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Welcome to Texas Work Injury Law Blog

This website is maintained by the Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a Dallas, Texas law firm representing people across Texas for work injury cases. We have attempted to provide useful information for those harmed by work injuries.

Posts Tagged ‘Occupational safety and health’

Work Accident Attorney Fort Worth – OSHA Increases Maximum Penalties against Employers for Alleged Safety Violations

Friday, January 19th, 2018

English: Logo for the United States Occupation...

English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency that enforces federal health and safety requirements in the workplace. Inspectors investigate employee complaints and visit companies after serious or fatal illnesses or injuries have occurred. The inspectors impose proposed penalties for the different kinds of violations. On January 2, 2018, the Department of Labor announced an increase in the maximum penalty amounts for violating OSHA safety regulations and standards.

The following are DOL Penalties, before and after the latest changes:

  • The maximum penalty allowed for “serious” and “other-than-serious” is now $12,934. Previously, it was $12,615.
  • The penalty for repeated or willful violation of child labor standards that result in the death or serious injury of a minor changed from a maximum of $111,616 to a maximum of $113,894.
  • The per violation penalty of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act rose from $20,111 to $20,521.
  • There was a very small increase in per willful violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act’s posting requirement, from $166 to $169.
  • The maximum fine for repeated or willful violations is $129,336, up from $126,749. In 2016, much more significant changes were made. For example, the willful or repeated violation maximum penalty rose from $70,000 to $124,709.

The maximum fines are not always imposed. Employers in small businesses typically get a size discount. Employers with a record of prior compliance with OSHA receive a reduction for their good history. Businesses that are cooperative during OSHA inspections also get credit, for acting in good faith. Maximum penalties are more likely imposed against a large employer when a fatality has a occurred or as a result of a history of OSHA safety violations.

–Guest Contributor


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A Plumber Dies in a Trench Collapse in Flower Mound, Texas

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Flower Mound, Texas, Community Center (Photo: Labeled for Reuse)

Forty-five-year-old Christopher Corbet, a plumber, was killed in an on-the-job accident in Flower Mound, Texas, on December 14, 2017. He had dug a trench to go underneath a residence, and the trench collapsed. Fire crews and officers with the Flower Mound Police Department responded to the residence and attempted to rescue Corbet. They were unable to establish communication with him. Eventually, his body was recovered from beneath the home.

A ten-year study ending in 2009 that was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that approximately 35 workers die in the U.S. every year as a result of excavation or trenching cave-ins. Experts say that workers don’t always recognize the danger of working around dirt. According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), one cubic yard of dirt can weigh 3,000 pounds or more. In addition, trenches can collapse with no warning.

The following are some of the factors that affect the stability of soil at an excavation or trenching site:

  • Type of soil
  • Water content in soil
  • Proximity of site to previously backfilled excavations
  • Nearness of heavy machinery and tools
  • Vibrations caused by tools and heavy equipment

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires a protection system when trenches are 5 feet deep or more, with the exception of an excavation consisting completely of stable rock.

The following are tips for workers regarding trenches:

  • Never enter a trench that doesn’t have a protection system in place.
  • Never enter a trench until it has been inspected by someone qualified to determine whether it is safe to enter.
  • Exit a trench immediately if you see any evidence that there may be problems with the protective system. Contact a competent person to perform an inspection.
  • Never assume that you will have time to move and escape injury if a trench collapses.

Employers have a responsibility to workers, to ensure that proper trenching safety procedures are used on all jobs.

–Guest Contributor


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A 20-year-old Worker Dies in Wolfforth, Texas, in a Construction Accident

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

English: Logo for the United States Occupation...

English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Friday, July 7, 2017, 20-year-old Dillon Juarez was allegedly killed in a construction accident in Wolfforth, Texas. Juarez was employed with Allen Butler Construction and was working at a site near Highway 62 and Private Road 1320. According to Chief Rick Scott with the Wolfforth Police Department, Juarez fell into the path of machinery and was killed. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has opened an investigation into the fatal workplace accident, which is standard procedure.

The Wollford Police Department provided a few details on this industrial accident that took place along Marsha Sharp Freeway. Chief Scott said that police responded to a report of an industrial accident at that location at about 4:03 pm. Police dispatched to the scene found that a fatal construction accident had occurred and the person who died was a member of a paving company crew. Improvements to the Marsha Sharp Freeway were in progress when the tragedy occurred. Scott also said the deceased worker fell into the path of heavy machinery.

OSHA provides safety rules for every industry. Employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all employees by taking the recommended measures plus by being conscientious regarding worker safety. Among the OSHA rules are details about safe operation of heavy machinery and guidelines intended to keep workers in the vicinity of heavy equipment safe. OSHA’s investigation into this fatal on-the-job incident will include evaluations regarding whether or not such safety guidelines were being followed at the time of the incident.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor


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A Crane Operator Dies Following Contact with a Power Line

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

English: Repairing a power line in Weston, Flo...

English: Repairing a power line in Weston, Florida. Français : Réparation de ligne electrique à Weston, en Floride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fifty-nine-year-old David Sprague, crane operator, of Windham, Maine, died on the morning of Tuesday, April 18, 2017, after his vehicle came into contact with high tension power lines. The fatal workplace accident occurred at the Deerfield Wind Project, set to include 15 new wind turbines.

According to a spokesperson for Green Mountain Power, they had been asked to turn off the electrical power in the area.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that almost half of all overhead crane accidents involve machinery making contact with a power source. The definition of power line contact is: The inadvertent contact of any metal component of a crane with a high-voltage power line. This type of contact occurs most frequently when materials are being moved by a crane and the boom or hoist line touches an energized line.

Multiple fatalities and injuries can occur as a result of a single incident in which industrial machinery comes into contact with power lines. Approximately 200 people die from electrical line contact every year, and about 600 people per year suffer serious injuries. The majority of the victims are guiding a load with a crane at the time of the hazardous contact, but the danger extends to everyone at a worksite.

A lack of properly safety planning and neglecting preventative measures are the most common causes of power line contact.

OSHA provides safety regulations designed to protect crane operators from power line hazards. For example, all operators are advised to consider power lines energized until such time as the electric company verifies that it has been de-energized.

–Guest Contributor


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A 43-year-old Oilfield Worker is Killed on the Job in Brazoria County, Texas

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

English: Oil well An oil rig used for training.

English: Oil well An oil rig used for training. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, March 14, 2017, a fatal workplace accident occurred in Brazoria County, Texas, south of Pearland near Highway 35 and County Road 129. A piece of equipment weighing between 2,500 and 3,500 pounds was being lifted when it broke free and fell to the ground, also striking and killing 43-year-old Antonio Perez of El Campo. The tragedy occurred at the Denbury Resources Oil Field. The oilfield worker was pronounced dead at the scene, and an investigation into the accident is ongoing.

There are certain risks associated with all work environments, and an oil field is among the more dangerous workplaces. Employers have a responsibility to workers to follow safety guidelines provided by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The following are safety hazards that are associated with oil and gas extraction activities, as identified by OSHA:

  • Machine hazards
  • Struck-by, caught-in, and caught between hazards
  • Vehicle collisions
  • Explosions and fires
  • Falls
  • Ergonomic hazards
  • Confined spaces
  • Electrical and other hazardous energy
  • High pressured lines and equipment

For each of these hazardous areas and more, OSHA provides safety guidelines. Employers have access to what they need to maximize the safety in every work environment. When companies fail to follow safety rules, there is a greater likelihood that someone will be seriously hurt or killed.

Many would argue that when it comes to hazardous machinery and equipment in the workplace, the oil and gas industry ranks first. Dangerous machines often operate in unguarded areas, which puts workers at further risk. The following are examples of operations that should be performed with great caution by competent operators:

  • Spinning chain
  • Heavy lifts and hoists
  • Traveling derrick
  • drilling
  • Loading and unloading materials

–Guest Contributor


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An Oklahoma Company is Hit with $535,411 in proposed OSHA Fines

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

English: Logo for the United States Occupation...

English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) holds employers responsible for failing to provide employees with a safe work environment. Companies must understand the safety standards for their own industries and comply or face penalties. BigTex Trailer Manufacturing Inc., doing business as CM Truck Beds, out of Oklahoma allegedly created a work environment in which employees could be killed or seriously injured, according to OSHA area director in Oklahoma City, David Bates. As a result of a complaint alleging that the working conditions were unsafe, an investigation of the facilities was done in July 2016. OSHA investigators issued citations for 20 alleged serious violations, two alleged repeat violations, one alleged willful violation, and several other-than-serious alleged violations. Proposed penalties issued in January 2017 amounted to $535,411.

The following are brief descriptions of some of the 20 serious alleged violations CM Truck Beds was cited for. The company allegedly failed to:

  • Label chemicals properly.
  • Ensure the safe use of powered industrial trucks.
  • Ensure the safe use of the spray booth in order to prevent overexposure.
  • Store compressed gas tanks properly.
  • Cover floor holes safely and ensure exits are properly labeled and accessible.
  • Inspect and guard sprockets and chain slings.
  • Ensure safety guards on a portable grinder were in place.
  • Maintain a program for hazardous energy control and train workers on safety procedures.

The one alleged willful violation involved failing to provide machine guarding in order to protect operators and other workers in the area from hazards such as those created by flying chips and sparks, rotating parts, ingoing nip points, and point of operation. The proposed OSHA penalty for this alleged violation alone is: $124,709.

Learn more specifics about various alleged violations in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor


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2 Dallas Workers in a Highway Construction Zone are Injured by an Alleged Drunk Driver

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

English: Category:Images of Dallas, Texas

English: Category:Images of Dallas, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two highway construction workers were injured on February 8, 2017, when the driver of a Nissan Pathfinder crashed into them at a construction site on Interstate 35 in Dallas, Texas. The driver has been charged with intoxication assault, and the workers were transported to a nearby hospital. No details regarding their conditions have been released.

Government agencies such as the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) have a responsibility to keep workers safe, just as other employers do. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines for keeping construction zone workers safe. The following key elements of worker safety are provided by OSHA:

  • In order to minimize the vulnerability of construction zone workers, they should be trained on procedures for safely working near motor vehicle traffic.
  • Temporary traffic barriers should be placed along any areas where construction workers are working.
  • Steps should be taken to reduce the speed of traffic in the construction zone.
  • Activity in the internal construction zone area should be carefully planned to reduce exposure to risk by minimizing maneuvers in which construction vehicles are required to back up.
  • The employer should designate a competent person to conduct a hazard assessment for the work site and determine which job classifications are needed in the activity area.

OSHA goes into specific details about matters affecting worker safety. For instance, the distance between construction zone signs should vary, depending on the situation. Advance warning signs are longer on expressways and freeways, since motorists are more accustomed to uninterrupted traffic flow. Because speed is the cause of the most accidents in road construction work zones, warnings and signs to slow motorists down are essential.

–Guest Contributor

 


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A Navasota, Texas, Company faces $91,911 in Proposed OSHA Penalties

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

English: Feed Mill in Canton PA

English: Feed Mill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A follow-up inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was initiated on August 24, 2016, resulting in eight alleged serious violations and two alleged repeat violations against ST Feed Mill in Navasota, Texas. The company does business as Thomas Moore Feed. According to the OSHA area director for the Houston North office, Joann Figueroa, the type of negligence that was allegedly discovered can lead to serious injuries or workplace fatalities. She said that workers have been exposed to such serious hazards as combustible grain dust and unguarded machinery. Total proposed penalties amount to $91,911.

Details about some of the alleged serious OSHA violations follow:

OSHA investigators allege that workers were exposed to fire hazards, deflagration, and dust explosion caused by equipment used to process animal feed. Specifically, it is alleged that workers outside the commodity barn were exposed to fire hazards and deflagration from the explosion vents of the dust collector because protection from the fireball path was not provided. Also outside the commodity barn, workers were exposed to the same hazards when the cyclone of the hammer mill was not protected from explosion hazards. The total proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation is: $9,603.

Employees accessing a platform for cleaning and adjustments were allegedly exposed to a fall hazard greater than 4 feet near the bird seed bagging platform because there was no railing or an equivalent surrounding the entire side of the platform. The total proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation is: $6,859.

–Guest Contributor


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A Brownfield, Texas, Employer Faces $83K in Proposed OSHA Penalties

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

English: Logo for the United States Occupation...

English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CPE Feeds Inc. in Brownfield, Texas, was recently issued $83,059 in proposed penalties by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As part of the Regional Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities, an inspection was done of the Brownfield facilities in June 2016. According to the Lubbock area OSHA director, Elizabeth Linda Routh, CPE Feeds has an obligation to protect workers from electrocution, amputation, and grain-handling dangers. A total of 22 alleged violations were identified.

Among the alleged OSHA safety violations committed by CPE Feeds were the following:

  • No handrails on stairwells
  • Lack of guarding on platforms and runways
  • Exposed wires energized with electricity
  • Lack of machine guarding
  • Failing to provide hearing protection
  • Failing to properly store welding cylinders
  • Failure to keep fire extinguishers in designated locations
  • Utilizing flexible cords as fixed wiring

The following are details about alleged serious violations committed by CPE Feeds:

Service rooms, storerooms, passageways, and other places of employment were not kept in orderly, clean, or sanitary condition. OSHA investigators specifically allege that employees were walking in and/or working in production areas that were not kept clean, which exposed them to fire and health hazards. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation is: $2,850.

Platforms and/or open-sided floors four feet or more above an adjacent floor or ground level were not guarded with railings or toe boards where there was moving machinery. Employees engaged in unclogging the pipes and cotton pit were exposed to unprotected falls of heights greater than 4 feet. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation is: $3,563

–Guest Contributor


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A Shocking Fatal Construction Incident in China Kills 67 Workers

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Rebar Tying in Beijing

Rebar Tying in Beijing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A platform that was under construction in eastern China collapsed last week, killing at least 67 construction workers. The fatal workplace accident occurred in a power plant at the cooling tower. Five workers were injured, and more than 100 paramilitary police took part in efforts to rescue the workers. Officials made a statement to the effect that there needs to be an improvement to preventative measures and supervision, to prevent such a major catastrophe from occurring again. In the U.S., we have the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to do that.

Worker safety is supposed to be job number one for employers. When accidents happen, OSHA visits workplaces to determine whether sites are up to safety standards. There are OSHA safety guidelines for every type of work, including detailed instructions for building platforms. Weight limits are among the considerations, when it comes to structures workers stand on during construction.

According to reports, it is common for major accidents to occur at industrial workplaces in China. There has been growing outrage in that nation over lax standards that result in workplace fatalities. In August 2015 in Tianjin, China, more than 170 people were killed and another 800 injured as a result of enormous explosions and a fire at a chemical warehouse. Approximately 50 company workers and managers and governmental officials were jailed in connection to those blasts.

Criminal charges are not a typical outcome of workplace fatalities and injuries in the U.S. Instead, companies are penalized with fines. Workers in the U.S. can take responsibility for their own safety, and they are protected against retaliation for reporting safety breaches that could result in injury or death.

–Guest Contributor


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