Tag Archives: worker safety

Airline Safety for Workers and Passengers

Airline safety for workers and passengers is critical if we are ever to return to prior levels of travel. Overall, airline travel has been reduced due to COVID-19 concerns by 90% or more. Delta airlines, one of the world’s largest air carriers and employers, has implemented many changes to protect both passengers and employees from the coronavirus.

We are sharing the information published by Delta for your information. You can see Delta’s safety protocols here. Other airlines may have different procedures and protocols – check with your carrier for more information.

Safety Starts at Check-In

When passengers check in, they are required to wear a mask until they reach their destination. Delta’s employees will be wearing them as well . Surfaces are wiped down throughout the day, starting with kiosks and baggage stations. Delta will have plexiglass shields in place at check-in and gate counters by the end of May. Passengers will be encouraged to maintain a safe distance with decals at check-in, at the gate and on all Delta-owned jet bridges. 

Gate Areas and Onboard Aircraft

Delta gate areas and jet bridges are disinfected with electrostatic spraying. Before passengers board, Delta employees follow an extensive cleaning checklist with authority to hold the flight for additional cleaning if they aren’t satisfied. This includes safely sanitizing each aircraft with electrostatic spraying before every flight and wiping down tray tables and seatback screens.

Boarding will occur from back to front and be limited to 10 customers at a time to minimize contact with others. Snack bags with a sanitizing wipe will be distributed at boarding on select flights to reduce onboard service touch points. Every Delta flight is capped at 60 percent capacity and middle seats are blocked for protection.

Delta state that the air on all aircraft is completely recirculated 10 to 30 times per hour with fresh, outside air or through industrial-grade HEPA filters with similar performance to those used in hospital operating rooms and other highly sensitive environments. Announcements will also encourage passengers to take time when deplaning to create distance for those ahead to exit. 

Airline Safety for Workers and Passengers

Airline safety for workers and passengers is equally important. Not only are all onboard employees sharing the risk to provide service, but other workers associated with plane travel are, as well. Baggage handlers, shuttle drivers, rental car agents, TSA screeners and every worker in between is sharing this risk to keep essential travel moving.

Many passengers are also employees, traveling for their own work or business needs.

More Assistance if Injury or Illness Occurs

Workers’ compensation benefits are possible for essential workers exposed to the coronavirus. This is possible for airline employees and may be true for some passengers, on a case-by-case basis.

If you have questions about a potential claim, feel free to contact our firm for assistance. We offer a free case analysis and are happy to discuss your specific circumstances with you.

Prior Articles on Related Topics

Guidance to Help Grocery Stores Keep Workers Safe During Pandemic

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has issued specific guidance to help grocery stores and the retail industry to go along with previously released general guidance for workplaces.

While many workers in Washington are hunkering down in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19), thousands of essential workers are still on the job. Workers in grocery stores and at other essential businesses are facing exposure so everyone else can purchase food and supplies, and get other essential services.

Protecting grocery workers from coronavirus

The L&I guidance requires stores to have a social distancing plan, ensure frequent hand washing, and provide basic education to staff about how to prevent the spread of coronavirus. To protect workers, L&I strongly recommends steps like installing hand sanitizer dispensers for customers, ensuring people handling money and retrieving carts are wearing gloves, and marking on the floor and enforcing six-foot increments at checkout stands.

“Grocery and retail workers are there so the rest of us can have access to important goods and supplies,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director in charge of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). “We have to do everything in our power to keep them as safe as possible, and we ask customers to help keep them safe by practicing sensible social distancing habits when shopping.”

The L&I guidance also includes specifics for cleaning and sanitizing stores, recommends stocking and deep cleaning while the store is closed, and suggests prohibiting the use of reusable shopping bags.

Guidance for specific industries

Along with the guidance to help grocery stores and retail workers, L&I has issued guidance for janitorial workers, the trucking industry, long-term care workers, and the construction industry. All are available on the L&I Division of Occupational Safety and Health coronavirus webpage. The agency is consulting with advocates for agricultural workers and the farming industry on agricultural guidance and expects to release it soon.

The nature of the outbreak changes daily and it’s important for the public and employers to stay on top of the most current information. L&I has launched a COVID-19 webpage with links to helpful information and resources. The department also recommends the federal OSHA workplace guidance to help employers prepare and deal with the outbreak.

The state coronavirus.wa.gov webpage has links to important information and guidance related to the pandemic from numerous state agencies.

Information is the best resource to keep workers and the public as safe as possible. L&I is urging employers to stay as informed as possible, and to take all measures necessary to keep Washington workers safe and healthy.

Prior posts on this topic:

Tower Crane Erection and Dismantling Violations

Tower Crane Erection and Dismantling Hazard Alert

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) issued a Hazard Alert in June 2019 discussing roles, responsibilities, and procedures during tower crane erection and dismantling. Read the full DOSH Hazard Alert: Roles, responsibilities, and procedures during the erection and dismantling of tower cranes.

The hazard alert was issued in response to an April 27, 2019 incident where a construction tower crane collapsed in Seattle, Washington while being dismantled, fatally injuring two workers and two members of the public.

Violations Result in Fines

The Department of Labor and Industries completed it’s investigation in October 2019. During the investigation, it was found that the conditions leading up to the collapse may not have been an isolated event, but was due to procedures that have been practiced throughout the industry.

The state issued citations to: GLY Construction, Northwest Tower Crane Service, and Morrow Equipment, totaling over $107,000.00. The state did not cite two other companies involved, Omega Morgan and Seaburg Construction.

New Safety Regulations – DOSH Directive 8.55

On November 4, 2019, DOSH issued Directive, 8.55 – Tower Crane Erection and Dismantling Violations which clarified the rules for the erection and dismantling of tower cranes, and established a willful penalty classification for specific tower crane erection/dismantling safety violations.

The April 2019 accident, which was found to have been “totally avoidable,” prompted the state to craft and implement the new regulations outlined in Directive 8.55.

This directive includes enforcement instructions for Compliance Officers who inspect tower cranes worksites to ensure employers provide an assembly/disassembly director and follow the manufacturer’s written procedures when erecting and dismantling tower cranes. Directive 8.55 also creates a willful violation classification, allowing for increased penalties in cases where safety is compromised.

WAC 296-155-53402 sets out the rules for safety practices when assembling and disassembling a crane/derrick.

Tower crane erection and dismantling presents safety hazards.

When the DOSH Compliance Crane Unit documents violations of either WAC 296-155-53402 (1) or WAC 296-155-53402 (17)(a) through (d) on a tower crane erection or dismantling site, the violation will be classified as willful and the penalty will be multiplied by 10.

More Information

For more information about the April 2019 accident, the Department of Labor and Industries investigation, and the citations issued, look to The Seattle Times coverage, including:

Asbestos Citations for Violations by Evergreen State College

The Evergreen State College fined for multiple asbestos violations

Asbestos citations against the Evergreen State College mean the college is facing more than $135,000 in fines for multiple violations related to asbestos and other safety issues around its Olympia, WA campus. Employers have 15 business days from the time they receive a citation to appeal.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) published a notice stating that it has cited the college for 29 serious violations; the fines for each range from $600 to $5,400. There were also two general violations with no fines. L&I opened the inspection on March 20, 2019, after receiving a complaint.

The college’s maintenance team had an employee enter a steam vault and remove damaged asbestos-containing pipe insulation without adequate protections. The college was cited for several serious violations for this and other asbestos-handling violations.

L&I also cited Evergreen for lockout/tagout violations and violations of confined space requirements. Lockout/tagout violations means the college required employees to work on electrical or powered equipment while the machinery could still operate. L&I also found violations for lack of eye protection, not meeting emergency eyewash requirements, and deficiencies in the college’s chemical hazard communication program.

Since the inspection, Evergreen has made a number of changes. The college hired a certified asbestos abatement contractor, and it sent two workers to a certified building inspector training course. The most important outcome for inspections is that an employer fixes existing hazards and prevents them from happening again.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation, including asbestos citations, 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 L&I Public Affairs: 360-902-5413.

Little Caesars Fined More Than $40,000 for Teen Worker Violations in WA

A Little Caesars Pizza restaurant franchise faces $42,000 in fines for youth labor law violations, including allowing teenagers to work too many hours without a rest period on more than 100 separate occasions.

NW Caesars 1 LLC is appealing the citation and fine, which is one of the largest in recent years that the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has issued for a workplace violation involving youth. A hearing date for the appeal will be set in November. 

“This is important because meal and rest breaks for teens are mandatory,” said Josie Bryan, youth employment specialist for L&I. “Not only that, but breaks can help prevent injuries on the job.”

L&I’s inspection focused on two of the franchise’s restaurants in University Place — one at 5502 Orchard St. W., and one at 7305 40th St. W.

The agency found there were more than a 100 separate instances of missed rest periods. There were also violations involving minors working during school hours, working past 10 p.m. on a school night, and working with equipment that teens under 18 are not allowed to use.

The investigation covered the time period between December 2017 and February 2018. It was prompted by a tip to L&I that teens at one of the restaurants were disassembling and reassembling a pizza dough sheeter – a machine workers under 18 are prohibited from using. In all, the company was fined $42,050.

The Lakewood based NW Caesars 1 LLC was cited and fined by L&I for similar violations in 2015, including issues related to teen hours worked, and teen workers using prohibited equipment. L&I consulted with the company about teen workplace issues.

“The law is clear; there are only certain tasks teens can do in the workplace, depending on age,” Bryan said. “Our primary goal is to keep teen workers safe, and make sure businesses are following youth labor laws.”

More information about work requirements for teens is available at www.Lni.wa.gov/TeenWorkers, and simply clicking on “Hours of Work.” There is also information about prohibited duties and teen worker safety.

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!

 

Why We’re Still Killing Workers in the USA

The AFL–CIO’s annual report on job fatalities is out, and provides some interesting fodder for thought.

It’s no surprise that North Dakota – – with its “wild West” environment for oil and gas extraction on the Bakken Shale was the most dangerous place – – with 17.7 deaths per 100,000 workers versus the national average of 3.4.

Nationally, 4600 workers died on the job in 2012. While that number has fallen since safety laws were implemented in the 1970s, the decline has flat-lined over the most recent decade. It was 4.2 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2006, now still at 3.4 in 2012.

The AFL–CIO report contains maps that reflect part of the reason for the stall-out: the vast majority of the states with the highest fatality rates contain the 8 million workers in states with no federally approved OSHA safety and health plan. The report graphically portrays another salient fact: the number of federal OSHA inspectors per 1 million workers has fallen from a high of 15 in 1980 to 6.9 in 2013.  OSHA has been so underfunded over recent years that it would take an average of 139 years for available OSHA inspectors to visit each workplace in their jurisdiction just once. (In some states that number is even more staggering – – 521 years for South Dakota.)

The AFL-CIO report reflects some other interesting facts concerning the demographics of workplace fatalities – – not surprisingly, being foreign-born or Latino puts a worker at a higher risk of fatality, and homicide was the number one cause of death for women in the workplace in 2012.

But, getting back to the “oil patch” in North Dakota, we see other disturbing trends in the culture of workplace injury that accompany the decreasing application of safety regulation. With job growth tripling in North Dakota’s oil patch since 2007, while workers’ compensation filings are up, many injured workers are encouraged by employers in the extractive industries not to file, with many companies working out sidebar deals with injured workers. Injury rates are being kept artificially low by rewards for not reporting. As the AFL–CIO’s safety chief, Peg Semenario, has said, underreporting warps national safety figures in an industry that is already notoriously opaque.

And the culture of creating false indicators of workplace safety will likely have tremendous implications down the line when the 2000 tons of silica-rich sand used in the cement casing of each fracking well begins to work its way into workers’ lungs. NIOSH reported in 2012 that 92 of 116 air samples at franking sites exceeded the recommended safe levels of silica, which can lead to incurable, irreversible lung disease.

 

 Photo credit: Craig Newsom / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Worker’s Death Leads to Citation for WA Department of Natural Resources

 

The Department of Labor & Industries(L&I) provided the following information in a press release on January 11, 2013.  L&I noted that it has cited the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for 15 worker-safety violations following an investigation into the drowning death of a DNR diver last summer.  The citation carries a proposed penalty of $172,900.

 

The deceased diver, David Scheinost, age 24, was one of a four-person dive team from the DNR Aquatic Resources Division that was collecting geoduck samples to test for paralytic shellfish poisoning from the Manzanita and Restoration Point geoduck harvest tracts off Bainbridge Island on July 24.

 

Two SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) divers had deployed on their third dive of the day when the victim surfaced in distress and called out that he couldn’t breathe. The others were unable to reach him before he slipped below the surface and was gone. His body was found three days later.

 

The L&I investigation into the dive-safety policies and practices at DNR found:

 

  • 370 occurrences over a six-month period in which divers were deployed without carrying a reserve breathing-gas supply.
  • DNR did not ensure a designated person was in charge at the dive location to supervise all aspects of the diving operation affecting the health and safety of the divers.

 

L&I concluded that these were “willful” violations, which means they were committed with intentional disregard or plain indifference to worker safety and health regulations.

 

“Commercial diving involves risks that unfortunately lead too often to tragedies like this incident,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “These significant risk factors require advance planning, properly maintained equipment and strict adherence to procedures to ensure the protection of workers’ lives on each and every dive.”

 

In addition to the two willful violations, L&I cited DNR for eight “serious” and five “general” violations for not complying with standard safe-diving practices and procedures, including failure to:

 

  • Have an effective safety and health accident prevention program and training program.
  • Ensure that divers maintained continual visual contact with each other.
  • Inspect and maintain equipment.
  • Have a stand-by diver available while divers are in the water.

 

In Washington, state and local governments must provide safe workplaces for their employees just like private businesses, including following the minimum workplace safety and health rules. L&I is responsible for workplace safety and health and investigating workplace deaths for all private, state and local government worksites.

 

DNR will have 15 working days to appeal the citation. As with any citation, penalty money paid 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, please contact L&I Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.

 

Not mentioned in the L&I notice sent out today is the information from Bainbridge Island police, reported by the Seattle Times on September 4, 2012, that Mr. Scheinost was also suffering from “acute cocaine intoxication” at the time of his salt-water drowning, according to the death certificate.  It is not clear whether this was factored into the penalty ordered by L&I.