Management repeatedly warned of unsafe conditions

iStock_000020632383XSmall Construction TrenchGAINESVILLE, Fla. – An employee of R.E. Arnold Construction Inc. was trapped when the wall of an excavation he was working in collapsed around him. The incident occurred as the employee removed dirt from a storm filtration system at the company’s work site, and the local fire and rescue team had to remove the employee, who left the scene in critical condition. As a result, OSHA cited R.E Arnold with one willful and two serious safety violations. The subcontractor, Suntree Technologies Inc., was cited for four serious safety violations. The city of Gainesville contracted R.E. Arnold to build a retaining pond and pump station for the Depot Park.

“These employers deliberately chose not to follow established OSHA standards for protecting workers in excavations and repeatedly ignored warnings, including one on the day of the incident, that the trench was unsafe,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville. “This shortcut led to a worker seriously injured and nearly killed.”

R.E. Arnold was issued a willful citation for failing to provide employees working in a 15-foot-deep excavation with required protection from wall collapse hazards. A Gainesville city safety inspector informed management numerous times that the excavation was unsafe, yet safety issues were not corrected. On the day of the incident, an inspector refused to enter the trench, claiming that it was too dangerous. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

OSHA standards require that all trenches and excavation sites 5 feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Protection may be provided through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle or by using a protective trench box. OSHA has created a National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.

The serious citations were issued to R.E. Arnold for exposing workers to dangerous safety and fall hazards by failing to provide them with hard hats and fall protection equipment. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Suntree Technologies was cited for four serious safety violations for failure to provide fall protection for employees working at heights above 6 feet. Additionally, management did not ensure workers were wearing hard hats while inside the excavation, exposing them to hazards from falling debris.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $83,000 for R.E. Arnold and $18,200 for Suntree Technologies. The current citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/REArnold-954792-06232014.pdf .

R.E. Arnold, based in Gainesville, specializes in site preparation and underground utilities and has no previous OSHA inspection history. The company employs approximately 24 workers. Cocoa-based Suntree Technologies specializes in storm filtration products. It employs 24 people and has no previous OSHA inspection history.

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 by David McGill, CIH, CSP, CHMM

Chemical Safety“What’s an industrial hygienist?” is a common question that most professional industrial hygienists have been asked at least once in their careers. But before we get too far into the nitty-gritty of industrial hygiene, let’s take a look at the profession from the 5,000 foot level, sort of a general overview.

Most agree that a good general definition of industrial hygiene is “… the science of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling workplace conditions that may cause workers’ injury or illness”. You don’t need to look too far to find this definition. It came right from the OSHA website. Similar definitions with a few variations can be found in other materials, but the OSHA definition covers the profession quite nicely. Some would add communicating to the list, but that’s relatively recent. As a practical matter, industrial hygiene is the science of identifying and controlling workplace and community hazards (now commonly and collectively called “stressors”) that can cause adverse health effects usually through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption. In addition to these, there are industrial hygiene sub-specialties specific to:  repetitive motion, overexertion, heat, vibration, radiation, mold, etc., with more being added as our technological world advances.

In earlier times, the industrial hygienist basically was limited to sample pumps, filters, tubes, counters, and meters to determine potential exposure. Today, thanks to technology advances, the industrial hygienist has a multitude of analytical tools available to perform a comprehensive assessment relatively quickly and with minimal production impact. However, the fundamental principles of industrial hygiene have not changed – namely, the anticipation, evaluation, recognition, and control of hazardous substances that could potentially cause adverse health effects.

“What’s an industrial hygienist?” – It’s a scientist focused on keeping workers healthy.

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Fresh From Texas Inc. and iWorks Personnel Inc. fined a total of $135,200

ear plugsFresh From Texas Inc., a fresh fruit and vegetable processor for H-E-B Grocery stores and fast-food markets, and staffing agency iWorks Personnel Inc. have been cited for 18 violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to damaging noise levels, chemical hazards and possible amputation hazards for failing to train machine operators on controlling hazardous energy. The total proposed fine for the complaint inspection that began in December 2013 is $135,200.

“Workers, whether employed directly by the company or as a temporary worker, require proper training on workplace hazards. In this case, both Fresh From Texas and iWorks failed to do so and put workers in danger,” said Kelly C. Knighton, OSHA’s area director in San Antonio. “Both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements, and they share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health.”

Fresh From Texas was cited for 12 serious safety and health violations, with a penalty of $76,100, for failing to prevent workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals; to identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace; and to ensure a hearing conservation program was implemented for workers exposed to noise levels that would cause permanent hearing damage. Regarding slicing and dicing machines, violations were cited for failing to establish a written lockout/tagout program for energy sources to ensure machines were turned off when workers were inside them; provide machine operators with training; guard rotating gears; and provide safety instructions on the machines.

Two repeat violations were cited, with a penalty of $49,500, for failing to ensure sufficient working space around electrical equipment and unobstructed access to fire extinguishers. Similar violations were cited in 2012. Three other violations, with a penalty of $3,300, were cited for failing to record injuries of temporary workers, review the log for accuracy and ensure safety instructions were clearly posted on dangerous machines.

OSHA inspectors found that temporary workers employed by iWorks Personnel were also exposed to chemical hazards and were not trained on chemical safety. As a result, OSHA cited iWorks for one serious safety and health violation, with a penalty of $6,300.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers. During the inspection, OSHA inspectors paid special attention to the hazards facing temporary workers to determine the role the host employer and the staffing agency played in the dangers.

The citations can be viewed at:
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Fresh_From_Texas_Inc_953367_0627_14.pdf,
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Fresh_From_Texas_Inc_953588_0627_14.pdf and
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/iWorksPersonnelInc_dba_PreferredStaffingLLC.pdf.

Posted in Chemical Safety, Hearing Protection, Lockout/Tagout, Machine Safety, OSHA, OSHA Inspections, Respiratory Protection | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discount retailer cited for similar hazards at other stores nationwide

iStock_000017378933XSmallEmployees at the Dollar Tree Stores Inc. location in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood repeatedly faced the dangers of blocked exits and hazardous conditions in the store’s stockroom, according following a complaint inspection by OSHA. Dollar Tree Stores faces a total of $177,800 in proposed fines.

“This case reflects this company’s deliberate and ongoing refusal to effectively address hazards that have been cited multiple times at their stores across the country,” said Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. “On his initial visit to the store, the OSHA inspector informed management of the hazards and the need to correct them. Yet, on subsequent visits, the inspector found these hazardous conditions again and again, showing an unacceptable disregard for employee health and safety.”

In its December 2013 inspection, OSHA found merchandise in the store’s stockroom was consistently stacked in an unstable and unsecured manner that exposed workers to crushing injuries should the stacks collapse. Emergency exit routes were also consistently blocked by store inventory, shopping carriages, a conveyor and garbage. In addition, the store failed to maintain a means of access to an electrical control panel so that employees could turn off the store’s electrical power in the event of an emergency.

For these conditions, OSHA cited Dollar Tree Stores for three willful violations with $174,500 in fines. Additionally, the company was cited for one serious violation, with a $3,300 fine, for allowing trash and garbage to accumulate throughout the stockroom, creating tripping and exit hazards for the workers. The citations can be viewed at here.

Dollar Tree Stores has been inspected 153 times nationally over 19 years and was cited for 453 violations of OSHA standards. Within the last five years, Dollar Tree Stores was cited 51 times for the same violations being cited willfully at the Roslindale store. Earlier this year, Dollar Tree Stores was cited for similar violations at stores in Wilmington, Delaware and Missoula, Montana.

“Placing employees repeatedly at risk of serious injuries or death is serial behavior for this company, and it must change,” said Robert Hooper, OSHA’s acting regional administrator for New England. “A large employer such as Dollar Tree Stores has a responsibility to its employees to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers at all of its more than 5,000 locations.”

Headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, Dollar Tree Stores is a large single-price-point retailer, operating 5,080 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces as of May 3.

Posted in Electrical, Emergency Action Plan, Exit Routes, OSHA, OSHA Inspections, Slips/Trips/Falls | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

iStock_000003336633XSmallIt may sound rather silly, but it’s no joke.   ICE for the cell phone can be a help for first responders or medical providers.  We’re not talking about frozen water.  ICE is an acronym for In Case of Emergency.  ICE started several years ago, and with the number of cell phones in the U.S. estimated to be in excess of 58 million (and counting), ICE on your cell phone just makes good sense.

Here’s how it works.  You create a contact on your cell phone called ICE then assign a phone number to that contact.  That’s it!  Then, in case you are in an accident or not able to speak for yourself, someone can use the ICE on your telephone, identify themselves as a first responder, and tell your ICE contact where you are, how you are doing, etc.

Your ICE contact can be anyone – spouse, significant other, good friend, mother, father, sibling, other relative, etc.  You want your ICE contact to be someone who would be able to make decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to make these on your own.

ICE on the cell phone – it just makes good sense.

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It seems like every year around the 4th of July, we hear of a serious burn (or worse) caused by careless use of fireworks.  Often alcohol is involved.  As we approach the upcoming holiday, let’s take a minute to review some do’s and don’t’s concerning handling and use of fireworks.   Here are our top 10 fireworks safety precautions.

  1. Rocket FireworksAlcohol and fireworks are a dangerous mixture
  2. Inexperience can kill
  3. Know your limits
  4. Know your surroundings
  5. Watch from a safe distance
  6. Once lit, stand back
  7. Never throw lit fireworks at someone
  8. Never aim fireworks at someone
  9. Keep a bucket of water handy in case of fire
  10. Keep the children and pets away

Children are naturally curious and they usually reach to touch before they think (or know) the consequences.

As we celebrate our Independence Day, let’s make this 4th of July full of good times, good food, good fun, and good memories without a trip to the emergency room because we just didn’t think.

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Louisville, KY – Dwayne Towles, President of Advanced Safety & Health, LLC, recently announced the addition of David McGill, CIH, CSP, CHMM, to serve as the manager of Industrial Hygiene Services, further complementing the team of dedicated occupational health and safety professionals at Advanced Safety & Health. “He is an ardent safety and industrial hygiene  professional with a proven track record of implementing and managing well-designed safety and health management systems, specifically in the areas of industrial hygiene and environmental management”, said Towles.

Dave brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise as he has established and managed environmental, safety, and health programs in a variety of industrial settings including thermoplastics, molten metal, chemical, and metal die casting.  He also has expertise in radiation physics, radiation safety, explosives, chemical hygiene, site inspections, root cause analysis, asbestos abatement, medical management, and community monitoring.  In addition to industrial hygiene and occupational safety, Dave has developed and managed environmental programs for both large and small quantity generators including manifesting of hazardous waste, tracking, and disposal.  As an ISO 14001 Lead Auditor, he has implemented and maintained several Environmental Management Systems for various industries.  With his most recent role on the Deep Water Horizon oil spill clean-up, Dave continuously provided management and oversight for a multi-state area covering all aspects of industrial hygiene activities including technician supervision and assessment of exposures to petroleum, dusts, noise, pathogens, heat stress, and other toxic chemicals.  He has expertise in construction safety and has extensive experience in monitoring construction safety and health activities.

Dave holds a Master of Science degree in Physics from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana.  He is board certified in industrial hygiene (CIH), occupational safety (CSP), and hazardous materials management (CHMM).

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iStock_000022949794 DeadlineIn a Memorandum issued on June 20th, OSHA announced a delay in the enforcement of compliance regarding the recently released changes to the standards for electric power generation, transmission, and distribution installations. The new standards are still effective July 10, 2014, but the compliance deadline has been delayed until October 31, 2014.

The updated standards are intended to harmonize construction and general industry requirements so that the same rules apply generally to the same kinds of work. Additionally, OSHA based its revisions on the latest consensus standards and improvements in electrical safety technology.  Please see our recent blog article for further discussion regarding the updated standards.

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Various organizations working to keep employees safe and educate consumers

iStock_000006894580XSmall RooferDENVER – The residential roofing industry in Denver and area communities, including Pueblo and Colorado Springs, is being cited in record numbers for failing to keep workers safe by providing necessary fall prevention equipment and training. In addition to its own outreach effort on fall prevention, OSHA is teaming up with various organizations, including the Colorado Roofing Association and the Better Business Bureau.

“In the past six months, we have received 63 complaints related to unsafe work practices, and this is the beginning of the roofing season. The cost of providing fall prevention equipment is nominal compared with the cost of a senseless loss of life and livelihood,” said David Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Englewood. “Falls from heights of 6 to 15 feet accounted for 24 percent of all fatal falls in 2012.”

To prevent these injuries and fatalities through education and outreach, OSHA launched the 2014 National Safety Stand-Down, which was held June 2-6. An estimated 1 million workers and 25,000 businesses, including construction industry leaders, put a halt to their work for one hour during that week to discuss the importance of recognizing fall hazards and implementing fall safety measures.

Consumers seeking to hire reputable and safety conscious roofing companies should visit the Colorado Roofing Association website at http://www.coloradoroofing.org/ for tips on locating a quality contractor. To file a complaint or research complaints filed against a roofing contractor, consumers can go to the Better Business Bureau’s website at http://www.bbb.org/. The establishment search on the OSHA website at http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.html provides consumers with information on contractors that have been cited for safety and health violations.

“Consumers should be aware that, in many cases, the contractor they sign an agreement with is not necessarily the contractor installing the roof. Many roofing companies are using a different name with a higher Better Business Bureau rating to get the job, but have no roofers to do the install,” said Nelson. “Consumers need to ask questions, such as: Are the installers your employees or subcontractors? Are they insured? What is their past work history? How will the project be managed? What kind of fall protection will be used? Hold your contractors accountable. The last thing a consumer wants is someone falling, especially on their property.”

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Birdsboro Kosher Farms Corp. fined nearly $60K

Production of white meatAfter a follow-up inspection that began in December 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Birdsboro Kosher Farms Corp. for failing to correct previously cited serious safety violations found at the kosher poultry processing facility in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. Following the inspection, the company faces $59,400 in proposed penalties.

“The safety of all workers, including vulnerable, non-English-speaking Latinos employed at the Birdsboro facility, continues to be jeopardized by this company’s repeated failure to correct these hazards,” said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA’s Harrisburg Area Office. “It is imperative that this employer complete the necessary actions to address these unsafe conditions to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.”

OSHA’s inspection found four repeat, three serious and one other-than-serious safety violation. The repeat violations involve the company’s failure to develop machine-specific procedures for preventing a machine from turning on during servicing; provide machine guarding; guard live electrical parts; and provide personal protective equipment for the eyes and face for employees exposed to electrical hazards. The repeat violations carry a $39,600 penalty. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

The serious violations, with an $18,810 penalty, were cited for failing to provide training to employees on safe maintenance of machines. The company was cited for not having a hearing conservation program to protect employees from hearing loss. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Carrying a $990 penalty, an additional violation was cited for failing to keep required records.

In 2012, OSHA conducted previous inspections at the site when it operated under the name of MVP Kosher Foods LLC and issued 15 serious, two repeat, and four other-than-serious violations with fines totaling $140,000. Birdsboro Kosher Farms Corp. was formed in late 2012, and is a successor company to MVP Kosher Foods LLC.

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