Articles Tagged with Workplace Safety

Falls at construction sites continue to be the leading cause of death for construction workers.  Around 37% of all construction worker deaths are from falls.  OSHA’s campaign is striving to raise awareness among workers and employers nationwide about the dangers of falls from heights on ladders, scaffolds and roofs.

On May 8-12, OSHA will hold its fourth annual National Fall Prevention Stand-Down. OSHA describes the event as “an opportunity for employers to have a conversation with employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals.  It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall hazards they see.”  Employers are encouraged to halt work and hold a “toolbox-talk” with employees about hazards and fall prevention.https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Flickr_-_Official_U.S._Navy_Imagery_-_Construction_workers_assemble_bleachers_aboard_USS_Bataan..jpg

OSHA promotes a three step approach to prevent falls and save lives.  Those three steps are Plan, Provide, and Train. Employers should plan ahead to create a safe work environment.  They can do this by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment will be required to complete each task safely.  When determining what is needed to complete a job, employers should look not only at the materials needed but also the safety equipment needed to perform the task as safely as possible.  This is where the second step comes in which is to provide the right equipment.  Employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job.  That includes proper ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear to protect their workers.  And the final step is to train.  It is not enough to have the proper safety equipment if it is not properly used by the worker.  Training in hazard recognition and proper use of safety equipment is essential to a safe construction site.

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.

osha citationsAt 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.

Phoenix LogoEmployee 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.

Roof SafetyA 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.

OSHA and Industrial Truck Association WorkersThrough a renewed alliance with the Industrial Truck Association, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is working to minimize the amount of injuries and deaths related to powered industrial trucks. The renewed alliance is for another five years, and the primary topics of interest over this time will include tip-over and struck-by dangers.

For those employees who work with these trucks, the alliance will serve to provide more efficient resources and training so that potential life threatening dangers can be more readily recognized and accidents can be prevented.

Other OSHA promotions that will be pushed through this alliance include preventing falls, heat illness, and supporting a “culture of safety.” This culture includes preventing workers from being crushed under fallen equipment such as forklifts.

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19-year-old Mason Cox was killed after being pulled into a wood chipper in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.

Reports say Cox was trying to kick a tree branch that he was loading into the chipper when his leg got caught in the tree branch.

Cox had just recently been hired by Crawford’s Tree and Stump Grinding Service and the accident occurred on his first day on the job.