Seven Years Later: The Rana Plaza Factory Collapse

Savar Upazila, Bangladesh- In 2013 of this week, the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,100 garment workers, primarily young women, and injuring 2,500 others.

It was the largest industrial accident since 1984, when a gas leak at a factory in Bhopal, India, killed more than 3,500 people and exposed thousands more to toxic fumes. 

Images of the Rana Plaza collapse caught the world’s attention and became a catalyst for corporate action on factory safety.  

This led over 220 international brands to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a unique binding agreement that set up a monitoring and remediation system in the factories where the mostly European brands sourced from. Other brands, primarily from North America, joined the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.

Today, more of those buyers recognize that factory safety is important and that they will be held to account, and are being more transparent about publicly listing where they source their products. 

Factories covered by the Accord and the Alliance are safer in part because they underwent a series of inspections, had plans to fix the problems identified, and those that didn’t comply were not allowed to work with member companies.

During those inspections, a litany of problems were identified. These included structural flaws, blocked fire exits, and a lack of fire doors and proper fire alarm and sprinkler systems. About 84 percent of those problems at Accord factories have been addressed, and 90 percent of issues at Alliance factories have been remediated. The Accord terminated 96 of its roughly 800 suppliers, and the Alliance 168 of its roughly 2,000. Millions of workers have been trained on safety procedures and safety committees have been formed at many factories.

We do our part in furthering training, education, and prevention of such tragedies.

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Workers Avoid Injury in Maine Paper Mill Explosion

Jay, ME- Malfunctioning machinery sent wood fiber and other debris shooting into the sky after a massive explosion at a paper mill in Jay, Maine, Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

All employees at the mill have since been accounted for and no injuries were reported.

At 12:06 p.m., Jay police and fire officials received reports of an explosion at a paper factory operated by Pixelle Specialty Paper Solutions at 300 Riley Rd., Davis said. Pixelle spokeswoman Roxie Lassetter said a rupture in the pressure valve of a digester, which creates pulp from wood chips to be used in the paper, caused the explosion.

Lassetter said none of the 165 employees who were inside the building were near the explosion. Some employees and people close to the plant were treated at the scene for minor respiratory issues from the debris in the air, but no one was taken to the hospital, she said.

Lassetter said the blast sent water, wood fiber, and chemicals used during the pulping process into the air during the blast. Environmental officials from the state will assess the area for any hazards, she said.

Pixelle has yet to determine the extent of the damage. Fire officials and representatives from the company will start to assess the site Thursday morning, though Lassetter said the area of the blast has sustained “significant damage.”

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OSHA fines Company 150k after Employee Amputation

Lawrence Township, NJ- BWay Corp.—doing business as Mauser Packaging Solutions—received a citation from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workplace safety and health hazards after an employee suffered an amputation on Sept. 26, 2019, at its Lawrence Township facility. The company now faces $151,329 in penalties.

OSHA inspected the facility after being notified that an employee was cleaning a machine when the amputation occurred. The agency cited BWay Corp. for failing to use lockout/tagout procedures to protect employees from hazardous energy. OSHA cited the company for similar violations at multiple facilities between 2016 and 2019.

“Workers servicing or maintaining machines are at risk of serious injury, including amputations, if hazardous energy is not properly controlled,” OSHA Marlton Area Office Director Paula Dixon-Roderick said in the statement. “This company must correct the hazards identified to protect workers’ safety.”

The company had 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Area Director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. 

OSHA fines NJ Company 150k after Employee Amputation

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At Hard Rock Hotel, OSHA cites ‘Willful’ and ‘Serious’ Safety Violations

New Orleans, LA-  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found numerous safety violations at the site of the 18-story Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, which partially collapsed in October, killing three and injuring dozens.

The top floors of the high-rise building on the edge of the French Quarter collapsed unexpectedly on the morning of Oct. 12, sending debris cascading into the streets and injuring workers and bystanders. The bodies of two of the workers killed in the accident remain trapped in the rumble.

OSHA fined 11 contractors on the project for life-threatening violations, with the largest fines imposed against Heaslip Engineering. Heaslip Engineering, based in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, was found to have committed both “serious” and “willful” violations and was fined $154,214.

OSHA’s findings included that “floor beams on the 16th floor were under-designed in load capacity” and “structural steel connections were inadequately designed, reviewed or approved,” the latter a “willful” violation.hard rock hotel

OSHA defines a “serious” violation as one that could “cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm.” A “willful” violation is one where “the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.”

Besides the 11 previously stated, other contractors working on the Hard Rock Hotel project were cited for safety violations that included a lack of training, not providing protective equipment and failing to keep exits clear.

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Two Fatalities in Last Month for Tyson Factories

Eufaula, AL- Within the last month, there have been two fatalities in Tyson factories within the United States. A worker died on March 2nd at a Keystone Foods chicken processing plant in Eufaula, AL while cleaning a piece of equipment.

Barbour County Coroner Chip Chapman said in the report that 39-year-old contractor Carlos Lynn became “caught in a pinch-point of the equipment,” and that the cause of death was a decapitation. The official told the broadcaster that the equipment involved in the incident was a chiller.

Tyson Foods, the owner of the plant, told WRBL that operations halted at the facility the day following the industrial accident.

“We’re investigating an accident at our Eufaula, AL facility yesterday that involved a worker employed by an outside contractor and will provide more information when we can,” Tyson Foods said in a statement printed by the station. “We’re grateful for the swift response and assistance of local emergency personnel.”

Another worker died in a Tyson plant March 23rd in Garden City, Kansas.

Deputies responded to the plant for a man not breathing. EMS transported the man, identified as 30-year-old Kendrick Gregory of Garden City, to the hospital where he died.

The Finney County Sheriff’s Office said their initial investigation showed that Gregory was doing maintenance on the harvest assembly line when he was pulled up by harness against a takeaway belt. Another co-worker was able to cut him free.

These two fatalities in Tyson factories could have potentially been prevented with proper and secure Lockout Tagout procedures. Lockout Tagout isolates and locks each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in injuring a worker.

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Worker Killed in Coca-Cola Pallet Accident

Wilsonville, OR-  A worker was killed in what authorities say appears to be a workplace accident at the Swire Coca-Cola facility in Wilsonville.

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said a loaded pallet fell on the man and he was dead when first responders arrived. The incident happened between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., according to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified and a medical examiner is investigating. Pallets can lead to injuries such as puncture wounds, sprained ankles, broken toes, or worse. If used for a nonapproved purpose, such as a man lift, the result could be tragic. With roughly 2 billion pallets circulating in the United States, it serves material handlers to take some basic precautionary steps and training to avoid injury. Companies should also make sure a strong Lockout Tagout program has been developed and is established.

Swire Coca-Cola released a statement regarding the incident:

“We are deeply saddened that a fatality occurred at our Wilsonville facility on Friday. We can confirm next of kin have been informed. Our production and warehouse remains closed as we work with the relevant authorities to investigate this tragic incident. We have support available to the family and our employees and we send our deepest sympathies to all those affected.”

The worker who was killed has been identified, authorities said, as Brian Willison, a 47-year-old Hillsboro resident.

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Garment Factory Fire in India Claims 7 Lives

Ahmedabad, India- Seven people reportedly died in a garment factory fire in India in February, according to reports from local news sources. On the Saturday night, the Nandan Denim factory in Ahmedabad caught fire, which raged through Sunday morning. According to a 2018/2019 annual report, the factory works with a number of major brands, including Ann Taylor, Zara, Ralph Lauren and Polo, and Target.

The Indian Express reports that the fire started in the shirting part of the factory, where there was no ventilation. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but police reportedly said that a preliminary probe revealed there was only one exit on the first floor, which was accessible only by a ladder, and there were no fire safety measures in place. A representative from the Labour and Employment Department said that the factory would be closed until further review of the safety initiatives in place.

While it’s rare, it’s not unheard of for garment workers to die while on the job. In December, a fire at a handbag factory in Delhi killed 43 workers, and the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh killed over 1,000 garment workers. The Nandan factory has certifications from eco-friendly groups like the Better Cotton Initiative, Global Organic Textile Standard, and Oeko-Tex, though those primarily certify the safety of the chemicals used in manufacturing. Nandan’s annual report has a “Social, Health, and Safety” section that reads, “Our goal remains to achieve ‘zero fatality’ and we are committed to achieving this through the effective management of health and safety risks.” Police are still investigating the factors which led to the accident.

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Construction Accident Leaves One Dead, One Injured

Oklahoma City, OK- Officials say one person is dead following an construction accident in Oklahoma City.construction death

Around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, emergency crews were called to an industrial accident in the 8300 block of N. I-35 Service Rd. in Oklahoma City.

Initial reports indicated that two people were trapped after a scissor lift tipped over inside a nearby building.

Once emergency crews arrived on the scene, they realized that one person was dead and another was seriously injured after the scissor lift fell while approximately 40 feet in the air.

“Terrible incident. We see industrial accidents from time to time in our city,” Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson with the Oklahoma City Fire Department said. “Construction workers, they have dangerous jobs. Sometimes things happen, unfortunately.”

Proper worker training, OSHA compliance, and management training reduce industrial accidents on sites such as construction. The construction company in charge of the project is AC Owen Construction. The two people involved in the accident were subcontractors that work for Frazier Fire LLC.

“It’s just a big metal building. I’m not sure what it is, or what it’s going to be when it’s done,” Fulkerson said. “They were working inside the building when it occurred.” It’s not clear at this time what caused the lift to fall, or what the workers were doing at the time of the accident.

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Man Lost Half his Leg in Workplace Accident

Sydney, Australia- A 35-year-old man has lost half his leg in a workplace accident at a factory in New South Wales’ Macarthur region, near Sydney.

Ambulance crews were called to the Inghams Poultry Processing Plant on Ralfe St, Tahmoor, about 8am on Wednesday.

Paramedics worked frantically to free the man, trapped in a machine at the turkey processing facility, and whose leg had to be amputated from the knee.

He was treated at the scene before being flown to Liverpool Hospital in a serious condition.

The accident occurred at a factory in Tahmoor, south of Sydney. Image: Google Maps

The ambulance spokesperson said a 35-year-old man was stuck in a piece of machinery, and has sustained a serious leg injury.  A specialist medical team arrived by helicopter, where the man was extricated from the scene and flown to hospital for further treatment, in a serious condition.

“Ingham’s has been working with emergency services to do everything it can to support and aid an employee who has been injured in a serious workplace incident. The employee is on his way to hospital and is reported to be in a stable condition,” an Ingham’s spokesperson states.

“The employee’s family is on their way to the hospital and being given all possible assistance and support. Fellow employees are being provided with counselling.”

“Ingham’s will work with the appropriate safety authorities to investigate the incident and will continue to focus on ensuring the safety of its employees.”

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UPS Conveyor Belt Death, OSHA Investigates

Authorities have not released the man’s name or any other details about what led to the incident.

In a statement, UPS said it was continuing to work with authorities.

“We are saddened for the loss of a vendor’s employee, who was maintaining equipment at one of our facilities,” the statement read. “We are working with the responding authorities, and extend our heartfelt condolences to the individual’s family, friends and coworkers.”

According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Labor, compliance officers with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have opened an investigation at the UPS facility at 1010 N. Century Ave.

The spokesperson said that no further details will be released until OSHA completes the investigation, which it has six months to do by law.

UPS Conveyor Belt Death in Missouri

Understanding OSHA’s regulations and having proper employee training is essential in avoiding hazardous situations, such as this conveyor belt death.

The agency, which has jurisdiction over 7 million work sites across the U.S., prioritizes inspections at places that present “imminent danger situations” or where “severe injuries and illnesses,” including work-related fatalities, have occurred.

Emergency crews responded to the facility, which is just south of Front Street and east of Interstate 435, around 6 p.m. Monday. Crews performed CPR on the man on the way to the hospital.

Police initially reported that the man had been pronounced dead at the UPS facility, but said about an hour later that he was alive but had life-threatening injuries. UPS confirmed his death on Tuesday afternoon.

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