Lone Star Management cited following tragedy

iStock_000018872028_ExtraSmallPITTSBURG, Kansas – Two Lone Star Management LLC employees were directed to use a gas-powered forklift to move pallets of fireworks and cardboard out of an explosives storage facility in Pittsburg when the gas ignited, which caused an explosion and fire. Within seconds, the trapped employees became engulfed in flames. The inferno took the life of one 28-year-old worker and left a 43-year-old co-worker to suffer with burns over 80 percent of his body and the possibility of never working again.

OSHA found nine serious safety violations at the warehouse following an investigation of the August 2014, incident. As a result, Lone Star Management, which specializes in importing and distributing Class 1 fireworks, was cited.

“Poor housekeeping, combined with using a forklift not approved for flammable environments, proved to be a deadly combination,” said Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director in Wichita. “Fireworks are meant to be fun, but by their nature, are highly explosive. This employer knew the hazards and how to protect staff. The families of these workers should not suffer because a company did not show a commitment to worker safety.”

OSHA’s investigation found that the company failed to paint explosive storage containers red with appropriate warnings and stored unauthorized materials, including cardboard, in the explosives’ containers.

Lone Star Management also failed to develop, implement and maintain a written hazard communication program to train workers about hazardous workplace materials and provide necessary handling safety precautions. Additionally, fire extinguishers were not mounted and accessible and employees were not trained to use them. The company also failed to have a competent person on-site to enforce safety standards for magazine storage.

OSHA has proposed fines of $55,000 for the nine serious violations. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.

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by Laura Dietrich, Certified Professional Ergonomist

Dissatisfied Business LadyBy now, most of us have heard the news reports on the effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time: “Our study showed that sitting time was associated with a higher risk of all causes of mortality:  heart disease mortality, cancer mortality, and diabetes — independent of exercise,” according to David Alter of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, who led the research.  The average office worker sits for approximately 5 hours and 40 minutes each day. Pretty scary stuff, considering the fact that even if we exercise regularly after work, we are still at an increased risk for disease.

Many studies have recently confirmed the benefits of standing while working.  This includes increased blood flow and a decreased risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. A 2013 study found that standers burn, on average, 50 more calories per hour, thus decreasing their risk of obesity. This significant list of benefits really makes us all start to consider “am I sitting too much?”

There is an innovative resolution that many people are trying – a sit/stand workstation.  I have evaluated workstations that range from a homemade standing workstation that an employee brought in, to automatic desks that raise and lower with the push of the button.  The cost of these stations range from a manual stand that rests on your desk to allow work while sitting which can be raised to enable working in a standing position (starting at $250) to an electric desk that raises by simply pushing a button (starting at $700).

If you are interested in trying a sit/stand station, here are a few recommendations:

  • Have your employees try out the station and complete an evaluation form before purchasing.  You want to avoid purchasing the station and then having employees decide they don’t want to use it.  Think of all the treadmills that are used as clothes hangers in bedrooms!
  • Make sure the station is adjusted correctly for neutral wrist posture in both the sitting and standing positions.  This is critical because if we improve health by standing but ultimately cause an ergonomic injury due to set-up, nothing has been gained.
  • Provide an anti-fatigue mat for people to stand on.  Standing can be fatiguing if done on a hard surface for prolonged periods of time.
  • Educate your employees that they still need to walk around briefly every hour to increase blood flow and relax muscles.

Not ready to take the plunge and change your workstation?  Then use the study information to make sure that you are getting out of your chair every 45 – 60 minutes and standing up.  Preliminary evidence from studies suggests that regular interruptions in sitting can be beneficial and help offset the effects of being sedentary.  Take a short stroll to the coffee pot, to deliver a report, or to ask a question in person rather than emailing.   We used to do these activities without even thinking about it, but now we can actually go through the day without interfacing with a ‘real’ person.  So, take this study as a great excuse to get up and move!

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Ordered to pay maximum punitive damages

iStock_000016656836XSmallwhistlebower2HARTFORD, Connecticut – Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company’s actions against an injured worker have resulted in the largest punitive damages ever in a retaliation case under the Federal Railroad Safety Act. A recent investigation by the OSHA uncovered these details and revealed that the worker, who is employed as a coach cleaner for the commuter rail carrier, was retaliated against after reporting the knee injury he suffered on November 17, 2011. As a result, the company has been ordered to pay the employee a total of $250,000 in punitive damages, $10,000 in compensatory damages, and to cover reasonable attorney fees.

While driving the injured employee to the hospital, a Metro-North supervisor also intimidated the worker, reportedly telling the worker that railroad employees who are hurt on the job are written up for safety and are not considered for advancement or promotions within the company.

Unofficial reports from other employees appear to corroborate the supervisor’s claims. For instance, one worker smashed her foot with a barrel while on the job, yet she did not file an accident report and showed up to work every day using crutches in hope of keeping her injury record clean. Another worker was injured when her hand was caught in a broken door but, like her coworker, she did not fill out an incident report for fear of reprisal.

Shortly after the Connecticut employee reported the work-related injury, Metro-North issued disciplinary charges against him. The employee filed an initial Federal Railroad Safety Act anti-discrimination complaint with OSHA on April 19, 2012. An amended complaint was filed on April 9, 2013, after the railroad issued additional disciplinary charges against him.

“When employees, fearing retaliation, hesitate to report work-related injuries and the safety hazards that caused them, companies cannot fix safety problems and neither employees nor the public are safe,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “In this case, the Metro-North’s conduct was deliberate and discriminatory, and we have assessed the maximum amount in punitive damages allowed under the law.”

OSHA’s investigation found that the employee engaged in protected activity when he reported his injury and filed his complaints with OSHA, that Metro North knew these were protected activities and that these protected activities were contributing factors in Metro North’s subsequent disciplining of the employee.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published a preliminary Special Investigation Report dated November 19, 2014, regarding several recent accidents, including fatalities, involving Metro-North. The NTSB noted in their findings that “Metro-North Railroad did not have an effective program that encouraged all employees to report safety issues and observations.” OSHA’s findings here provide another example of this: if employees are discouraged from reporting injuries, the employees and the public are endangered as Metro-North cannot correct the conditions which caused the injuries.

In addition to paying punitive and compensatory damages, OSHA ordered Metro-North to expunge the employee’s record of all charges and disciplinary action. The company must also conduct training for all supervisors and managers on employee whistleblower rights and post a notice to employees of their whistleblower rights. Both the employee and the railroad have 30 days from receipt of OSHA’s findings to file objections and request a hearing before the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws.

Under these laws enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed employee rights information is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.

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OSHA Proposes $162,500 Penalty for Anheuser-Busch Sales of New Jersey

iStock_000013815038XSmall man on forkliftJERSEY CITY, N.J. – A distribution warehouse for beverage manufacturer Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, makers of Budweiser, Bud Light and Corona beer, willfully put workers at risk of serious injury. Doing business as Anheuser-Busch Sales of New Jersey, the company exposed permanent and temporary workers to hazards that involved powered industrial trucks and other dangers at its Jersey City facility, an investigation OSHA found. Penalties totaled $162,500.

Initiated as part of the agency’s Site-Specific Targeting Program that directs enforcement resources to workplaces with the highest injury and illness rates, the OSHA investigation found two willful and eight serious violations.

“These employees faced the risk of serious injuries due to Anheuser-Busch’s failure to provide appropriate training, properly working equipment, and safe exit routes, which is unacceptable,” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office. “This company is fully aware of the safety hazards in its Jersey City facility and should immediately take corrective action.”

OSHA investigators determined that powered industrial truck operators were not trained by Anheuser-Busch, and defective trucks were not removed from service. These willful violations have a $121,000 penalty.

The Anheuser-Busch warehouse also had obstructed exit routes, damaged storage racks and additional powered industrial truck hazards. The company also failed to provide both chemical hazard communication and powered industrial truck training. These violations carry a $41,500 penalty.

View the citations at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Anheuser-Busch_978459_1203_14.pdf

 

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JSW Steel (USA) Inc. cited for 12 violations; $126,000 in fines proposed

Ventilation plant.BAYTOWN, Texas – Employees who perform maintenance work on a metal cutting machine must be trained to safely de-energize the machinery and conduct periodic audits of those procedures, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An OSHA inspection on June 10, 2014, of the JSW Steel (USA) Inc. Baytown facility found the company violated 12 safety requirements. Proposed penalties total $126,000.

Lockout/tagout procedures exist to keep workers from hazards, including electrocution, crushing, burns, lacerations and amputations. Not following procedures puts workers’ lives in danger, and that is unacceptable,” said Mark Briggs, OSHA’s Houston South Area Office director. “Although workers were not injured in this case, the employer must be proactive and correct hazards before injuries or fatalities occur.”

OSHA cited JSW Steel for one repeated violation, carrying a fine of $70,000, for failure to conduct periodic inspections and develop lockout/tagout procedures to safely power off the shear, a large metal cutting machine, during machine maintenance and servicing.

Inspectors also identified nine serious violations, with a proposed fine of $54,000, for failure to affix lockout or tagout safeguards on dangerous machinery and to train employees performing machine maintenance. JSW Steel also was cited for inadequate drenching or flushing facilities for workers exposed to injurious corrosive materials. The company also was cited for two other violations, with a $2,000 fine, for failure to mount fire extinguishers and replace a missing junction box.

View the citations at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/JSWSteelUSAIncInsp980283.pdf*.

JSW Steel employs approximately 700 workers and produces a variety of steel products at its Baytown facility.

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Proposed Penalties Exceed $100,000

iStock_000023698673XSmallAn investigation by OSHA found that Birds Eye Foods Inc. expected employees to work in a 40-degrees-below-zero Fahrenheit freezer without properly insulated personal protective equipment. OSHA also discovered slip, trip and fall hazards on unclean freezer floors.

“OSHA’s investigation uncovered that entry-level workers bought thermal protective equipment because Birds Eye Foods had not provided it. It was ridiculous that workers needed to spend money on protections their employer failed to provide,” said Kim Stille, OSHA’s area director in Madison.

OSHA initiated an inspection after it received a complaint that alleged unsafe working conditions. The inspection of the frozen-food processing plant resulted in one repeat and 12 serious safety violations. The citations carry proposed penalties of $109,400.

The company was issued a repeat violation for failure to install fixed stairs to access elevations with tools and equipment, which exposed workers to fall hazards. Inspectors found the same violation at the Darien facility in June 2013. OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer was cited previously for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

The investigation also found serious violations with workers exposed to live electrical parts and hazards related to hexavalent chromium. An industrial process, such as welding on stainless steel or other alloy steels containing chromium metal, usually produces hexavalent chromium. Exposure to hexavalent chromium could cause cancer and adversely affect the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes.

To view the current citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/BirdsEyeFoodsInc_978296.pdf*.

Birds Eye Foods employs about 600 workers at the Darien facility and is a division of Pinnacle Foods Inc., based in Parsippany, New Jersey. Pinnacle Foods also operates the Duncan Hines Grocery Division.

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OSHA cites Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. after worker dies while cleaning oil residue inside rail car at Mounds, Illinois, facility

DSC00040MOUNDS, Ill. – A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation found that Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. did not have equipment or trained personnel to rescue a 27-year-old worker promptly who collapsed and later died while cleaning a rail car. OSHA has cited seven willful and 14 serious safety violations, many involving permit-required confined space safety regulations. The company has also been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA determined that the employee entered a 30,000-gallon rail car on May 20, 2014, and suffered from cardiac arrhythmia. He was unable to exit the rail car on his own. The man had been on the job for about 14 months at the time of the incident.

“Permit-required confined spaces put workers at risk for serious injury and illness from hazards,” said Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional administrator in Chicago. “The employer must ensure that safety equipment, such as retrieval lines and proper respiratory protection, is provided to employees and used each time someone enters a confined space. Each year workers are fatally injured when working in confined spaces.”

Environmental Remediation failed to monitor permit-required confined spaces; allowed entry when atmospheric conditions* were unacceptable; and did not provide personal protective equipment, including self-contained breathing apparatus and respirators. The company also failed to remove defective respirators from use. A confined space is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs, such as a rail car clean out, but it has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.

In addition, the company failed to designate trained rescue employees and use a retrieval system attached to the worker to aid in rescue. OSHA cited the company for seven willful violations. 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.

Additionally, Environmental Remediation failed to comply with respiratory protection requirements, maintain rescue equipment, ensure ventilation equipment was used properly, and provide fall protection for workers at the top of the rail car, which exposed them to falls of 15 feet or more. A total of 14 serious citations were issued for these violations.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

OSHA has proposed fines totaling $188,400. To view the current citations, visit http://www.dol.gov/osha/pdf/Environmental-Remediation_977916_1118_14.pdf*

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OSHA Form 300In a statement by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet on November 21st, Kentucky will not begin enforcing the new Federal OSHA requirements for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses.  The statement indicates that the Department of Workplace Standards is reviewing OSHA’s Final Rule to determine what action may be necessary, but that OSHA’s September 18th rule will not go into effect in Kentucky on January 1, 2015.  However, Kentucky will continue to enforce the 803 KAR 2:180 which remains in effect in the state. It should be noted that 803 KAR 2:180 is similar in scope to the new OSHA September 18 Final Rule.

See the complete notice below:

Notice Regarding OSHA’s New Recordkeeping and Reporting Final Rule

Updated November 21, 2014

On September 18, OSHA published a final rule in the Federal Register revising the reporting requirements of severe injuries and updating the list of industries partially exempt from recordkeeping requirements established in 29 CFR 1904. Establishments in federal jurisdictions must comply with the new requirements beginning January 1, 2015.

In 2006, Kentucky implemented reporting requirements found in 803 Kentucky Administrative Regulation (KAR) 2:180 that differ from OSHA’s current requirements but are similar to OSHA’s September 18 final rule. The Department of Workplace Standards is reviewing OSHA’s September 18 final rule to determine what action may be necessary.

OSHA’s September 18 final rule will not go into effect in Kentucky on January 1, 2015; 803 KAR 2:180 remains in effect in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The Labor Cabinets encourages employers to monitor www.labor.ky.gov for additional information as it becomes available. Questions can be directed to the Office of Standards Interpretation and Development at (502) 564-3070.

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Rapidly growing occupational safety consulting company has an immediate need for a quick starter degreed and experienced in the safety field. 

iStock_000013114436 ASH Hiring ManSafety Consultant
Advanced Safety & Health, LLC is a growing Occupational Safety Consulting company based in Louisville, Kentucky.  We are dedicated to providing high quality professional safety consulting and training services to our vastly diverse client base. We provide onsite safety support services, training and consulting for large- and small-scale operations, conduct OSHA-related audits, injury prevention programs, safety program management support, develop written programs and procedures, provide incident investigations and trending, provide customized training, job safety analysis, risk assessments, and many other related services for both short-term and ongoing contract engagements.

We are currently searching for an individual who is passionate about safety management and training practices, and is able to work with a wide array of organizations and people, including manufacturing, utilities, municipalities, distribution, construction, maritime, and service sectors.

What You’ll Do
The ideal Safety Consultant for Advanced Safety & Health will be located in the Louisville, Kentucky area and be willing to travel as the job requires.  You must be able to conduct onsite safety management support, risk assessments, and training for our growing client base throughout the United States, but primarily focused in Kentucky, Southern Indiana, and Ohio areas.

Additionally, you will need to be able to:

  • Conduct full day training sessions that may involve multiple consecutive days
  • Conduct intense multi-day onsite risk evaluation surveys and compile detailed reports and recommendations
  • Assist clients with the development and implementation of safety polices, programs, and procedures specific to each account and loss exposure
  • Provide advanced risk management and consultative services to assigned clients
  • Maintain and demonstrate safety management and expertise in areas such as OSHA, MSHA, injury prevention, workers’ compensation,  and fleet safety
  • Develop, coordinate, and conduct safety/risk management seminars and training programs for accounts to promote OSHA compliance awareness and reduce work-related injury frequency and severity
  • Develop and execute service proposals and plans to large accounts

What It Takes

  • Bachelor’s Degree required, Master’s Degree preferred
  • Degree must have emphasis in Occupational Safety & Health, Engineering, Management, or Loss Control
  • At least five plus years of safety consulting or safety management work experience
  • High level of independence, organization, and self-motivation
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to effectively interact with a diverse customer base
  • Experience in coordinating and servicing large or multi-location accounts preferred
  • Intimate knowledge, understanding, and implementation of OSHA, ANSI, NFPA Standards, and DOT Regulations
  • High level of verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to provide effective training in a variety of hands-on and classroom type settings
  • Proficiency in basic Microsoft computer programs such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
  • Valid driver’s license, acceptable motor vehicle record, and dependable transportation for travel, including overnight travel
  • Safety designations such as CSP preferred, or willingness to pursue professional designation(s)
  • A proficiency in Mine Safety and Health or Fleet Safety could be an added plus, but not required.

What You’ll Receive

Advanced Safety & Health offers all full-time employees a benefit package that includes:

  • Competitive Compensation with potential for pay bonuses
  • Group Medical, Dental, and Vision
  • SIMPLE retirement plan with employer contribution
  • Paid Vacation and Holidays

What You Need To Do

Submit your resume, with a cover letter explaining why you should be part of our growing team, your special qualities, and salary expectations to info@advancedsafetyhealth.com.  Please put Louisville Safety Consultant in the email heading.

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Citation adds to penalties facing retail chain across nation

iStock_000017378933XSmallWATAUGA, Texas – National discount chain Dollar Tree Stores Inc. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for willfully and repeatedly exposing workers to serious hazards at its store in Watauga. Across the nation, Dollar Tree Stores have been cited for more than 200 safety and health violations since 2009. Proposed penalties for the latest inspection total $262,500.

“In the past five months, OSHA has issued more than $800,000 in fines to Dollar Tree Stores for the same or similar violations,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “This latest incident yet again demonstrates the company’s deliberate and ongoing refusal to effectively address hazards that have been cited multiple times at their stores across the country. OSHA will not tolerate such blatant disregard for worker safety.”

At the Watauga store, two willful violations, with a penalty of $130,500, were cited for failing to ensure exit doors were kept clear and unobstructed and that products were stored in a stable and secure manner.

Four repeat violations, carrying a penalty of $132,000, were cited for failing to keep passageways clean and clear and to secure compressed gas cylinders and prevent blocking of portable fire extinguishers and electrical panels.

Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in Fort Worth, said, “Allowing boxes weighing up to 45 pounds to be haphazardly stacked in the storage room exposes workers to crushing injuries. Failing to correct this violation and other hazards, including blocked exits, puts worker safety in jeopardy – and that is unacceptable.”

OSHA has received complaints from Dollar Tree Stores employees in 26 states since 2009, and it has cited the company for 234 safety violations in that time period. This includes willful violations found during 2014 inspections in Delaware, Massachusetts and Montana.

Dollar Tree Stores, headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, employs approximately 17,600 full-time and 69,800 part-time workers. OSHA began investigating the Watauga store after receiving a complaint about dangerous conditions.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/DollarTreestoresInc_1907_967705.pdf.

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