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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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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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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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Worker Deaths Spur MSHA Safety Alert on Electrical Hazards

Arlington, VA- Prompted by reports of three recent fatalities involving electricity, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

Electricity has killed three people in the mining industry since August 7, 2019.

An electrician contacted an energized component of a 4,160 VAC electrical circuit while adjusting the linkage between the disconnect lever and the internal components of the panel that supplied power to the plant feed belt motors. A contract electrician contacted an energized 120 VAC conductor while working inside a fire suppression system’s electrical
panel. An electrician contacted an exposed energized connector while troubleshooting a 995 VAC flooded bed scrubber motor circuit on-board a continuous mining machine.Electrical Safety Alert

MSHA offers numerous best practices for electrical incident prevention. Among them:

-Perform lockout/tagout procedures on circuits before working on electrical equipment.

-Don’t rush, and never work alone. Talk with co-workers and confirm your plan is safe.

-Identify and control all hazardous energy sources before conducting tasks, and follow safe work procedures.

-Train miners on equipment they may use.

-Always perform troubleshooting without power. If you must troubleshoot an energized circuit, use properly rated personal protective equipment to prevent hazards.

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OSHA fines over $16 Mil in New Jersey Violations

New Jersey- Nearly one-third of the employers in the state hit with initial safety violation fines of $40K or more are government agencies. But many cases are settled for lesser amounts.OSHA fines companies for unsafe work conditions in New Jersey

New Jersey employers have been hit with at least $16.6 million in fines since 2015 for having unsafe workplaces and conditions.

Fines levied by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration against employers in the state over the past five years peaked in 2017. In 2017, the federal agency levied more than $4.9 million in fines against at least 60 companies.

All told, the Network reviewed OSHA data of more than 200 enforcement cases with initial penalties of $40,000 and higher. Data for enforcement cases with penalties less than $40,000 were not available.

Most of the reviewed cases involved private employers. However, almost 30% of the penalties involved local, state or federal government agencies, the Network’s analysis shows. The initial penalties in those cases totaled more than $4 million.

The Network ‘s ranking of the data is based on the initial penalties OSHA levied against employers, not the final amount paid. Many of the cases the Network reviewed are still under appeal. Employers frequently enter into settlement agreements with OSHA for reduced penalties that require the employer to address the agency’s safety concerns.

For contractors and companies to avoid such fines, proper training and up-to-date standards practiced is essential.

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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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Heavy Fines for Machine Safety Hazards at WI Facility

machine safety hazardsEau Claire, WI – A cookie dough manufacturing facility in Eau Claire, Wisconsin faces $782,526 in penalties for “continually exposing employees to machine safety hazards.” Choice Products USA LLC was cited for similar machine safety violations following an OSHA inspection in 2016, and as a consequence has now been placed in OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program.

Choice Products was cited for five egregious willful violations for their failures to implement an effective lockout/tagout (LOTO) program. OSHA also found that employee training on lockout/tagout was inadequate to prevent worker’s from unintentional contact with machinery during service and maintenance activities. Federal workplace safety inspectors also determined that Choice Products failed to install proper machine guarding.

Choice Products had been cited in a 2016 inspection for exposing employees to similar lockout/tagout and machine safety hazards.OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program  targets employers who have demonstrated what they term an “indifference” workplace safety obligations by committing “willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”

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