Remember our page of interactive maps showing the most dangerous cities for American workers? We’ve just added the latest data from 2015 with updated rankings and new observations. We also improved our method for mining the data to give you a more accurate view. So where does your city rank now?
Gravity is a serious yet often overlooked safety hazard. Failure to protect workers from falls was the most common OSHA violation in 2015 with 6,721 violations. The risk of worker falls has grown rapidly with the growth of the communications industry and the use of communications towers. By enrolling your workers in an OSHA 10 hour workplace safety course, you can create a safer environment and help prevent needless accidents.
Fatal Fall: Tragedy at V & T Painting LLC
In October 2014, two contractors traveled nearly 300 miles from Michigan to Oxford, Ohio for what they thought would be a standard commercial painting project. The trip would cost them their lives.
The duo began working at a height of seven stories atop a two-point scaffold, all without any safeguards to stop or cushion a potential fall. When the suspension rope snapped, the scaffold collapsed, and nothing could save the men from falling to their deaths.
A Case of Employer Oversight
OSHA investigators cited V & T Painting LLC for 30 total serious safety violations, 17 at the Oxford location and 13 at another site in Hamilton. In both scenarios, the company sent contractors to paint water towers without providing them with sufficient protective equipment, nor did they enroll their workers in a basic 10 hour OSHA safety course so they would recognize and avoid hazards such as the one that lead to this unnecessary fatal incident. Had they done so, the families of Nilaj and Vukaj may have been spared the shock and pain of a preventable tragedy.
OSHA’s Cincinnati area director, Ken Montgomery, stated that employers must verify that protective equipment is in place and functional before sending workers to dangerous heights. He also noted a rise in preventable falls among workers operating on communications towers and other tall structures. Both employers and workers should be well-versed in what types of PPE to use and other safeguards that must be established before the start of the project.
The Importance of OSHA Safety Training
V & T Painting also failed to follow proper inspection protocol when setting up the scaffolds. OSHA inspectors found frayed ropes, cords and slings, loose and improperly installed U-bolts, and many other damaged pieces of equipment being used. The company anchored multiple lifelines and suspension points on a single point, placing worker lives at great risk. The lines were also exposed to sharp and jagged edges. Perhaps most concerning of all was that V &T Painting failed to inspect their equipment, follow any type of safety evaluation procedure, or enroll workers in a simple OSHA 10 hour fall prevention and PPE course so they could at least have recognized a dangerous situation and possibly avoided it.
OSHA safety standards exist to save lives. All workers, salaried and contracted, deserve to be treated with respect and provided with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) by their employer before beginning a hazardous job. Companies like this one that fail to comply and put workers’ lives at risk face harsh penalties and fines, and suffer irreparable damage to their reputation and the guilt of taking workers away from their families. Both new and established companies should always make sure all managers and employees stay up to date with the latest OSHA guidelines.
OSHA Pros offers easy to follow, online safety training for construction and other workers. Enroll your employees today and get your organization on the right track to high safety standards to help reduce the likelihood of on-the-job falls and other avoidable safety failures.
As part of OSHA’s push for higher workplace safety standards, employers must report and record all serious accidents resulting in worker injury or illness. This requirement helps companies improve their environmental health and safety training programs, protect workers, and ultimately create safer working conditions. Review the latest reporting rules (effective January 1, 2015) to keep your business OSHA compliant.
What workplace safety incident records does OSHA require me to keep?
All employers with 12 or more employees who do not operate in exempt industries must record all serious workplace incidents in one of three types of OSHA recordkeeping logs. You can find out if your industry is exempt by referring to Appendix A of the official OSHA Recordkeeping Regulation.
Which incident logs am I required to use?
If you are not exempt from reporting, you must complete three types of OSHA logs: 300, 301, and 300A.
- The OSHA 300 log must be completed for every location in which an incident occurs. Employers must record the total number of injuries, missed and restrict days of work for each item.
- The OSHA 301 log must be completed within one week of a reported incident. Employers must summarize the time, location, and people involved for each incident.
- The OSHA 300A log must be completed annually and contains all of the information recorded in the 300 and 301 logs. Employers must complete and post this log for employees to review between February 1 and April 30.
What incidents am I required to record and report?
Employers must record all workplace safety incidents that result in:
- Loss of consciousness
- Intensive medical treatment (beyond first aid)
- Time off from work
- Restricted job functions or transfers
- Loss of hearing, breathing problems, and puncture wounds
Employers must also record serious work-related injuries and diagnoses that do not fall under the above categories. These may include chemical poisoning or burns, chronic illness, sprains and fractures, etc. If exposure to a workplace hazard exacerbated an existing condition or injury, the event qualifies as a recordable case.
In addition to recording, employers must report certain types of incidents directly to OSHA. All workplace fatalities must be reported within 8 hours, and hospitalizations, amputations, and eye losses within 24 hours. You can report directly to OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or the phone number of your local OSHA Area Office during operating hours. You can also fill out and submit an online form on OSHA’s website.
How can I use this data to improve workplace safety training?
You should review the frequency of workplace safety incidents by calculating the rate of total incidents and incidents resulting in transfers or time off from work. Meet with team members on a regular basis to review this information and identify contributing factors such as location, time of day, equipment involved, supervisors in charge of the project, etc. You can then revise your workplace safety policies and implement stricter training guidelines.
Incident analysis software can help streamline your efforts. You can also ask employees for their safety and health concerns and suggestions, as they have first-hand experience on the workfloor.
Where can I find safety training programs for OSHA recordkeeping?
In addition to workplace safety training courses, OSHA Pros offers training on workplace safety incident reporting and recordkeeping. Learn when and how to report incidents and how to set up your recordkeeping system. Most importantly, learn the warning signs and preventive measures you can take to put safety first and avoid workplace safety incidents.
There’s no excuse for putting profits before worker safety. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work injury report survey, moving machine parts resulted in 88 percent of all equipment-related injuries among respondents. Investing in lock out tag out (LOTO) training helps save lives, prevent costly legal proceedings, and protect a company’s reputation.
The Case of Ashley Furniture
Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. found out the hard way that there’s no shortcut for worker safety. The Wisconsin-based furniture manufacturer had more than 1,000 employee injuries in the span of three years, over a 100 of them resulting in amputations from woodworking machinery. After a July 2014 accident cost one worker three fingers, OSHA inspectors probed the company and uncovered a dozen willful and repeated safety infractions, and 14 serious safety infractions. In accordance with its strict violator enforcement program, OSHA fined Ashley Furniture nearly $1.8 million for its oversights.
A Lack of Lock Out Tag Out Training
Ashley Furniture repeatedly failed to protect workers from moving machinery risks. The company failed to provide LOTO training, which would have helped its workers identify and avoid machine-related hazards. There were no safeguards in place to prevent machines from starting during servicing or to protect workers from moving blades and other dangerous parts.
The Need for a Culture of Safety
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez traced the problem to company culture, concluding that Ashley Furniture accepted worker injuries as a cost – a completely avoidable one – of high production and profits. However, successful companies with good safety records bear out the fact that safety and profits are never mutually exclusive, a lesson all companies should take to heart. In reality, putting in place good safety training and strong safety standards helps create better overall processes and procedures that improve employee morale, performance and productivity.
Invest in LOTO Training
Workers should never enter a project without proper safety knowledge. OSHA lock out tag out guidelines help workers protect themselves and their co-workers from machine-related hazards, and help managers establish workplace safety procedures and create low-risk working environments. Our free LOTO training tutorial outlines the basics of machine safety, explains industry-specific terms, and analyzes when, where, and how lock out tag training can save lives.
Countless workplace accidents, many fatal, can be traced to a lack of lock out tag out training. Investing just a little time and effort in a LOTO course goes a long way to ensure workers can enter projects with confidence. You can also learn about additional OSHA training courses to keep your company up to date with the latest workplace safety procedures.
Confined spaces rarely make for optimal working conditions. Hazards such as collapsing structures, toxic fumes, electricity, combustion, and suffocation can endanger the lives of unprepared workers. New OSHA regulations require that employers establish a confined space entry policy and ensure that workers receive adequate training in confined space safety standards for construction sites.
Confined Space Training Rules Effective August 2015
Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA, states that the new regulations will prepare workers to face the challenges of work sites and adapt to changes. The rules focus on training, communication, and evaluation, and take effect on August 3, 2015.
What Is a Confined Space?
OSHA defines a confined space as one:
- Large enough for a worker to enter
- With limited means of entry or exit
- Not suited for long periods of occupancy
Examples include partially collapsed buildings, tunnels, pits, vaults, storage rooms, silos, vessels, tanks, ductwork, and pipelines.
The term “permit space” or “permit-required confined space” refers to a confined space that contains or may contain physical or atmospheric hazards, may engulf an entrant, has structures that angle in a way that may trap or suffocate an entrant, or contains other safety risks such as extreme temperatures, sharp objects or structures, electrical hazards, etc. Due to the hazards present in these environments, a permit is required before any workers can enter these spaces. With proper training, workers and managers will be able to correctly identify and prevent confined space hazards before work begins.
What Are the New Confined Space Entry Rules?
The new confined space entry regulations include the following points:
- Employers must identify all confined spaces and permit spaces before employees begin work.
- Employers must inform all employees of the nature and location of hazards and potential hazards within a permit space. Acceptable forms of notification include posting danger signs and informing contractors or authorized representatives of the hazards directly.
- Employers aware of a permit space must instruct unauthorized employees to avoid entering the space.
- Employers who wish to have employees work in a permit space must implement a written OSHA-compliant confined space program at the project site and make the program known and accessible to employees and their representatives before and during the project.
- If changes occur in a non-permit confined space that pose new dangers to entrants or that invalidate the initial ruling of the space, an employer must have a trained person inspect the space and potentially identify it as a permit space.
OSHA’s confined space information page provides all details of the new rules, FAQs, fact sheets, case studies, and other resources for employers and workers.
Enroll in a Construction Confined Space Training Course
Don’t let your workers get caught in a tight situation. Enroll your team in an OSHA Construction Confined Space Training course today and get up to speed on this new and important safety topic. Workers will learn how to identify confined spaces, assess hazard levels, ensure adequate ventilation, and find alternative entry points. Managers will learn how to evaluate workspaces for confined space hazards, and what to do in the event of a confined space emergency. Rescue personnel will receive specialized training. Our OSHA-authorized trainers will also make sure your written confined space entry policy meets OSHA requirements.
Our confined space training course is also available as part of an OSHA 10-Hour or 30-Hour Safety Course. Enroll in an online course today to protect your workers, and boost your company’s safety standards. All graduates of the course receive a Certificate of Completion.
Falls are the number one cause of death in the construction industry. In 2013 alone, falls claimed the lives of nearly 700 construction workers. Many employers overlook the importance of workplace safety training, a growing concern among roofing professionals. An OSHA online fall protection course teaches managers, supervisors and team leaders how to minimize fall risk and establish safeguards to minimize potential injury should a fall occur.
The Roeder Construction Case
In September 2014, a 42-year-old roofing professional fell to his death. His 25-year-old coworker sustained severe injury while attempting to break his partner’s fall. OSHA investigators found that their managers at Roeder Construction failed to establish fall prevention and protection measures. While both workers had experience installing and repairing roofs, lack of preparation brought about serious consequences.
Roeder Construction was cited on three safety violations:
- Failure to provide fall protection
- Failure to educate and train workers in fall protection
- Failure to report the accident within 8 hours
With roughly 800,000 Americans employed in the residential construction sector alone, employers must address safety in the workplace. Knowledge and experience in construction are valuable skills, but without proper fall protection practices, one misstep can turn an otherwise straightforward project into tragedy.
During a fall, gravity can generate deadly momentum in just a few feet. OSHA guidelines require fall protection systems to be in place during activities six feet or higher from the ground. OSHA workplace safety courses teach supervisors not only how to prevent falls, but also help instill a culture of safety crucial for businesses to thrive.
OSHA Online Fall Prevention Courses
Designed for all construction professionals, our OSHA online Fall Prevention Course provides detailed instruction on minimizing fall risk in the workplace. Professionals taking the course learn the role of personal protective equipment (PPE) in preventing injury at various elevations. Video tutorials demonstrate how to set up this equipment in residential work, industrial projects, and high-rise construction projects, which demand a great attention to correct usage of these workplace safety items.
Many falls occur close to unguarded corners or edges. In the Fall Prevention Course, managers learn how to protect their employees from these risks by establishing guardrail barriers, hole covers, and other fall prevention systems. The course also teaches which implements to use in various situations. For example, different heights may alter the effectiveness of safety nets and harnesses. After completing the course, managers should be able to explain and demonstrate these processes to their employees.
Workers who enroll in the Fall Prevention Course receive first-hand knowledge they can use to better protect themselves and coworkers across various construction projects.
Additional Fall Prevention Resources
OSHA’s website provides outlines, videos, and other valuable resources to help companies establish effective safety programs. The resources are part of OSHA’s Fall Prevention initiative, which began in 2012. The project aims to maximize the depth, scope, and accessibility of fall prevention information. Coupled with an OSHA online Fall Prevention Course, these resources can help employers set clear fall prevention guidelines, invest in effective safety equipment and systems, and continue to train workers to practice safety.
In fields such as construction, manufacturing, and medicine, proper safety training is a must. Employees need to know how to safely operate tools and machinery, respond to emergencies, recognize safety hazards and help prevent accidents. Many companies today rely on automated training tools to keep employees up to speed. When implemented correctly, automated training helps companies save time and money, streamline operations, and ensure that employees meet safety and performance standards.
Types of Automated Training
Automated training is now usually done online or may be set up on a company’s proprietary intranet. It can include availability of training videos, safety and training manuals, interactive software applications, and other documents that provide instruction on various workplace procedures. For example, new employees might be asked to watch a video tutorial on how to use a specific piece of company machinery. Other companies may require workers to complete a web-based training session and pass an online exam.
For important safety training, employees can complete their OSHA training online, making it much easier and more convenient for employers to meet OSHA safety standards and maintain a well-trained workforce.
Why Use Automated Training?
It’s natural and necessary for businesses to grow and change. As technology improves and markets shift, companies develop new processes and acquire new tools. That means continuously training and retraining employees to keep up with the changes occurring in the business and in the industry.
Automated training allows companies to foster new skills and growth without the time and labor cost of more traditional training methods. Managers can save the time and cost involved in arranging for onsite and sometimes one-on-one instruction of new employees. Automated training also ensures that the same information reaches every worker, helping create a culture of knowledge and safety. And it’s more efficient for making sure current employees complete updates and refreshers, or get trained on new equipment or a new process.
Properly implemented, automated training tracks each employee’s training record and forwards that information to their permanent HR file, as well as being available to their supervisor at any time.
Benefits of Automated Training
Proper training is crucial in preventing workplace accidents, complying with OSHA safety standards, and improving quality and efficiency. An automated training system achieves these benchmarks in many ways:
- It keeps information current and consistent across new and long-time employees, making sure everyone knows what to do and how to do it (or not do it).
- It organizes all employee data into one convenient database. Managers can track worker progress, schedule training sessions, and provide personalized feedback on their profiles. This structure also simplifies HR tasks.
- It allows managers to target specific training goals. With an automated training system, managers can tailor training by department, role, or other categories to ensure that workers learn information relevant and helpful to their specific job.
- Automated testing allows managers to verify that workers understand the material and can safely and accurately use it on the job.
Earn your OSHA Certificate Online
Managers and workers alike can benefit from automated training. From basic safety training to completing OSHA certification online, automated training helps solidify operating procedures and foster a more current and productive workplace.
Online OSHA safety training is easy with a number of OSHA Pros online courses available. As an automated training tool available to anyone, enrolling in an online OSHA safety course can help you and your company save time and money. Having workers complete the appropriate OSHA training for their jobs helps assure a safer working environment, reducing the likelihood of accidents and safety violations. Automated, online safety training is the wave of the future and a competitive advantage for employers who take advantage of its benefits to maintain a well-trained workforce.
Lower back injury is a leading cause of worker disability. Low back pain affects roughly a quarter of the global population each year, resulting in over 20 million healthy years lost, according to a study by researchers at the University of Sydney. Reducing the instance of lower back injury is a key challenge for employers worldwide. Often, employees ignore the warning signs until the pain becomes too great. Raising awareness of the causes and symptoms of back injury are crucial steps that employers can take. Occupational health and safety training is an important tool for companies to reduce the risk of lower back injury and help reduce the number of workers’ compensation and disability claims.
Causes of Lower Back Injury
Most job-related lower back injuries occur due to repeated microtears in the joints and ligaments of the spine and the muscles of the back. Poor posture when lifting or pulling heavy objects causes pain to accumulate and range of motion to decrease. Twisting, straining or bending while lifting or pulling can cause strain on muscles, ligaments, joints and spinal discs that result in injuries. The seriousness of injuries can vary from mild strain to serious damage that may require hospitalization and surgery, severely restrict the worker’s mobility, and result in temporary or permanent disability. Workers nearing retirement age are more prone to injury, and those working in agriculture have the highest risk among industry sectors.
Reducing the Risk of Low Back Injury
Workplace safety training seminars and back safety training are great tools to educate employees about proper back care on the job. However, each workplace should also evaluate their risks and opportunities to create a low injury work environment. If there are currently no standards in place, a good first step is to observe and analyze employees as they work. Have employees fill out a survey regarding physical difficulties on the job and their experience with low back pain. Measure the weight lifting requirements, the frequency of motion, and distance travelled in each activity. Record video of lifting tasks and evaluate it for concerns. Is the floor too slippery? Are shelves, work stations, and conveyor belts positioned efficiently in relation to one another? Are handles grip-friendly? Once these variables are addressed, managers and employees can develop plans to not only reduce back strain and risk of injury, but also boost efficiency.
There are many ways employees and managers can reduce the risk of low back injury:
- Use carts or other assistive devices to transport heavy objects.
- Store heavy objects at waist level to minimize the strain of reaching and bending.
- Position storage centers as closer to conveyor belts and other work stations.
- Break up large shipments into smaller units.
- Favor pushing movements over pulling movements, which can strain the lower back.
- Avoid twisting motions, which increase the likelihood of injury.
- Have employees alternate tasks to minimize the burden and allow time for rest.
- Have two or more employees lift heavy objects.
- Encourage employees to wear well-cushioned footwear.
- Employees should avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time.
- Provide benches, footrests, rails, chairs, and other ways to employees to change position.
Workplace Safety Training for Low Back Injury Prevention
In addition to the tips above, workplace safety training can help protect employees from multiple job-related hazards. Consider hosting safety training seminars that teach the basics of ergonomic movements, avoiding injury, and reporting potential hazards. Many companies now provide employee strength and fitness training. Exercise and proper stretching can improve bone and muscle strength and reduce the risk of overextending the lower back muscles. Lastly, make sure that all employees know how to operate job-specific machinery and equipment.
Occupational health and safety training seminars, such as OSHA10 General Industry or OSHA30 Construction training courses include training on protecting against low back injury. All workers should complete an OSHA safety and health course as part of a comprehensive workplace health and safety policy that helps protect employees and employers from injuries and time lost on the job.
Companies that manufacture products requiring refrigeration commonly use ammonia. Ammonia is a generally safe and cost-effective way to regulate temperatures and prevent spoilage. However ammonia is a hazardous chemical, and, without proper safety procedures, ammonia leaks in the workplace can endanger workers and even the public. Development and compliance with Process Safety Management (PSM) standards, combined with adequate OSHA HAZWOPER training, can help companies protect employees from injuries caused by ammonia accidents and avoid severe fines and penalties for safety violations.
The Dangers of Ammonia
The ammonia refrigeration process has seen little change since the early 20th century. It is used to create a cool environment that helps keep products fresh and prevent bacterial growth. Refrigerant grade anhydrous ammonia is a clear colorless gas or liquid and is considered an irritant. At high levels, its corrosive properties can severely damage lungs, eyes and other human tissue. Ammonia is not flammable, but canisters exposed to high heat may explode.
Anhydrous ammonia leakages can threaten the safety of workers and others inside and outside of the operating plant. These risks include:
- • A risk of fire and combustion when concentrations exceed 16 to 25 percent
- • Severe corrosion and displacement of oxygen in poorly ventilated areas
- • Extreme leakages that flow outside and endanger the public
- • Contamination of food and beverages in process and storage units
The Atlantic Glacier case
In September 2014, ice manufacturer and distributor Atlantic Glacier USA incurred 19 OSHA safety citations and paid over a quarter million dollars in fines related to ammonia usage after failing a comprehensive inspection of its ice manufacturing plant where it had nearly 15,000 pounds of ammonia in use. The company had extremely poor PSM in place, which resulted in the identification of numerous safety hazards that could have had catastrophic and potentially lethal results in the case of an accident and anhydrous ammonia release.
OSHA maintains strict guidelines for the safe use and maintenance of large amounts of hazardous chemicals like ammonia. The company failed to establish adequate precautions, thereby placing its workers in danger. Its violations included:
- • Incomplete and inadequate operating procedures
- • Lack of testing and inspections documentation
- • Failure to prove that equipment met safety and engineering standards
- • Failure to train and educate employees on process safety and emergency response procedures
- • Inadequate work space around process equipment
- • Lack of accessible exit routes
- • Using improperly rated electrical switches in a wet setting
The Importance of Process Safety Management (PSM)
Companies having over 10,000 lbs of ammonia must have a comprehensive and fully documented PSM program. All workers must be trained and fully aware of the PSM standards and procedures and be able to carry out proper implementation of the safety protocols. Due to the size and complexity of many ammonia refrigeration systems, regular maintenance and equipment upgrades are a must. Most companies have a team of maintenance professionals well-versed in engineering design and handling of ammonia refrigeration systems. They also partner with contractors who aid in system repair and upgrades. A team of workers should be on site at all times to regularly inspect systems for deficiencies and resolve issues as necessary. Many companies using hazardous materials like ammonia also employ workers certified in various first-aid and emergency procedures.
OSHA HAZWOPER training and PSM
Companies can find extensive information about recommended safety standards and PSM procedures on OSHA’s website. By consolidating these guidelines with their own safety practices, companies can create a workplace environment that maximizes worker safety and minimizes the risk of dangerous ammonia leaks and worker exposure.
Proper implementation of PSM also means adequate safety training for employees who work with and around hazardous materials. Workers should be familiar with OSHA HAZWOPER safety standards. OSHA HAZWOPER training provides comprehensive training to help workers learn to safely handle equipment and hazardous materials in the workplace, as well as learn the correct use of personal protective equipment. A comprehensive safety program that includes PSM and HAZWOPER training of employees will help employers prevent accidents, injuries and fines.
Contractors and construction workers all know New York’s Scaffold Law, officially known as Labor Law 240: irrespective of workplace safety training and equipment, any workers injured by elevation-related injuries in construction, repair, or demolition work cannot be held liable for their own injuries even if they were personally negligent, such as failing to use available safety equipment. Since payout on a workplace injury is thus virtually assured, a major problem of the 100+ year-old law is the extremely high cost of liability insurance premiums that building groups have to pay. This insurance liability cost was long ago replaced by workers’ compensation insurance systems in other states, with only New York retaining such an outdated policy. One consequence has been to make New York’s construction industry less competitive.
The law frustrates employers and dissuades investors, turning potential projects into bureaucratic nightmares in the process. “I refer to the NY labor law 240 all the time in my expert witness cases. It really strains companies and makes xxx lawyers I consult with a lot of money. I would think twice about running a construction company in New York because of their labor laws,” says William Mizel,CSP, President of CSR, L.P.
A recent study, shed new light on the impact of the Scaffold Law. Research showed that New York has, on average, 677 workplace accidents more per year attributable to this law. These 677 additional incidents cost the public $785 million dollars in lawsuits, legal fees and insurance costs, money which industry experts argue could be used instead to pay for 12,000 new jobs or be used to fund New York schools and other vital services. These findings have led the researchers to one conclusion on Labor Law 240: reform is needed for New York’s Scaffold Law.
Whether the law is reformed or not, employers would be wise to reemphasize occupational health and safety training for all workers, such as OSHA 10 construction safety training and OSHA 30 construction safety training courses, that cover scaffolding, ladder safety and other OSHA standards, including those related to working in a highrise work environment.
In work environments with a strong culture of employee safety training, employers and employees share the knowledge necessary to recognize, report and remediate workplace safety hazards before accidents occur so that worker health and safety are enhanced, and laws such as New York’s archaic Scaffold Law become unnecessary.
Poor Welding Safety Practices Lead to Disaster
Even with advances in welding technology, attention to safety remains a serious issue. That became especially evident to Black Elk Energy, a Houston-based offshore oil producer that racked up 356 citations in just three years for violating OSHA safety regulations and endangering the lives of workers. The company’s risky practices culminated in a rig explosion that claimed the lives of three contractors. A month earlier, another safety oversight had injured six more workers.
A regulator for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) stated that in terms of safety in offshore operations, Black Elk repeatedly failed to make sound decisions. The company’s contractors failed to remove dangerous hydrocarbons from pipes before welding commenced, and Black Elk failed to conduct a safety audit prior to the accident. When the contractors proceeded to weld the pipe, which led to a wet oil tank, the hydrocarbons ignited, causing the pipes to combust.
This case reflects repeated instances of failure to take workplace safety seriously. In the Black Elk case, neither the company nor its contractors practiced proper safety procedures, and neither stopped work even when they could smell the distinct odor of gas. Had each company put in place and routinely used proper welding safety procedures, this tragedy would likely have been averted. The resulting fines and lawsuits in this case demonstrate the serious consequences of safety failures that can follow companies and their affected workers and workers’ families for years.
Safety training such as OSHA 30 training essential to building a safety culture
The impact to Black Elk may be irreparable to the company. The blast resulted in tens of millions of dollars in costs and the company has had to sell off assets and has lost much of its top management. Other firms should take such negligence and its consequences as a lesson and take action today to make sure that there is adequate attention to safety throughout their organizations.
In the oil drilling industry, or any industry involving dangerous tasks like welding, company leadership has an obligation to its workers and to itself to provide adequate training, safety-based processes and procedures, management oversight of the safety environment, and an overall culture of safety throughout the organization. Safety protocols, procedures and regular safety reminders must be used throughout the organization to avoid situations such as Black Elk’s.
A key part of any safety program, all welders and other line workers, as well as supervisors and managers, should complete formal OSHA safety training. Taking an OSHA safety training course is a small commitment each worker can make to master basic OSHA safety standards that may save a life, possibly their own. Our online OSHA 30 hour Construction training and OSHA 30 hour General Industry training course includes welding safety training. Demonstrate your commitment to safety by completing adequate OSHA training for your job and help prevent accidents like Black Elk’s from happening in your workplace.
To test your welding safety knowledge now, take our welding safety quiz.
Workplace safety can be a big topic to cover, but all workers should be aware of the Focus Four causes of deaths in the workplace and how to avoid them. These Fatal Four cause the majority of fatal accidents because workers and their employers are not trained to put safety first and to follow safety best practices in all situations. The four hazards – falls, caught in/between, struck by and electrocution – are all avoidable in the workplace when both supervisors and workers are expected to complete appropriate OSHA safety training courses, and maintain a work environment that emphasizes worker safety at all times.
For a useful guide to the Focus/Fatal Four and basic best practices to avoid falling victim to them, take a look at our infographic below, and share it/post it for co-workers to benefit as well.
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