Two men who worked for BP during the 2010 Gulf oil spill disaster have been charged with manslaughter and a third with lying to federal investigators, according to indictments made public Thursday, hours after BP announced it was paying $4.5 billion in a settlement with the U.S. government over the disaster. A federal indictment unsealed in New Orleans claims BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine acted negligently in their supervision of key safety tests performed on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig before the explosion killed 11 workers in April 2010. The indictment says Kaluza and Vidrine failed to phone engineers onshore to alert them of problems in the drilling operation.
Out of 4,114* worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2011, 721 or 17.5% were in construction. The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by electrocution, struck by object, and caught-in/between. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for nearly three out of five (57%) construction worker deaths in 2011*, BLS reports. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 410 workers’ lives in America every year.
Falls – 251 out of 721 total deaths in construction in CY 2011 (35%)
Electrocutions – 67 (9%)
Struck by Object – 73 (10%)
Caught-in/between – 19 (3%)
New changes to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard are bringing the United States into alignment with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), further improving safety and health protections for America’s workers. Building on the success of OSHA’s current Hazard Communication Standard, the GHS is expected to prevent injuries and illnesses, save lives and improve trade conditions for chemical manufacturers. The Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave the workers the ‘right to know,’ but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the ‘right to understand.
Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
Information and training: Employers are required to train workers by December 1, 2013 on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.
via Hazard Communication.
There are many types of powered industrial trucks. Each type presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high-lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck. Workplace type and conditions are also factors in hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks. For example, retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety. Beyond that, many workers can also be injured when:
- lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks
- lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer
- they are struck by a lift truck
- they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.
- If you are asked to do a task that you think is unsafe – you have the right to say NO and refuse to do the work.
- Get some training and learn how to identify hazards, manage risks and do the job safely before you start.
- Ask your supervisor to watch and check that you are doing the job the right way.
- Speak up and let supervisors know if you think a task is too dangerous or difficult for you.
- Ask questions and check with supervisors and co-workers when you aren’t sure or can’t remember how to do a job safely.
- Learn what to do and where to get help in an emergency.
- Always follow the safety rules and procedures.
- Always wear any personal protective equipment provided by your employer.
- Report all injuries (minor or major), occupational health & safety incidents and near misses.
- Look out for and report hazards.
- Keep an eye on your co-workers, especially if they are new to the workplace and don’t know all the occupational health & safety issues.
- Try to get a good night’s rest before heading into work. Feeling tired can lead to dangerous mistakes.
- If you have a safety concern, talk with more experienced workers such as supervisors, co-workers or your family to get some advice.
Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that falls are a leading cause of traumatic death on the job. Many of these incidents involve scaffolding. Scaffolds are working platforms suspended by ropes, or other means, from an overhead structure. Falls frequently occur as the result of:
* Improper installation or operation of scaffold equipment.
* Defective scaffold equipment.
* Insufficient worker safety training.
* Failure to provide or use personal fall protection equipment.
In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:
- Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
- All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.
via Hazard Communication.
Your employees may be at risk of health hazards if their jobs include exposure to chemicals. Substances that can harm your workers include fumes, gases, liquids, solids, dust, vapors and corrosives. Whether your employees are at risk of ingesting the substance, inhaling it or absorbing it through the skin, you have a responsibility to ensure the risks are minimized. These types of hazards can be in any type of business you run, from manufacturing to retail.
Fire is a risk for your business, no matter what type of company you are running. The Seattle Fire Department Fire Prevention Division estimates 70,000 to 80,000 fires occur in businesses in the U.S. each year. Knowing where your fire extinguishers are, holding fire drills and informing employees of your emergency escape routes can ensure safety.
Repetitive Use Injury
When your employees repeat the same actions throughout the day, such as typing or rolling dough, or washing windows, they are at risk of repetitive use injury. The parts of the body that suffer from repetitive use are the back, shoulders, forearms, wrists and hands. Ensuring adequate breaks from job duties can reduce the risk of injury.
People who work directly with electricity, including electricians and engineers, are at risk of injury; personnel who work with electrical equipment in the office are also at risk of injury. Even an office worker making a fix with power tools outdoors can sustain electrical injury during adverse weather. You can minimize the risk of injuries by using one extension cord or power strip per connection, keeping liquids clear of electrical equipment and conducting regular safety examinations.
Accidental Falls and Falling Objects
If your employees work at elevated heights, they may be at risk of accidental falls. Anytime objects are stored at or above head level, there is a risk of injury caused by falling objects. Wearing safety gear including a hard hat or harness, and installing guardrails or a safety net can reduce the risk of injury. Instruct employees on the safe use of equipment.
- Slips and trips: Anything lying around on the floor can cause a tripping hazard. Slips and trips can result in injuries such as strains or fractures.
- Lifting: Lifting heavy items alone, or lifting items incorrectly, can cause serious and long-term back injury
- Electricity: Electricity can kill in an instant. Always follow safety instructions on equipment.
- Moving machinery: Make sure you stay behind barriers and avoid loose clothing which can get tangled in moving parts.
- Fire: Depending on the environment, fire can take hold in minutes or seconds. Not only can it cause burns, but serious damage from smoke inhalation.
- Working at heights: Falling from any height can result in serious injury and even death.