Category Archives: Safety

NOAA’s New Marine Forecast Product Improves Weather Forecasts and Safety at Sea

By Tom Cuff, Director, NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center

NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) rolled out a new forecast product suite this week to provide mariners with comprehensive weather forecasts every 24 hours out to day four. Our goal is to deliver the very best impact-based decision support services and products possible to our users. These 72 hour surface weather and wind/wave forecast charts, and model generated 500 mb charts, will allow mariners to better prepare for severe weather at sea.

Complementing OPC’s 24, 48, and 96 hour products, the new 72 hour forecast charts fill a gap to ensure an even more robust forecast timeline, while identifying areas of maritime weather hazards. Elements include:

  • Winds and waves
  • Surface fronts and isobars
  • High and low pressure systems
  • 500 millibar heights
  • Wave period and direction

In order to implement these new charts, OPC reviewed existing products and services to ensure quality, consistency, and user needs given the ever-changing landscape of models and other forecast tools. Following a public comment period, minor changes were made to legacy products to allow our team to deliver this critically important new forecast tool to improve safety of life and property at sea. We began socializing this new approach with the maritime community in November 2016, and since then have received support from users across the industry.

These products do not lessen the quality of other legacy products disseminated via HFFAX. We are working hard to take the best possible advantage of 21st century forecasting skill and make it available to our users.

As the maritime weather enterprise continues to evolve, it is our goal to continually deliver the very best products, so we must be nimble enough to evolve too. We take seriously our mission to provide the world’s best marine weather forecasts, while preventing loss of life and property at sea.

Visit NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center website for additional forecasts and information. 

Photo Credit: NOAA GOES-East Imagery

Workplace Safety De-Regulation Continues

Today’s post comes from guest author Charlie Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

The con continues.  Many American workers were conned into initially voting for Donald Trump, and that con game continues with the Trump Administration and its views on worker safety.  Campaign promises of benefitting the US worker ring hollow with each and every anti-worker de-regulation push.

Recent reports reveal the administration is removing or delaying OSHA protective regulatory standards on numerous fronts.  (Updated OSHA agenda reflects Trump administration focus on de-regulation).   The administration previously acted against improved employer recordkeeping for workplace injuries and illnesses. Now, the anti-worker protection agenda continues with the administration effectively pulling important items from the regulatory agenda.  

From the above-linked report, some of the important issues “removed” from the OSHA regulatory agenda are: Preventing Backover Injuries and Fatalities; Noise in Construction; Bloodborne Pathogens; and Combustible Dust. 

Failure to have adequate regulations–and penalties–has real world consequences.  Just look at what happened in Cambria, Wisconsin in May 2017 when a corn mill exploded and workers died from what appears to be Combustible Dust.  This was and continues to be a devastating workplace accident for a smaller town in Wisconsin.  Sadly, a Journal Sentinel story indicated:

A review of online OSHA records shows the plant was cited in January 2011 for exposing its workers to dust explosion hazards. The records state that plant filters lacked an explosion protective system.

The agency ordered the mill to correct the problem by April 2011. The records show Didion paid a $3,465 fine and the case was closed in September 2013.

Such minimal OSHA fines or penalties likely provided corresponding minimal incentives to improve safety standards or hazardous practices.  The limited incentives are bolstered by relatively toothless “employer safety violation” penalty in a Wisconsin worker’s compenstion claim, which is capped at a maximum of $15,000.  

Further “anti-regulation” pushes likely increase the lack of safety incentives for employers. Those anti-regulation efforts are alive in Wisconsin and on the federal stage–especially in the Trump agenda.

Workers should be aware that anti-regulation may equal anti-worker.   And anti-safety.


OSHA: Settlement Reached in Case of Worker Fired After Multiple Reports of Mold Hazards

A Pennsylvania pallet companyagreed to pay $105,000 for wrongfully firing an employee who complained – first to the employer and then to OSHA – about hazardous mold at the company’s Biglerville plant. IFCO Services N.A. Inc. also must provide every employee at the worksite an OSHA handout that explains legal protections for whistleblowers against employer retaliation. OSHA’s investigation found that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act when it terminated the worker for engaging in protected activities under the Act. For more information, read the news release.

Read More – Your Rights as a Whistleblower


 Photo credit: scanlime via / CC BY-SA

Westport, WA Seafood Company Fined More Than $100,000 for Unsafe Forklifts

Forklifts are among the most hazardous vehicles in the workplace, with a great risk of injury and death if they’re not maintained and operated safely. Employers who knowingly and repeatedly expose workers to unsafe forklifts may face stiff penalties.

That’s what happened with a company in Westport. The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited Ocean Gold Seafoods Inc., a total of $117,740 for willful and repeated serious workplace safety violations at its seafood processing plant. Many of the violations were related to forklift safety.

The fines include a willful violation with the maximum allowed penalty of $70,000 for not performing regular safety inspections and not fixing defective items on the vehicles, like nonworking horns and broken seatbelts.

An L&I inspection found that the company rarely performed forklift inspections, and defects that were reported weren’t fixed. There were several instances where forklift seatbelts weren’t in working order, including one that was pulled completely out and wouldn’t retract. Other defects included machines without working horns. This prevented operators from notifying employees in limited visibility areas that a forklift was coming through the door and put pedestrians at risk of being struck and killed.

The employer was cited for a repeat-serious violation with a penalty of $15,400 after the inspector saw two workers operating forklifts without wearing their seatbelts. The seafood company was cited for the same issue in August 2015.

Being crushed by a forklift tipping over is the leading cause of forklift-related deaths in the U.S. If there’s an accident or tip-over, operators are much safer strapped into the seat because they are at lower risk of falling out.

Ocean Gold was cited for nine additional violations for exposing workers to fall hazards; failure to ensure emergency brakes were set on unattended forklifts; defective stair tread; exposed electrical wires; equipment and clutter stored in front of control panels; and unsafe use of extension cords. The violations carried penalties totaling $32,340.

A serious violation exists in a workplace if there is a substantial probability that worker death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition. 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. General violations are the lowest level and are cited when the violation itself wouldn’t cause serious injury or death.

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


65th Annual Safety and Health Conference – Spokane, WA

One of the largest safety and health conferences in the nation will be held in Spokane, WA at the end of the month.

The 65th annual Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference takes place on Sept. 28 and 29 at the Spokane Convention Center. Registration is open now.

The event is geared toward workers, employers and safety and health professionals. It brings together industry experts to deliver a program of cutting-edge education, special events, demonstrations and networking.

The two-day conference kicks off with safety trainer and motivational speaker Dale Lesinski talking about human nature and how it relates to safety at work.

Featured conference events and activities include:       

  • Two days of 70-plus industry workshops
  • An exhibition hall with displays of the latest products and services to improve your safety, health and wellness programs
  • The annual Forklift Rodeo
  • Pre-conference OSHA 10 General Industry Safety and Health Training
  • Pre-conference Bakken Oil Transport Emerging Risks Awareness Training

The 2016 Governor’s Lifesaving Awards will be presented during a luncheon at the conference on Thursday, Sept. 29. The awards, presented by KREM 2 news anchor Laura Papetti, 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.

A $200 advance registration fee covers the two-day conference, with special discounts for groups of five or more. Students and registered apprentices pay only $50. A box lunch is included on the 28th.

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

For more information or to register, visit For questions, call 360-902-5415 or email TDD users call 1-360-902-5797.

Photo credit: Peter Kaminski via / CC BY 



Alki Construction Fined For Death of Worker

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries fined Alki Construction Company over $50,000 for the death of worker Harold Felton.  Felton, a 36-year-old construction worker, was replacing a sewer line in a poorly constructed trench on January 26th, 2016, when the soil walls of the trench collapsed and killed him.  

Alki Construction Company, based in West Seattle, was cited for seven different violations, totaling $51,500.  They include a “willful” violation for not ensuring that the trench had a system to prevent cave-ins, along with five “serious” violations:

  • Alki Construction did not have a formal accident prevention program tailored to the needs of the operation and the type of hazards involved in trenching and excavation work ($3,500).

  • There was no ladder, ramp or other safe means of exiting the excavated trench ($3,500).

  • Sidewalks and structures that were undermined were not supported to protect employees from possible collapse ($3,000).

  • Excavated dirt and other materials were placed less than two feet from the edge of the unprotected trench, where they could fall into the trench where employees were working ($3,000).

  • There were no daily inspections of the excavations to monitor changing soil conditions ($3,500).

  • One general violation was cited for not ensuring walk-around safety inspections were documented.

A “willful” violation occurs when L&I finds evidence of plain indifference or intentional disregard to a hazard or rule.  A serious violation is one where there is a substantial probability that a worker death or serious injury could result from a hazardous condition.  Alki Construction has now been labeled a “severe violator”, and will be subject to follow-up inspections in the future.

Working in trenches is highly dangerous.  Felton’s death is the first trenching fatality in Washington since 2008, but the third in the United States to occur in the month of January 2016.  A total of twenty workers have been killed in the U.S. while working in trenches in the past year (9/2/2015 through 9/2/2016).  

Hazardous jobs, such as trenching, require extensive safety protocols be enforced to help prevent death or serious injury.  As Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, has said: “Making a living shouldn’t have to cost you your life. Workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses are preventable. Safe jobs happen because employers make the choice to fulfill their responsibilities and protect their workers.”  This tragedy sadly demonstrates the consequences of an employer failing to fulfill those responsibilities.

The employer is allotted 15 work days within which to file an appeal of this decision.  Any monies collected from fines will be placed in the L&I workers’ compensation supplemental fund, which helps workers and families of workers who have died on the job.  

Mr. Felton was married with a four-month-old baby daughter at the time of his death.

Mrs. Felton and their daughter are entitled to benefits including burial expenses and survivorship benefits through the Department of Labor and Industries. Because this injury happened in the course of covered employment, it is unlikely that any additional negligence law suit against the employer is possible. – Editor

Photo Credit: West Seattle Blog

OSHA: Workplace Safety Plans

Workers have the right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The OSH Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. To help assure a safe and healthful workplace, OSHA also provides workers with the right to:

  • Ask OSHA to inspect their workplace;
  • Use their rights under the law without retaliation and discrimination;
  • Receive information and training about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace. The training must be in a language you can understand;
  • Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace;
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses;
  • Get copies of their medical records.

In addition, OSHA provides information, training, and assistance to workers and employers.

Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Contact the OSHA office nearest you by calling OSHA’s toll free number: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or TTY 1-877-889-5627 if you have questions or want to file a complaint. All information will be kept confidential. For more information, go to OSHA’s Workers page.

Select a state from the map to show contact information**.

States Map

**Note: Twenty-six states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans. Twenty-two State Plans (21 states and one U.S. territory) cover both private and state and local government workplaces. The remaining six State Plans (five states and one U.S. territory) cover state and local government workers only. This map requires javascript to be enabled. A text version is also available.

Photo credit: The Library of Congress via / No known copyright restrictions

Worker Falls 22 Feet to Death, 4 Months After OSHA Cites Employer for Failing to Protect Workers On The Same Job Site

Addison,IL( – Four months after federal safety investigators cited his employer for failing to provide workers with fall protection at a United Parcel Service facility in Addison, a 42-year-old employee of Material Handling Systems/MHS Technical Services, fell 22 feet to his death at the same site.

On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the employer for three egregious willful violations for exposing workers to falls over 6 feet, after its investigation of the Feb. 9, 2016, fatality. OSHA also cited three repeated and three serious safety violations.

As the construction industry continues to grow, falls continue to be the leading cause of death. Source:

“A man is dead because this employer decided to break the law over and over again. Before this tragedy, OSHA cited this contractor twice for exposing workers to fall hazards, including at the same site just four months earlier,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor of Occupational Safety and Health. “OSHA is asking companies contracting with Material Handling Systems to take strong steps to ensure that this employer protects its employees, and terminate its contracts if this employer continues to violate OSHA regulations. Material Handling Systems employer must demonstrate it can work safely and stop injuring its employees.”

For more detail: Read the Full Article:

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s North Aurora office at 630-896-8700.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces 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, 08/02/2016.

Photo Credit: Modern Warehouse with Pallet Rack Storage System

Seattle Employer Fined Nearly $450,000 for Failing to Correct Workplace Hazards

A marine terminal operator in Seattle is facing a $448,200 fine from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for failing to correct serious worker health hazards for which it was previously cited. The fine is one of L&I’s largest in recent years.

In an inspection at Seattle Bulk Shipping Inc.’s Harbor Island facility, L&I found that the company failed to correct serious violations that it was cited for last year, leaving workers exposed to serious hazards for more than a year.

The company performs several operations at the facility including transferring large quantities of highly flammable ethanol fuel from rail cars to tanker trucks, loading grain on rail cars and transferring it between trucks.

L&I’s follow-up inspection found that Seattle Bulk Shipping failed to correct a “confined space” violation it was cited for in 2015. The employer did not develop an adequate confined space entry program to protect employees who work around or inside grain pits or other confined spaces. Without safety precautions, confined spaces can be deadly to workers and would-be rescuers. Failure to correct this serious violation carries a penalty of $324,000.

The company was also cited for a second violation that hadn’t been corrected for failing to provide an approved emergency eyewash station for workers who transfer ethanol from rail cars and tanker trucks. Ethanol is a strong irritant in addition to being highly flammable; without an eyewash station, workers could suffer serious eye injuries. Failure to correct this violation carries a penalty of $108,000.

The employer was cited for three additional serious violations related to emergency procedures for potential ethanol release and confined space rescue. Each of those violations has a $5,400 penalty.

L&I began investigating the company in 2014, when a worker was hospitalized after falling into an underground grain storage pit. After comprehensive safety and health inspections, the company was ultimately cited for more than 50 workplace violations and fined $424,850. Those violations are currently under appeal. The company is considered a severe violator, which means it is subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist.

Seattle Bulk Shipping may appeal the violations. 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.


WA Siding Company Cited 7th Time for Safety Violations

A Battle Ground, WA siding company faces a substantial fine from the state after being cited for workplace safety violations involving fall hazards for the seventh time in four years.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) recently cited Olympic Siding Inc., for four repeat-serious and four serious violations, with total penalties of $135,800.

Three of the repeat-serious violations were for unsafe use of a ladder and failure to ensure fall protection for employees working on a roof and scaffold. Each of those violations carries a penalty of $33,600. The other repeat-serious citation was for not ensuring employees wore eye protection when using power tools. That violation has a $21,000 penalty.

The siding company was also cited for not requiring hard hats ($4,200), unsafe means of exiting a 15-foot scaffold ($4,200), failure to have a formal written accident prevention program tailored to the needs of the workplace ($1,400) and improper use of a self-supporting ladder ($4,200). All are considered “serious” violations because there’s a substantial probability that they could result in worker death or serious physical harm.

Falls from ladders, roofs and other elevated work spaces are the leading cause of construction worker fatalities and hospitalizations. Last year, six construction workers died from falls, the highest number since 2006.

So far this year, three construction workers have fallen to their deaths. The most recent fatality occurred May 16th in Issaquah, when a worker fell nearly 50 feet from a scaffold. In another incident last week in Yakima, a roofer fell eight feet and was seriously injured.

The Olympic Siding inspection began in January when an L&I compliance officer observed two workers without fall protection on the roof of a residence in Vancouver.

As a result of these repeat-serious violations, Olympic Siding Inc. is now considered a severe violator and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist in the future.

The company has appealed the citation.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation goes into the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

For a copy of the citation, contact Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.