Imagine a vehicle that weighs twice as much as your family car, can’t stop nearly as quickly and is operated by a person who may not see you.Read More
OSHA has added a note to its Steel Erection standard informing employers of certain Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirements, with a goal of better protecting workers and motorists during highway bridge construction.
The amendment stems from a 2004 incident in which a 100-foot-long, 40-ton steel bridge girder fell from an overpass under construction in Golden, CO. The girder slammed into a vehicle, killing three members of a family.
OSHA says the girder could just as easily have crushed bridge construction workers at the site. The amendment to the Steel Erection standard notifies employers that FHWA regulations often require that a registered engineer prepare plans for any temporary braces or supports used to stabilize structures such as bridges during highway construction.
The National Transportation Safety Board noted that the company erecting the bridge contributed to the triple fatality by failing to follow the engineering requirement.Read More
Editor’s note: The following hazard alert was issued by WorkSafeBC following a worker’s death in British Columbia.
A wood-processing plant worker was feeding rough lumber into a strip saw. Each board was two inches thick, eight inches wide and five feet long.
The employer had instructed workers to feed lumber into the strip saw from the side and the company’s written job safety analysis also required workers to load lumber from the side.
However, the victim, who was not much taller than the infeed table, had to work in an awkward position with her arms outstretched at nearly shoulder height, according to WorkSafeBC investigator Daniel Marcoux.
The boards were not only difficult to feed through, but they needed to be fed quickly, at a rate of about six to seven boards per minute. In order to push the boards into the saw with enough force, the worker stood at the end of the infeed table. Unfortunately, there was no barrier or guard in place to prevent this unsafe practice.
One board kicked back out of the strip saw, breaking into three pieces. One wood piece hit another board on the table and it shot back and struck the worker, causing fatal injuries.
Marcoux notes that in order to make feeding the boards easier, the boards could have been pre-sorted into batches of similar thickness and the infeed rollers adjusted to accommodate each batch.
WorkSafeBC suggests these additional safe work practices to prevent such incidents:
A risk assessment needs to be undertaken for each machine, with a goal of reducing injury risk through safeguarding. The hierarchy of safeguarding, from most effective to least effective, is as follows:
Always start at the top of the hierarchy and choose a less effective safeguard only when the more effective solution is impractical. However, the type of safeguarding chosen must always be appropriate for the level of risk.
Here are some additional tips from WorkSafeBC:
Follow the employer’s established safe work procedures.Read More
In the aftermath of two unrelated worker fatalities at two plants, Ford Canada is paying the price—$850,000 plus a $212,500 victim fine surcharge—one of the largest penalties ever meted out for violations of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Ford Canada pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to take all reasonable precautions in the circumstances to protect the safety of workers.
On Jan 31, 2008, a worker at Ford’s Oakville assembly plant was fatally injured after being crushed between two forklifts. The worker had been standing beside a forklift when a co-worker reversed another forklift into the worker’s path.
An Ontario Ministry of Labour investigation found that the forklift operator did not keep a clear view of the vehicle’s path of travel while reversing.
On Jan. 14, 2009, a worker driving a lift truck carrying an unsecured pallet was killed at Ford’s Bramalea parts distribution centre. While the worker was driving the lift truck down a narrow aisle, the pallet struck a storage rack, crushing the worker between the pallet and the vehicle.
An investigation found that Ford’s material movement policies and procedures were not adequate.Read More
It’s not always possible to tell if a substance is hazardous just by looking at it.
A hazard alert issued by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada says that cautionary notes provided by manufacturers need to be taken seriously, even if a product, material or substance appears harmless. Failure to do so may lead to a worker’s death.
The alert tells the story of how polyethylene foam normally used as a packaging material exploded, blowing a truck driver out of a trailer and killing him.
Investigators determined that the polyethylene foam, made with a flammable hydrocarbon blowing agent, had been stored in an unventilated trailer during a warm weekend.
Normally by the time polyethylene foam gets to consumers, the product is harmless. However, when produced with a flammable hydrocarbon blowing agent and fresh from the manufacturer, the product may harbor unexpected hazards.
In this case, isobutane was used as the blowing agent to produce the polyethylene foam. Although most of the blowing agent is removed prior to shipping, it continues to be released at a slower rate for an undetermined period of time.
The foam manufacturer had informed the purchaser and the shipper that because of the off-gassing, it was preferable to use a ventilated trailer. The truck driver who picked up the load was also required to sign a caution advising him of the potential presence of the flammable blowing agent.
Unfortunately, this information did not get to the driver who was killed. He was told the trailer was empty. The lack of ventilation and the warm weather increased the off-gassing of isobutane until it accumulated to an explosive level within the trailer.
When the employee entered the trailer, a source of ignition such as a spark, match or lit cigarette, caused the fatal explosion.
The hazard alert stresses that where there is a possibility that the safety or health of an employee in a workplace may be endangered by a hazardous substance, the employer must:
In the case outlined above, the employer was issued seventeen charges. After pleading guilty to three charges, the company was fined $95,000.Read More
Improper installation of a dock bridge (a metal plate used to span the distance between a loading dock and a trailer) and a lack of maintenance have been named as factors in an injury incident at a Toronto supermarket.
A worker was using a small forklift to unload skids of ice cream from a truck trailer parked at the store’s loading dock on Oct. 10, 2008. When the worker drove the forklift over the dock bridge, the bridge bounced and came to rest 15 centimeters (six inches) above the trailer bed.
The employee raised a skid of ice cream and while reversing out of the trailer, the worker’s leg became jammed between the forklift and the raised dock plate. A broken leg was the result.
Sobeys Capital Incorporated pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice to failing to ensure that its dock bridge was maintained in good condition. Sobeys was fined $80,000, plus a $20,000 victim fine surcharge.Read More
Normally when a tanker truck explodes and people are nearby, the outcome is grim. However, eight people escaped serious injury when a fuel tanker blew up while employees were draining fuel from it into two large tanks.
The incident, which occurred at a Petro-Canada refueling station in Montreal, QC, sent the truck’s driver flying into the air, but reportedly he was not seriously injured. Seven other workers were treated for shock.
A witness said several explosions followed the initial blast. Dozens of firefighters were dispatched to the scene to extinguish the burning fuel.Read More
OSHA is seeking information and comment on occupational exposure to infectious agents in settings where health care is provided.
It hopes to hear from hospitals, outpatient clinics, school clinics and correctional facilities, laboratories that handle potentially infectious biological materials, medical examiner offices and mortuaries no later than Aug. 4, 2010.
OSHA is particularly interested in learning about strategies currently being used in healthcare and related work settings to reduce the risk of work-acquired infectious diseases. As such, OSHA would like to collect information and data on:
“All workplaces must be safe workplaces,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “We know that workers in health care and related facilities may be exposed to infectious agents, and they deserve to be protected. Preventing infectious disease among workers also will reduce exposure to their family members and to patients.”
OSHA will use the information received in response to this request to determine what action, if any, it may take to further limit the spread of occupationally acquired infectious diseases in such settings. To submit comments and attachments electronically, email them to http://www.regulations.govRead More
A former scientist at Pfizer Inc.’s Groton laboratories in Connecticut has been awarded $1.37 million by a US District Court jury in Hartford, CT.
Becky McClain was fired after telling the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that she had been intermittently paralyzed by an experimental virus after a fellow scientist failed to use proper containment procedures. A jury agreed with McClain that the company had retaliated against her and interfered with her right to free speech.
She testified that scientists were allowed to work unprotected next to laboratory benches where dangerous viruses were used for experiments and dangerous materials were placed in refrigerators and freezers near areas where employees ate.
McClain said that as a member of the safety committee she had raised concerns about such issues. She was removed from the committee.
The settlement is being hailed as a major victory for nanotechnology and biotechnology workers.Read More
Rare charges have been leveled against a company under Canada’s Nuclear Safety and Control Act, according to a Calgary Herald story.
Mistras Canada Inc. of Olds, AB, operating as Nomad Inspection Services Ltd., has been issued six charges relating to improper handling, storage and transporting of a nuclear substance in November and December 2008.
The charges allege:
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission alleges that two truck drivers were exposed to radiation above acceptable limits while transporting a pipeline imaging camera on a portion of the trip from northern Alberta to Ontario.
A commission report states that Nomad Inspection Services shipped the camera even though a lock on the device could not be closed. The lock must be secured before a camera is transported.
A radiation monitor alarm was triggered when the camera was delivered to a health science company in Kanata, ON. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says it is unlikely the drivers suffered any health effects from the radiation exposure, estimated at 1.36 millisieverts.Read More