OSHA Fines Food Processor for Safety

September 30th, 2016

Poultry processingThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations for nine serious safety violations to Koch Foods of Mississippi LLC, a Mississippi poultry producer and processor.

The violations came after OSHA initiated two investigations as part of their Regional Emphasis Program for Poultry Processing Facilities. They were triggered by information they received regarding two accidents earlier this year  in which two workers suffered serious injuries. In the first incident in March, a 42-year-old worker suffered a laceration to his right finger when his glove became caught in a conveyor. Then, about a month later, a 23-year-old worker operating a machine called a gizzard chiller broke two fingers on her right hand as she tried to unjam the gizzards inside the chiller and her hand came in contact with a rotating shaft.

After their investigations, OSHA issued serious citations to Koch Foods for their failure to ensure that proper procedures were followed to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance or servicing. They were also cited for their failure to provide standard railings on stairways or machine guarding on equipment,as well as for their failure to protect workers from falls from height and from electric shock due to corrosive chemicals leaking on outlets. In all, Koch Foods faces possible fines of more than $88,600 as a result of the citations.

In a statement, OSHA said, “Koch Foods must review its safety procedures to ensure workers are protected from all safety and health hazards to include machinery unexpectedly starting up, falls and electric shock. It is the employer’s responsibility to protect employees in the workplace.”

The Older Canadian Workforce

September 29th, 2016

hardhatAccording to a new study by Employment Services and Development Canada, the labour force participation rate for Canadian workers aged 65 and over has risen significantly, from 5.9 per cent in 2001 to 13.2 per cent in 2013. They note that there are many possible reasons for this, but in most cases, the reason seems to be that Baby Boomers tend to like their jobs and want to feel productive longer.

This has implications for occupational health and safety, of course, and employers should be aware of this. For one thing, while young workers tend to be more susceptible to more traumatic injuries, such as burns and cuts and they are more likely to be struck by a falling object or caught in equipment, older workers suffer fewer accidents, but they do have increased problems with overexertion, which leads to problems like repetitive motion injuries, sprains and strains, especially back strain. Put simply, while older workers suffer fewer injuries from accidents because they are more knowledgeable and know more about identifying hazards, when they are injured, it tends to be more serious. Also, older workers are more likely to suffer the effects of “accumulation over time,” which is a phenomenon that is related to occupational diseases and cumulative injuries.

Health and safety professionals must also take into  account that age itself brings physical changes, especially a loss of body strength, which can be as much as 20 per cent less at 60 than it was at age 20. Also, their ability to stop themselves when they slip or trip diminishes with time. Experts recommend that workstations be modified to account for these problems. They should also consider more rest periods and more time between extended shifts for older workers because aging also quite often affects sleep. Greater access to food might be wise as well, as a way to prevent fatigue.

Employers should also make sure benefits packages are sufficient for providing older workers with proper glasses and to make sure they can make sure their hearing is both protected and monitored.

OSHA Partners with Company for Safety

September 28th, 2016

OSHA Construction SafetyAccording to several reports, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has partnered with Turner Construction Company in a concerted effort to create a better and safer workplace atmosphere for workers who will be working on the huge  $275 million CH2 Data Center project in Northlake, Illinois. The data center construction promises to be a huge project that features very complex elements, so it was felt that this type of partnership was a wise thing to do.

The partnership will attempt to provide better protection for the combined workforce of more than 500 employees. This particular partnership will affect trade union members and cover workers for Turner Construction, as well as those for at least 15 subcontractors. The overall focus of the partnership will be on the best ways to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses on the construction site, but there will be specific effort made to provide the best possible training for all workers, especially with regard to hazards related to falls, struck-by, caught-in or caught in-between and electrocution.

Each and every employer at the worksite will be required to implement written safety and health programs daily, and they will also be required to conduct weekly inspections of all job sites with workers at the site.

According to an OSHA statement about the partnership, “Workplace safety is achieved when labor, management and employees work together to recognize hazards and train workers in safety protocols and procedures. OSHA has found partnerships like this set a standard for all employers working on the project that safety will not be compromised.”

Crane Company Fined $120,000

September 27th, 2016

Crane SafetyAfter a trial in the Provincial Offences Court at the Ontario Court of  Justice in Sarnia, Sterling Crane Division of Procrane Inc., was convicted of violations of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act, resulting in penalties of $120,000 as a result of an incident in which a worker was struck by part of a crane and suffered permanent injuries.

The accident happened at the Sterling Crane yard located in Corunna, Ontario on May 7, 2012. However,  the day before the accident, two workers for Sterling Crane stowed a jib alongside the boom of an 1100 National Crane, which is a boom-type truck owned by Sterling Crane. On the day of the accident, a Sterling Crane employee was operating this boom truck at the Imperial Oil Sun Junction station in Sarnia, Ontario. As he was in the driver’s station attempting to lift the boom of the crane, the jib that had been attached to the crane’s boom the day before fell and struck a worker, who suffered critical injuries that have since become permanent injuries.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour conducted an investigation and determined that the jib had not been stored properly and had created a hazard. They subsequently charged Sterling Crane with failing to provide information, instruction and/or supervision to its workers to ensure that the jib was stowed on the boom properly and in accordance with the operating manual issued by the manufacturer. That is a violation of OHS rules. After the trial, a fine of $120,000 was slapped on Sterling Crane by Justice of the Peace Susan Whelan, who also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.  That means this violation will cost this company a total of $150,000, simply because they failed to train workers to follow instructions.

Many Canadians Go to Work Tired

September 26th, 2016

Sleep studyA new Conference Board of Canada survey shows that, while everyone seems to be aware that sleep and proper rest are important when it comes to workplace safety, productivity and performance, as many as 27 per cent of Canadian workers are fatigued most of the time while on the job. Not only that, but 42 per cent of workers reported that their performance or productivity suffered as a result of that exhaustion. The single biggest factors cited for their lack of sleep were the demands of the job and the stress.

The results of the national survey of 739 full-time and part-time employed Canadians generated a report entitled, Running on Empty: Understanding Fatigue in the Workplace. The report shows that fatigue is present in many Canadian workplaces and that it has serious implications for employers because it affects the way workers think and react while they do their jobs. It is also important because the fatigue also makes them more likely to become emotional on the job.

The results of this survey confirm what previous research has shown, that exhausted workers have a negative impact on the morale in a workplace. According to the report, a lack of sleep can negatively  affect the worker’s ability to demonstrate self-control, which means a greater likelihood of outbursts or refusals to do the best job possible. The survey also suggests supervisors who lack proper sleep may be less respectful of or civil to workers.

In all, 28 per cent of workers in the survey identified workplace stress and job demands as the main factors causing their lack of sleep, but right behind that is the 26 per cent who cited home stress and the 9 per cent who cited physical health problems. Many workers cited poor sleeping habits or poorly timed caffeine intake as major factors as well.

New Website to Keep Workers Sun Safe

September 23rd, 2016

Web Site under constructionIt came a bit late to be effective for this season, but you might want to bookmark this for next year.

A research project led by Ryerson University and supported by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and other partners, has led to the establishment of Sun Safety at Work Canada (SSAWC), who has launched a new website, sunsafetyatwork.ca. The new site provides employers and workers with information and support to help them cope with the dangers of sun exposure.

The new site attempts to encourage the development of a sun safety program as part of a comprehensive occupational health and safety management system. The site features more than 70 free resources on sun safety, including tip sheets, comprehensive protocols, and a resource library. The resources are also available in French now, with Spanish and Punjabi versions coming soon.

This is an important issue because nearly about 1.5 million Canadians receive sun exposure at work, especially those in construction and building care and maintenance. Those who work outdoors have a three times greater risk of developing skin cancer than workers at large. Every year, at least 5,000 skin cancer diagnoses can be attributed to sun exposure at work. It is considered a serious occupational hazard. In addition to skin cancer, sun exposure can also lead to sunburn, skin damage, eye damage, including cataracts, and heat stress. However, most of these are largely preventable, by taking precautions, which is what the website seeks to allow employers to do.

Safety Issues Lead to $317k OSHA Fine

September 22nd, 2016

Safety IssuesEarlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations for two willful and eight serious safety and health violations to Birdsboro Kosher Farms Corp., in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. As a result of those citations, the company now faces fines totaling more than $317,000.

The investigation that led to the fines occurred at Birdsboro Kosher Farm on April 2, 2016 and it initiated as a response to a report of a worker who lost a thumb as he was operating a mixing machine. However, they decided to also use the opportunity to follow up on previous OSHA inspections that had been conducted in 2013, 2014, and 2015, so as to ensure that the workplace was in compliance with regard to previously cited hazards.

OSHA inspectors issued the willful citations when they notice that the plant was using a deficient system for protecting workers from the hazards associated with the unexpected start-up of machinery. In addition, they noted uncovered floor holes, an insufficient hearing conservation program, inadequate egress signage and several other problems that brought serious citations. In addition, serious violations were also cited for the company’s failure to secure compressed gas cylinders, a failure to provide sanitary personal protective equipment and a failure to provide specialty foot protection at no cost to employees. They were also cited for their failure to post confined space signs, which are required by OSHA regulations.

Birdsboro Kosher Farms is looking at having to pay more than $317,000, just because they failed to take the relatively simple steps necessary to provide workers with a safe workplace. This is another example of an employer failing to realize that a safe workplace doesn’t cost an employer, it saves them in the long run.

Idaho Forklift Accident

September 21st, 2016

forkliftIn Idaho, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has initiated an investigation of an incident at a cheese factory in Nampa on Thursday, September 15, in which a worker was killed in an accident involving a forklift.

It seems that Dennis Marsh, 41, was crushed between the forklift and a warehouse shelving unit at the Sorrento Lactalis American Group cheese factory in Nampa, Idaho. The incident was first reported at about 7:30 a.m, and the worker was transported to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where he was pronounced dead at 2:53 p.m. According to the Ada County coroner’s report, released Friday, his cause of death as “severe crushing injuries.”

According to the OSHA office in Boise, there have been at least 10 complaints from the Sorrento Lactalis factory since 2004, including Thursday’s fatal accident. Of the previous complaints, none were accident-related and none were fatal, so this is the first fatality reported. OSHA initiated investigations in five of those cases.

Sorrento Lactalis released a statement on Friday in which they said, “Our first priority is the health and safety of our personnel. The company has launched a full investigation in order to determine the cause of this tragic accident. … We extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of our lost colleague.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics nearly 100 workers in the U.S. are killed and another 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift-related incidents every year. The most common cause of forklift fatalities are tipping over, which cause about a 25 percent of all such deaths, while 16 percent of them were crushed by a forklift. Too often, accidents are the result of a lack of operator training. Too often, forklifts are seen as a machine that almost anyone can run, without sufficient training.

Provincial OHS Harmonization Possible

September 20th, 2016

OHS HarmonizationLabour ministers across Canada have been looking into the possibility of getting every government to harmonize occupational health and safety requirements, so as to create a single set of consistent standards for everyone. It is strongly believed that doing so will make it far easier for businesses that conduct business in different provinces and territories to deal with a common set of standards to comply with the rules. That could save everyone time and money.

The possibility of enacting a harmonization of workplace safety standards was a critical subject as provincial and territorial labour ministers gathered for their annual meeting with federal Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk. The meeting occurred last Friday, September 16, in Prince George, B.C.

The discussion of the subject was initiated by British Columbia’s Labour Minister Shirley Bond, who suggested that many companies do business across a number of provinces and territories and they often struggle to meet the unique health and safety regulations in each jurisdiction. She noted that several provincial ministers had already presented the federal government with a working two-year plan for going forward with regard to the creation of harmonized OHS regulations. The Canadian government agreed with the idea, although they recommended speeding up the process to a degree.

In addition to a discussion of harmonizing OHS regulation, the labour ministers present at the meeting also discussed developing a more coordinated approach to addressing mental health issues in the workplace, another area in which employers must work to improve.

Ruling: Worker Wrongly Terminated

September 19th, 2016

Ruling: Worker Wrongly TerminatedIn a recent ruling, WorkSafeBC has determined that a mechanic working on the construction of a leg of the SkyTrain transit system in Metro Vancouver was wrongly terminated because he raised concerns about safety on the job and because he refused to perform takes that he felt were unsafe. In its decision, the agency ruled that SNC-Lavalin and SELI Canada had wrongfully terminated worker David Britton’s employment in the construction of a transit tunnel on Nov. 3, 2014, and then lied about the reasons for his dismissal.

Britton was part of a team of workers who were building the tunnel that would serve as the Evergreen Line on the transit system. According to Britton, in July 2014, Minearc, a manufacturer of refuge chambers, sent a mining engineer to train him with regard to proper maintenance of the chamber. When they did so, they found that certain parts, such as a cartridge designed to convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide, had not been purchased by Britton’s employers. Britton said that he reminded the companies of the problem repeatedly at joint occupational health and safety meetings. The employers were also putting increased pressure on him to certify the chamber for use, which he refused to do until it was capable of functioning properly.

Britton eventually received the needed parts and signed off on the chamber’s readiness, but three days later, they fired him and hired two temporary foreign workers to do his job. They also brought in the same mining engineer to train  to do his job. Britton also cited numerous incidents to support his position that he had been wrongly fired, including the fact that his supervisor was also a temporary foreign worker from Italy who did not speak either of Canada’s official languages, which he said made communication very difficult. That supervisor was also cited by the employers for unsafe work, but was never demoted, according to Britton.

WorkSafeBC also noted that Britton was not the only worker on the Evergreen Line who was dismissed after bringing up safety concerns and refusing unsafe work. A crane operator named Julio Serrano also has a case before WorkSafeBC. According to Serrano, he reported unsafe work conditions numerous times and at one point, he refused to operate a crane because the employer had removed the limit switch. After he met with WorkSafeBC last December 3, the agency conducted an investigation and shut down the crane. On December 19, Serrano was laid off. His case is still under investigation.