“Employer In Fatal Boston Trench Collapse Did Not Provide Safety Training & Basic Safeguards For Employees, OSHA Finds”

Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc. cited for 18 violations

BOSTON – Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks died on Oct. 21, 2016, in Boston, when the approximately 12-foot deep trench in which they were working collapsed, breaking an adjacent fire hydrant supply line and filling the trench with water in a matter of seconds.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that their employer, Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc., failed to provide basic safeguards against collapse and did not train its employees – including Higgins and Mattocks – to recognize and avoid cave-in and other hazards.

“The deaths of these two men could have and should have been prevented. Their employer, which previously had been cited by OSHA for the same hazardous conditions, knew what safeguards were needed to protect its employees but chose to ignore that responsibility,” said Galen Blanton, OSHA’s New England regional administrator.

OSHA’s inspection determined that Atlantic Drain and owner Kevin Otto, who oversaw the work on the day of the fatalities, did not:

–       Install a support system to protect employees in an approximately 12-foot deep trench from a cave-in and prevent the adjacent fire hydrant from collapsing.

–       Remove employees from the hazardous conditions in the trench.

–       Train the workers in how to identify and address hazards associated with trenching and excavation work.

–       Provide a ladder at all times so employees could exit the trench.

–       Support structures next to the trench that posed overhead hazards.

–       Provide employees with hardhats and eye protection.

As a result, OSHA has cited Atlantic Drain for a total of 18 willful, repeat, serious and other-than-serious violations of workplace safety standards and is proposing $1,475,813 in penalties for those violations. OSHA cited Atlantic Drain trenching worksites for similar hazards in 2007 and 2012. The full citations can be viewed here.

In February, a Suffolk County grand jury indicted Atlantic Drain and company owner, Kevin Otto, on two counts each of manslaughter and other charges in connection with the deaths. OSHA and the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor worked with the department’s Office of the Inspector General, the Boston Police Department’s Homicide Unit and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office during the course of this investigation.

Atlantic Drain has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to meet with OSHA’s area director, and to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, if it chooses to do so.

The walls of an unprotected trench can collapse suddenly and with great force, trapping and engulfing workers before they have a chance to react or escape. Protection against cave-in hazards may be provided through shoring of the trench walls, sloping the soil, or by using a protective trench box. Employers must ensure that workers enter trenches only after adequate protections are in place to address cave-in hazards. More information about protecting employees in trenches and excavations can be found here and here.

“We want to emphasize to all employers that trenching hazards can have catastrophic consequences if they are not addressed effectively before employees enter a trench,” said Blanton.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the nearest OSHA Area Office.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful working conditions for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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Media Contacts:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov
James C. Lally, 617-565-2074, lally.james.c@dol.gov

Release Number:  17-413-BOS

Here Is WHY Trenching Safety Training IS Required!

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“OSHA National Safety Stand-Down To Prevent Falls In Construction – May 8-12, 2017” #StandDown4Safety

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities recorded in 2015 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Fall Prevention Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.


What is a Safety Stand-Down?

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention”. It’s an opportunity for employers to have a conversation with employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall hazards they see.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent falls in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Partners

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.

How to Conduct a Safety Stand-Down and FAQ’s

Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job specific hazards. Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace anytime during the May 8-12, 2017. SeeSuggestions to Prepare for a Successful “Stand-Down” and Highlights from the Past Stand-Downs. OSHA also hosts an Events page with events that are free and open to the public to help employers and employees find events in your area.

Certificate of Participation

Employers will be able to provide feedback about their Stand-Down and download a Certificate of Participation following the Stand-Down.

Share Your Story With Us

If you want to share information with OSHA on your Safety Stand-Down, Fall Prevention Programs or suggestions on how we can improve future initiatives like this, please send your email to oshastanddown@dol.gov. Also share your Stand-Down story on social media, with the hashtag: #StandDown4Safety.

If you plan to host a free event that is open to the public, see OSHA’s Events page to submit the event details and to contact your Regional Stand-Down Coordinator.

Additional Resources:

OSHA’s Falls Prevention Campaign Page (en español)

Fall Prevention Training Guide – A Lesson Plan for Employers (PDF) (EPUB | MOBI). Spanish (PDF) (EPUB | MOBI).

Fall Prevention Publications Webpage contains fall prevention materials in English and Spanish.

Ladder Safety Guidance

Scaffolding

  • Ladder Jack Scaffolds Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Narrow Frame Scaffolds Fact Sheet (HTML PDF)
  • Tube and Coupler Scaffolds – Erection and Use Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Tube and Coupler Scaffolds – Planning and Design Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Scaffolding Booklet (HTML PDF)
  • OSHA Scaffold eTool
Stand-Down Partner Materials

Outreach Training Materials

Fall Safety Videos

Additional Educational Materials

“What is Your Company’s EMR? – Experience Modification Rate?” #WorkersCompensation

What Is an EMR Rate?

Experience Modification Rate (EMR) has a strong impact on your business. It is a number used by insurance companies to gauge both past cost of injuries and future chances of risk. The lower the EMR of your business, the lower your worker compensation insurance premiums will be. An EMR of 1.0 is considered the industry average.

If your business has an EMR greater than 1.0 the reasons are simple. There has been a worker compensation claim that your insurance provider has paid. To mitigate the insurance company’s risk, they raise your worker compensation premiums. The bad news is this increased EMR sticks with you for 3 years.

Want to know how Experience Modification Rates are calculated?

The base premium is calculated by dividing a company’s payroll in a given job classification by 100, and then by a ‘class rate’ determined by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) that reflects the inherent risk in that job classification. For example, structural ironworkers have an inherently higher risk of injury than receptionists, so their class rate is significantly higher.

A comparison is made of past claims history to those of similar companies in your industry. If you’ve had a higher-than-normal rate of injuries in the past, it is reasonable to assume that your rate will continue to be higher in the future. Insurers examine your history for the three full years ending one year before your current policy expires. For example, if you’re getting a quote for coverage that expires on January 5, 2008, the retro plan will look at 2004, 2005 and 2006.

NCCI has developed a complicated formula that considers the ratio between expected losses in your industry and what your company actually incurred, as well as both the frequency of losses and the severity of those losses. A company with one big loss is going to be ‘penalized’ less severely than a company with many smaller losses because having many small losses is seen as a sign that you’ll face larger ones in the future.

The result of that formula is your EMR, which is then multiplied against the manual premium rate to determine your actual premium (before any special discounts or credits from your insurer). Essentially, if your EMR is higher than 1.00, your premium will be higher than average; if it’s 0.99 or lower, your premium will be less.

How does a high EMR affect costs?

An EMR of 1.2 would mean that insurance premiums could be as high as 20% more than a company with an EMR of 1.0. That 20% difference must be passed on to clients in the form of increased bids for work. A company with a lower EMR has a competitive advantage because they pay less for insurance

How do I lower EMR?

The good news is that EMR can be lowered. If you need help in putting an effective safety program in place that eliminates hazards and prevents injuries contact us at Benton Safety Consultants.  Remember, No injuries equal no claims.

In the real world, injuries will happen, but the response can help keep EMR from increasing as much as it could without proper management. Having a plan to manage injuries and workers compensation claims is a must to get control of the EMR.

Reducing EMR gives you an edge over your competition when bidding out work and save money. Construction general contractors and owners are realizing the benefits of low EMR numbers and often prequalify companies before they even look at bids. It would be unfortunate to lose business and money because of high EMR.

“OSHA Walking-Working Surfaces & Fall Protection Final Rule Requirement Implementation Dates “

On November 18, 2016, OSHA finally published a final rule updating the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards for general industry. Percolating since 1990 (55 FR 13360), reopened in 2003 (68 FR 23528) and again in 2010 (75 FR 28862), revisions to the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards were long overdue. OSHA’s 500+ final rule gives employers new options to combat slip, trip and fall hazards (Subpart D) while adding employer requirements to ensure those new options provide for enhanced safety.

It adds a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standard (Subpart I) that specifies employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems and clarifies obligations for several specific industries, including telecommunications, pulp, paper and paperboard mills, electrical power generation, transmission and distribution, textiles and sawmills.

The final rule addresses fall protection options (including personal fall protection systems), codifies guidance on rope descent systems, revises requirements for fixed and portable ladders, prohibits the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, and establishes training requirements on fall hazards and fall protection equipment. OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels stated, “The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries.” OSHA notes the final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, which it believes will help employers and workers that work in both industries.

The rule is effective January 17, 2017, but some of the requirements are phased in over time. Phased-in or delayed compliance dates include:

• May 17, 2017

  • Training exposed workers on fall and equipment hazards

• November 20, 2017

  • Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages

• November 19, 2018

  • Installing personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structure
  • Equipping existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, with a cage, ell, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system

• November 18, 2036

  • Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet

OSHA estimates the rule will affect 112 million workers at nearly 7 million worksites and will prevent 29 fatalities and over 5800 injuries annually.

Many employers that have been operating under the cover of OSHA interpretive letters and statements in the preambles of the proposed rules because the standards in place were so outdated and/or ill-suited to particular work environments. For them, the final rule offers an opportunity to confirm that their policies are compliant. However, those employers should scrutinize the final rule to ensure the interpretations they were relying on were incorporated and that no additional actions are required.

Some have suggested that Congress may seek to overrule these changes using the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) (5 U.S.C. §§801-808), but that action is risky because the CRA is such a blunt instrument. The CRA can only be used to repeal a regulatory act in its entirety; it cannot be used to amend the regulation. Moreover, repudiation by Congress of a final rule prohibits the agency from issuing a substantially similar rule in the future.

Congress has only used the CRA once—to overrule the ergonomics regulation OSHA adopted at the end of the Clinton Administration. Congress should recognize that the provisions of this final rule are too important to too many employers for it to act reflexively by disapproving the entire rule and prohibiting further action on these issues.

A copy of the final rule is found here. More on the final rule, including OSHA’s Fact Sheet, can be found on OSHA’s website here.

“Forklift Safety: 5 Factors That Reduce Lifting Capacity”

5 Factors That Reduce Lifting Capacity
5 Factors That Reduce Lifting Capacity

The maximum weight data placard on forklifts should never be regarded as the maximum amount able to be lifted. There are several factors that affect the lifting capacity, which is often reduced for various reasons. It is important to remember the lifting capacity is based upon the load center.

Did you know you lose weight-lifting capacity for every one inch beyond the actual load center? It is your responsibility to calculate the load center for any type of attachment used with the truck, including the original one. In addition, each time you switch attachments, it is essential to recalculate the load center and maximum load lift capacity of the forklift.

To learn more about the factors that affect the load center and load capacities, please feel free to continue reading the following infographic presented by Lift Truck Capacity Calculator. We can also provide assistance with determining the load center for a variety of attachments, as well as those that are worn by contacting us directly.

“Everything You Should Know About Safety Boots Standards – Infographic”#PPE #Safety

Click on the picture above for a larger view!

Safety Boots Standard – How safe is Your Boot?

Ever heard of the safety boots standard? Like many other people, your likely answer is “NO.” Chances are you were attracted to the footwear because it claimed to offer the best safety, is common with other workers, or you needed to upgrade to a better type. You probably didn’t spend time looking at it, the design, the markings, signs or label.

While these may look like basic or unimportant issues, they will determine how safe you will be while at the site. Yes, the boot will be well-built and features a heavy-duty sole for firm-grip even in wet and oily surfaces; however, it won’t protect you from electricity shock. A boot will resist electrical currents but won’t withstand sharp spikes, rugged edges or heavy debris. You can know whether your work boots suited for the task at hand by looking at the signs, markings and label found on the footwear.

Briefly  Looking at Markings and Signs 

Orange Omega Safety Sign: This sign indicates that the boot meets the minimal standards in regard to electrical charges. It will come with a sole that is resistant to electrical and static charges and will protect your feet / body from shock or electrocution.

Green Triangle: This shows the boot consists of a grade 1 sole and class 1 toe cap. The sturdy-sole is tolerant to punctures, rugged edges, sharp points, prolonged impact not exceeding 125 joules, and heavy falling object. The toe cap will protect the toes against impact from hitting obstacles or falling debris. It is less-susceptible to wear & tear compared to other classes and is designed for workers in heavy industries and construction.

Yellow Triangle: Boots featuring this marking come with a grade 2 sole and class 2 toe cap. Just like the green triangle, this boot’s sole is resistant to punctures and protects the toes and feet from impact not exceeding 90 joules. Nonetheless, they are not as sturdy or heavy-duty as boots with the Green Triangle and are best suited for light industries.

Blue Square: This indicates the boot comes with a grade 1 toe cap for protecting the user’s toes and feet from impact of up to 125 joules. However, the sole is not puncture-resistant and may be punctured by sharp objects, sharp edges, or rugged terrains.

Yellow Square plus Greed SD Letters: The boot is approved for use in areas that experience electrostatic charges. The anti-static sole not only protects the wearer from electrical charges but also safely dissipates static.

Grey Background Bearing Black Letter R in a Circle: The shoe features a grade 2 toe protection that can withstand impacts up to 90 joules. It however doesn’t come with a puncture-resistant sole and is therefore fit for non-industrial work.

Red Square with Grounding Symbol and Black-colored Letter C: This boot is fit for environments with low electrical charges. It features an electrically-conductive sole for absorbing mild charges. Unfortunately, it is not deigned for areas with high electrical charges.

White Background with Green Fir Tree: The green fir depicts the forest hence is suitable for wearing in forested areas. The boot is ideal for people using cutting equipment such as chainsaws in the forest or working on lumber. It will protect your feet from splinters, needles/pricks, sharp leaves and other falling and flying debris.

Final Thoughts

There you go- common signs and markings that depict how safe and suitable your safety boot is. Before investing in any product, you need to first match the boot to the need at hand. Check out this beautiful infograph to learn more about safety boots standards and related issues.

Source: About Boots

“CSB Releases New Safety Video Detailing Investigation into 2013 Fatal Fire and Explosion at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, LA”

January 25, 2017, Washington, DC –

Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a safety video of its investigation of the June 13, 2013 explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, Louisiana, which killed two workers and injured an additional 167.  The deadly explosion and fire occurred when a heat exchanger containing flammable liquid propane violently ruptured.

The CSB’s newly released 12-minute safety video entitled, “Blocked In,” includes a 3D animation of the explosion and fire as well as interviews with CSB investigator Lauren Grim and Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. The video is based on the CSB’s case study on the Williams incident and can be viewed on the CSB’s website and YouTube.

Chairperson Sutherland said, “Our investigation on the explosion at Williams describes an ineffective process safety management program at the plant at the time of the incident. We urge other companies to incorporate our recommendations at their facilities and to assess the state of their cultures to promote safety at all organizational levels to prevent a similar accident. ”

The CSB’s investigation found many process safety management program deficiencies at Williams, which set the stage for the incident. In particular, the CSB found that the heat exchanger that failed was completely isolated from its pressure relief valve.

In the video, Investigator Lauren Grim said, “When evaluating overpressure protection requirements for heat exchangers, engineers must think about how to manage potential scenarios, including unintentional hazards. In this case, simply having a pressure relief valve available could have prevented the explosion.”

The CSB investigation concluded that in the twelve years leading to the incident, a series of process safety management program deficiencies caused the heat exchanger to be unprotected from overpressure.  As revealed in the investigation, during that time Management of Change Reviews, Pre-Startup Safety Reviews, and Process Hazard Analyses all failed to effectively identify and control the hazard.

In addition, the CSB found that Williams failed to develop a written procedure for activities performed on the day of the incident, nor did the company have a routine maintenance schedule to prevent the operational heat exchanger from needing to be shut down for cleaning.

Finally, the video describes CSB’s recommendations made to the Williams Geismar plant which  encourages similar companies to review and incorporate into their own facilities. These include:

– Conduct safety culture assessments that involve workforce participation, and communicate the results in reports that recommend specific actions to address safety culture weaknesses

– Develop a robust safety indicators tracking program that uses the data identified to drive continual safety improvement

– And perform comprehensive process safety program assessments to thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of the facility’s process safety programs.

“Managers must implement and then monitor safety programs and encourage a strong culture of safety to protect workers and the environment,” Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said,

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. CSB investigations examine all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes safety recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Please visit our website, http://www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at public@csb.gov or by phone at 202.446.8095.

 

“Confined Spaces – Supervisor Safety Tip Series” #ConfinedSpace #Safety

Developed by Vivid’s Chief Safety Officer Jill James, a former OSHA inspector, this series examines real hazards in real work environments. This safety tip video explains ways to stay safe while working with Confined Spaces.

Confined spaces are enclosed or partially enclosed spaces of a size such that a worker can squeeze entry for performing assigned work through a narrow opening—they’re tough to get in and out of, tight spaces. These spaces are normally only entered to perform specific tasks and then barricaded to prevent unauthorized access.

As an example, think of a large tank used for holding liquid. Sometimes, these storage units or big containers need to be cleaned out, so you send a worker to get inside and they’re completely surrounded by walls of the structure, with only a small entry/exit hatch for escape if things go awry. Confined spaces create the ideal conditions for the onset of claustrophobia. Confined spaces can be large or small and above or below ground.

This video covers:

Source: Vivid Learning Systems

“11 Tips for Handling Hazardous Materials”

Don’t become a target for one of these avoidable citations! Join us on March 29 for an in-depth webinar presented by Meaghan Boyd, a seasoned environmental litigation partner at Alston & Bird, as she discusses best practices for hazardous materials transportation.

You’ll learn:

  • How to identify hazardous materials ahead of transport
  • What type of training is required for people who offer transport of hazardous materials
  • How to determine appropriate packaging, marking and labeling when transporting a hazardous material
  • Penalties for not properly labeling or shipping a “hazardous material”
  • How to apply for DOT special permits
  • “Hot topics” in hazmat transportation, including lithium batteries, that could lead to compliance risks

Save my seat.

Source: BLR

“Is Your Safety Incentive Program In Compliance With OSHA’s Interpretation?”

Video Courtesy of Comedy Central®

Safety incentive programs have long been used by organizations worldwide to promote safe working conditions and encourage safety at the workplace. But a recent memorandum by David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), states that “Section 11(c) of the OSH Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because the employee reports an injury or illness. Reporting a work-related injury or illness is a core employee right, and retaliating against a worker for reporting an injury or illness is illegal discrimination under section 11(c).”

This has raised a big question in the minds of Safety Managers whether to continue, modify or abandon their Safety Incentive Programs. After this memo, OSHA will be closely monitoring the safety programs that reward the lowest number of accidents reported. In a 2013 news article a former TVA Engineering Safety Manager was sentenced to 78 months in prison for deliberately falsifying workplace injury records to collect safety bonuses of over $2.5 million from the (TVA) Tennessee Valley Authority, a U.S. government corporation. There is a thin line between an effective incentive program and a misleading reward program which encourages workers to hide injuries.

Consider the following 10 tips to make your safety program OSHA compliant and more effective.

  1. First, a safety program should be behavior-based rather than being injury-rate-based. It means employers should provide incentives to workers practicing safe operating procedures and practices instead of incentivizing schemes based on a number of accidents.
  2. Reporting near miss, hazardous behavior should be focused which will prevent future occurrences of accidents. (Leading vs. Lagging Indicators)
  3. Praise and recognize employees through top management in a timely manner and in front of others to acknowledge their safe behavior and encourage others to follow suit.
  4. Avoid monetary reward for safety programs and use other awarding methods such as gift cards or certificates, days off, safety pins and recognition boards.
  5. Reward employees for a wide variety of safety activities such as providing safety suggestions, guiding a co-worker with a safe operating procedure or identifying hazards or participating in Safety committees.
  6. Involve employees in a dynamic safety program which encourages them to take part in periodic activities such as presenting tool box talks, teaching training classes and participating or performing safety audits.
  7. Include workers in safety committees and meetings, and encourage them to think of ways to prevent accidents and perform root cause analysis. Open communication between managers and workers will ensure a safety conscious work environment.
  8. Ensure management commitment by demonstrating that the organization’s leaders care about safety, by having leaders give presentations.
  9. Establish safety as a core value of the company. Believe that all injuries are preventable, and near misses should be reported.
  10. Allow employees to set safety goals for themselves. This will motivate them to ensure their own safety and work towards achieving them.

Adopting these suggestions will surely empower your safety program, minimizing incidents and at the same time prevent OSHA violations.

Just be sure to remain aware of the changing OSHA regulatory status under the new administration. Things may be changing rapidly soon.

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