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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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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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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Fatality in California Raisin Factory

Sanger,CA- A woman died after her hair and clothing got stuck while clearing debris on Friday from a raisin processing machine, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said. The fatality from the incident happened at the Del Rey Packing Company’s dehydrator plant near Sanger, California.

The woman was identified as 33-year-old Yaneth Lopez Valladares.

Fresno Sheriff’s say Valladares got a piece of loose clothing caught in a machine used to process raisins.

The machine severely injured her, causing her to pass away at the scene as a result of the trauma she suffered, officials say.

Two other employees were nearby and immediately powered down the equipment and dialed 911. This was the woman’s second year working at this particular facility.

Valladares’s boss was too shaken and distraught to speak to us on camera, but he says his heart goes out to her family and friends.raisin factory fatality California

Cal OSHA is investigating the incident, which could take a few months to complete, and released this statement:

An employee working for a farm labor contractor named Blessed Harvest was working on a Stem Grading Line when their clothing got caught on a shaft to a cylinder that breaks up raisin bunches, causing the employee to strike their head.

They will also be looking to see if there were any violations at this facility and if proper training was given to employees.

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Houston Explosion leads to 2 Fatalities

Houston,TX- A massive explosion rocked a northwest Houston neighborhood Friday morning, breaking windows, collapsing ceilings and even knocking houses off their foundations up to two miles away, resulting in two fatalities.

Houston fire officials say the chemical involved in the explosion was propylene.

As a hazardous chemical, propylene is covered by a number of federal environmental and worker safety regulations.

Companies have to file those inventories with the state, its local emergency planning committee and the local fire department.

On its 2015 inventory, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing did not include propylene. It only listed liquefied oxygen.

If a company releases propylene into the air, it is required to report that release in the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. Most releases of propylene occur at larger chemical companies. Propylene is used in plastic manufacturing to make polyproplyene which is used in countless household products. It’s also used as a fuel in large and small facilities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers propylene a hazardous material. There’s a number of worker safety rules that apply to the storage and handling of propylene and other liquefied petroleum gases that are similar to it.

The OSHA regulations related to propylene all likely applied to Watson Grinding and Manufacturing. The company was fined in 2013 for failing to properly control hazardous energy. Propylene would likely be covered by those rules.

According to the company’s website, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing provides machining, grinding, lapping & thermal spray coatings to customers. It claims to specialize in the turning and milling of exotic alloys, hard metals and large parts.

“The quality of our in-house manufacturing processes is assured by our ISO 9001:2008 certification, team of QA/QC certified professionals and our fully equipped in-house Metallurgical Laboratory,” the website states.

At 9:30 am, Houston Fire Department says HazMat crews have secured the 2,000 gallon tank of  propylene gas that was leaking at the blast site. There is still reportedly a small fire burning.Houston fatalities explosion

According to a news released dated  November, 2015,  the company is located in more than 84,000 square feet of facilities, and employs more than 125 people.

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Worker Killed at Oregon Construction Site

oregon death construction Eugene, OR- Officials with Oregon Occupational Safety and Health are investigating a fatal accident that killed a worker Saturday morning at a Beltline construction site.

According to Eugene Springfield Fire, a worker in his early sixties was pinched between an excavator and a barrier near the Delta Highway and Beltline interchange just before 11 a.m. When first responders arrived, the worker had been freed and was transported to Riverbend hospital with “serious” injuries.

The Oregon Department of Transportation said the accident halted work on the project for some time.

According to officials, the worker was an employee of contractor Hamilton Construction. In a statement, the company confirmed the death and told KEZI 9 News, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers. We lost a great employee and friend.”

The company said that safety is it’s top priority and will cooperate with authorities to investigate the cause of the accident.

OSHA said it has 180 days to complete the investigation.

According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2018 there were nearly 5,000 public workplace deaths with over 1,000 of those being construction related — accounting for over 20 percent of workplace fatalities.

In Oregon, of 62 public workplace fatalities, 11 were in construction.

OSHA specifies four key dangers they coin the “fatal four” in construction;  falls, electrocution, being struck by an object, or getting caught in or between something. Training workers and management and meeting OSHA standards regarding the “fatal four” could potentially lead to more regulated and less fatal incidents.

According to ODOT, work is being done in the center median of the Beltline highway, closing center lanes in both directions throughout the weekend. Officials said lane closures are still expected to end by 6 a.m. Monday morning

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Worker Seriously Injured in Industrial Accident in Steel Mill

Gary, IN- A worker was seriously injured in an industrial accident at Gary Works Wednesday.

The steelworker suffered multiple injuries and was taken to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in downtown Gary. Information on his condition was not immediately available but he is expected to survive.

“We had a worker that got seriously hurt with several injuries but none life-threatening,” United Steelworkers District 7 Director Mike Millsap said. “All I know is he is a maintenance technician and was working on (a blast furnace) and he got hit by something.”

U.S. Steel’s OSHA Recordable Incident Rate has been 0.14 per 200,000 hours so far this year, down from 0.17 in 2017.

steel mill industrial accident Though the United Steelworkers union and steelmakers have worked for years to prioritize workplace safety at the industrial mills, the hulking factories where metal is forged post many inherent hazards that include hot temperatures, catwalks over great heights, and moving equipment that weighs tons. Steelworker ranks as the sixth most deadly job nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Family Sues GE Appliances after Worker’s Death

Kentucky, USA- The family of a Kentucky man killed in a workplace incident has filed a lawsuit against his employer, GE Appliances, as well as other parties.

Steve Herring, who has worked for GE Appliances for more than two decades, died in February after being pinned by machinery while working on a refrigerator-building assembly line. News sources are reporting that the state OSHA’s investigation into the workplace incident found that it could have been caused by an inadvertent activation of an improperly positioned gate interlock control.worker killed in machine incident

The lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court last week names General Electric Company, Design Safety Engineering Inc., Doerfer Corperation, Doerfer Acquisition Company, JR Automation Technologies LLC, Haier US Appliance Solutions Inc. and Kentucky resident Mark Miller as defendants.

The lawsuit claims that the assembly line Herring was working on was “unreasonably dangerous” and in “defective condition.” It alleges that there were no instructions or warnings about the hazards on the line — and that the companies being sued were aware of the defects. The suit requests punitive and compensatory damages.

According to Kentucky OSHA, GE made changes to the safety programming on an assembly line that was identical to the one at which Herring was pinned following a 2014 incident. However, the company didn’t fix the line where Herring worked until after Herring died.

An inspection conducted by the agency after the fatality resulted in GE being cited for seven safety violations and fined $98,000, which the company is appealing.

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