Posts Tagged ‘workplace safety’

OSHA Investigating Arkansas Worker Fall From Bridge

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Emergency truckThe U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating a construction accident that occurred on March 27 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, when a worker fell.

The accident happened when a worker for St. Louis-based highway construction company Pace Construction Co. was on a scaffold cutting rebar from concrete barriers as part of a project to widen a highway bridge. Suddenly, the scaffolding he was on collapsed, sending him on a 30-foot fall from the bridge to the ground below.

Emergency crews responded at the scene at 2:22 p.m. The worker was transported to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville with serious injuries, although it is currently unknown whether the man’s injuries are life-threatening. The Fayetteville Fire Department, however, has suggested that he may have suffered internal bleeding and several fractures.

First Alberta OHS Officers Graduate as Peace Officers

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

PoliceThe first group of ten Alberta Occupational Health and Safety officers from the Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour has passed newly designed peace officer training, and have been granted peace officer status, which means they now have greater authority to enforce the rules, and to make sure workers on the job are safer moving forward.

With their new designation as peace officers, OHS officers can now write tickets to employers and workers who are trying to avoid the rules that are designed to keep everyone in the workplace safe.

Expect them to be busy. There are a total of 67 offenses that are immediately ticketable, all for specific violations of the OHS legislation. Here is a list. They can be given to any party subject to OHS laws, including workers, supervisors, contractors, including prime contractors and subcontractors, suppliers, and even employers. The fines associated with the tickets range from $100 to $500 and can be issued on the spot. Like parking or traffic tickets, the OHS tickets can be paid at any Alberta courthouse. And like traffic tickets, any party is allowed to plead not guilty and have the option of attending a court date.

More officers will graduate the training in June, and more groups will continue to be trained until all 143 compliance officers in the province have been certified to write tickets.

Worker Loses Fingers, Food Processor Loses $110,000 Fine

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

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Last week, the Ontario Court of Justice hit Maple Leaf Consumer Foods, carrying on business as Maple Leaf Consumer Foods and Cappola Foods, with a $110,000 fine for an accident in which a worker using a meat chopping machine lost several fingers.

According to a report from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the plant worker was operating a meat chopper, which has a moving blade enclosed in a small cage. When the blade was being operated and the cage was lifted, the blade would slowly come to a stop. While the worker was operating the machine, he noticed that some meat had become stuck in the blade, so he lifted the safety cage and used a hook to try and pull the meat from the blade, which continued to spin. The hook then became caught by the moving blade, which pulled the worker’s hand toward the blade, where his hand come into contact with the blade, which resulted in the loss of several fingers.

After a thorough investigation, the Ministry of Labour charged Maple Leaf Foods with failure, as an employer, to ensure that a moving part of a machine was cleaned only after it had stopped.

The $110,000 fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace David J. Hunt, who also added in the 25 percent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

That means an easily avoidable accident ended up costing the company a total of $137,500. Compare that to the cost of training workers, and you’ll see what a bargain a safe workplace can be.

New Jersey Worker Crushed by Steel Beams

Friday, March 14th, 2014

depressedA New Jersey worker has died from injuries he suffered after a stack of steel beams fell on him on Thursday, March 6.

The accident occurred at Bushwick Metals in South Plainfield, at about 2:30 p.m. According to initial police reports, when emergency personnel arrived, the worker, later identified as 65-year-old Robert Donohue, had been pinned between several steel beams and a tractor-trailer. He was pronounced dead at the scene from his injuries.

A co-worker reported hearing “a loud bang,” and then turned to the noise and noticed a stack of steel beams had fallen over and struck Donohue.

Company officials did not comment on the incident because of the ongoing nature of the investigation, but the company had grief counselors at the site to deal with other employees. Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were onsite not long after the accident, and are continuing their investigation.

OSHA Preparing Guidance for New Hazard Communication Standard

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

NewsThe U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is preparing a series of three guidance documents regarding its new hazard communication standard to make it easier for employers to be able to comply with the rule.

One document will be a guidebook on the standard that will be specially designed for  small- and medium-sized companies. A second document will focus specifically on hazard classification under the rule. The third will be a document produced by OSHA’s enforcement division that will serve as a compliance directive regarding the standard.

The agency finalized their updated hazard communication regulations back in March 2012, with the goal of synchronizing U.S. rules with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. Most of the regulations are set to take effect in June 2015. Before now, OSHA has issued fact sheets, quick cards and other guidance on the standard, and in recent months they’ve produced technical guidance on applying the regulations to unclassified hazards, as well as to combustible dust and petroleum. They have also issued advisories on specific target organ toxicity.

OSHA officials won’t say when the new guidance documents will be ready, but they hope the hazard classification guidance will be ready within a few months.

Daylight Saving Time Change May Mean a Safety Risk

Monday, March 10th, 2014

tiredAccording to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), there is plenty of research to suggest that the week after the Sunday in March when we move the clocks ahead for Daylight Saving Time (DST) can be a very dangerous time for Canada’s workforce.

Canadians have once again turned their clocks ahead for an extra hour of daylight, but by doing so they have lost some precious sleep. According to an analysis of US Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that workers tend to get 40 minutes less sleep the night after the switch to DST. While that may not seem like a lot, a Michigan State University research study of mining injuries from 1983-2006 showed a 5.7% increase in workplace injuries and 67.6% increase in days missed the day after the time change. That would suggest that the loss of sleep may result in an increase in both the number and severity of injuries.

The problem may not be limited to workplace injuries. According to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), an analysis of data from 2005-2009 show the number of car accidents also increased by nearly 23% after the time change. One other factor supporting this data is research that shows accident and workplace injury numbers don’t increase significantly in November, when clocks are moved back, and they gain an extra hour of sleep.

As always, CCOHS has a few tips to alleviate this problem next year. First, you should advise workers to go to bed earlier. They also recommend moving dangerous work to a later part of the week, if possible, so that workers are better rested. In addition to keeping an extra keen eye on safety for the week following the switch.

Georgia Lumber Manufacturer Cited for Combustible Dust Hazard

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

judgementIn Georgia, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a lumber and wood post mill in Homerville, owned by Dupont Yard Inc., for a total of 22 safety and health violations involving, among other things, a combustible dust buildup hazard. The citations could result in as much as $279,400 in fines to the company, which produces timber, wood chips, and posts that are used in highway construction.

The citations and fines came after OSHA received complaints about working conditions that resulted in an inspection of the mill, where they found dangerous buildups of combustible dust greater than 1/8 inch on ledges and electrical equipment throughout the worksite.

Not all of the citations were for hazards caused by combustible dust. According to an OSHA press release, workers were being exposed to hazards primarily because Dupont Yard failed to “implement basic safety procedures that would prevent equipment from starting up or moving during maintenance, which can cause amputation, other serious injuries or death.”  They also cited the company for unguarded rotating chains and sprocket wheels, and several electrical hazards, as well as their failure to implement a lockout/tag-out program.

This is not the first time the company’s been in this position. Over the last six years the company has undergone four inspections before this one, and been cited for a total of 39 violations. Because of this, OSHA has placed Dupont into its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), which requires the agency to conduct targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance.

New Research Centre to Focus on Fair Treatment of Canadian Workers with Job-Related Disabilities

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Handicapped driverThere is growing concern on the part of occupational safety experts throughout Canada that needed support services are sorely lacking for workers who become disabled courtesy of a workplace injury. For example, a recent report by the Metcalfe Foundation suggests that welfare is quickly becoming the only support available to an ever-growing number of disabled Canadians, because the changing dynamic between work and disability means that a large number of disabled workers eventually fail to qualify for traditional worker disability benefits.

It is this concern that led to the establishment of the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy at McMaster University last week. This new national body wants to find out exactly why things like this are happening, and which programs and policies will be necessary to reverse the trend and fully support the Canadian worker once again.

The new Centre, which was funded through a seven-year, $2.8-million grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, will bring together 50 academics from all over Canada, as well as 46 community partners to help tackle the issue of what to do with people who are incapable of working for a period of time because of an injury or illness they incurred while working, regardless of the type of illness or injury.

The Centre will be headquartered at the Toronto-based Institute for Work and Health, and it will operate based on the belief that all Canadians deserve the opportunity to work, make a living and contribute to the Canadian economy, but that the current state of the Canadian disability support system is so bad as to make such a thing almost impossible. If they qualify for one type of support, they have to give up another. If they take a job, even a small one, they have to give up even more, and they are forced to give up all federal disability benefits, because only those who are unable to do any work are able to receive support.

This is a major issue going forward. Statistics Canada estimates that, as of 2012, nearly 2.3 million working-age Canadians, are limited in their ability to work because of health problems.

Labour Ministry Announces Youth Video Contest to Promote Workplace Safety

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

thumbs_upxsmallThe Canadian Ministry of Labour has announced the second annual ”It’s Your Job!” video contest, and they are inviting high school students throughout Canada are to be creative in helping spread the word about staying safe on the job. The contest asks those students to shoot an original social media video that effectively brings home just how important it is to work safely.

The contest is designed so that students can participate in a provincial contest, with provincial and territorial winners then becoming eligible for two national contests. In one of them, the winner is chosen by a group of judges, but with the other Canadians can vote for their favourite video to win. At the national finals, the makers of the winning video will receive $2,000, with the second place video getting $1,500, and third place receiving $1,000. Provincial and territorial contest winners will be selected and notified by sometime this coming spring.

The Ministry considers events such as this video contest as crucial to creating a safety culture throughout Canada, as well as a great way to reach young people, who are at a greater risk of being injured on the job. Nearly a quarter of all occupational injuries are incurred by workers between the ages of 15 and 29. In 2011, a total of 68 Canadian workers aged 15 to 29 lost their lives in workplace accidents.

Engineer Faces Criminal Charges In Mall Collapse

Monday, February 10th, 2014

JudgementAs a result of an investigation into the collapse of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake in June 2012 that killed two people, police have laid two counts of criminal negligence causing death and another count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm against professional engineer Robert Wood.

According to police records, Wood was involved in numerous inspections of the building. A judicial inquiry into the mall’s collapse uncovered information indicating that the roof had leaked almost from the beginning, and that many years of water and salt had left the steel support structure severely rusted. Despite this, Wood conducted an inspection and declared the centre structurally sound just before its collapse.

The inquiry revealed a 2011 conversation in which Wood warned a prospective buyer of the mall that the structure had to be fixed or the roof would cave in, and that it would cost $1.5 million to fix. They also found out that a year later, just before the collapse, he told the mall’s owner that the steel supports showed surface rusting, but were otherwise “structurally sound.” Wood’s final inspection report before the collapse, dated May 3, 2012, reported “no visual distress.” He later admitted to making changes to the final report later, at the request of the mall’s owner. Among the changes were the removal of a reference to “ongoing” leakage,” and the removal of several photos showing yellow tarps that were being used to collect water from the roof and a corroded steel beam.

By the time of the altered inspection report and the collapse, however, Wood had already lost his professional engineering licence. That happened in November 2011, after he admitted to misconduct that was unrelated to the mall collapse. He continued to practise, anyway, as a “graduate” engineer and owner of Sault Ste, Marie-based M.R. Wright, with restrictions on what he could do. The mall collapse effectively ended his 40-year career.

In April 2013, Wood was also charged under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act as a professional engineer, for offences relating to giving negligent advice. Under the OH&S Act, the Ministry of Labour is permitted to lay charges against a professional engineer in cases where, “as a result of his or her advice that is given or his or her certification required under this Act that is made negligently or incompetently, a worker is endangered.”