treating Inc. of Miamisburg, OH for 25 years and obviously worked his way up to supervisor, but also obvious, safety wasn’t a priority in his training or to the company itself.  Bill Wilkerson, OSHA’s area director put it best, “No worker should lose their life because an employer decided to cut corners on safety.”  Think about it, he started there at about the age of 23 and for years was told it’s o.k. to do it this way and for 25 years nothing happened, that is until March 31st. 2014 when he gave his life trying to save the company money by cutting corners. When OSHA inspected the facility they found 10 serious violations mostly related to confined space and L.O.T.O standards for the control of machinery and moving parts.  Workers were also inadequately trained on specific procedures to prevent such incidents, and periodic inspections of equipment were NOT conducted.  The proposed fine is only $64,000.  Yes after 25 years of service that’s what it amounts too.  DO NOT work on any piece of machinery or equipment unless you know it is properly locked out and tagged out.

Rockville Construction LLC Cited By OSHA – PREVENTABLE – Yet another construction company, this time in Manchester, Conn. was found to have over 24 health and safety violations after an OSHA inspection.  During a renovation project the workers weren’t given adequate safeguards to prevent exposure to lead, falls and electrical hazards.  There was also inadequate training to workers about the hazards of lead exposure and the company lacked a hazard communication program.  In other words, the company figured the less said the better, and we can save some money as well.  Don’t ever be afraid to ask about the conditions in a work site.

OSHA Cites Haverhill Chemicals in Fatality – PREVENTABLE – Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional director in Chicago said it best, “A long term employee, preparing to retire and spend more time with his loved ones, lost his life in a preventable tragedy.  A worker who dedicated his life to a job should never lose that life to that job.” The OSHA investigation into his death found 21 serious and 2 other than serious safety violations. The 61 year old worker suffered fatal injuries as an expansion joint failed while he was clearing a blockage and a thermally heated chemical mixture spewed on him.  That was Haverhill Chemicals send off for their long time employee. They had failed him and other workers by not ensuring misaligned pipes and expansion joints were repaired properly and adequate safety shields were installed.  Proposed fine is only $134,000.

Newington Business Fined After Worker Loses Parts Of Fingers – PREVENTABLE – Nothing like a little accident to get all that unwanted attention from OSHA and then having them find all kinds of things.  That’s what happened at West Hartford Stairs & Cabinets when an employee cut off parts of two of his fingers and OSHA found 16 serious violations to a tune of a $60,200 proposed fine.  In addition to the inadequate guarded machine where the employee amputated his fingers, they also found no spark detector in the dust collection system, improper disposal of flammable rags and buildup of flammable chemicals, failed to have employees wear safety glasses and protective gloves when using chemicals and NO emergency eyewash station and were only some of the issues.  The good thing here is yes the worker suffered an injury but that caused OSHA to come by before this company had a chance to blow itself up and hurt more employees.

CT Roofing Contractor Cited After Fatal Worker Fall PREVENTABLE – A young worker, 28 years old fell 18 feet off a roof he was working on and died 4 days later from his injuries.  The saddest thing about this death is that he was wearing a safety harness but it wasn’t tied to an independent anchorage.  Where the hell was his foreman and why didn’t they make him tie off?  Ah, but it turns out M&M Roofing has been cited 3 times before by OSHA for similar hazards so they have a history of NOT caring for their employees.  In addition to the fall hazard, they were cited for 2 serious violations, an unguarded skylight and allowing workers to work close to power lines.  Only $40,600 for their indifference to their employees safety. In my opinion repeat violators in construction should have their licenses pulled and suspended for a period of time.  We need to stop these senseless deaths.

(Photo courtesy of the          Collins family)

(Photo courtesy of the Collins family)

Lawmaker: Time to consider stiffer OSHA penalties – OPINION/FOOD FOR THOUGHT –  As you regular readers know I am a big proponent of greatly increasing the fines and penalties for violating companies, but for willful and serious violations which also should have an added penalty if the violation results in a death.  To me the lesser violations should be more of a teaching moment.  However this article is more about Brett Samuel Collins, a 20 year old college student who was happy to have a summer job so he could have some money when he returned to school.  Unfortunately, Brett never made it back to classes. We need to do a better job of teaching safety to our younger workers.

Cargill’s Illinois Pork Plant Reaches 6 Million Work Hours With No Injuries – SAFETY WINNER – Cargill’s pork processing facility in Beardstown, Ill. who employs more than 2,000 workers and processes 1 billion pounds of pork in a year.  Congratulations, It can be done!!

Maine Businesses Recognized for Workplace Safety – SAFETY WINNERCommissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette announced that Maine Oxy of Brewer and Davis Brothers of Chester have each earned the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program Award (SHARP) in recognition of each business’ rigorous safety achievement program.

The days are getting shorter. Make sure your workplace is properly lit in all seasons. – SAFETY TIP – Great information on lighting the workplace and tips from Safety.BLR.com  Remember your workers are not mushrooms and studies show people work better and safer in well lit work areas.


Well, that brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for stopping by and please share these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox safety meeting.  You should never fell guilty about speaking up about safety.  You have every right to do so.  Even if most of the plant doesn’t observe the rules, make sure your team does.  You’ll take some flack for it but you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror and the great feeling of sending all your staff home in one piece. Insist on a safe workplace.  Until next month my friends, have a happy Halloween.




Companies Behaving Badly – It’s a Virus of Course




It must be a virus!  How else can you explain all the falls that are still going on.  As of September 6th. 2014 – 1,296 workers died due to their job this fiscal year.  In 2013 Falls were the most cited violation in the construction industry as 294 died due to falls (36.9% of all 796 deaths in construction).  It must be the virus that keeps us from leaning from past experience as fall protection is still the #1 OSHA violation as 6,143 have been issued so far.  So let’s stop the madness. It is so easy to buy fall protection gear, you can even get it online from Grainger. Stop making excuses and you workers, why do you listen to idiots that tell you it’s O.K. to work without fall protection.  You know they’re called ACCIDENTS for a reason, not on purposes.  You don’t know if a gust of wind is going to hit that sheet of plywood and push you or if you will slip on someones spilled coffee.  If you are forced to work in unsafe conditions and no one in management is listening, you can go to the OSHA website and file a complaint online or call OSHA at1-800-321-OSHA.  Well unfortunately, this sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

A continuación se presentan los pasos para ponerse en contacto con OSHA para presentar una queja. Sé que la realidad es que la mayoría de ustedes no tienen máquinas de fax para presentar una queja y lo hago encontrar este paso ridículo. Llame al número 800 – la vida es demasiado importante. No deje que los jefes se aprovechen de ti. Usted tiene los derechos para un lugar de trabajo seguro.Éstas son las opciones para presentar su queja de seguridad y salud:

1. Online – Ir a la línea Formulario de Quejas Las quejas escritas que están firmadas por los trabajadores o sus representantes y presentados a un área de OSHA o la oficina regional tienen más probabilidades de resultar en inspecciones de OSHA. Las quejas recibidas en la línea de los trabajadores en los estados de plan estatal aprobado por OSHA serán enviadas al plan estatal apropiado.
2. Descargar y Fax / Correo – Descargue el formulario de queja de OSHA * [En Espanol *] (o solicitar una copia a la oficina local de área de OSHA regional o), completarlo y enviarlo por fax o por correo de vuelta a su OSHA regional o local de servicios Oficina. Las quejas por escrito que están firmados por un trabajador o representante y presentadas a la Oficina de Área de OSHA más cercano tienen más probabilidades de resultar en inspecciones de OSHA. Por favor, incluya su nombre, dirección y número de teléfono para que podamos contactar con usted para dar seguimiento. Esta información es confidencial.
3. Teléfono – su oficina local de OSHA local o regional. Personal de OSHA puede discutir su queja y responder a cualquier pregunta que tengas. Si hay una emergencia o el peligro es potencialmente mortal, llame a su oficina local de OSHA local o regional o al 1-800-321-OSHA.

Security Guard Killed on the Set of ‘Falling Skies’ – PREVENTABLE – A horrible accident that could have been prevented as Amrik Singh Gill, a security guard on a television production site was pinned against a tree as a unattended 5-ton truck sitting on a slight slope, slide down, killing him. The truck driver should have know better than to leave his vehicle like that.  As with forklifts if you are going to be out of sight of the vehicle make sure it is correctly parked. Engine off, break on, forks down.  Do it the same way every time, make it a habit for life.

Forklift accident in Edmond leaves two dead, one injured – PREVENTABLE – Two brothers, Michael Birney, 56, and Daniel Birney, 54 were killed when the forklift supporting their elevated platform tipped over and crashed to the ground.  A third person, a 21 years old male was severely injured and is in the hospital.  They were moving decking tile when the accident occurred.  The investigation is currently in progress, but forklifts tip over when the maximum weight capacity is exceeded and/or not used on a level surface.  Always check the manufacturers plate for the weight limits at various heights before using and if there is no plate tag the vehicle out of service and report it.

Man crushed to death in forklift accident near Tampa – PREVENTABLE – Ricardo McCalop, 51, an employee of Infra-Metals owned by Reliance Steel & Aluminum, was near the end of his shift and looking forward to spending time with his family when the forklift he was driving overturned and crushed him.  He was moving a steel beam when it struck a pile of other beams causing them to shift and hit the forklift knocking it over.  Why you would allow workers to operate in an area of such tight quarters is beyond me, it’s just an accident waiting to happen.  Don’t set your employees up for failure.

Company fined $70k for forklift death – PREVENTABLE – Even in New Zealand they know a forklift in need of repairs should NOT be used as Busck Prestressed Concrete Ltd was convicted in District Court for the death of 47 year old employee, Anthony Wells.  Busck Ltd. in all their glorious stupidity allowed a modified 6.5 tonne telehandler operate in service even though the headlights, front indicators, brake lights, front hazard lights, horn, screen washers and front wipers were NOT WORKING in addition to having a missing right mirror and 4 different brands of tires, each with a different tire pressure!  As if this wasn’t enough of a recipe for disaster they also had a trainee with NO formal qualifications operate the vehicle!  Because of their arrogance in allowing this machine to operate Anthony Wells was hit and killed in the early hours of February 25th and now they were ordered to pay a fine of $70,000 and pay reparation of $60,000 for a total of $130,000.  The repairs would have been much less. Do NOT operate a forklift or any vehicle that is in need of repairs even if someone in management tells you it’s o.k.  If they threaten your job for refusal to drive a death trap call OSHA!!

OSHA investigates forklift accident at P&G distribution center PREVENTABLE – In the early afternoon of a Friday an employee of the Procter & Gamble D.C. in Pennsylvania was seriously injured when he was trapped between a forklift and a shelving unit.  OSHA is currently investigating the accident but my suspicion is that the forklift driver didn’t look before backing up and/or the worker didn’t alert the driver he was behind him.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a forklift driver just quickly slip into reverse and move without so much as a glance to see if the area is clear.  It’s like the same morons who just pull out into traffic from a parked position without first signaling and looking to see if traffic is clear. Why would you think you are the only one out there?  If your warehouse doesn’t have specific walkways for employees to use to avoid forklifts or other vehicular traffic you are just delaying the inevitable.

Cal/OSHA fines UC Berkeley $26,000 in death of custodian – PREVENTABLE – Even in the environment of a great institution of higher learning where some of the greatest minds have been taught, common sense can still be lacking.  Damon Frick, 45 was busy cleaning windows when the lift he was using collapsed under him and he fell 22 feet and later died from his injuries at Highland Hospital.  Mr. Frick had assembled the lift by himself before using and if one of his supervisors had bothered to check in with him and his work maybe he’d still be alive today but then, they even allowed him operate at that height ALONE!  The University was quick to cover their butt by showing they had documentation he was fully trained, back on March 12, 2012 on a piece of equipment that’s used once a year. There was no refresher training conducted in-between or practice and you have no idea how ironic this is since Berkeley is also the home of Continued Education where courses for Lawyers, Doctors and other professionals are offered so they can keep up to date on practices and procedures.  This is now costing UC Berkeley $26,250 for ineffective training, improperly assembled equipment, no documentation of safety inspections, maintenance records as well as no operating instructions on the lift.

OSHA cites MCM Industries Co. for serious violations – PREVENTABLE – It takes a lot to finally push an employee to make a complaint to OSHA.  Usually the final straw is when they realize the company isn’t going do anything about an obvious hazard and that’s what MCM Industries Company was doing.  In fact when OSHA conducted their inspection they found 23 violations including 1 WILLFUL which you know means they knew about the problem but couldn’t care less about fixing it.  Workers who help these owners and bosses to earn money on their sweat were exposed to amputation injuries from lack of required guards on mechanical power presses.  Hey boss, how about we put some amputation hazards under you desk.  Think you can still concentrate on your job?  They also received 17 serious violations including, surprise, surprise, no L.O.T.O. procedures and for all this a proposed fine of only $126,700.  I strongly feel that if you demonstrate indifference to human life with a willful violation we should be talking million dollar fines and/or jail time.


Condiment Maker Faces $235,000 in OSHA Fines – PREVENTABLE – Again, an inspection initiated by an employee complaint from an employee in the Brundidge, Alabama facility of Supreme Oil Company of New Jersey. This worker understood the hazards as OSHA found 8 repeat violations, having been found previously in a 2012 inspection for no guardrails on staircases and open-sided platforms, wet floors, untrained workers in L.O.T.O. In addition the company exposed workers to struck-by, amputation and electrical hazards.  A total of 14 violations for a total of $234,960 in fines. It is so sad when companies care about profits more than employee’s lives.

OSHA cites Canton aluminum plant for safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Here is a third case of an employee finally seeing enough and calling OSHA and filing a complaint and this time 2 Willful violations were found along with 1 repeat and 2 serious for a grand total of $130,200. The name of this company who couldn’t care less if an employee was maimed or killed on the job is Matalco U.S. Inc. and they had no problem exposing workers to amputation hazards and failing to remove a crane with broken safety mechanisms out of service. Can you believe that?!  They knew if there was an emergency and a worker went to shut it off it wouldn’t! They also exposed workers falls of more than 23 feet over an open pit.  The best is during their inspection, OSHA actually observed workers standing on aluminum blocks and elevated by a forklift to perform tasks on the furnace exposing them to falls at least 8 feet.  They are now in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program but again I believe larger fines and jail time sound appropriate for this owners and bosses.

Want to save over 3 Billion dollars this week?: The Importance of Workplace Safety – READ THIS – Great article in the National Law Review on how workplace safety can be done and save money while increasing pride amongst your workers.

10 easy, low-cost solutions for warehouse safety – READ THIS – Safety.BLR.com has a great article on low cost solutions for improving safety.  This is awesome information for you small businesses.

OSHA Announces Final Rule On Recording Requirements – CHANGES – New recording requirements become effective January 1st. 2015. All work related fatalities must be reported including work related inpatient hospitalizations of one or more employees and all work related amputations and all work related losses of an eye. Read and see what are changes will take place.  Make sure you are compliant.

Changes to OSHA Law are Coming to California – CHANGES – Also beginning January 1st. 2015 CAL/OSHA has some significant changes putting more of the burden on the employer and reducing the ability of CAL/OSHA to make modifications to civil penalties.


That my friends brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  As always I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy day, stopping by and reading this blog.  Please feel free to share these incidents at your next tailgate/toolbox safety meeting.  The more information your employees have the better job they can accomplish.  Be active on your company safety committee and if you don’t have one start one, it’s easy to do.  Speak to your supervisor or H.R. department.  You do not have to work in unsafe conditions and no one can force you to do an unsafe act.  Don’t wait until someone dies, report unsafe acts to OSHA.  Remember the life you save may be your own.  Until we see you again on October 15 – take care.




Companies Behaving Badly – Labor of Love

witzshared & p>Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

witzshared & p>Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”Confucious

“A mind always employed is always happy.  This is the true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity.”Thomas Jefferson

Happy Labor Day.  It is an awesome feeling to be happy at work and enjoy what you are doing especially since like the quote says, it doesn’t feel like work at all.  There is no reason that everyone can’t be happy at work.  It’s all in the attitude.  Attitude towards your job, attitude towards workplace safety, attitude towards teamwork and life.  It’s attitude that has helped change how companies look at workplace safety and just as much your responsibility that it stays a safe workplace.  When you look at the earliest workplace fatality records, (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) for July 1906 to June 1907 it is astounding to see that 526 workers died due to industrial accidents in ONE county!  It is estimated that in 1912, 18,000 – 21,000 workers died from work related injuries and in 1913 the Bureau of Labor Statistics documented 23,000 industrial deaths.  Thanks to common sense, attitude, knowledge and hard work with unions, state and federal regulators and the positive attitude of workers, the numbers have been greatly reduced however as of July 26, 2014 – 1,098 workers died on the job this fiscal year. Speaking of workplace fatalities, this unfortunately must be another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

   via Ann Marie Powers

via Ann Marie Powers

Bothell man dies as a result of forklift accident at Lynnwood business – PREVENTABLE – Chuck Lee a 69 year old was walking through a parking lot on a Monday morning when he was struck by a forklift as well as a case of items that fell of the forklift pallet.  The forklift was driven by an employee of Goodwill who stated he saw something in front of his machine and slammed on his brakes.  Mr. Lee died the next day as a result of drastic spine fractures and blunt injury of the head and torso.  When you drive a forklift you need to have a full view of what’s ahead.  Your head should be moving left to right and back while scanning with your eyes especially in an area where they is no clear path for pedestrians to follow. If your load blocks your vision then drive backwards.  Not ALL civilians know how to deal with forklifts and unfortunately Mr. Lee may have assumed the forklift saw him and would stop.  The investigators will check on the driver’s forklift training records but a license doesn’t mean safe driver.  As part of your walk of the floor you should always watch drivers operating on the floor and give appropriate feedback in private when needed.

Retailer to pay nearly $1M following compactor fatality. – PREVENTABLE – In 2009 Roy Polanco a 65 year old worker at a Macy’s warehouse had no idea the cardboard bailer he was operating had been modified not to shut down once the cycle was engaged.  He found this out after he fell into the bailer through a unguarded section and while his screams were probably short as his body was being crushed he was also decapitated.  Any machine or piece of heavy equipment should NEVER be modified without the guidance and approval of the manufacturer.  Then after any modifications on equipment employees need to be re-trained on the modifications made. Anyone, be it CEO, manager or fellow worker who tells you it’s o.k. to disconnect any emergency stop is insane and should be avoided, in fact anyone who orders and carries out this action that results in an employee death should be on trial for murder.

Cal/OSHA $77,250 Fine For Tug Driver’s Death Highlights Importance Of Ramp Safety Compliance – PREVENTABLE – Cesar Valenzuela a 51 year old ramp worker employed by Menzies Aviation was killed when his tug hit a curb and threw him out of the vehicle. Like cars and forklifts, tugs are required to have seat belts as well, which means they’re their to be used and not as a vehicle ornament.  However Cesar couldn’t use the seat belt even if he wanted too since according to the findings of the investigation the tug had no working seat belt and in fact stated Menzies aviation didn’t think it important enough to require their workers to use those seat belts in fact they discouraged their use.  What’s even more frustrating about this needless death is that a reminder alert about using seat belts was issued in 2012 when another ground worker died in Atlanta when thrown from his vehicle.  When safety equipment is installed it’s there for a reason, use it and if someone tells you otherwise, you’re a fool for listening.  You are mortal after all.



Two injured in forklift accident at Highland Rim Speedway – PREVENTABLE – Basic forklift safety teaches you never to raise someone up on the forks of a lift and that stability lessens the higher and more forward they are raised as two gentlemen found out first hand at the Highland Rim Speedway when their extended forklift tipped over injuring both.  As long as you use a forklift for what it was designed to handle, operate in specified areas only, don’t exceed its weight limits and observe posted speed limits you should have no worries operating one. It’s common sense.

1 injured after forklift tips while unloading merchandise – PREVENTABLE – Meanwhile in Calgary, Canada, a forklift operator unloading heavy merchandise off a trailer sustained minor injuries when thrown from his vehicle when it tipped over.  The trailer unit he was unloading also tipped forward and had to be stabilized before the forklift operator could be rescued.  Again people, make sure you know the forklifts weight capacities before unloading any trailer and make sure the trailer is stabilized properly to avoid tip overs.  Also make sure to wear that seat belt, in the event of a tip over you don’t want to get thrown off and possibly wind up under the 8000 pound forklift.

Hefty fines for forklift accident – PREVENTABLE – In New Zealand forklift accidents are an issue as well. The latest news is 3 companies were fined for a total of $140,000 for the broken ankle and severe gash Erica Machado received when she was hit by forklift that suddenly backed up as she was packing kiwi fruit.  The 3 companies operating and working with the packing plant, LRK Trays Ltd, Mount Pack and Cool Ltd were found not to do enough to protect their workers from this type of accident so each was fined $39,375 in addition to $20,000 in reparation to Ms. Machado.  People need to respect forklifts and forklifts need to have assigned areas to operate within.  Mixing them together is a recipe for disaster.

Worker injured at Western Sugar Plant, OSHA investigating – PREVENTABLE – Yet another accident has occurred at a Western Sugar plant. While employees were cleaning the inside of a drying cylinder, they did so in the confidence and trust that management had ensured a proper LOTO.  That is until sugar began falling and filling the cylinder as the heavy hot sugar hit one worker and pushed his head forward between his legs, injuring him.  The other workers scrambled and were able to pull him free from under the accumulating sugar since he had followed proper procedure and had a tag line on him. This was a serious break down in internal communication since someone either removed the LOTO to soon or they didn’t have one in place or production somehow sent it over to soon.  You need to protect your workers operating in a confined space and make sure everyone is free and clear before allowing any production to proceed.  I would begin a round of re-training before someone dies.



Lawyer: Dickey’s Barbecue in Utah Had Another Chemical Burn – PREVENTABLE – This incident is a reminder as to why training of employees is so important and why proper labeling of all containers is critical especially in any food service operation.  Before a customer drank tea laced with a chemical cleaning compound at Dickey’s Barbecue and almost died an employee had burned her tongue earlier on the same substance when she tested the content of a sugar container to make sure it was free of the cleaning compound. At that point you’d think that management should have been aware there was a problem and inspected everything.  This is were leadership is so critical to an operation.  Not in the daily routine but the out of ordinary things that may pop up and need attention.  The chemical first got into the container when an employee trying to top off the sugar bucket poured in cleaning product.  Again, this is due to lack of training and lack of leadership.

Hamburg contractor faces $56,400 in OSHA fines – PREVENTABLE – Employees of Kevin Burke Home Improvement were found on site by an OSHA inspector working on a roof and scaffolding without wearing fall protection and were told to stop work until proper fall protection was given to all workers as needed. You’d think a company would think wow we really should do better than that, NOT!  The OSHA inspector returned the next day to find workers yet again working without fall protection gear and so was issued 7 violations, 2 of which were willful, which means that Kevin Burke Home Improvement couldn’t care less if one of their workers fell off the roof. The proposed penalty is $56,400

Death on the Job – Dallas Morning News analysis of federal data – “on average a Texas worker is 12% more likely to be killed on the job than someone doing the same job elsewhere.”  Recently Texas has been trying to steal companies from other states by offering tax incentives and other promises.  Possible the lack of safety may be one reason.  Read the report.

Feds slam California over Cal/OSHA – SIGN OF THE TIMES – Once upon a time CalOSHA had a dream of being the best at keeping the workers of California safe. In fact, their laws and enforcement was second to none and a notch better than OSHA itself.  But after years of budget deficits and the retreading of termed out politicians into state agencies and you wind up with the current sad state of affairs, lacking inspectors and lacking leadership.

Job-related accidents kill 1,100 in 7 months – TURKEY – The number of industrial accidental deaths has gotten out of hand in Turkey to the point that there is an average of 4 workers dying per day.  As the trade unions make the public aware of these statistics and try to work with the government for protection, it will not change anytime soon with the absence of workplace safety regulation enforcement.

MOM Brands Utah Manufacturing Facility Earns Prestigious OSHA SHARP Award For Safety Management Excellence – BRAVO – Yet another company proves it can be done and still respect the bottom line.

Outdoor Rubber Stair Tread – NEW PRODUCT – Do you have unsafe outdoor stairs?  Musson outdoor rubber stair treads, made from recycled rubber may be the answer.


That my friends brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Please feel free to use these examples at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting. There are many facets to a safe workplace and one of them is YOU!  You are just as responsible for a safe workplace as is the company and management.  You can refuse to do an unsafe act, you can insist that LOTO is done before you stick your limbs into a machine and you can insist on the proper P.P.E.  Your manhood will be challenged for not sticking you neck out and being a team player but a man knows better than to place your life on a sucker bet.  Remember, gears & machines can break your bones but names will never harm you or put you in E.R.  Be a safety advocate at work, keep up the good attitude, stay safe for the life that you save may be your own.  Until September 15th.

Companies Behaving Badly – June Fall Guys

Stocks fall, stars fall, space debris falls, Governments fall and you may fall apart, fallout, fall asleep, fall behind, fall flat, fall for, fall ill or fall head over heels, as you avoid the pit falls while your voice falls on deaf ears.  However you DO NOT ever want to fall to your death as what tragically happened to 2 construction workers in the San Francisco Bay in two separate incidents, within a day of each other.  Falls are the number #1 cause of injuries and deaths in all industries and what is so frustrating is this is all preventable but YOU need to be part of the solution.  Support National Safety Stand-Down For Fall Protection June 2 – 6  Use this week to focus your team on how to detect, prepare and prevent this hazard.

Why all the falls?  My theory, when you are young you believe you are invincible, indestructible and find that thrill in bending the rules a little.  These bad habits we developed in our youth carry on into our career and since we still have all our body parts, why change!  “It’ll never happen to me.”  Over the years no one bothers to intervene and teach you the correct way or if they have, you blow them off.  I’m not saying that is the case in either of these incidents but neither man was wearing fall protection gear.  My guess is, it’s not enforced since safety costs time and time is money to a company and when recovering from a bad economy, everything goes, even factoring in the cost of human life on the bottom line as part of doing business as usual, because the mis-informed still believe safety costs too much.  Hey, that sounds to me like this is, unfortunately, another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

San Mateo: Worker dies in fall at residential construction site PREVENTABLE – Elias Vera a 54 year old of Fairfield, California fell to his death on a beautiful sunny day.  He fell 9 feet from a wall while working on a townhouse and was employed by a subcontractor, Conco concrete company. Records indicate the company has been investigated by CalOSHA 8 times in the last 6 years for accidents at various sites and were cited 15 times.

Second Bay Area construction worker death – PREVENTABLE – On another beautiful bay area day Victorino Campos-Tovar a 48 year old worker was killed when he fell three stories to his death while unloading sheet rock at a construction site in San Jose, California and worked for FBM Construction.

Tucson framing contractor fined $113,500 PREVENTABLE – U.S. Carpentry-Tucson was hit with a $113,500 fine by the Industrial Commission of Arizona for willfully violating safety rules after receiving an anonymous complaint.  Two workers were found working on the roof of a 2 story house without fall protection gear in addition to no guardrails around windows and open stairwells.  Their excuse was there wasn’t enough gear to go around.  The company didn’t even bother to have a site specific fall protection plan or complete employee training records.  NEVER use the excuse “there wasn’t safety equipment available”.  It only shows you are not someone I want to employ.  No safety equipment, no job done.

OSHA Fines Lovell’s Western Sugar in Worker Death  PREVENTABLEAnfesa Galaktionoff a 28 year old worker had discovered a new passion in her life to own and breed horses but it was shattered when she fell through a missing section of floor grating into a closed water system where she was sucked through 600 feet of pipe. Western Sugar Cooperative refinery was only hit with $71,000 in fines for the 12 violations found after Anfesa’s death.  She never saw the missing section because of the debris built up that was allowed to accumulate.  Why didn’t Western Sugar bother to rope off or properly tag the area as unsafe with signage?  It would have only taken very little time to do and that’s why I believe the fine is not enough as someone should be sitting in a jail cell for their total disregard for hard working people.

Worker Struck By Forklift, Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. Cited By OSHA – PREVENTABLE – After an employee of Nicholson Terminal & Dock Company was hit and killed by a 62,000 pound capacity forklift carrying a 40,000 pound steel coil, the OSHA investigation of this incident that followed found 2 Willful and 7 serious violations.  In case you don’t know, a willful violation means the company intentionally, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.  The willful violations were due to a forklift being modified without manufacturer approval and the second for failing to establish vehicle routes, traffic rules and signs warning of pedestrian traffic.  Sounds like it was every man and woman for themselves out there which is just an accident waiting to happen.  The company also didn’t train employees on operating instructions, warnings and precautions listed in the operator’s manual, maintain vehicles in a safe working order nor direct employees to sound the horn when visibility was obstructed. For this they were hit with a $168,700 fine but the law needs to be changed.  When it’s a willful violation there should be jail time included as well.  Larry Johnson, OSHA’s area director in Lansing said it best, “A workers life should never be the cost of doing business.”

OSHA Fines Company for Amputation Hazards – PREVENTABLE – An employee of Kobelco Stewart Bolling Inc. in Hudson, Ohio had enough and rather than keep quiet and possibly lose a body part or death filled a complaint with OSHA.  Or maybe the employee was motivated by the 3 repeat violations that were found during the inspection of inadequate LOTO procedures, exposing workers to unguarded equipment or the non labeling of chemical containers.  A total of 13 violations were found including exposing workers to caught-in and amputation hazards for a proposed fine of $139,000.  If the machine guarding is not in place don’t use the machine. Once you do it, the guards will never be put back and if you get injured who’s to say they won’t throw you to the wolves as an unsafe worker.

OSHA fines Salisbury business – PREVENTABLE – Ironic that a maker of coated fabrics and adhesives for the health care industry would expose it’s workers to being caught in or crushed by machinery.  Andover Healthcare was cited for a repeat violation for inadequately training employees to implement LOTO procedures protecting workers who serviced the dangerous machines, well after all, lost time in production is lost money and who cares about lost limbs.  The inspection was prompted as Andover is under the Site-Specific Targeting Program which focuses on facilities with a higher than average illness and injury rate and now have $93,200 in pending fines. Apparently no one in management has gotten a clue.

OSHA Fines Omaha Comp – PREVENTABLE – Baltazar’s Stone Inc. was hit with 15 violations by OSHA for exposing workers to dangerous silica dust levels after receiving an employee complaint.  Workers were found exposed up to 3 times over the allowed limits as well as didn’t bother to train workers on silica hazards which can cause irreversible lung disease and other health issues over time like exposure to asbestos.  For their effort in trying to shorten their workers life expectancy they were fined only $40,921.  Remember any job you do, if there is dust created as a by-product you need to wear some kind of PPE to prevent that dust from getting into your lungs.  You may not become ill today or tomorrow but 20 years from now it’s very possible.

I-Team: State Hiring Contractors With Extensive Safety Violations OUTRAGE – Would you hire a child molester who told you they changed their ways as your child’s teacher? Would you hire someone with a history of violence and abuse who told you they changed their ways as your nanny?  NO? Well the state of Massachusetts is more forgiving than we are as they have no problem hiring companies that are placed on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. This should be a public outrage and these companies should be placed on NO business with us list.  If they were hired because they put in the lowest bid then alarms should be sounded as you know safety was not built into that price.  Shame on Massachusetts!! 

OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection Revisions Move Forward – UPDATE – OSHA is proceeding with proposed updating of the agency’s construction standard on eye and face protection bringing it in line with the latest consensus standards and making it consistent with the general industry standard.  Suggest you read the article to keep up.

Best Practices for Bearing Protection MAINTENANCEThe less time you have to spend on the repair or replacement of motors you should reduce the opportunities for accidents so making sure you get the most out of your machinery is critical. Wear and tear on bearings will reduce any machine’s operational life. This article addresses those issues with some great information.

Hard Hat Light Increases Visibility – NEW ITEM – This is a great new hard hat that makes you more visible.  Check it out.



That my friends brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you and grateful you stopped by, spending part of your hectic day here.  Please feel free to share these articles with your employees and co-workers at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Remember to Support National Safety Stand-Down For Fall Protection June 2 – 6.  No one, not a supervisor, manager, president, CEO or chairperson can force you to commit an unsafe act.  When you give yourself that false sense of security because you got away with not doing it properly a few times, that’s when you’ll have an accident and hopefully it won’t be a permanent termination.  Wear the proper PPE, make sure all machine guarding is in place otherwise don’t use it until it’s ready and always use LOTO for clearing jams, resetting, cleaning, maintenance and repairs.  You may think you’re faster than the machine.  The life you save may be your own.  Treat each other with respect and see you here next episode, June 15th.