WALLINGFORD, CT – R+L Carriers Shared Services LLC, located in Wallingford, CT is facing fines nearing $87,000 for serious OSHA violations. According to an OSHA press release, employees faced dangerous chemicals, fire and explosion hazards when they tried to contain a chemical spill without proper training and protective equipment in October of 2014.
OSHA investigators found that a 55 gallon drum of tetrahydrofuran being carried by a forklift from a truck accidentally punctured. R+L employees attempted to contain the spill by using absorbents and cordoning off the area. OSHA’s investigation found that company management lacked an emergency response plan and none of the employees were trained as first responders.
The investigation also found that the emergency plan did not include procedures for timely reporting on emergency events, no respiratory protection was provided, and there was no qualified person on-site to oversee the response. Additionally, it was also found that the forklift was not operated properly.
OSHA said they found two repeated and four serious violations in the course of investigation. The two repeated violations came from similar hazards cited by OSHA during a 2011 inspection of R+L Carriers Shared Services Chicago division.
Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport, said “These workers were essentially defenseless. They did not know how to evaluate the hazards involved, what personal protective equipment to use and what steps to follow to contain the spill safely. Worse, no one present at the terminal did,” and “These deficiencies in emergency response by R+L Carriers put its employees at risk of death or serious injury.”
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St. Louis, MO – A flash fire caused by a propane forklift accident sent four Saia Freight employees to the hospital in August 2014 and has resulted in numerous OSHA fines for the company.
Two forklift operators were changing a propane tank on a liquefied petroleum gas-powered forklift inside a freight trailer when a loose coupling connection allowed liquid propane to leak, vaporize, and ignite.
The resulting flash fire caused burns – A lead forklift operator and a newly hired worker suffered critical burns, another worker sustained burns to his legs while he helped extinguish his coworkers’ clothing, and a fourth worker using a forklift nearby also received burns.
As a result, OSHA has cited Saia Motor with one willful and 11 serious safety and health violations and proposed penalties of $119,000. OSHA issued a willful violation for Saia’s use of several powered industrial trucks with defective or bypassed safety switches.
“Workers must be trained to avoid deadly combinations of flammable fuels, ignition sources and confined spaces, which allow vapors to ignite quickly,” said Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St. Louis. “This incident should remind all employers that using forklifts is one of the hazards workers may face daily.”
OSHA issued serious violations for: not evacuating the work area after flammable gas was released (fire evacuation plans were not carried out); not requiring forklift propane containers be switched in an adequately ventilated area; mounting gas containers on the cylinder indexing pin correctly; training workers on extremely flammable gas hazards; requiring hand and eye protection when changing cylinders; labeling hazardous chemicals in the maintenance; and training powered industrial truck operators. Several electrical safety hazards also were found.
Morley, Australia – 2 energy workers were killed and 2 seriously injured this week in an explosion at Morley Galleria shopping center located in a suburb of Perth, Australia. Alan Cummins, age 30, was killed at the scene and Matt Hutchins, 22, died in Royal Perth Hospital shortly after the accident.
Employees of High Energy Solutions were performing routine maintenance near an electrical transformer. The exact cause of the explosion is as of yet unknown, but under investigation. Industry experts suspect that an arc flash blast caused the accident. The survivors are in intensive care recovering from burns and smoke inhalation at the Royal Perth Hospital. It has been reported that the injured are in critical condition, with burns to 60-80% of their bodies.
The mall was evacuated and closed temporarily due to power outage and emergency responders working to determine the extent of the accident and damage. Adjacent roads were also temporarily shut down.
In a statement released by High Energy Service Pty Ltd, general manager Brad Mitchell said: “This is a truly tragic day and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased persons and those of the injured employees… We will be fully co-operating with all the relevant authorities in their investigations and will be conducting our own investigation. Our focus at this moment is supporting those injured people and their families and our other employees.”
Arcadia, WI – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied a historic $1.766 million dollar fine this week against Ashley Furniture Industries, based in Wisconsin. Investigators documented numerous and repeated serious violations at the facility, landing Ashley Furniture on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program list for “employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”
The plant employs 4,500 and in the past 3 years has seen over 1,000 worker injuries. Workers were not adequately protected against moving machinery, most of it woodworking machinery. Lack of training and accidents with tools, blades, and saws have resulted in multiple amputations. The OSHA report and $1.76 million dollar penalty allege that Ashley Furniture “failed to safeguard against woodworking machines unintentionally starting when workers were making tool and blade changes,” which is also known as lockout tagout or control of hazardous energy.
Additional citations were issued for “not training workers on safety procedures and hazards present when servicing machinery; lacking adequate drenching facilities for workers exposed to corrosive materials; electrical safety violations; and not equipping all machines with easily-accessible emergency stop buttons.” OSHA categorizes these violations as serious since physical harm resulted from a hazard they estimate that the “employer knew or should have known [to] exist.”
“We rarely issue a fine that is more than $1 million,” commented U.S. Labor Department Assistant Secretary David Michaels. “Having 1,000 work injuries in three years is proof positive that safety in this plant needs tremendous improvement.” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated: “Safety and profits are not an ‘either, or’ proposition. Successful companies across this nation have both.” For its part, Ashley Furniture denies the findings, stressing that they are allegations only.
DETROIT, MI – An electrical explosion at Fort Washington Plaza in Detroit blew three manhole covers into the air.
Authorities confirmed that the high-rise building at 333 West Fort Street has been evacuated. DTE Energy crews have been sent to the building, although a spokesman for DTE said it’s not clear if their service is involved or affected.
Fire Chief John King said the whole situation unfolded after three manhole covers apparently “blew up.”
“We believe we have some underground wiring that has affected the scene. This building right here has been evacuated because of the amount of smoke that was accumulating in the basement, but there is no fire in this building nor has it affected the electrical in this building,” he said. “But it’s being evacuated and it will be shut down the rest of the day.”
“We’re always worried about that, that’s why we want to keep as many people aware of what’s going on as possible because we don’t want people to be near them and be aware that they will fly up in the air and come down and hurt someone,” said King.