Weekly Safety News Roundup – April 11, 2014

In the “What did you say?” category

A manufacturer was cited for multiple items “Four serious violations include equipping exit doors with sliding locks that could prohibit employees from leaving the facility quickly; not providing proper hand protection; failing to establish a noise testing program; and not training employees on the hazards of excessive noise levels.” It is interesting how many business latch their doors or have odd styles of handles that they try to do the right thing, but ultimately create a bad practice. In one case I remember, a door marked “EXIT” had been welded shut. When I asked why the reason was the door kept coming open. They also removed the stairs on the other side. So if it had not been welded shut, the people evacuating would just fall a couple of feet out the door. The simple plan was to mark the door as “not an exit.” The details always matter!

Noise is a whole topic all its own. Sadly, many companies think that handing out ear plugs is the right solution without realizing how complicated a true hearing conservation program can be. There are many factors in a compliant program including: monitoring, engineering, hearing screenings, selection of the right PPE, and a written program. In a loud environment, it can be a big program to manage.

In the “multiple citation” category

A foundry was found to be in violation of many OSHA regulations. These items included lack of guardrails, training, and storage of flammables. Basic OSHA compliance is achievable. It takes time and effort, but it is a shame to see citations that just keep going on and on. It makes me wonder about the morale of the employees? If a company cares so little about them, can they care about the company?

In the “Fight it all the way” category

A roofer was fined significantly when two workers fell and were hospitalized. According the article, “the owner and president of said he plans to contest the findings “all the way to the end.”’ WOW! The guy hospitalizes two workers, and he is mad that he was fined. It would be like speeding, then getting mad because you were pulled over. The way to prevent being fined is to follow the law. Even in this case, it was not just an inspection. It was an investigation into a serious accident. I have a feeling that the families of the two workers would have preferred if the law had been followed and no fines issued.

Weekly Safety Roundup – Easter Weekend

I am a little late getting this one together, but without further ado here is what I have found interesting in safety news this week.

In the “Lockout is for everyone” category

A bowling alley was cited by OSHA after a fatality where a mechanic was caught in a pin setter mechanism. The premise of safety guarding from equipment is simple. Either it has to be guarded, or it has to be locked out. There are very few exceptions from an OSHA standpoint, and they are hard to prove. Even with work that sounds simple, it is very important that the equipment is guarded or securely turned off. Even at home, there are times where it is important to make sure the item is unplugged or that you maintain exclusive control

In the “scaffold” category

A scaffold collapse in North Carolina resulted in multiple fatalities. It is still not exactly known of what caused the collapse. It is a good reminded of how important competent scaffold builders are and inspections of the scaffolding. It will be interesting to see what comes from the investigation

In the “get the job done” category.

A roofer had an electrocution fatality and following the even sent another guy back to the same site under the same conditions to finish the job. Sadly, this happens more than it should. I remember a few years ago sitting in the TOSHA annual review of state fatalities. In their PowerPoint deck was a photo of roofers on the job. The previous day one of the roofers fell off the roof and was killed. The next day when the compliance officer showed up, the exact same work was going on with no additional safe guards. It truly makes me shake my head and wonder “what were they thinking?”

In the “makes me wonder about humanity” category

Wal-Mart has chosen to end their appeal of the 2008 Black Friday trampling death. I remember when this happened and wondered what kind of cheap electronics is worth a mob mentality tramping someone to death. How could people just keep charging into the store and not see they were killing the guy who opened the door. In Wal-Mart’s defense, I am sure they did not see that as a potential risk. I have in years following the incident an increased awareness of employee safety around Black Friday.

In “that’s interesting” news

A database of state OSHA laws has been compiled. It is an interesting read.

Weekly Safety News Roundup – May 28, 2015

This week had plenty of safety news but only a couple really got my attention. Some of the stories that seemed to be new news, was really just week old safety information other media outlets finally got their hands on. There were many stories (not really remarkable) about lockout tagout and machine guarding. These two items usually go hand-in-hand when referencing an OSHA inspection. If there is not a guard, there has to be a lockout tagout in place. It is an easy one-two punch from an OSHA citation standpoint. No guarding = fine. No lockout with no guarding =  another fine. The inspector sees a trend and keeps finding the same problem over and over and over. The fine racks up to a hefty sum, the local news runs with it. On the other side, there are workers who have serious risk of amputation and death from the lack of those two basic programs.

On to other news.

In the “Most Creative Headline” category:

OSHA: Trains Aren’t the Only Things Blowing the Whistle at Union Pacific. EHS today continues to find interesting ways to grab the reader’s attention with punny headlines. The story is interesting. Workers’ have the right to report safety issues to OSHA without fear of retaliation. There were several documented cases where workers were retaliated against for either reporting safety issues or reporting work related injuries. The story focuses on one such case in which a work related injury appeared to result in a termination. Documentation is key. Just because a worker reports a safety issue or injury does not mean they have a free pass from the other rules of the workplace. The key is to consistently follow policies and document concisely when there are breaches in the policy. In this case, the story also lists other instances which this seemingly unfair practices were conducted.

In the “Learn from the Past” Category:

At the 10 year anniversary of the BP Texas City explosion, the CSB released a statement. This was a dramatic event and reviewing what went wrong is critical for prevention. PSM is a performance based standard and good mechanical integrity is very important to making sure catastrophes like this do not happen. Personally, I saw this event as one where a zero recordable mentality, should have been one of preventing injuries and incidents. They let their maintenance slip, but was proud of no OSHA recordables. In the end, there should have been more focus on the process and not on the results.

Weekly Safety News Recap – March 21, 2015

Here are a few news stories that I felt were interesting from this week.

In the “You Mean OSHA Can Do That” category:

A federal court has banned a company from performing construction and excavation work. After repeated violations that seemed not deter this this company from protecting its employees, the court told the company that it would need to find a new line of work. If it could not protect its employees, then it would not do those types of jobs. This is an interesting case against a smaller employer. I wonder if OSHA would do the same for a larger corporation for repeated violations?

In the “I Have Always Wondered” category:

McDonalds has been hit with multiple OSHA claims of unsafe work practices. I remember as a teenager and young adult hearing the stories of friends slipping, getting burned, getting cut, lift heavy bags and items, while working at their fast food jobs. I always wondered why this was acceptable from a safety standpoint. Evidently, I have my answer. It’s not. Are there really any excuses not protect workers?

In the “This Means You” Category

A garbage truck operator was struck by a passing car. I cannot stress this enough: when there are emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, and road crews, slow down, pay attention, and watch for them. They are focused on their job and do their best to watch for cars, but they need help protecting their lives.

In the “I’m Not Sure That’s the Root Cause” category

A petition to OSHA to regulate speeds in the meat and poultry industry was denied. One, we do not have a ergonomics standard which would help in this case. Two, the speed is not the hazard. The hazard is the repetitive motion. Yes, fast repetition is a cause of cumulative trauma injuries, but the focus should not be on the speed as much as the process, tools, automation, rest periods, rotations, etc. There are other ways for workers to be protected. OSHA has never really branched into the work flow and speed legislation.

Weekly Safety News Roundup – Pi Day 2015

Here is the safety news that I thought was particularly interesting this past week.

In the “common theme” category

Thee incidents involving a fork truck. The first is due to an explosion from a combustion engine forklift entering a restricted area. The second one is a fork truck driver that was trapped under a load. The third one was from a fork truck pinning an employee. Forklifts are one of the most common industrial tools. They are also one of the most dangerous. Anytime that a fork truck contacts a pedestrian the pedestrian is going to lose. It does not matter whose fault it was or who or who was not paying attention. When working around fork trucks there is specific training (see section l) that has to occur for drivers. Another important element is training both drivers and pedestrians about the blind spots of the fork truck and how to communicate effectively between each other. Drivers have to be aware of pedestrians and pedestrians have to be aware of drivers. Before crossing paths always make eye contact and point the direction that you are going. If both the driver and pedestrian to do those two basic items, the risk from lack of communication can be greatly reduced.

In the category of “best headline”

Oregon OSHA $eeking Some Dough from Portland Bakery

This article is in regards to an OSHA citation for a willful amputation due to lack of guarding. Let me preface my next statement with that there are some plants to do a really good job in safety. Overall, through, the food industry has a ways to go in the world of people safety. The focus is mostly on how to keep the food safe for public consumption (which is should be), but there are many improvements that most other industries have made that the food industry as a whole has not addressed. The fact that OSHA tossed them a willful violation in this story is certainly telling.

In the “what the heck” category

A steel erection company had an employee fall 15 feet and become impaled on rebar. A little bit of research showed that this same company had an OSHA citation for a 2003 fatality. What was the fatality? A fall from height. According to their website, it showed that their safety program appears to be led by their projects director who can teach the OSHA 10 and 30 hour construction courses. I cannot express how important a robust safety program/person is to an organization. Even for small businesses that may not be able to afford a full time safety person, there are some wonderful consulting agencies that can help with compliance, training, and inspections. Certainly, selecting the right consultant is important. Just hiring a safety cop will not help the cause. It needs to be a partner to the company that will really get to know the company and its people. The goal is to get people motivated for safety and empower them with the right tools to do the job safely.

Legal Update: Kinesio Tape & Recordkeeping

I found two interesting news items in the March 2015 Issue of Safety and Health from the National Safety Council.

The first is a new letter of interpretation in regards to the use of Kinesio Tape. The interpretation includes kinesio tape as medical treatment, therefore a recordable when used. Many companies use kinesio tape for the treatment of minor sprains and strains where repetitive motion issues are present. Many athletes use the material to help lessen the strain on joints while competing. In the case of workplace usage, many times the very nature of the work allows for the term “industrial athletes” as the performance is sustained motion. The use of kinesio tape could have applied by OTs or PTs under the guise of prevention. It seems that due to this interpretation, sites may discontinue the use. On one hand, this was a tool offered to workers to help them perform with less pain on the job. They will lose free access to this assistance. This should, though, make companies get more aggressive in the prevent of repetitive motion injuries even though there are no OSHA regulations for guidance. Is the intent to prevent a non-regulation? Maybe. I will restate an item that becomes a common theme across my blog: this change only matters to those who will take time to find it, read it, and use it. The safety profession has much to improve on from that aspect of finding qualified individuals. Some in the safety world still debate the idea of repetitive motion injuries as work related. Just for the record, I am not one of those.

The next piece of information is in regards to legislation to change the way employers record contractors in the workplace. The change would be that the site in which the worker is injured would record the injury or illness. The way the log works now is that the company that directly supervises the employee records the injury or illness. I am doubtful that this legislation will pass through. A big reason that companies subcontract work where it is not directly supervised is to reduce risk on many fronts, not just the OSHA log. I do feel that this simplifies the process of “who’s job is it” when it comes to recording the injury. This will be an interesting bill to watch, especially for comments. I expect there will be many for and against, and the arguments will be compelling. I really have to wonder, though, will this change make a dramatic change in the prevention of workplace injuries or is it just another way of tracking a lagging indicator?