Company Fined $60,000 for Worker Loss of Fingers

August 7th, 2015

Metal shearing machineYarl Metal Fabrications Inc. has pleaded guilty of violations of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and has been hit with a $60,000 fine, all stemming stems from an accident that occurred last year, in which a worker lost several fingers while operating a metal-cutting machine that was unguarded.

The incident occurred on April 23, 2014, as a worker was cutting scrap metal with a shearing machine at the company’s Scarborough facility. The worker was operating the shear machine, which is activated with a foot pedal, despite the fact that the required guarding had been removed the previous day for work on a custom job.

As he was operating the machine, a piece of metal became hung up on a corner of the machine, so the worker used his hand to try to wipe the material away. While his hand was in the hazard area where the guard should have been, he accidentally pushed on the foot pedal, which caused the machine’s shear to cycle, resulting in the amputation of multiple fingers.

After an investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, it was determined that the injuries happened because the equipment was not guarded in accordance with the Industrial Establishments Regulation, which is at Ontario Regulation 851, Section 24. According to that rule, “where a machine or prime mover or transmission equipment has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any worker, the machine or prime mover or transmission equipment shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.”

The specific charge to which Yarl Metal Fabrications Inc. pleaded guilty to was for failing in its duty as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed in the OHSA were carried out. Justice of the Peace Chris Triantafilopoulos fined the company $60,000 and also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

That means the company is out $75 total for not making sure a machine was guarded as required. Safety doesn’t cost your company, a lack of safety does.

Florida AG Sues Scammers Selling OSHA Materials

August 6th, 2015

OSHA-logoIn Florida, the Attorney General’s office has announced that they have filed suit against a company in the state that goes by a couple of names, including Federal Safety Compliance, Inc., Federal Compliance Publications, Inc., and the company’s officers, Joseph Mishkin and Steven Mishkin for a scam that defies basic logic.

According to the complaint, it seems the company was shipping Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) materials to various companies that had not requested them, then turned around and billed them nearly $300 for the materials. Not only that, but when some companies refused to pay, they would threaten legal action against them and even hired a collection agency to help with that effort.

The Attorney General’s Office previously entered an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with these businesses in 2014, and the company promised to stop conducting misleading business practices such as the one described above. However, even after the agreement was reached, their office continued to receive complaints about the same deceptive business practice, including those explicitly prohibited by the agreement.

The latest lawsuit, which was filed in the Broward County Circuit Court last week, seeks a permanent injunction against the defendants, as well as restitution for any of the businesses harmed by this scam.

For the record, the shipments of OSHA materials contained materials that could easily be obtained for free from the OSHA website.

Construction Workers Recovering From 2 Accidents on Same Day

August 5th, 2015

Hardhat Safety manualThe Ontario Ministry of Labour is on the scenes and investigating two separate incidents at two separate worksites in Ottawa last Tuesday, July 28, in which a total of three construction workers suffered serious injuries and were transported to hospital.

The first incident occurred at a little before 5 a.m. at a worksite at 99 Bank St., when paramedics were called to the scene and treated two workers who were in their 20s at the scene before taking them to a local hospital, where they were said to be in serious but stable condition. While there were no specific details available about the cause of the accident, according to paramedics, one of them suffered injuries to his head and neck, while the other suffered injuries to his pelvis and lower body. A third worker, who was also in his 20s, was assessed at the scene but wasn’t treated.

The second construction accident occurred just a little more than five hours later, at the construction site of a new convenience store in Kanata near Teron Road and Campeau Drive. Paramedics arrived  on scene at a little after 10 a.m., where they found a 65-year-old worker with traumatic head injuries. He was immediately taken to hospital, where he was listed in serious condition.

Once again, not many details were released about what exactly caused these accidents and what happened, but in addition to officials from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Ottawa Police are also looking into both incidents.

Cal-OSHA Issues Citations in Overpass Construction Accident

August 4th, 2015

FalseworkThe California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal-OSHA, has cited all of the contractors as well as the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) and fined them $165,000 for issues associated with the collapse of some viaduct falsework near E. Valley St. on July 22, 2014.

According to the Cal-OSHA citation, three workers were seriously injured in the collapse and were taken to Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital, including 31-year-old Phillip Lappe, the environmental engineer who suffered the worst injury, a crushed pelvis, when the falsework struck him as he was monitoring the installation. Two workers in their 50s, Fermin Jaramillo and Julian Lamas were on top of the structure when it collapsed and suffered multiple broken bones. Several other workers were injured and transported to the hospital and released soon after.

After months of investigation, Cal-OSHA determined that the falsework had not been properly designed and had not been erected according to the design plans, in any case. They also found that the structure was missing components and the project engineer was signing off on inspections that did not identify these deficiencies.

According to the report of the investigation, the load on the 150-foot section of falsework was less than 50 percent of the maximum design load at the time of the collapse, so if it had been installed properly, it shouldn’t have collapsed. At the time of the collapse, when it fell more than 25 feet, many workers were on top of the structure facilitating the installation of concrete. CalTrans has a detailed falsework design and construction manual, and apparently none of that was followed, including the use of redundant inspections to uncover problems.

Because the project was a “multi-employer work site,” all contractors and CalTrans were cited. In all, Flatiron West was fined $93,900 for one general and four serious violations, while the DeSilva Gates-Flatiron Joint Venture was fined $49,500 for four serious violations and Caltrans was fined $21,600 for four serious violations. In addition, the collapsed section has been replaced, with Flatiron West being held responsible for picking up that tab.

Ontario Ministry of Labour Investigating Accident at Chrysler Plant

August 3rd, 2015

Ambulance 2A 54-year-old worker is recovering in a Toronto hospital and the Ontario Ministry of Labour is investigating after he was seriously injured in an accident at the vehicle assembly plant in Brampton owned by Fiat Chrysler America Canada, Inc. (FCA Canada), formerly Chrysler Corporation, at a little before 1 a.m. on July 26.

According to the Ministry, the worker received a critical head injury while he was doing work at a press machine. It took a high-angle rescue team from Brampton Fire and Emergency Services to get the worker down safely, after which he was taken to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. While the injuries were considered severe, they are no longer considered to be life-threatening.

The Ministry of Labour began their investigation of the huge plant and issued two orders almost immediately. For one, FCA Canada was ordered to put in place measures and procedures designed to make doing maintenance work on the press machine safe, while the second was to ensure that workers are trained on the new measures and procedures.

According to Ministry officials, both orders have been complied with, but they continue to investigate the plant, which covers almost three million square feet and employs more than 3,000 workers. The plant assembles a number of popular vehicles, including the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger.  Their investigation will focus on what safeguards are in place to prevent accidents like these and others, to make sure the plant has proper procedures in place to comply with all regulations, including the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act and whether or not workers are being properly trained regarding how to spot and subsequently avoid hazards.

Ontario Mine Cited by Ministry of Labour

July 31st, 2015

judgement Last week, Goldcorp Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty to violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the Ontario Court of Justice and was fined $100,000 for a terrible accident in which a mine worker was injured by a haulage car.

The accident that led to the charges and the fine happened on October 13, 2013, as mine workers were using a diesel scoop tram to load haulage cars, which were operated a battery-powered locomotive on tracks at the Campbell Complex Mine, which is located near Balmertown in the Red Lake District.

As they were working, the haulage cars would exit and return to the work areas. Two of the workers were preparing large chunks of ore for a blast while a third worker was toiling next to the scoop tram. At one point, one of the workers noticed that the haulage cars were failing to stop, and he attempted to pull the worker closest to the car away from the tracks, but it was too late, and that worker was hit by the haulage car anyway and pinned against the scoop tram. As a result, he suffered numerous cuts and a broken bone.

After a thorough investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Goldcorp Canada Ltd. Was charged with failing as an employer to take all precautions reasonable in the circumstances to ensure that the operator of the vehicle had a clear view of the path of travel, and that it violated their mandated protection of a worker as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In court on July 22, 2015, the company pleaded guilty and was fined $100,000  by Justice of the Peace Daisy Hoppe, who also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That makes the total hit to the company’s bottom line $125,000 for not taking some simple precautions, thus once again demonstrating that workplace safety doesn’t cost, it pays.

Missouri Manufacturer Cited by OSHA for Toxic, Noise Hazards

July 30th, 2015

Hexavalent ChromiumA Pennsylvania-based storage tank manufacturer, Abec, Inc., is now facing citations and a total of $74,000 in fines because workers at its plant in Springfield, Missouri were exposed to potentially deafening noise levels, as well as hazardous levels of hexavalent chromium, based on a recent inspection, which was triggered by a complaint about the plant.

Inspectors with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors have issued citations for a total 12 serious safety violations based on what their inspectors uncovered. They found one worker who had been exposed to hexavalent chromium at levels exceeding permissible exposure limits as he was welding and grinding steel that contained chromium metal, which is added to steel to harden it and to resist corrosion.

The OSHA inspectors also cited the company for its failure to implement engineering controls that would serve to monitor and reduce worker exposure levels, as well as for its failure to conduct additional monitoring after the company expanded its production processes in 2006, 2008 and 2014.

This is important, because exposure to hexavalent chromium, especially at high levels, can cause respiratory, eye and skin damage and can eventually lead to lung cancer. Overall, according to OSHA, more than 50,000 workers annually die from exposure to hazardous substances like chromium during their working careers.

In addition to the chemical exposure, the OSHA inspection also discovered three workers who were being exposed to noise levels that were well above acceptable decibel levels for an eight-hour shift, and they also identified and cited the company for violations of respiratory protection standards and for improperly adjusted rests on a grinder, which exposed workers to machinery part hazards.

Abec, which employs about 215 workers at the Missouri plant, has tripled its workforce in recent years. OSHA noted in its report that the rate expansion is not an excuse, and that employers should be continually reviewing their safety processes and procedures and to make sure their facilities are being properly monitored for hazards of all types.

Charges Laid Against Provincial Highway Department

July 29th, 2015

Hardhat Safety manualAccording to a news release from last week, Service NL reports that  that the Newfoundland and Labrador Transportation and Works Department is now facing eight counts under the Occupational Health and Safety Act because of a tragic accident two years ago that resulted in the death of a worker on a paint crew.

The incident that led to the charges happened on July 23, 2013, as 41-year-old worker Wayne Wall was setting up road-painting signs on the Trans-Canada Highway, in an area about six kilometres west of Flat Bay Hill. The Transportation and Works crew was making preparations to paint a “YIELD” sign on the pavement of the eastbound driving lane near the Flat Bay turnoff.

As Wall was setting up the signs to mark the work area, he was hit by a passing pickup truck, just before it smashed into a department work truck, sending another government worker to hospital, in addition to two people who were in the pickup.

Among the violations the Department has been charged with included failing to provide a safe workplace; failing to provide adequate instruction and supervision; failing to provide effective traffic control; and failing to implement an adequate occupational health and safety program.

The Department will make its first appearance at a provincial court in Stephenville on Sept. 21.

OSHA Cites Contractor Almost $424k in Trench Collapse

July 28th, 2015

Trench WorkerThe U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA has cited Houston, Texas-based contractor Hassell Construction for a total of 16 safety violations, including six willful violations that the agency referred to as “egregious” for its failure to protect workers who were working  inside a trench from a cave-in in the wake of a cave-in that caused injury to a worker. In all, the company faces potential fines totaling $423,900.

On the day of the collapse, the worker was working below ground in the 8-foot trench when it suddenly collapsed around him and he was buried. Co-workers were able to come to his aid and dig him out with their bare hands, but moments after he had been pulled to safety, the trench collapsed again. The worker suffered serious injuries and was transported to a Houston-area hospital.  

In its report on their investigation, OSHA made some rather pointed statements about the company’s tendency to ignore the dangers of trenching, with one OSHA official noting, “For more than 2,500 years, man has known how to prevent deadly trench collapses. It is absolutely unacceptable that employers continue to endanger the lives of workers in trenches.”

The company was also cited for nine serious violations, including one for their failure to provide a safe means for workers to get in and out of the trench and one for their failure to remove debris from the edge of the excavation, to prevent objects from falling in and striking workers. In addition, OSHA cited them for failing to conduct atmospheric testing inside the trench in the wake of a sewer leak.

In addition to the massive fine, OSHA has placed the company into its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which is an attempt on the part of the agency to focus more inspections on those employers who demonstrate indifference toward creating a truly safe and healthy workplace and by mandating follow-up compliance inspections

Alberta Injury Rates Hit Record Lows

July 27th, 2015

StatsAccording to statistics released last week by provincial safety officials in Alberta, an emphasis on workplace safety does pay dividends, as the data show a 20-year trend of improved workplace safety, culminating in several workplace injury rates that are the lowest ever recorded in the province.

According to data provided by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), in 2013 the rate of workers in Alberta being hurt on the job dropped in 2013, to the point that the lost-time claim (LTC) rate reached the lowest rate ever recorded, at 1.34 per 100 person-years, down from a 1.40 rate in 2012.

Also encouraging is the fact that some key provincial industries, including the construction, oil and gas and manufacturing sectors, saw a significant drop in the disabling injury rate (DIR), to 2.67 per 100 person-years in 2013. The DIR utilizes information on workers who were unable to work or had to have their duties modified because of a workplace injury.

All of this good news does not mean the job is over, however; not by a long shot. While the rates went down, it was largely due to the fact that the size of the Alberta workforce continues to increase. In 2013, it was up 2.9 per cent over 2012, totaling 2.1 million workers. The raw number showed an increase, with 54,140 disabling injury claims, which was a two per cent increase over the 53,081 claims recorded in 2012. Tragically, 188 workplace fatalities were recorded in 2013 alone. No one in Alberta will be satisfied until those numbers reach zero.