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OSHA Fines Area Construction Firm for Repeat and Serious Jobsite Violations

Kansas City, MO- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a Kansas City-area construction company for multiple violations observed during a May jobsite visit.

According to KSHB, OSHA fined Blue Nile Contractors Inc. $210,037 for failing “to protect employees from trench collapse and electrical hazards.” Inspectors reported four repeat and five serious safety violations during the visit to a site where water lines were being installed.

Blue Nile is a minority-owned wet utility contractor that specializes in trenchless sewer and water construction. The Birmingham, Mo., company was selected as one of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Top 10 Small Businesses in 2018.

Blue Nile has been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, KSHB reports. The company has 15 days to comply with OSHA demands or contest the findings.

Proper training and education regarding OSHA violations and accident prevention are is one way for companies to combat these high fines.

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Deaths of Four Employees lead to $1M+ Fine for Illinois Company

Deaths of Four Employees lead to $1M+ Fine for Illinois CompanyWaukegan, IL- An OSHA investigation into the deaths of four employees of an Illinois chemical plant has resulted in more than a million dollars in proposed penalties against AB Specialty Silicones LLC.

The company has been cited for a dozen willful federal safety violations in the explosion and fire at its Waukegan facility on May 3, 2019 that caused deaths of four employees.

The silicon chemical products manufacturer faces $1,591,176 in penalties and has been placed in the in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA investigators determined AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids, and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition.

OSHA provides resources on electrical safety and using forklifts when working with hazardous materials. Proper electrical safety services and education could prevent this accidents in the workplace.

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Contractor fined $662K after Electrical Shock Injury

Fort St. John, British Colombia – Peace River Hydro Partners has been fined $662,102.48 by WorkSafeBC. The fine was imposed on August 21, 2019, after a worker sustained an electrical shock injury. A worker was able to access the main circuit breaker in a high-voltage electrical cabinet for tunneling equipment.

According to WorkSafeBC, the main electrical breaker extensions on the exterior cabinet door were not functioning, the de-energization switches had been circumvented and the main breaker switch-box isolation covers were in disrepair.Electrical worker operates on wires

WorkSafeBC staff also determined that it was a standard work practice at this site to access the main circuit breaker without following lockout procedures.

A stop-use order was issued for the tunneling equipment because Peace River Hydro Partners failed to ensure its equipment was capable of safely performing its functions, and was unable to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety.

WorkSafeBC says these were both repeated violations.

This is the largest fine WorkSafeBC can issue under B.C. legislation.  The report from WorkSafeBC did not disclose the condition of the worker or the exact date of the incident.

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3 Electrical Incidents in 24 hours in Ontario

Ontario, Canada- September 19th was Black Thursday in Ontario’s electrical sector with three separate incidents of workers contacting overhead wires causing two electrocution deaths and injuring two others.

The spate of mishaps left construction, electrical and health and safety stakeholders upset, frustrated and searching for answers.

“The Electrical Safety Authority is very saddened to hear any time there are incidents of an electrical nature,” said Dr. Joel Moody, the ESA’s chief public safety officer. “Our thoughts are with the families who have experienced loss.”

Two of the three involved construction work. The third, in Kawartha Lakes, was at a private home where workers trimming a hedge on an elevated work platform contacted a powerline. One worker died and the other was injured.

In Vaughan, a Ministry of Labour report said a worker employed by Pontil Drilling Services sustained fatal injuries when a drill boom made contact with overhead power lines.

In Scarborough, east Toronto, a worker for Darcon was injured when a tower crane hit an overhead powerline. The job site constructor is Paramount Structures.

“This is a stark reminder of the dangers of working near electricity and clearly shows there is a need for more to be done to keep workers safe,” said James Barry, executive chairman of the IBEW Construction Council of Ontario, in an online statement.

There have been 1,250 reported overhead powerline contacts in Ontario in the last 10 years with an average of two deaths per year, making the pair of fatalities on Sept. 19 a full year’s worth statistically. The ESA says construction workers are at especially high risk with 60 per cent of powerline contacts occurring with dump trucks on construction sites.

The ESA responded to the mishaps with a statement urging awareness of the specific hazards related to working near wires. It’s a message that echoes those of the ESA’s Powerline Safety Week awareness campaign that’s launched at the start of construction season each May in Canada.

The ESA also works with utilities, haulers and arborists on a regular basis, Moody said.

“We urge situational awareness with a hazard assessment being the first thing they should do,” he said. “Be aware of your surroundings.”

“All of these incidents are preventable. Electricity is very lethal and unforgiving and having safe work practices every day is very important.”

“For the most part, if you look at the utilities, they live and breathe health and safety,” Kelusky said. “These weren’t utility workers, the guys dealing with the live stuff, they deal with it with great respect and understanding. That is a cultural thing from top to bottom.”

Despite the incidents of Sept. 19, Kelusky said, the statistics show construction is getting safer and that the construction sector in the province is developing a more integrated safety culture.

Responding to the comment urging that more be done, Kelusky said a major focus of his office is linking the diverse efforts of the health and safety community. His office has recently pledged to work with Ontario’s Industrial Health and Safety Association to undertake more research to be able to provide stronger tools to employers.

The approach to falls across the province in the last decade is a good example of how research can lead to program development and working with employers and employees to deliver results, Kelusky explained.

“What we want to do is supply labor and employers with more information other than, if you touch that it will hurt you,” he said, referring to electrical hazards. “We did that with falls and touch wood that seems to be going well.”

Looking ahead, Kelusky said, there are positive signs from Queen’s Park with the auditor general conducting a much-needed review of health and safety programs, the government reviewing the WSIB and signals from the new Minister of Labor, Monte McNaughton, that he is keenly interested in health and safety and working collaboratively with stakeholders. That’s on top of the WSIB’s new Health and Safety Excellence Program and the continuing growth of COR.

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Willful Violations Lead to Preventable Amputation

Pennsauken, NJ – Failure to implement OSHA recommendations has led to an amputation and over $200,000 in fines for willful violations documented at an NJ snack food manufacturing facility.

A worker at J&J Snack Foods Corporation suffered a partial finger amputation in a lockout accident that could have been prevented by rectifying prior violations identified by OSHA. Following an investigation, J&J faces $206,019 in fines for federal workplace safety violations, including willful violations.

OSHA’s investigation found that failures to correct previously issued workplace safety violations led to the amputation accident at J&J’s Pennsauken manufacturing facility. The snack-food maker failed to correct prior violations of safety procedures known as lockout/tagout procedures which are written instructions for de-energizing each piece of equipment.

OSHA inspectors determined that the worker was cleaning a machine when it activated. This is typical of accidents whose cause can be traced back to lockout/tagout failures or energy control hazards.

Million of American workers service equipment as a part of their job, and these people face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. It is estimated that compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation. OSHA’s area director stated that “the employer’s failure to correct previously identified violations and follow basic safety standards resulted in this preventable incident.”

J&J was cited for willfully failing to conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures used to de-energize equipment when cleaning; failing to implement lockout procedures to prevent unintentional machine start-up; and failing to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures and energy hazards.

OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Training is done to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees, and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.

J&J Snack Foods Corp manufactures popular snack foods like soft pretzels, churros, water ice, and frozen lemonade for popular brands sold throughout the United States.

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AL Auto Workers Exposed to Electrical and Amputation Hazards

electrical amputation hazardsAuburn, AL – Arkal Automotive USA Inc. faces $47,857 in proposed federal workplace safety penalties after an investigation of its Auburn (AL) plant revealed that workers were exposed to electrical and amputation hazards.

According to OSHA, Arkal Automotive was cited for inadequate machine guarding, failure to implement lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures to keep workers safe during machine maintenance and servicing, failing to implement safety procedures for entering a robotic cage, and for exposing employees to hazardous energy.

OSHA’s fines and citations were issued following a complaint that employees were not properly protected while entering injection molding machines. Joseph Roesler, OSHA’s area office director, stated that “Arkal Automotive USA Inc. failed to identify and correct hazards to ensure the safety and health of their employees.”

Multiple lockout/tagout failures were revealed in the course of the OSHA investigation. Arkal Automotive was found lacking proper lockout procedures for working with robots or molds, including when removing parts or cleaning molds. Additionally, safety inspectors found an insufficient amount of the required lockout equipment for employees to use for hazardous energy control. The OSHA complaint said the company failed to ensure that if more than one employee was working in a robotic area, each employee had individual lockout devices.

It was also reported that Arkal Automotive failed to ensure continuity of lockout procedures on shift change and did not have adequate machine guarding when employees reached under a portion of a robot cage to retrieve parts and pass to the operator while the machine was running.

According to OSHA records, the same facility was issued four serious violations in 2017 for lockout hazards and other violations.

Arkal Automotive is a company based in Israel, with production plants worldwide. The Auburn (AL) injection molding plant opened in 2011, and is their only production plant in the US. The Auburn facility produces door carriers, wheel liners and other functional auto parts.

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Worker Hospitalized After Becoming Stuck in Conveyor Belt Housing

Baiting Hollow, NY – A worker is in critical condition after he became stuck inside a conveyor belt housing. Once in the confined space, the man lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest at the sand and gravel pit where he was working.

According to local police reports,conveyor belt the 40-year-old man “became lodged inside the conveyor belt housing of a plant screener that is used for sifting soil on the property.”

The worker, currently in critical condition, is an employee of BGLJ Servicing Corporation. He was working at a property used for excavating material.

The employee shut the conveyor off and crawled into a small opening to free a jam. While in the space, he got stuck and lost consciousness. His co-worker pulled him out and emergency responders were called to the scene.

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Top 10 Most Cited OSHA Violations for 2016

Lockout/Tagout violations were the #5 most commonly issued OSHA violation in 2016, the #2 most common willful violation, and the #4 most commonly cited serious violation in the safety trainingpast year as presented by Patrick Kapust (deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs) at the 2016 National Safety Council Congress & Expo in Anaheim, CA.

In sharing OSHA’s Top 10 list of most frequently cited violations for 2016, Kapust recommends that each safety manager looks at the list and compare it to their own workplace. Since these are the most common violations OSHA is finding in the US, Kapust suggests that EHS managers ask themselves: “Would they find these at my workplace?”

Fall Protection was the most cited OSHA violation for the sixth year in a row. Hazard Communication and Scaffolding were second and third most common, which is unchanged from 2015’s top 10 most cited. Respiratory Protection and Lockout/Tagout were the next most common, in fourth and fifth position.

OSHA’s standards for Lockout/Tagout (or LOTO) outline the minimum performance requirements for the control of hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment.

While Lockout violations are the fifth most common overall, LOTO was the #2 most common willful violation in 2016. Willful violations are defined as those “committed with an live training, electrical training, arc flash trainingintentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and requirements.”

Additionally, Lockout/Tagout represented the #4 most common serious violation issued in 2016. Serous violations are those which pose a “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.”

 

OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations for 2016:
  • Fall Protection – General Requirements
  • Hazard Communication
  • Scaffolding
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Lockout/Tagout
  • Powered Industrial Trucks
  • Ladders
  • Machine Guarding
  • Electrical – Wiring Methods
  • Electrical – General Requirements

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The “Unexpected” Change in the OSHA Lockout Update

by Jim Schuster

Under the guise of its “Standard Improvement Project” rulemaking, OSHA recently announced a change to 1910.147 Control of Hazardous Energy standard, commonly known as lockout / tagout. The change focuses around removing the word “unexpected” from the statement “servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which the unexpected energization or start-up of the machines or equipment, or release of stored energy, could harm employees.” It’s just one word, but for some companies, this could represent a big change as this will broaden the scope of when lockout must be applied.

Change in OSHA Lockout Update

The change stems from the companies who have relied on visual, audio or other alarms that signal the “expected” energization of a machine, providing workers enough time to clear the area and return any dangerous goods back to containers which you can learn more about at storemasta, such as the warning signals commonly found on baggage claim carousels before they start up. In interpreting the current OSHA standard, these types of alarms would not fall under the “unexpected” start-up of machinery, and therefore, are not subject to the lockout requirements for that task. This interpretation has been backed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Reich v. General Motors Corp., Delco Chassis Div., 89 F.3d 313 (6th Cir. 1996) when they rejected an OSHA “interpretation” that would have deprived the word of meaning. OSHA had argued that the standard applies if “employees could be injured if the equipment is energized . . . during the servicing operation”—an “interpretation” that the court rejected because it “expressly omits the word ‘unexpected.’” Judges of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission have also vacated citations that relied on the word “unexpected.”

So with the removal of the word “unexpected”, the standard will mean lockout shall be applied whether the start-up or energization of the machine is unexpected or expected. Many of the tasks performed under the alarms will still be viable without lockout as they meet the minor servicing exception 29 CFR 1910.147(a)(2)(ii), but some tasks will not eliminate or control all the hazardous energy from the zone where the worker is, in which case lockout will be required. This biggest impact for this will be for manufacturing lines where stopping the lines can mean destruction of the quality of the product if it sits too long due to the change in structure of the product, such as the hardening of chocolate.

The Change in OSHA Lockout Update

While many organizations are viewing this as a restrictive step backwards, OSHA claims that this will improve protection of the workers under the standard without adding negative economic impacts. I would agree with OSHA on the point that it will improve worker protection, as notification of a machine starting does not eliminate the hazardous energy if someone is still in the danger zone. It really is consistent with the rest of the standard whereby hazardous energy sources must either be guarded from workers, or eliminated / blocked if there is no guard. From an economic impact, some companies will have to invest in re-engineering some machines in order to perform tasks while eliminating the hazardous energy, which will have short term economic impacts on them, but long term, it might be a benefit. Using the ANSI Hierarchy of Controls, “Elimination” is the most effective and first choice for risk management, so if the change in the standard pushes companies to find ways to perform the task while eliminating or “guarding” the hazard, this would both improve worker safety, and potentially allow some tasks to be performed faster if there is no concern for hazards.

What will be most interesting about this change, however, is the juxtaposition of the broadening and tightening of the OSHA standard, while the updated ANSI Z244.1 standards will seemingly suggest to loosen the standard with a higher acceptance of some interlocks as an acceptable or alternative means for machine safety. OSHA letters of interpretation make it clear that interlocks are not acceptable means for controlling hazardous energy when a worker is in the danger zone, so while the “unexpected” change will create some headaches for a select few, the real battle with OSHA on lockout still lies ahead.

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$76K in OSHA Fines for AL Meat Processor

Bakerhill, AL – OSHA has issued 12 citations for serious safety violations to a meat processing plant located in southeast Alabama. An investigation was triggered after an employee’s fingertip was amputated in an accident at the Keystone Foods processing plant in Bakerhill (AL). OSHA is proposing $76,734 in fines.

In March of this year, a 65-year-old employee lost the tip of his index finger while cleaning an overhead saw blade at the plant. OSHA’s subsequent investigation uncovered numerous serious safety violations including amputation hazards due to ungosha fines meat-processing-plantuarded machinery and failure to follow safety procedures to prevent machinery from starting while cleaning, among others. Such procedures are known as Lockout/Tagout.

OSHA laws require each piece of equipment to have lockout procedures written specifically for it. These lockout procedures provide detailed instructions on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. Lockout/Tagout (or LOTO) helps to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, and/or prevents the release of hazardous energy during service and maintenance activities. Writing equipment-specific procedures for each piece of equipment can seem like the most difficult part of implementing a lock out tag out program in any kind of manufacturing facility – Martin Technical’s Rapid LOTO lockout procedure development program is designed to provide high quality procedures that are easy to follow.

Approximately 3 million workers service equipment and these people face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout (LOTO) is not properly implemented. Compliance with federal lockout/tagout standards prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Contact a Martin Technical Safety and Compliance Expert today to discuss how we can help your company implement an effective lockout/tagout (LOTO) program and policy for your facility.

The Keystone plant in Bakerhill (AL) is operated by Keystone Foods of West Chester (PA). Keystone is a supplier of fresh and frozen food products including poultry, beef, fish and pork.

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