AES Marine informs safety, health and environmental professionals in the production, manufacturing, construction and service sectors about trends, management strategies, loss prevention, regulatory news and new products that help them provide a safe and healthy workplace.


Strictest Workplace Safety Legislation in Country's History
October 16, 2017
It was Michael McLaughlin's second day on the job when he attempted to weld a funnel, when the heat source made contact with oil and diesel fumes inside a fuel tank he was standing on. The explosion threw Michael's body more than 60 feet (17.9m) and he died from extensive internal injuries five years ago.

The company that employed him, Tri Q Inc., was fined $125k after following an investigation and pleading guilty in 2013, for failing to comply with health and safety legislation. The investigation identifies that Tri Q:

   • Failed to identify the risks, or for performing unusual or one-off jobs, and
   • There was no formal induction for the worksite
   • Nothing was done to check to see if his documentation was in order.

Prior to, during, and repeating her inquiries still today, McLaughlin's wife questions the company's responsibility for allowing her husband, a "non-qualified welder", to weld on a drum. "I'm sure he could have turned around and said, "I can't weld", but who is going to say that on their second day? There should have been someone responsible for him to say, 'Hey, have you, can you?'. It shouldn't have happened that day.

The now-mother of three, was just 19 when she got a knock at the door and heard that Mike had been killed. She has since become an advocate for workplace health and safety, often reaching out to the families of those who have died in preventable workplace incidents to offer support or advice on how to get through it. Advocating for the last three years has definitely paid off. Australia's State Government will introduce new legislation in July 2018, the "Industrial Manslaughter Act".

This legislation is the most strict workplace safety penalty seen in the country's legislative history. It carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for an individual and maximum fine of $10M for corporate offenders. This legislation is welcome. I have seen many families left devastated because a preventable workplace accident has taken a loved one from them, and it is important that businesses and employers now know that tough and serious penalties will apply if they do not prioritize safety."



Dairy Production Company Facing Charges After Worker Death
October 9, 2017
The fatal workplace accident which occurred on December 15, 2016 at the Trenton factory, took the life of a production line worker who sustained fatal crush injuries from moving machinery. Saputo Inc., a Canadian dairy product (cheese, fluid milk, extended shelf-life milk, cream products, and other dairy products) manufacturer, distributor underwent an investigation by the Ministry of Labor. The company was charged on June 12, 2017 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, stated a ministry spokesperson.

The charges outlined by the Ministry include:
 
• The employer allegedly failed to provide information, instruction, and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the work at a workplace.

 • The company has also been charged with it failing to ensure that any part of a machine that may endanger a worker was equipped with and guarded to prevent access to moving machinery parts.

Saputo, Inc has now been ordered to come before the Ontario Court of Justice in Belleville on November 7, 2017. Moving machine parts create workplace hazards and potential machinery-related injuries, making machine guards vitally important. One or more methods of machine guarding should be used to protect operators and other employees from hazards, including those created by point of operation, in-running nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks.

Identifying hazards is the first step toward protecting workers and promoting safety in the workplace. The basic types of hazardous mechanical motions and actions are: Motions-rotating, reciprocating, and traversing; Actions-cutting, punching, shearing, and bending.



More Than 379 Injuries and 7 Fatalities This Year
October 5, 2017
A Singapore logistics firm, THT Logistics, has been issued a significant fine after one of its employees was seriously injured in a workplace accident. The employee, Chua Kiang Lik, was unloading cargo from a container when he was knocked over by a reversing forklift. Lik sustained a closed ankle fracture, when the forklift's rear wheel ran over his leg. The employee was taken to Alexandra Hospital where he had to undergo multiple surgeries.

An investigation found that the forklift driver had checked both the right and left sides before reversing, but his view had been blocked by a structural column and decided to continue to reverse the forklift. The investigation also revealed that THT Logistics did not carry out a proper risk assessment and failed to implement adequate control measures for the safe operations of forklifts at its workplace. There was no clearly marked pathways for workers and no designated routes for forklifts to travel in the workplace.

The firm has been fined $80,000 for health and safety violations. This is an issue that seems to be increasing for Singapore workplaces as vehicular-related accidents have been the leading cause of workplace deaths in the past three years. Singapore's Occupational Safety and Health Division recorded 22 workers who were hit and killed by moving vehicles last year. This year, there have been at least 379 injuries and 7 fatalities due to moving vehicles.



The New Face of Consumer Protection
September 26, 2017
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may be seeing a new Commissioner, a favorite which has been chosen by President Donald Trump. A lawyer who specializes in defending companies against product liability claims, Dana Baiocco, a Boston-based partner at the International Jones Day Law Firm, has been nominated to fill this upcoming vacant position.

The current Commissioner, Marietta Robinson (D), whose commission will expire on  September 30, is expected to be a significant change as well as a shift to the balance by appointing a Republican. By law, the five member CPSC cannot have more than three commissioners of the same party. The importance of who holds the majority was clear when the panel voted 3-2, to ban the use of organohalogen flame retardants in several consumer product categories. This precedent-setting decision came the day before Ms. Baicco's nomination was announced.

According to legal blogs, Ms. Baicco is "known for strategic business advice and high-intensity trials involving mass torts, consumer and industrial products, and medical devices." Her bio indicates that she "counsels clients on minimizing risks, regulatory and reporting obligations, warranties, and CPSP product recalls".

She also successfully defended a respirator manufacturer in a lawsuit brought by the family of a man who dies of an asbestos-related illness. The court agreed that the plaintiff had failed to identify defects in the equipment, which was in compliance with the standards set by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).




Proposition to Rollback Workplace Safety Protections
Last week, the Congressional House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing, (Save Local Business Act). According to the bill's sponsors, the legislation was introduced to overturn the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) 2015 decision in Browning Ferris Industries.

The NLRB's decision ruled that Browning Ferris-a waste management company, was a joint employer along with a staffing agency called Leadpoint. At the time, Leadpoint was providing 80% of the workforce for Browning Ferris' recycling facility. The NLRB's decision identified Browning Ferris' significant control over key features of the employee's work. The company controls worker hours, their pay, and even dictated the speed of the production line. Browning Ferris' decision allowed contracted workers to unionize and negotiate these work features just like regular company employees.

The proposed bill is intended to overturn Browning Ferris, but it would do much, much more. As a practical matter, this legislation would eliminate joint employer under the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. It would make it easier for employers to manage worker wages, and limit freedom to organize and negotiate for better pay and working conditions. It is a far-reaching legislation that would roll back worker protection. Some legislative experts believe this new bill could reverse decades of precedence and weaken worker protections established by Congress in the 1930s, under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act.



Construction Cranes Collapsed Amid Hurricane Irma
Huge construction cranes have always been a symbol of both progress and development. Miami is no different. Off in the distance, these construction cranes can be seen towering hundreds of feet above the city streets. These cranes have been manufactured to withstand extremely high winds. However, they could not withstand Hurricane Irma. 
 
Following landfall of Hurricane Irma, parts of two cranes collapsed in the heart of downtown Miami. Both cranes were located near the Biscayne Boulevard Waterfront where developers have been constructing luxury housing in recent years. Unfortunately, strong winds created such unsafe conditions, it prevented emergency workers from responding, and the cranes remained where they had fallen, dangling menacingly above buildings.

By the time Irma had passed, Miami Fire-Rescue Department was able to reach both crane locations and barricade them off to keep pedestrians and vehicles out. A spokesman for the fire department stated that no injuries had been reported. Miami officials released a statement, "The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate".

The cranes, 20-25 tower cranes, were designed to withstand 145 mph winds. However, at the time Irma arrived, it was a Category 5 hurricane with wind speeds of up to 185 mph. Although officials warned the public that the cranes could pose a serious threat, they said it was impossible to move them before the hurricane arrived. Local zoning law rules require high rise developers in certain areas to fortify their buildings against high winds, but a hurricane can turn construction materials and equipment into flying debris. 



Storms Affecting Oil Jobs and Stock Market
The Gulf Coast, particularly Houston, Texas, is considered the infrastructure of the Southern United States Oil and Gas Industry. Last week it was ravaged by one of the most powerful hurricanes to strike Texas since 1961. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey incapacitated Texas refineries in the U.S., with production processes losing more than two million barrels per day. This sharp decline for the demand of crude oil affected Texas and Louisiana oil field workers as well as bouncing numbers in the oil trade markets.

Although authorities recently lifted the evacuation order for the area surrounding the Houston refinery district, one of the first notable activities observed as people returned home, were the burning chemical plant flares. The storms dumped more than 50 inches (125 cm) of rain on the low-lying Gulf coast region after arriving ashore on August 25, killing approximately 50 people and causing what the Texas Governor has remarked, "could be up to $180 billion in damages."

The heavy rains left both, workers and citizens exposed to risks associated with heavy flooding: series of fires, toxic/contaminated drinking waters, floating debris, damaged homes and businesses, as well as other escape and egress concerns. Eager to return home as well as to work, the government is cautioning people not to rush. "It will be a long road back until Southeast Texans will have that feeling of normalcy, but the rains have stopped and the waters are receding. There is so much more to do, and there are a lot of people who still need help."



Union Demands Stop Use of Contractors After Employee is Struck by Bus
August 28, 2017
Union is demanding the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to stop using contract workers after a serious accident occurred in the workplace. Union representatives are calling on the TTC to stop the practice of hiring contract workers for vehicle maintenance work due to safety concerns. Last week, an incident took place where a contract service worker got behind the wheel of an out of service bus, and hit a driver not working at the time.

The Union representative recounted that the third party worker was hired to fuel and clean buses. The vehicle's GPS and video footage show that the bus was traveling above the facility's speed limit of 7 km/h. "The victim was struck by the bus as it traveled between 9 and 12 km/h, leaving him with a forehead cut, black eye, and he lost consciousness for at least 8 seconds." Representatives also reviewed another earlier incident, "where a contract work supervisor would get into a vehicle and drove a bus damaging it significantly, along with another bus".

Around the world, regions have different rules and regulations when it comes to safety and training for contracted companies, and such lone workers. Globally, the International Labor Organization (ILO), reports that "there are ILO guidelines which specifically address contractors', subcontractors' occupational safety and health (OSH) in general; they emphasize the importance of OSH training for all workers. Safety training should focus on supporting preventative actions and finding practical solutions."

Regulatory agencies throughout the world offer safety and health regulations which commonly agree, "In no case shall the prime contractor be relieved of overall responsibility for compliance with the requirements of work to be performed under the contract." Additionally, OSHA indicates that "to the extent that a subcontractor of any tier agrees to perform any part of the contract, he also assumes responsibility for complying with the standards with respect to subcontracted work, the prime contractor and any subcontractor shall be deemed to have joint responsibility."



Government Investigating Sport Food Supplements
August 21, 2017
Recent revelations that protein supplements contributed to the death of Meegan Hefford, led to Australian Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, to order the national food and medicine regulatory agencies to investigate the regulation of sports food supplements.

 

The 25 year old Mandurah mother's death made headlines around the world this past week and sparked a debate about the safety of high-protein diets and the use of sports supplements. A spokesman for the Health Ministry asked Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) this week to "clarify the regulatory status of these types of products. Some of these products do not appear to fit neatly under the Food Standard 2.9.4-Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods as the lack nutritional values".

 

Hunt commented section 2.9.4 of the legislation was intended to allow sports food supplements to be specially formulated to help people achieve specific achieve specific nutritional or sporting performance goals. However, there were concerns of a potential adverse outcome for someone using the product as a main source of nutrition. Sports food industry was always pushing for its products to be regarded as food which had less regulatory restrictions than medicine.

 

FSANZ and TGA spokesmen have reported they are working closely with local councils to enforce the legislation which included ensuring products didn't have misleading labeling and marketing. Meegan's mother Michele White, is working to "ensure that people were getting a better understanding of the dangers of taking supplements". Meegan was unaware that she had a genetic defect called Urea Cycle Disorder, which prevented her body from properly processing protein. This led to a build-up of ammonia in her bloodstream which poisoned her brain. Meegan's death certificate listed "intake of bodybuilding supplements" as contributing to her death as well as the previously undiagnosed disorder.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, President Dr. Bastian Seidel, said an increasing number of Australians were putting their health and lives at risk because of supplements. He said the general public didn't know enough about how supplements were harmful when interacting with medicines and existing health conditions.



Deadly Air in The Workplace
According to a U.S. study, workplace exposure to a vapor, gas, dust, and fumes increases the likelihood that a CT scan will show early signs of disease in the lung tissue. "Interstitial lung disease is a group of over 100 diseases, each characterized by inflammation and/or scarring (fibrosis) in the walls of the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs", stated the study's co-author Dr. David Lederer, who co-directs the Interstitial Lung Disease Program at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

The causes of interstitial lung disease (ILD) are yet to be 100% determined. Our research group has been studying the causes of the earliest changes in the lungs that precede the development of clinically evident (symptomatic) ILD", lederer stated in an email interview. ILDs include "black lung" from working in coal mines, asbestosis from asbestos exposure and pulmonary sarcoidosis, Lederer commented. "Other examples include ILD resulting from autoimmune conditions such as sclerderma and rhumetoid arthritis, and ILD resulting from exposure to mold in the home or workplace".

"When symptoms do develop, the most common ones are breathlessness during exertion and dry cough (meaning a cough without significant production of sputum or phlegm)", Lederer stated. "These symptoms worsen over time and in moderate to severe disease, people living with ILD are prescribed oxygen. However, despite the use of oxygen and other treatments, fibrotic forms of ILD eventually become life-threatening.

The first step in preventing these exposures is to talk to your doctor about the conditions of your workplace and possible exposures in the workplace. Speak with your organization's management department and become familiar with the Respiratory Protection Program (RPP), and always follow the instruction given by your employer regarding the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Review any material Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for substances in your workplace, particularly any substances where exposure has been linked to lung disease.















 



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