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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 ‘United States’

After 2 Workers Die, Company is Fined $1,475,813 and a Man is Charged with Manslaughter – Part 4

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

English: The Frances Perkins Building of the U...

English: The Frances Perkins Building of the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed penalties of almost $1.5 million against Atlantic Drain Service Company, Inc., in Boston, MA, following an inspection instigated by two workplace fatalities. In addition, the owner faces two manslaughter charges as well as other criminal charges in connection with the workers’ deaths and safety issues on the job.

News sources revealed more details about the deaths of workers Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks. As they were working in a trench that was approximately 12 feet deep, the trench collapsed. The men were both trapped by soil up to their waists. Tragically, the collapse of the trench caused an adjacent supply line to a fire hydrant to break. The trench was quickly filled with water from the broken water pipe, and the men were trapped underwater within seconds. Coworkers tried desperately to save the men, but they both drowned.

The man who oversaw the work at Atlantic Drain on the day the workplace fatalities occurred, the same man criminally charged, allegedly failed to:

  • Install a trench support system to protect workers in a 12-foot trench from a trench collapse;
  • Prevent the adjacent fire hydrant line from breaking, by virtue of failing to prevent a trench collapse;
  • Remove workers from the dangerous trench conditions;
  • Provide the workers with training that would equip them to identify and address dangers associated with excavation work and trenching;
  • At all times provide a ladder so that workers could exit the trench;
  • Support structures near the trench that posed overhead dangers; and
  • Provide workers with eye protection and hard hats.

Atlantic Drain was cited for 18 willful, serious, repeat, and other-than-serious violations of safety standards for the workplace. In 2007 and 2012, OSHA alleges to have cited the company for similar hazards related to trenching worksites.

See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor


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A 23-year-old Construction Worker Dies in an Industrial Accident

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

English: A Caterpillar 930G fitted with a load...

English: A Caterpillar 930G fitted with a loader rake on a residential construction site in South Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On April 5, 2017, in El Campo, Texas, one construction worker was killed and another critically injured in an industrial accident that occurred at about 11:30 a.m. The fatal accident occurred at a construction site on Marek Lane. According to authorities, a 70-year-old front-end loader operator was moving a large tire and set of wheels. Two men were crushed by the tire when the operator set the load down. Twenty-three-year-old Anthony Pedro Cruz died from his injuries that day. Fifty-five-year-old Jose Luna was transported to a Houston hospital, where he was said to be in critical condition.

When the tragic accident occurred, the front-end loader operator was being directed by another work, but neither of them saw Cruz or Luna. The incident is being investigated by the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) will also conduct an investigation; it’s standard procedure when a fatal workplace accident occurs.

A foundational approach to addressing this type of hazard is to have a spotter. Employees need to be trained on where blind spots are located. Those who work around industrial vehicles benefit from spending time in the driver’s seat. This allows them to get a clearer understanding of where blind spots are and what the driver can see.

OSHA provides specific safety standards regarding struck-by hazards, which covers incidents like this tragic construction fatality that occurred last week. A couple of those guidelines follow:

  • Workers must be highly visible at all times of the day or night. Red or orange vests must be worn.
  • Workers on or near a construction zone are advised not to place themselves in a situation of being at risk of being struck by a vehicle or getting caught in a situation that has no escape route.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers have a safe workplace environment. When they fail in that responsibility, they are subject to being cited and fined by OSHA.

–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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A Worker is Run Over and Killed at a Carrollton, Texas, Construction Site

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Tunnel construction for Gautrain, from "M...

Tunnel construction for Gautrain, from “Mushroom Farm” shaft to Sandton ; Cement mixer truck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fatal construction accident occurred on Monday, March 6, 2017, in North Carrollton, Texas. In the Castle Hills development project at the corner of Old Denton Road and Windhaven Parkway, a heavy-equipment construction vehicle ran over a worker, killing him. Police said no criminal charges are expected to be filed in the case. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will conduct an immediate investigation, which is standard procedure in a workplace fatality.

Backover fatalities occur at an alarming rate. The following are figures in a report on backover fatalities that occurred in a recent five-year period:

  • Dump truck – 67 deaths
  • 18-wheeler – 40
  • Truck – 30
  • Forklift – 21
  • Garbage truck – 20
  • Pick-up truck – 16

OSHA has standards specifically designed to prevent backover incidents. In rare circumstances, OSHA requires that a vehicle have a spotter or a backup alarm when backing up a vehicle with an obstructed view to the rear. Generally, it is not required by OSHA that forklifts and other powered industrial trucks be equipped with backup alarms. Employers are prohibited, however, from removing existing warning devices such as backup alarms.

OSHA has the following rule within Safety and Health Regulations for Construction – Motor Vehicles, Mechanized Equipment, and Marine Operators, pertaining to a construction worksite:

  • A vehicle must be backed up only when an observer has signaled that it’s safe to do so.

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries for workers, with a large percentage of annual workplace fatalities and injuries. Employers have a duty to take special precautions to protect workers, particularly in all areas that have been identified as hazardous.

–Guest Contributor


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1 Worker Dies and Another is Critically Injured in an Electrical Accident

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Landscape of the skyline of Lubbock, Texas tak...

Landscape of the skyline of Lubbock, Texas taken from the shoulder of Interstate 27. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fatal workplace accident occurred on Saturday, January 21, 2017, in Lubbock, Texas. At a construction site for a new building, two men were working together when it is believed they made contact with energized lines while drilling into an electrical box. A fire erupted and was quickly ignited. Both construction workers at the scene were burned and had possibly been shocked. They were transported to a nearby hospital, where one of the men died early the next day. The other injured worker is still in critical condition.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will conduct a complete investigation of the employers involved in this fatal workplace incident. It will be determined whether required safety practices were used. Such OSHA rules are designed for the purpose of holding employers accountable when they fail in their fundamental duty to provide workers with a safe workplace environment.

Electrical accidents are not uncommon on construction sites or in other work venues. “Electrical Wiring Methods” was the ninth most frequent type of OSHA violation for fiscal year 2016. There were 1,940 OSHA safety violations in this category. In 2015, there were 464 more electrical workplace violations and this category was the eighth most frequently violated. This was the largest violation decrease in a particular category, which is a very good thing. Obviously, electrical hazards are extremely dangerous.

“General Electrical Requirements” was the category that was tenth most frequently cited by OSHA in 2016, with 1,704 violations issued. This category focuses on proper use and installation of electrical equipment and conductors.

If employers in this tragic workplace accident are found by OSHA to have failed in electrical safety procedures, they will face penalties.

–Guest Contributor

 


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A Female Construction Worker is San Antonio Crushed by a Backhoe

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

A CONSTRUCTION WORKER DRILLS THROUGH SOLID ROC...

A CONSTRUCTION WORKER DRILLS THROUGH SOLID ROCK ALONG ESCOWEE STREET ON THE BANK OF THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER PRIOR TO… – NARA – 557735 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 19-year-old woman was killed at a construction site in San Antonio, Texas, when the bucket of a backhoe was dropped on top of her. The shocking workplace fatality occurred on the morning of Monday, January 23, 2017. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, and the foreman who was driving the backhoe and said he didn’t see the woman was hospitalized, most likely for shock, according to Bexar County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Roger Pedraza.

The deceased was a construction worker at the construction site, which is on Potranco Road in the 13700 block. Police were called at about 10:30 am and reported that the woman had been crushed to death by the backhoe.

At least two dozen members of the accident victims’ family went to the site. According to one of the victim’s siblings, her sister had been injured at the construction site the previous week. Allegedly, the same backhoe operator knocked her in the leg with the machine, giving her a bruise about the size of a grapefruit. The sibling also claimed that her sister had complained about lack of adherence to safety guidelines on the worksite.

A construction worker at the scene who has been at the site for about a month alleged that the same foreman involved in this deadly accident was frequently careless on the job, resulting in a lot of broken pipes.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure a safe workplace environment. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be conducting an investigation, prompted by this tragedy. If the employer is found to be in violation of safety guidelines, the company will be cited and will face proposed penalties. OSHA penalties have just been increased for the first time in a quarter century. The new amounts have the potential to seriously impact small businesses, which will hopefully serve to motivate employers to improve worker safety procedures. This tragic construction fatality in San Antonio was allegedly a senseless, preventable act.

–Guest Contributor


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Dallas Lawyer – The Need for Workplace Fall Protection is Enunciated by a Recent Construction Fatality

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

A window washer on one of skyscrapers in Shanghai

A window washer on one of skyscrapers in Shanghai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One construction worker died and another was critically injured in San Antonio, Texas, in December 2016 after a horrific fall that was entirely preventable. According to the San Antonio Fire Department, the men were about 75 feet above the ground in a bucket on a forklift when the bucket tipped over and the men fell out. Specific guidelines for workplace safety and fall prevention are provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When a situation such as this tragic workplace fatality occurs, OSHA investigators visit the employer and impose penalties for all alleged safety violations. The penalties have recently been raised for the first time in 25 years.

Ideally, employers recognize the value and importance of protecting workers from hazardous situations and diligently adhere to safety regulations. Tragically, far too many employers neglect the basic duty to provide safe workplace environments. Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, but it’s not because employers aren’t equipped with information on how to keep employers safe in a variety of situations.

Fall safety can often be achieved through the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, and personal fall arrest systems. These are referred to by OSHA as conventional fall protection methods. Employers are encouraged to take actions to prevent falls of any kind, such as installing guardrails that will prevent employees from accidentally falling over a building’s edge.

A fall restraint system is one which does not allow a fall of any distance. This protection system is comprised of a body harness or body belt, an anchorage, connectors, and additional necessary equipment, such as a lifeline and lanyard. This is another of the options that can protect a worker from a dangerous fall.

Workers should know that they have a right to work in conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm or death. The best way to establish a safe and healthful work environment, according to OSHA, is with a comprehensive illness and injury prevention program, including fall protection measures.

–Guest Contributor


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OSHA Proposed $104K in Fines against a San Antonio, Texas, Company

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

The San Antonio (Texas) Downtown

The San Antonio (Texas) Downtown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been since this summer that Bluebonnet Foods L.P. was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for 21 alleged serious safety violations, but the citations are worth looking at. Employers have a responsibility to protect workers by providing them with a safe workplace. OSHA Area Director for San Antonio Alejandro Porter said workers at Bluebonnet Foods were exposed to health and safety hazards that should be corrected without delay before employees get hurt unnecessarily. Among the alleged serious violations were that workers were exposed to several chemical, struck-by, amputation, and electrical hazards. In addition, eyewash stations needed to be installed and personal protective equipment needed to be provided. The total in proposed penalties was: $104,000.

Bluebonnet Foods is doing business as Goodheart Specialty Foods Co., and the company employs about 300 people at the San Antonio location. Bluebonnet Foods produces grilled, fried, and slow-roasted meats, sauces and other products for the food service, retail, and food manufacturing industry under their DBA.

The following is specific information about two alleged serious OSHA violations:

Employees who were sanitizing production areas and diluting cleaning products with caustic and corrosive liquids were allegedly exposed to chemical splash hazards without adequate protective coverings such as gloves, aprons, or chemical resistant full body protection. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation was: $7,000.

Employees in the maintenance shop were allegedly exposed to a struck-by hazard as they were operating a Porter Cable drill press that did not have a chip guard. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious OSHA violation was: $4,000.

Learn about more alleged serious violations that Bluebonnet Foods was cited for in an installment of this series entitled, “San Antonio Company is Cited by OSHA for Struck-By Hazards and More.”

–Guest Contributor


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A Houston, Texas, Machinery Rebuilder is Cited by OSHA with $155K in Penalties

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Hermann Park in Houston, Texas. Photograph by ...

Hermann Park in Houston, Texas. Photograph by J. Williams. (Feb. 12, 2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In August 2016, The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) followed up on on a February 2016 inspection at Machinery Maintenance Rebuilders Inc. Houston, Texas. OSHA investigators allege that violations had not been addressed. More specifically, they allege that workers were still operating dangerous machinery that did not have proper safety guards, lacked required energy-control devices used to disable potentially dangerous machinery, and was not properly secured. In addition, it is alleged that workers in the machinery repair shop were exposed to amputation and struck-by hazards. The August inspection resulted in two citations being issued, one being a failure to abate violation and the other an alleged serious violation. Proposed penalties amount to: $155,139.

According to the Houston North Office OSHA area director, Joann Figueroa, workers were in danger of losing a limb or their life because they were exposed to machinery that did not have proper guarding. Figueroa said failure to abide by this safety requirement will not be tolerated, and the company is responsible to address and remedy workplace hazards.

The following are more details about the alleged failure to abate alleged violation:

On or about August 23, 2016, and at times prior thereto, in the shop area, employees operating a Tree 2VGC vertical mill, ID # 17, were allegedly exposed to a struck-by hazard because the machinery did not have a point of operation guard. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious safety violation is: $149,652.

The following are more details about the alleged serious OSHA violation:

On or about August 23, 2016, employees working in the shop area were servicing a Bridgeport vertical mill, ID #18A, without the energy sources being locked out, which exposed them to struck-by and electrical shock hazards. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious safety violation is: $5,487.

Machinery Maintenance Rebuilders in Houston had 15 days from receipt of its citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the penalties and citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

–Guest Contributor


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An Amputation Injury in Center, Texas, Leads to $263,498 in OSHA Fines

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

English: Ael-y-Bryn chicken rearing facility, ...

Chicken rearing facility, Paradwys 801921 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Center, Texas, at a Tyson Foods Inc. chicken processing facility this year, an employee suffered a finger amputation injury. The worker was working in the debone area and attempted to remove chicken parts jammed in the belt when his finger jammed in the conveyor belt. Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an inspection following the injury described as gruesome. The inspection allegedly revealed numerous serious safety hazards. The total in proposed penalties for 15 alleged serious violations and 2 alleged repeated violations is $263,498.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said Tyson Foods is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of food. They should be doing much more to prevent disfiguring injuries such as the one that occurred in Center, he said. Michaels also suggested the company should be setting an example of workplace safety instead of allegedly continuing a pattern of safety failures.

The following is information about one of the alleged serious violations for which Tyson Foods has been cited:

OSHA alleges that suitable facilities for quick flushing or drenching of the eyes and body where the eyes and body of any person was exposed to injurious corrosive materials was not provided within the work space for immediate emergency use. More specifically, employees in the outside bulk chemical storage area who were hooking up HCP pH Control (caustic) were allegedly exposed to chemical burns of the skin and eyes. In addition, employees were allegedly exposed to chemical burns of the skin and eyes from exposure to sodium hypochlorite while working in the water treatment facility. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation is $9,799.

Workers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for all workers.

–Guest Contributor


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