Posts Tagged ‘workplace safety’

Warehouses Often Lacking in Worker Safety: OSHA

Friday, August 15th, 2014

warehouseAccording to Pennsylvania officials, there have been two reported fatal accidents at warehouse facilities since the beginning of June in the South Middleton Township.

The first incident occurred on June 1, when a 52-year-old Amazon warehouse employee, Jody Rhoads of Carlisle when the motorized pallet jack she was operating crashed into shelving at the facility.

The second and latest fatality occurred Aug. 4 at the Allen Distribution warehouse, when 56-year-old worker Roger D. Fortune of Garland, Texas, became trapped and pinned between two tractor-trailers in the building’s loading dock area. According to Pennsylvania State Police at Carlisle, Fortune was immediately flown to Penn State University’s Hershey Medical Center, where three hours later he was pronounced dead.

While the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would not comment on either incident specifically, they did note that the warehousing industry has one of the highest fatal injury rates in the country; much higher than the national average. The agency said that more than 145,000 people work in more than 7,000 warehouses across the country. Among the more frequent hazards present in warehouses include the improper stacking of products, inadquate fire safety precautions, failure to use proper personal protective equipment and of course, misuse of forklifts.

OSHA is continuing to investigate the incident at the Amazon Fulfillment Center, and they have also initiated an investigation of the Allen Distribution incident, as well.

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New Policies on Wood Dust Safety in B.C.

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

WorkSafeBC has issued new policies that will seek to lay out what they consider to be reasonable steps for employers, workers and supervisors to take with regard to the hazards of combustible wood dust. According to WorkSafeBC, the employer policy will apply to sawmills and wood product manufacturing facilities according to a classification system detailed in that policy. The new policies will become effective September 1, 2014, although a resource tool box and draft OHS Guideline will be posted on the WorkSafeBC website by August 15, 2014.

The new policies come after the agency released the results of a fourth round of sawmill inspections this past spring, between April and June, WorkSafeBC continued to issue stop work orders and citations to those sites that failed wood-dust inspections. These citations happened more than two years after two fatal sawmill explosions.

During this latest group of inspections, the agency looked at 82 mills in all, and cited 18 per cent of them for such problems as insufficient ventilation, dust accumulations that were above the standard considered safe, less than adequate dust control programs or the use of high-pressure air to move dust. They cited another 20 per cent of the mills for violations they considered less serious, including inadequate dust inspections and failure to train workers properly to work around wood dust.

While the numbers seem high, given the seriousness of the explosions and fires that occurred a little more than two years ago and the massive fines that have been handed out in recent months, they are actually a significant improvement from the last round of inspections, which saw a 42 per cent failure rate for serious infractions. While mills are receiving fewer citations for failure to clean their main areas, WorkSafeBC is continuing to issue orders to do a better job of cleaning wood dust from secondary rooms and buildings, and hard-to-reach areas, such as roof beams.

Conditions were so bad at some mills, the agency issued some stop-work orders during this latest round of inspections. WorkSafeBC only issues stop-work orders in situations they consider to represent an imminent risk that could result in severe injury or death to a worker.

Second Alberta Worker Killed in July

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREAlberta suffered its second gruesome fatality in the month of July when a worker who was performing maintenance on a gravel crusher was pulled into the machine by the conveyor.

The accident occurred on July 28 at a site about 1.5 kilometres north of Athabasca. The 51-year-old worker was an employee of Contract Crushing Ltd. The prime contractor was Bilsky Contracting.

The occupational health and safety division of Alberta Human Services is investigating the incident, but they did issue a stop-use order on the crusher.

This particular fatality came just nine days after a remarkably similar incident in which a 15-year-old construction worker was fatally injured after he became entangled in a conveyor at a gravel crushing site near Drumheller. Due to his young age, that death has brought calls for much stricter rules regarding adolescent workers.

In the meantime, Alberta safety officials have recommended that those working around conveyors take the following precautions:

  • Do not wear any clothing that is loose or torn;
  • Remove all materials around and under the conveyor when operating;
  • Keep clear of all moving parts during operation. Never jump or climb onto a conveyor while it is operating.
  • Always be sure the conveyor is turned off and locked out when performing maintenance or service, or to clear a jam.
  • In an emergency situation, activate the emergency stop and follow lock-out procedures.

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

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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.