Category Archives: Worker Safety

Vancouver, WA Firm Handed Large Fine forTrenching, Excavation Violations

Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries has fined a Vancouver, WA  construction company that specializes in excavation and trenching $126,400 for multiple safety violations.

Colf Construction was a subcontractor on the 10th Street Bridge project in Ridgefield, WA when the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) opened the inspection March 20, 2018. DOSH conducted eight site visits during the inspection, which closed Aug. 30, and found trenching violations during five of those visits. DOSH cited the company for six willful and serious violations.

The violations included not ensuring workers were protected from cave-ins, not performing daily excavation inspections, not removing workers from hazardous areas, employees working under suspended load, no safe access or exit available from excavations, and lack of fall protection.

“Trenching and excavation incidents can happen suddenly, and cave-ins are often deadly,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “This employer knew the dangers and had been warned before. Every employer that does trenching and excavation needs to know there are many complex deadly hazards that must be taken seriously and controlled.  These hazards are a focus for the department and nationwide due to their high rate of worker fatalities.”

Cave-ins pose the greatest risk to workers performing excavation and trenching work, and even a four-foot deep trench can present life-threatening hazards. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car, and cave-ins can happen much too fast for a worker to respond. In this case not only were the workers not protected from this hazard, there were also no easy entry and exit paths from the trenches.

The employer had 15 business days to appeal the citations.

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.

For a copy of the citations, contact Frank Ameduri of Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

OSHA Warns Hurricane Florence Clean Up Workers to Practice Caution

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.ehstoday.com

As Hurricane Florence damage is assessed and affected areas began to clean up, workers and residents are being faced with numerous hazards caused by the storm.

OSHA is warming emergency crews to take precautions and to address hazards from flooding, power loss, structural damage, fallen trees and storm debris.

“Workers involved in storm recovery can face a range of safety and health hazards,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in a statement. “Risks can be minimized with knowledge, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment.”

Only individuals with proper training, equipment, and experience should conduct recovery and cleanup activities. The agency recommends measures after a weather disaster should include the following:

  • Evaluating the work area for hazards;
  • Assessing the stability of structures and walking surfaces;
  • Fall protection for elevated surfaces;
  • Assuming all power lines are live;
  • Using chainsaws, portable generators, ladders, and other equipment properly; and,
  • Using personal protective equipment, such as gloves, hard hats, hearing and foot protection, and eye protectors.

OSHA maintains a comprehensive website with safety tips to help employers and workers. Individuals involved in response and recovery efforts may call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

[Click here to see the original post]

 

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WA State Safety and Health Standards for Beryllium Updated

Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD), sometimes called berylliosis, is an immunological lung disease caused by exposure to beryllium via inhalation of airborne beryllium or skin contact with beryllium-containing dust, fume, mist, or solutions. CBD can progress to a serious and life-threatening disease if left undiagnosed and beryllium exposure continues.

Washington State has completed rulemaking to to add Chapter 296-850 WAC Beryllium as a new chapter to Title 296 WAC of the Department of Labor and Industries. This action was taken in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) final rule on Beryllium in the General Labor, Construction and Maritime areas if industry.

The Department of Labor and Industries will have one Beryllium rule to include all industries listed, instead of separate rules for each industry as OSHA has done. This rule will limit worker exposure (Personal Exposure Limits, or PELs) to beryllium and beryllium compounds, which can cause the debilitating lung disease known as chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and lung cancer. This rule mirrors OSHAs final rule, with minor differences in the Definitions, Medical Removal, and Medical Surveillance sections that allow for implementation of the rule to be consistent with existing requirements in Title 51 RCW. The PEL tables in WAC 296-307-62625 and WAC 296-841-20025 were updated to reflect OSHAs reduced Beryllium PELs.

All obligations of this standard commence and become enforceable on December 12, 2018, except for the following compliance dates: Change rooms and showers required by WAC 296-850-145 must be provided by March 11, 2019; and Engineering controls required by WAC 296-850-130 Methods of Compliance must be implemented by March 10, 2020. The changes were adopted 8/21/2018 and will be effective on 12/12/2018.

Find more information about these rule changes on the Department of Labor and Industries website.

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Taco Bell Franchise Fined by WA State for Violating Teen Worker Laws

A Taco Bell franchise owner has been fined nearly $120,000 by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for repeated violations of teen worker laws over several years at a half-dozen Western Washington restaurants.

This week, L&I sent a letter to the California-based Taco Bell of America LLC requesting representatives meet with the agency to discuss required changes in the company’s youth employment practices. The company owns some 60 restaurants in the state. 

It’s important to note these violations are connected specifically to Taco Bell of America LLC. There are other Taco Bell restaurants in Washington not connected to this company, or to the violations found.

“Teens are an important part of the workforce. We enforce these laws to prevent injuries and keep them safe on the job,” said David Johnson, L&I Employment Standards Program manager.

In all, six investigations over three years – based on complaints from employees and parents – have resulted in fines totaling $119,450.

Numerous violations found at Marysville, Auburn and other stores

L&I issued one citation in June of this year against a company restaurant at 17105 27th Ave. N.E. in Marysville, and one in March involving the Taco Bell at 710 Auburn Way S., in Auburn. Fines in these cases total $70,000. The company is appealing the Marysville citation.

At the Marysville location, L&I’s investigation covering January and February found 11 youth worked more than three hours without taking a rest break 59 times; nine minors worked more than four hours without a rest break on 20 occasions, and the restaurant failed to produce parent school authorization forms or proof of age of the workers. L&I found similar violations at the Auburn restaurant.

During the summer, many youth are working real jobs for the first time. “Teens often don’t know their workplace rights, so it’s up to managers to follow the laws and emphasize safety on the job,” Johnson said.

In 2017, 680 youth, age 17 and under, reported injuries on the job in Washington.

In 2015 and 2016, L&I conducted other investigations of Taco Bell of America LLC locations. Those investigations resulted in the company paying $49,450 in fines. Violations were found at stores located at 501 15th St. N.E., Auburn; 182 Trosper Road S.W., Tumwater; 1478 Dike Access Road, Woodland; and 21131 State Route 410 E., Bonney Lake.

L&I provided training for more than two dozen Taco Bell of America LLC restaurant managers and human resources staff members during those investigations.

It’s important to note these violations are connected specifically to Taco Bell of America LLC. There are other Taco Bell restaurants in Washington not connected to this company, or to the violations found.

Washington State’s Move Over Law Changes, Makes Work Zones Safer

On June 7, Washington State traffic laws changed to improve roadway work zone safety. The new law requires drivers to proceed with due caution, slow down, and, if safe, move over or change lanes when approaching any authorized construction or maintenance vehicle or worker in a designated roadway work zone. 

The new rules describe work zones to include adjacent road lanes 200 feet before and after stationary or slow-moving construction, maintenance, solid waste, or utility service vehicles that display flashing or rotating lights that meet state requirements for vehicle warning light systems. 

Fines range from $136 for failing to move over to $1,000 for reckless endangerment offenses. Penalties can also include jail sentences and driver’s license suspensions. The changes follow House Bill 2087, which passed with full legislative support to expand the previous “move over law” for first responders and emergency vehicles. 

Read more on the Keep Trucking Safe Blog

 

 

Serious Injuries at Two Worksites Lead to Fines and Citations for National Products, Inc.

A Seattle, WA company that manufactures electronics mounting systems and other products is facing more than $250,000 in fines for multiple serious and willful worker safety and health violations.

The state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) recently cited National Products, Inc. after finding numerous violations during three separate inspections this year.

L&I opened one of the inspections after a worker was burned by molten aluminum, and another inspection followed amputation injuries at another National Products worksite. The inspections identified 26 total violations including multiple serious and willful violations collectively resulting in fines totaling $253,320.

“We’ve cited this employer before for several of these very serious hazards, but the company continues to put its workers at risk,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

The amputations, which involved several fingers of one worker, occurred in a facility where there were five trimming presses, each of which was in some sort of disrepair. Among other problems each machine had an emergency stop button that was either blocked, missing or in disrepair. Worn out and unaligned springs that made the operator visually line up levers were a contributing factor in the injury.

The burn injury happened at another National Products facility where workers were carrying molten aluminum from one machine to another in ladles slung over their backs, and they were not wearing proper personal protection equipment.

“Workplace injuries and illnesses are preventable, and many of these hazards are easy to control,” Soiza said. “L&I offers free tools and expertise to help Washington employers create safer workplaces so they can save lives and money. There’s just no excuse for continually putting workers at risk.”

Since National Products, Inc. has been cited in the past for similar situations, the company is now considered a severe violator — a designation that carries consequences, such as follow-up inspections at any of their facilities or sites that could have similar hazards.

The employer has 15 business days to appeal the citations.

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.

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

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Asbestos Removal Company Fined $229,700 for Exposing Workers and Public to Unsafe Conditions

An Edmonds, Washington based asbestos removal contractor has been cited by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for multiple willful safety violations for improper handling of asbestos. Along with the citations, the company faces fines totaling $229,700.

L&I has cited Above & Beyond Asbestos Removal in connection with two separate inspections. Along with citing and fining a company, L&I may also decertify an asbestos contractor for multiple willful violations. This company is under review. 

“This company has demonstrated a continuous indifference to Washington’s asbestos handling rules which protect workers and the public from harm,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “This fine delivers a clear message that asbestos is a deadly hazard and we won’t tolerate any company that doesn’t follow the rules to keep the public and workers safe.”

Asbestos is extremely hazardous and can cause potentially fatal diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Only a certified abatement contractor that follows the specific asbestos related safety and health rules may remove and dispose of asbestos-containing building materials. 

The two recent inspections of Above & Beyond each uncovered several similar violations. One worksite involved the emergency removal of boiler insulation in a Seattle apartment complex, and the other concerned the removal of asbestos popcorn ceiling material in a single-family residence.

In both cases, the workers did not use proper safety equipment, required air sampling was not performed, and asbestos-containing material was left exposed to the public and was improperly taken through public areas. Asbestos-containing dust can harm both workers and the public until it is eliminated.

The two inspections resulted in multiple willful and serious violations. A willful violation is one where L&I finds evidence of plain indifference or an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule. 

Above & Beyond has been cited in the past for similar violations and has been identified by L&I as a severe violator — a designation that carries consequences, such as follow-up inspections at any of their facilities or sites that could have similar hazards. 

The employer has 15 business days to appeal the citations. 

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. 

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

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Flight Attendants May Face Increased Risk for Many Cancers

Smithsonian Magazine reports that flight attendants are exposed to a number of possible or probable cancer-causing factors that may lead to an increased risk for many cancers.

SMITHSONIAN.COM 
JUNE 27, 2018
 
A new study has found that American flight attendants are more likely than the general population to develop several cancers, including breast cancer, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.

 
According to Alice Park of Time, the new report, published recently in the journal Environmental Health, is based on data collected by the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study (FAHS), which was launched in 2007. The researchers behind the study sought to shed light on an understudied occupational group. Though flight attendants are frequently exposed to a number of possible or probable cancer-causing factors—like sleep disruptions, radiation, and pesticides and other chemicals in the cabin—the long-term effects of this exposure have not been well documented.
 
Between 2014 and 2015, researchers studied 5,300 flight attendants through surveys that were disseminated online, via mail and in person at airports. The surveys asked respondents about flight schedules and cancer diagnoses. The researchers then compared the responses to the health status of 2,729 non-flight attendant adults with similar socioeconomic backgrounds, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which surveys around 5,000 Americans each year.

The comparison revealed higher rates of uterine, cervical, breast, gastrointestinal, thyroid and melanoma cancers among flight attendants. The disparity was especially pronounced with breast, melanoma and non-melanoma cancers. Flight attendants had more than double the risk of developing melanoma, and more than quadruple the risk of developing non-melanoma cancers. They were also 51 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than the general population.

To the researchers’ surprise, they found a higher risk of breast cancer in female flight attendants with three or more children; typically, a woman’s risk of breast cancer decreases as she has more children.

“This study is the first to show higher prevalences of all cancers studied, and significantly higher prevalences of non-melanoma skin cancer compared to a similarly matched U.S. sample population,” lead study author Eileen McNeely of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health tells Lisa Rapaport of ReutersMcNeely also notes that “[n]on-melanoma skin cancer among women increased with more years on the job, suggesting a work-related association.”

Read the rest of this story on Smithsonian.com

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Special Topic: Automation/Robot Fatality Narrative

Warehouse Worker Crushed by Forks of Laser Guided Vehicle

The Washington Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program* has published a new Fatality Narrative. The new narrative describes an incident where a warehouse worker was killed when he was crushed by the forks of a laser guided forklift. This Special Topic Fatality Narrative was published because the incident and the unique hazards associated with emerging automation are relevant to most industries. These reports describe work-related fatal incidents and list some requirements and recommendations that might have prevented the incident from occurring. We hope that they are used for formal or informal educational opportunities to help prevent similar incidents.

For your convenience, a slideshow version with more photos and details is also available. 

*The FACE Program is partially funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH grant# 5 U60 OH008487-11) and the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. The contents of the Fatality Narratives are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIOSH.

Image credit: SICK Sensor Intelligence

WA State 2017 Work-Related Fatality Report Issued

In 2017, falls were the leading cause of traumatic work-related fatalities in Washington State. The highest number of workplace deaths occurred in construction. The WA Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program (WA FACE) within SHARP tracks traumatic workplace fatalities in Washington, and has published its annual report for 2017.

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