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Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

The Wolf Administration, PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Association of Pennsylvania Constructors gathered this week in Harrisburg to kick off Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.

PennDOT data shows that 16 people were killed in work-zone crashes in 2016 which is down from 23 in 2015. However, there was an increase in work zone crashes this past year (2,075 in 2016 up from 1,935 in 2015). Over the last five years, work zone crashes have been occurring at an average of 1,872 a year. Those work zone crashes have also been responsible for around 20 fatalities a year.  This data includes both PennDot workers and non-workers.   When looking at just PennDot worker deaths alone, 87 PennDOT employees have died in the line of duty since 1970.

“Work zone safety continues to be a top priority of the department,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We all hope to help change driver behavior and raise awareness so all of us, highway workers and motorists alike, get home safely every day.”

On March 23, the United States Senate by a vote of 50-48 adopted H.J. Res 83.  This vote overturns OSHA’s rule “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness,” informally known as the “Volks” rule (named for a case involving Volks Constructors). The U.S. House of Representatives approved the resolution by a 231-191 at the beginning of this month. Congress was given the power to adopt these resolutions under the Congressional Review Act.  Under this Act, Congress may pass a resolution to prevent a federal agency (in this case OSHA) from implementing a rule.

Employers have long been required to maintain records of work-related injuries and illnesses for a 5 year period.  Under the original rule, OSHA was allowed to issue citations to employers for failing to adhere to these recordkeeping requirements if the violation(s) occurred within a 6 month period.  The recently overturned “Volks” rule (put in place by OSHA in January 2017) extended that time period to allow citations to be issued up to five and a half years after violations allegedly occurred.

Advocates of the “Volks” rule believe that ongoing recordkeeping is an essential part of implementing safe workplace standards and strategies by referring to the records of illnesses and injuries and taking steps to correct there causes.  The critics of the rule believe it was unnecessarily burdensome on employers and is a rule that only appears to be pro-safety on its face because it merely exposes information about injuries and illnesses and does nothing for improving safety within workplaces.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a Plymouth Meeting contractor for failure to provide workers with safe scaffolding access and protection while working onsite in Philadelphia.

Real Contractors LLC received four repeat and two serious violations for this dangerous oversight. Workers potentially could have fallen unprotected from as high as 13 feet.

“By not complying with OSHA safety standards, Real Contractors continues to put its workers at serious risk of being injured or killed on the job. The hazards found in our inspection are all completely preventable, and must be immediately corrected by the company,” said Theresa Downs, director of OSHA’s Philadelphia Area Office, in a press release.

The Children’s Home of Reading, a facility for children and youth in crisis, faced citations a few months ago from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Employees have faced a minimum of 10 cases of workplace violence, including kicks in the face, head and neck by residents. Employees were not provided the proper protective equipment for situations like these, and others.

“Employees have the right to a safe and healthful workplace, however, there are many documented reports in the past several years of employees being exposed to workplace violence at The Children’s Home of Reading,” said acting director of OSHA’s Harrisburg Area Office, Timothy Braun, in a press release. “This facility must take immediate action and institute effective protective measures to ensure that no more workers get hurt.”

The proposed fine for the findings total $23,160.

Universal Health Services of Doylestown has been cited for four serious violations in relation to workplace violence. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the facility and found them guilty of failing to protect workers from patient attacks, conduct an annual review of the bloodborne pathogen program, and offer bloodborne pathogen training to registered nurses and mental health technicians.

 

Jean Kulp, the director of OSHA’s Allentown Area Office, said in a press release, “Hospitals and other healthcare settings pose significant safety and health risks to workers. OSHA standards prevent these employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other common dangers. Foundations Behavioral Health failed to provide a safe and healthful workplace, which is unacceptable.”

 

The proposed fine for the company is $36,701.

Birdsboro Kosher Farms Corp., a chicken processing company in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, has been fined by OSHA for endangering workers after an employee suffered an amputation. The employee had lost a thumb while working a mixing machine at the farm. OSHA has previously inspected Birdsboro Kosher in 2013, 2014 and 2015, where they found the worker protection system to be lacking.

“Birdsboro Kosher Farms is leaving its employees vulnerable to a variety of safety and health hazards that can cause serious injuries,” said acting OSHA area director in Harrisburg, Timothy Braun, in a press release. “It is critical that the company take appropriate steps to ensure worker protection at its facility. Anything less is unacceptable.”

The proposed fines are $317,477.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited an Upper Darby, Pa. contractor for major safety insufficiencies that put their employees at risk for injury.

The company, BC Stucco and Stone, had workers on scaffolding 18 feet in the air without proper planking or decking. The scaffolding also lacked guardrails and safe access as well as exit ways. The employees were also found to have no proper training when it came to working on a scaffold. These are all incredibly high-risk dangers that could have cost any worker his or her life at the hand of a negligent employer.

To prevent employees from being injured from falls, OSHA demands that employers must:

At the end of last month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a manufacturer based in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania with “one willful and five serious violations.”

P/M National Inc. has been found guilty by OSHA after inspection for lacking machine guarding, which prevents workers from amputation injuries and other hazards. The owners at the facility confessed to failing to install these guards on newer metal presses and removing old ones.

The fines for such disregard for the safety of their employees has subjected P/M National Inc. with a $60,200 fine.

Employee exposure to and lack of protection from highly flammable and potentially fatal chemicals has caused the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to cite and fine a Connecticut chemical manufacturer.

Phoenix Products Co. violated 15 requirements of workplace safety regarding chemicals and will be charged with a $61,600 fine.

The company produces both swimming pool chemicals as well as chemicals found in nail polish remover. Their processes deal with highly combustible substances such as acetone and isopropyl alcohol 99 percent that could easily put workers’ lives in danger. For this reason, OSHA has a required process safety management program that Phoenix Products Co. failed to provide.

A Massachusetts roofing contractor is facing major fines for yet again placing its employees in potential life-threatening working environments.

The guilty party, A S General Construction Inc., has had repeated offenses of failing to provide their workers with both the fall protection and proper safety training that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires.

This time, the company had employees working on an unguarded roof 26 feet from the ground, connected only by an incorrectly crafted ladder-jack scaffold.

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