Company President Sentenced to Prison for Safety Violations

4d3a3e5a017800b690f6c5c6af330f18hands-in-handcuffsA company president in the United States has been sentenced to serve up to 20 years in prison for his role in safety deficiencies that caused the death of two men. The prison sentence is in addition to a $ 1.2 million penalty levied against the company in 2010 and a personal penalty of $10,000 levied against the president and primary business owner, Craig Sanborn, as part of the criminal sentencing.

The penalties were issued in connection with the May 2010 explosion at the Black Mag LLC plant in New Hampshire, United States that killed two employees who were manufacturing a gunpowder substitute. An investigation conducted by the U.S. Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following the explosion resulted in issuance of 16 willful safety violations and more than 30 serious safety violation citations. The company was also forced to surrender its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms explosives manufacturing permits, which put the company out of business.

Safety violations included:

  • failure to implement essential protective controls including remote starting procedures;
  • failure to isolate operating stations, establish safe distancing, and erect barriers or shielding;
  • failure to provide personal protective equipment and other safety measures required for safe work with hazardous materials; and
  • failure to provide sufficient training on workplace hazards.

via Company President Sentenced to Prison for Safety Violations – EHS Journal.

The Purpose of a Health & Safety Committee

28940Health and Safety Committees should be established for the following purposes:

  • To increase and maintain the interest of employees in health and safety issues.
  • To convince managers, supervisors and employees through awareness and training activities that they are primarily responsible for the prevention of workplace accidents.
  • To help make health and safety activities an integral part of the organization’s operating procedures, culture and programs.
  • To provide an opportunity for the free discussion of health and safety problems and possible solutions.
  • To inform and educate employees and supervisors about health and safety issues, new standards, research findings, etc.
  • To help reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • To help insure compliance with federal and state health and safety standards.

via Safety Committee Guidelines.

Back Injury and Back Pain

Back-Injury-300x200Back symptoms are among the top ten reasons for medical visits. For 5% to 10% of patients, the back pain becomes chronic.

  • In 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 372,683 back injury cases involving days away from work. Most cases involved workers who were aged 25–54 (79%), male (64%), and white, non-Hispanic (70%)
  • Two occupational groups accounted for more than 54% of back injury cases: operators, fabricators, and laborers (38%); and precision production, craft, and repair (17%)

Data from scientific studies of primary and secondary interventions indicate that low back pain can be reduced by:

  • Engineering controls (e.g., ergonomic workplace redesign)
  • Administrative controls (specifically, adjusting work schedules and workloads)
  • Programs designed to modify individual factors, such as employee exercise
  • Combinations of these approaches

via CDC – Workplace Health – Implementation – Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD) Prevention.

Safer and Healthier at Any Age: Strategies for an Aging Workforce

bigstock_Older_A_worker_with_scanner_in_16883183-300x200Many effective workplace solutions for aging workers are simple, don’t have to cost very much, and can have large benefits if implemented properly with worker input and support throughout all levels of management. Below are strategies for preparing your workplace for an older and healthier, safer workforce.  Consider putting these in place today.

  • Prioritize workplace flexibility.  Workers prefer jobs that offer more flexibility over those that offer more vacation days.  To the extent possible, give workers a say in their schedule, work conditions, work organization, work location and work tasks.
  • Match tasks to abilities.  Use self-paced work, self-directed rest breaks and less repetitive tasks
  • Avoid prolonged, sedentary work – it’s bad for workers at every age.  Consider sit/stand workstations and walking workstations for workers who traditionally sit all day.  Provide onsite physical activity opportunities or connections to low-cost community options.
  • Manage noise hazards (including excess background noise), slip/trip hazards, and physical hazards, conditions that can challenge an aging workforce more.
  • Provide ergo-friendly work environments — workstations, tools, floor surfaces, adjustable seating, better illumination where needed, and screens and surfaces with less glare.
  • Utilize teams and teamwork strategies for aging-associated problem solving.  Workers closest to the problem are often best equipped to find the fix.
  • Provide health promotion and lifestyle interventions including physical activity, healthy meal options, tobacco cessation assistance, risk factor reduction and screenings, coaching, and onsite medical care. Accommodate medical self-care in the workplace and time away for health visits.
  • Invest in training and building worker skills and competencies at all age levels. Help older employees adapt to new technologies, often a concern for employers and older workers.
  • Proactively manage reasonable accommodations and the return-to-work process after illness or injury absences.
  • Require aging workforce management skills training for supervisors.  Include a focus on the most effective ways to manage a multi-generational workplace.

via CDC – NIOSH Science Blog – Safer and Healthier at Any Age: Strategies for an Aging Workforce.

Workplace Health – Worker Productivity

How-Multitasking-is-making-you-Less-ProductiveWorkplace health programs that improve employee health by reducing, preventing or controlling diseases can affect worker productivity.

Improvements in physical, mental, and emotional health enhance stamina, concentration, and focus leading to greater work output.

The cost savings of providing a workplace health program can be measured against:

  • Absenteeism among employees due to illness or injury
  • Reduced overtime to cover absent employees
  • Costs to train replacement employees

via CDC – Workplace Health – Evaluation – Home.

Work Zone Traffic Safety

work-zone-accidentsSummary of  Work Zone Traffic Safety

  • The Hazard: death or serious injury from being struck by vehicles or equipment in work zones.
  • Who is at risk: streets/highways, utilities and other public works department workers who maintain roadways, bridges, sewers, catch basins, etc.
  • Prevention: reducing the speed of vehicles, traffic control plans warning motorists of work zones, guiding traffic safely through the work zone, and returning passing vehicles to normal traffic flow.
  • Laws: The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforced the MUTCD (29 CFR 1926.200-203).

via AFSCME | Work Zone Traffic Safety.

Four Functional Categories of Fall Protection Products

fall-protection-requiredAll fall protection products fit into four functional categories.

1. Fall Arrest; 2. Positioning; 3. Suspension; 4. Retrieval.

Fall Arrest

A fall arrest system is required if any risk exists that a worker may fall from an elevated position, as a general rule, the fall arrest system should be used anytime a working height of six feet or more is reached. Working height is the distance from the walking/working surface to a grade or lower level. A fall arrest system will only come into service should a fall occur. A full-body harness with a shock-absorbing lanyard or a retractable lifeline is the only product recommended. A full-body harness distributes the forces throughout the body, and the shock-absorbing lanyard decreases the total fall arresting forces.


This system holds the worker in place while keeping his/her hands free to work. Whenever the worker leans back, the system is activated. However, the personal positioning system is not specifically designed for fall arrest purposes.


This equipment lowers and supports the worker while allowing a hands-free work environment, and is widely used in window washing and painting industries. This suspension system components are not designed to arrest a free fall, a backup fall arrest system should be used in conjunction with the suspension system.


Preplanning for retrieval in the event of a fall should be taken into consideration when developing a proactive fall management program.

via Fall Protection.

What is Crystalline Silica?

Silica-Dust-Worker-Mask-Full-Respirable crystalline silica – very small particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand you might encounter on beaches and playgrounds – is created during work operations involving stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, mortar, and industrial sand. Exposures to respirable crystalline silica can occur when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing these materials. These exposures are common in brick, concrete, and pottery manufacturing operations, as well as during operations using industrial sand products, such as in foundries, sand blasting, and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations in the oil and gas industry.

via OSHA’s Rulemaking on Crystalline Silica Rulemaking.

Workplace Health – Ergonomics

poultry-ergoErgonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capability of the working population. The goal of ergonomics is to reduce stress and eliminate injuries and disorders associated with the overuse of muscles, bad posture, and repeated tasks. A workplace ergonomics program can aim to prevent or control injuries and illnesses by eliminating or reducing worker exposure to WMSD risk factors using engineering and administrative controls. PPE is also used in some instances but it is the least effective workplace control to address ergonomic hazards. Risk factors include awkward postures, repetition, material handling, force, mechanical compression, vibration, temperature extremes, glare, inadequate lighting, and duration of exposure. For example, employees who spend many hours at a workstation may develop ergonomic-related problems resulting in musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

via CDC – Workplace Health – Implementation – Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD) Prevention.

OSHA’s 2013 Top Ten Most Cited Violations

osha-violations-pictures-24The following is a list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA. OSHA publishes this list to alert employers about these commonly cited standards so they can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards addressed in these and other standards before OSHA shows up. Far too many preventable injuries and illnesses occur in the workplace.

  1. 1926.501 – Fall Protection
  2. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
  3. 1926.451 – Scaffolding
  4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
  5. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods
  6. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks
  7. 1926.1053 – Ladders
  8. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
  9. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements
  10. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding

via Top Ten Standards.