Category Archives: Safety

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Back Injuries in Nursing – One Nifty Idea to Avoid Them

The American Nursing Association’s Handle with Care campaign seeks to educate, advocate, and facilitate change from traditional practices of manual patient handling to emerging, technology-oriented methods. The campaign seeks to highlight how safe patient handling produces benefits to patients and the nursing workforce.  The ANA’s Handle with Care Fact Sheet provides the following thought-provoking data:

A Profession at Risk

  • Compared to other occupations, nursing personnel are among the highest at risk for musculoskeletal disorders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists RNs sixth in a list of at-risk occupations for strains and sprains that included nursing personnel, with nurses aides, orderlies and attendants (first); truck drivers (second); laborers (third); stock handlers and baggers (seventh); and construction workers (eighth).
  • Additional estimates for the year 2000 show that the incidence rate for back injuries involving lost work days was 181.6 per 10,000 full-time workers in nursing homes and 90.1 per 10,000 full-time workers in hospitals, whereas incidence rates were 98.4 for truck drivers, 70.0 for construction workers, 56.3 for miners, and 47.1 for agriculture workers.
  • Lower back injuries are also the most costly musculoskeletal disorder affecting workers. Studies of back-related workers compensation claims reveal that nursing personnel have the highest claim rates of any occupation or industry.
  • Research on the impact of musculoskeletal injuries among nurses:
    • 52 percent complain of chronic back pain;
    • 12 percent of nurses “leaving for good” because of back pain as main contributory factor;
    • 20% transferred to a different unit, position, or employment because of lower back pain, 12 percent considering leaving profession;
    • 38 percent suffered occupational-related back pain severe enough to require leave from work; and
    • 6 percent, 8 percent, and 11 percent of RNs reported even changing jobs for neck, shoulder and back problems, respectively.

One Possible Tool

The website idées créatives posted this elegant video of an automatic bed that could allow for patient repositioning and assist with moving into and out of the bed, shown in a nursing home or hospital setting:

 

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CBS’s 60 Minutes: The King of Coal and the Massey Mine Disaster

The following is an exerpt from the online version of the program “King of Coal” which aired on March 6, 2016. 

In December, for the first time in U.S. history, a CEO of a major company was convicted of a workplace safety crime. His name is Don Blankenship and he was once known as the “King of Coal.” The company he ran, Massey Energy, owned more than 40 mines in central Appalachia, including the Upper Big Branch mine, located in Montcoal, West Virginia, a state where coal is the dominant industry.

In 2010, the Upper Big Branch Mine was the site of the worst mining disaster in the U.S. in 40 years — the kind of accident that isn’t supposed to happen anymore. It was just after 3 o’clock on April 5, when a massive explosion tore through miles of underground tunnels, killing 29 miners. Prosecutors accused Don Blankenship of ignoring mine safety laws and fostering a corporate mentality that allowed the disaster to occur.

It was an early 1900s type of explosion. Conditions should never have existed for that to take place. – Stanley Stewart

READ the full script of the interview by Anderson Cooper, the correspondent, and WATCH the full episode and associated video clips HERE.

 

Photo credit: SMU Central University Librariesvia Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

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9th Annual Construction Safety Day – Scholarship Opportunity!

The job of a construction worker remains one of the toughest around, staying safe on the job requires the right training and the right equipment.  Here’s your chance to get hours of valuable training and visit exhibitors demonstrating the latest in technology and equipment to keep you safe on the job!  Join us May 4, 2016 at the Washington State Fair & Events Center in Puyallup for the 9th Annual Construction Safety Day. Online registration for this event will be opening early January, 2016.  Some class sizes are limited so be sure to register early!

The Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board, Construction Safety Planning Committee, is once again offering a $1,250 scholarship available to assist eligible students in the pursuit of a career as a safety professional. If you or someone you may know is interested please be sure to complete the Construction Safety Scholarship Application and return not later than March 16, 2016!

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12th Annual Agriculture Safety Day

The Governor’s Industrial Safety & Health Advisory Board will host the 12th Annual Agriculture Safety Day at the Wenatchee Convention Center in Wenatchee, WA on  February 24, 2016. Each year this training event just gets bigger and better!

The University of WA, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health will be presenting a four hour course on Process Safety Management: Ammonia

New this year – we will be offering Dairy/Livestock classes led by Dr. David Douphrate, University of  Texas, School of Public Health and Dr. Robert Hagevoort, New Mexico State University, State Dairy Extension Specialist.

REGISTER ONLINE NOW!

 

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Company Fined Over $1 Million After Explosion at Newport, WA, Plant

Zodiac Cabin & Structures Support LLC has been fined $1,316,000 for workplace safety and health violations following an explosion at its carbon fiber production plant north of Spokane. Seventeen workers were injured in the oven explosion at the Newport, Wash., facility last July.

 

A nearly six-month investigation by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) concluded that the explosion could have been prevented if Zodiac had used required safety interlocks and safeguards to ensure that the curing oven was used safely and as advised in a consulting engineer’s report.

 

L&I cited the employer for 17 willful violations for knowingly and willfully exposing workers to the risk of serious injuries. The investigation found the company used defective equipment and didn’t ensure safe procedures were used when processing flammable materials in its industrial curing oven. Each violation carries the maximum penalty of $70,000.

 

“Had this explosion occurred during the day when many more workers were present, there could have been many more injuries and possibly even deaths,” said Anne Soiza, L&I assistant director of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “As it is, 17 people were injured and their lives put at risk from an incident that was highly predictable given the operating conditions.” 

 

Along with the willful violations, L&I cited the company for 18 serious violations, all with the maximum penalty of $7,000 because of the high potential for death or permanent serious harm.

 

Due to the danger of an explosion, specific safety interlock controls and other safety procedures were supposed to be in place before the highly flammable resins were used in the 90-foot drying oven. Those controls were not in place, despite the fact that Zodiac had advice from its contracted consulting engineer detailing the steps needed to ensure safe operation prior to using the flammable uncured resins.

 

The investigation found that flammable resins had been run through the oven a number of times prior to the explosion. L&I also discovered that 11 days before the incident, the plant was evacuated due to flammable vapors that created a risk of explosion in the same operation.

 

Four of the serious violations cited were for not ensuring effective energy control procedures were in place to protect workers when they had to reach inside the curing oven for cleaning, service or maintenance.

 

The company was also cited for eight “confined space” serious violations related to employees entering the 90-foot oven to perform cleaning, service or maintenance. Working inside a confined space area, such as the oven, without safety precautions can be deadly to both workers and would-be rescuers. Confined space hazards can include suffocation, toxic atmospheres, entrapment and other dangerous conditions that are fully preventable.

 

An additional six violations were related to failing to prevent ignition of flammable vapors and protect workers from inhaling harmful vapors and chemicals, such as from solvent and formaldehyde.

 

As a result of the willful violations, Zodiac Cabin & Structures Support LLC has been identified as a severe violator and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist in the future.

 

The employer has 15 days to appeal the citation. Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

 

For a copy of the citation or photo, please contact public affairs at 360-902-5413.

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Anacortes, WA Refinery Fined $77,000 for Workplace Violations Following Toxic Release

Shell Oil Products is facing $77,000 in fines from the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for workplace health violations after an investigation into an uncontrolled toxic release last February.

L&I began the investigation at Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes after learning of an incident during which the refinery’s main flare released contaminants into the environment. The release prompted numerous odor complaints from the community nearby.

A refinery flare is a disposal system that burns off waste gases and vapors that cannot be used during production. It’s also a safety device that can help prevent fires or explosions during power outages or other emergencies. The flare must be decontaminated and shut down periodically for maintenance.

The investigation found that the company had skipped critical decontamination steps while shutting down the main flare for routine maintenance. Failing to implement safe work practices caused an uncontrolled release that exposed workers to toxic substances including mercaptans, hydrogen sulfide, hydrocarbons and pyrophoric iron.

The company was also cited in 2013 for skipping critical steps when shutting down the flare. In that case, there was an explosion that nearly injured several contractors and Shell employees.

For the recent incident, Shell Oil Products was cited for one willful violation and fined the maximum of $70,000 for knowingly and intentionally not following safe work practices for the control of hazards when shutting down the flare.

The company was also cited for one serious violation with a penalty of $7,000 for giving workers the incorrect procedure for shutting down the flare.

A willful violation can be issued when L&I has evidence of plain indifference, a substitution of judgment or an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule. A serious violation exists if there is a substantial probability that worker death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition.

Over the last three years, L&I has responded to several complaints that resulted in 11 inspections at the refinery.

The employer has 15 working days to appeal the citation. Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

Photo: Paul Joseph Brown/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Worker Safety and Health Conference in Tacoma, WA This October

One of the largest safety and health conferences in the nation is coming to Tacoma, WA in October. Registration is now open for the event. 

The 64th annual Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference takes place on Oct. 7 and 8 at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center. The event is geared toward workers, employers and safety and health professionals. It brings together leading industry experts to deliver cutting-edge education, examples of best practices, demonstrations and networking opportunities.

The Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries sponsor the conference with support from industry partners.

Lt. Governor Brad Owen will kick off the conference, followed by internationally known motivational safety speaker David Sarkus, the keynote speaker.

Featured events and activities include:    

  • Two days of 60-plus industry workshops
  • Displays and product demonstrations by more than 80 exhibitors
  • Electrical high-voltage demonstration
  • Pole-top Rescue Competition
  • Forklift Rodeo
  • Continuing Medical Education credits (pending) for medical professionals
  • A pre-conference Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) course on OSHA 10 Construction.

A $160 advance registration fee covers the two-day conference. There’s a discount for groups of five or more. Students in a college, university or trade program pay only $50.

The 2015 Governor’s Lifesaving Awards will be presented by KOMO TV news reporter Elisa Jaffe during a luncheon at the conference on Oct. 8. The awards recognize people whose heroic acts saved a life at work. People can attend the luncheon separately or as part of the conference. The luncheon costs $25.

For more information or to register, visit www.wagovconf.org/. For questions, call 360-902-5415 or email info@wagovconf.org. TDD users call 1-360-902-5797.  

 

Photo credit: LouisvilleUSACE / Foter / CC BY

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Seattle Employer Fined More Than $215,000 for Serious Safety Violations

A Seattle employer has been cited for multiple serious workplace health violations after a worker became entangled in a rotating shaft while working inside a confined space. In connection with the citation, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) fined Industrial Container Services $215,250 for exposing workers to serious harm or even death. L&I cited the company previously for many of these hazards, but they had not been corrected.

Industrial Container Services refurbishes metal drums and other industrial containers. The company operates a “drum shot-blaster unit,” a 24-foot long tunnel with a series of rotating shafts that move metal drums through as they’re being shot-blasted to remove paint and coatings.

L&I began its investigation in January 2015 after a worker was hospitalized after being injured while working inside a drum shot-blaster. The investigation found that workers were regularly entering the equipment to perform maintenance and repair without the necessary safety precautions.

Working inside a “confined space” area, such as the drum shot-blaster unit, without safety precautions can be deadly to workers and would-be rescuers. Confined space hazards can include suffocation, toxic atmospheres, engulfment, entrapment and other dangerous conditions. These incidents are fully preventable.

When a confined space has hazardous characteristics that could harm workers, it’s considered a “permit-required” confined space. That means employers must control access to the area and use a permit system to prevent unauthorized entry. Anyone working in or around a permit-required confined space must be trained and there must be safety measures and rescue procedures in place.

L&I cited the company for seven “failure to abate” serious violations related to the confined space hazards, and for not ensuring that moving parts were de-energized to prevent workers from becoming caught in machinery. These violations were originally cited in October 2013 and had not been corrected. Each of the violations carries a penalty of $22,750.

L&I also cited the company for four “repeat-serious” violations and four “serious” violations related to confined-space procedures and energy control measures (lockout/tagout), with penalties ranging from $11,700 to $4,550.

As a result of these safety issues, Industrial Container Solutions has been identified as a severe violator and could be subject to increased scrutiny at all its locations nationwide.

The company has appealed the citation. Penalty money paid in connection with a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

For media information or a copy of the citation, contactElaine Fischer, L&I Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.  

 

Photo credit: XcBiker / Foter / CC BY-SA

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Workers’ Comp Covers Work-Related Motor Vehicle Accidents

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Bennett, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Do you drive a company vehicle as part of your job?

Many find themselves in the situation where they travel regularly, or on a special errand from time to time, as part of their job. 

In the unfortunate scheme of things, if you are involved in an accident while driving, whether it is your fault or not, you are covered by and entitled to workers’ compensation benefits just as any other employee who suffers an accident on the premise of an employer.

More importantly, if the cause of the accident was not due to negligence of your own, but that of a third party, you have a right to bring a third-party negligence action against the party responsible for causing the vehicle accident. This right is separate and distinct from the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to. Further, you also potentially have the right to bring an underinsured motorist coverage claim under your employer’s motor vehicle coverage as well as your own underinsured motorist vehicle coverage. These, too, are separate and distinct from the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to. 

It is important to note that the employer would have a subrogation right to be reimbursed for workers’ compensation benefits paid on your behalf against that of any third-party negligence claim where you obtained a recovery. However, as underinsured motorist coverage is typically viewed as contractual benefits in nature, there is no subrogation right from your employer if underinsured benefits are obtained in Nebraska.

If you or someone you know was injured in a motor vehicle accident that arose out of and in the course of one’s employment, there are significant issues to be aware of in order to obtain a recovery that meets your needs. If you have any questions or uncertainty when dealing with this point of law, please seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can help steer you in the best course of action.

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The Right to a Safe Workplace

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Bennett, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Under federal law, every employee has the right to a safe workplace. If you believe your workplace is dangerous and changes in safety policy are ignored, you can request an inspection from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

Workers’ compensation, which is regulated on a state-by-state level, covers medical bills, lost wages, disability and vocational rehabilitation services for employees injured on the job. If you have any questions regarding these benefits, please contact an experienced lawyer in your area.

 If you believe you work in an unsafe work area, here are some tips to be aware of to make sure your workplace is as safe as possible, and you protect yourself from significant injury:

  1.  Know the hazards in your workplace.
  2. While in a seated position, keep your shoulders in line with your hips. Use good form when lifting.
  3. Injuries occur when workers get tired. Take breaks when you’re tired.
  4. Do not skip safety procedures just because it makes the job easier or quicker. Using dangerous machinery is the one of the leading causes of work injuries.
  5. Be aware of where emergency shutoff switches are located.
  6. Report unsafe work areas.
  7. Wear proper safety equipment.

If you are injured due to an unsafe workplace, and you are unsure of the benefits that you are entitled to, contact an experienced attorney in your area.