Posts Tagged ‘workplace safety’

Saskatchewan’s New Violation Ticketing System

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Saskatchewan FlagSince July 1, when a new measure took effect, employers in Saskatchewan who are found to have violated certain occupational health and safety laws may find themselves being issued a Summary Offence Ticket by a designated Occupational Health Officer.

These tickets, with which Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety officials hope to spur businesses to improve health and safety practices in the workplace, while at the same time attempting to avoid costly and time-consuming and costly prosecution, carry penalties of between $250 and $1,000, plus victim surcharges, depending on the offence.

Among the 12 possible ticketable offences the two designated Occupational Health Officers will be looking for include; failure to ensure that all workers are equipped with and using personal protective equipment (PPE); failure to ensure that all workers employ fall protection systems at heights of three metres or more; failure to make sure that any opening or hole is properly marked and covered. Each of those tickets could cost someone $1,000, while a ticket for failure to submit a written progress report could cost $600.

Workers should keep in mind that, while most of the tickets will be handed out to employers, contractors and the like, one ticketable offence will apply to workers, and could cost that worker $250. That offence will be for a failure to use PPE, although workers will only be cited once the Occupational Health Officer verifies that the correct PPE has been provided by the employer.

In all cases and for all offences, all tickets will only be issued in those cases where other compliance measures have been used previously and found to be ineffective.

Toronto Endorses “Stop the Killing” Workplace Safety Campaign

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Traffic ControlBy a vote of 36-1 (with Mayor Rob Ford being the only “no” vote), the Toronto City Council has voted to endorse a United Steel Workers (USW) workplace safety campaign with the provocative title, “Stop the Killing.”

This campaign against workplace death and injury is considered one of the most straightforward campaigns of its type, and its goals are crystal clear. The campaign advocates for a more stringent enforcement of the Westray Law, which is embodied in a series of Criminal Code amendments that were designed to make corporations and their directors and executives more responsible by making them criminally liable for workplace injuries and deaths.

The Westray amendments were approved by the federal government in the hope that such a law would improve worker and public safety, by creating greater legal accountability on the part of corporate officers. Westray marked the first time it was possible to hold corporations or senior officers subject to criminal sanctions if they failed to ensure adequate protections for workers and the public. The amendments were a response to the public outcry after an explosion at the Westray coal mine in May 1992, which killed 26 workers.

At the time, a number of workplace safety advocates, including the USW, saw the Westray Law as a major victory. But since then, they’ve been disappointed with the lack of enforcement. Since the Westray Bill’s passage in 2003, not a single corporate executive has faced even one day in jail. This, despite the fact that 9,000 Canadian workers have been killed on the job since the law was passed. Because of this, the USW has been working to gather local support one city, town, or region at a time.

With the Toronto City Council’s approval, the city joins Ontario cities Hamilton, Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury in endorsing the Stop the Killing campaign. Pictou County and Trenton in Nova Scotia and Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island have also endorsed the campaign. In fact, in all of those jurisdictions, the campaign received unanimous support. Rob Ford is thus far the only municipal official to vote against an endorsement.

Once they have the support of most Canadian municipalities, the USW plans to forward that support to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, who will then be asked to support the national campaign.


Wasteco and Front-End Loader Operator Fined for Fatal Accident

Monday, April 14th, 2014

FELSouthern Sanitation Inc., operating as Wasteco, has been fined $170,000, and one of its employees has been hit personally with another $6,000 fine for an accident in which a company worker was killed when he was crushed between two vehicles.

The company’s fine came as a result of pleading guilty at Provincial Offices Court on April 1, to failing to ensure that measures and procedures under the law were followed. The employee, Abdul Maneed Malik, was fined after he pled guilty to operating equipment in a manner that may endanger a worker.

The accident that led to the fines happened on April 15, 2013. That day, a worker backed a truck into a drop-off bay at a Wasteco transfer station at the same time Malik was operating a front-end loader in the same drop-off bay, placing waste into a collection area. The truck driver exited his truck and went to the back to attend to his open bin doors, just as Malik reversed the front-end loader, apparently without looking back to make sure the way was clear. The last he had seen of the truck driver was moments earlier, when the driver was still in the cab.

After backing up, Malik heard someone calling for help, then stopped the loader, after which he saw the truck driver lying face down on the ground just behind the truck. He ran to get help, while another worker tried to give the truck driver first aid. Emergency responders arrived soon after, and pronounced the driver dead at the scene.

In addition to the fines, the court also added a 25 percent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means the company is out $212,000 in total, and the driver will have to pay $7,500 out of his own pocket, simply because he failed to look behind him before backing up his front-end loader.

This is another example showing that creating a culture of safety doesn’t cost anyone; it pays.

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


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.