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.

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.



Growing/Aging Workforce
August 7, 2017
Older members of our everyday workforce seem to be in greater danger of workplace injuries. Older people seem to be dying at an alarming rate compared to all other workers, even as the rate of workplace fatalities decreases. This is a trend that has become particularly alarming as baby boomers seem to be working well past the traditional retirement age of 65. The United States Government estimates that by 2024, older workers will account for more than 25% of the labor market.

As a worker's age increases, so does the potential for injury. Workplace injuries become a much more serious injury or a potential for fatal injury with every workplace accident. Gerontologists also agree that these changes increase worker risk, as a worker's vision gradually worsens and hearing becomes impaired, workers develop a delayed response time, balance issues, and chronic medical, muscle, bone problems such as arthritis occur.

Statistics have shown that overall, all workplace fatalities in 2015 decreased by 12% compared to 2010. However, despite this significant achievement in workplace safety; on the job fatalities among older workers increased slightly by 4%. This is also possibly due to the number of older people in the workplace increasing by 37%, which is compared with the 6% rise in the population of workers overall. A research poll found in 2013 that 44% of older Americans said that their jobs required physical effort most, or all of the time and 36% said it was more difficult to complete the physical requirements of their jobs than it was when they were younger.

Whether there is a need for additional protective measures for older workers versus younger workers, there is a general agreement throughout the occupational safety community that there is a need for all workers to have more protection. What type of safety precautions of processes are in-place at your organization to protect older workers?



Dealing with Conflict at Work
July 31, 2017
Conflict is a normal and natural part of any workplace. When it occurs, there is a tendency for morale to be lowered, an increase in absenteeism, and decreased productivity. It has been estimated that managers spend at least 25% of their time resolving workplace conflicts, causing lowered workplace performance. Dealing with or managing conflict can be a landmine of a task to negotiate in the workplace.

As a supervisor or manager, resolving conflict is achieved when two or more parties find a peaceful solution to a disagreement amongst themselves. The disagreement may be personal, financial, political, emotional, and any of a thousand reasons. Whatever the cause, when a dispute arises, often the best course of action is communication. Have you been trained on how to handle conflicts in your workplace?

AES Marine can help. There are several methods that can be applied when handling conflict, the key is communication. Through effective training and mutual understanding, AES Marine can help you by providing the following answers and tools:
-How do you handle conflicts with employees?
-How can conflicts be managed?
-How do you resolve conflicts in the workplace?
-How do you manage staff more effectively?
-What are the skills needed for resolving conflicts?
-How do you handle stress and pressure in the workplace?


Wells Fargo Forced to Pay and Rehire Whistleblower
July 24, 2017
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has ordered San Francisco-based Wells Fargo to rehire the whistleblower who was a branch manager and was fired after she reported the misconduct of the fake accounts scandal that rocked the bank last year. The bank was also ordered to pay the former employee her back pay wages, as well as pay more than $577k in damages.

Last week, OSHA made the announcement that Wells Fargo had terminated their employee who turned Whistleblower in September of 2011, due to concerns that the private bankers at the financial institute were opening client accounts and enrolling the clients in bank products without the client's knowledge or consent. Under federal law, banks are prohibited from retaliating against any employee who reports any possible unlawful activity.

The $577K awarded to the former employee included her back pay, attorney fees, and compensatory damages. The former employee's personnel file will also be cleared from this incident. Finally, Wells Fargo has been ordered to post notices that inform workers at the bank about the protection laws afforded to whistleblowers by the federal government.

Although Wells Fargo is contesting the order, and has requested a formal hearing, it admits to struggling with the fallout from it's massive number of fake accounts, and by the scandal that was brought to light in 2016. The bank has admitted to opening a minimum of 2 million accounts over a period of four years between 2011-2015 to boost sales figures. The bank received a fine of $185M and recently reached a settlement of $142M, which was paid to the victims of the scheme. The backlash spawned several local and federal investigations, and led to the firing of several executives, including longtime CEO John Stumpf.



Federal Government Investigating Farmworker Manure Pond Deaths
July 18, 2017
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent inspectors to investigate the recent increase in farm manure pond deaths. In February of last year, a winter heat wave melted snow and ice overnight, flooding part of the rural Jerome County Farm. A foot of standing water made it hard to tell where the feeding area ended, and the deep pond that held farm's manure, began. A Boise, Idaho farmworker got into a feed truck to deliver the cows their morning meal, and he mistakenly drove the truck into the manure pond. He managed to get free and tried to swim back to solid ground. Being disoriented, he swam in the wrong direction and his lifeless body was found 70 yards from the truck.

The worker, who was a 37 year old husband and father of 6, was thought to be a one of a kind tragedy. However, it happened again in Idaho just seven months later. A dairy worker drove into a manure pond which was more than 5 feet deep and being pinned for 30 minutes under the tractor he was driving, suffocated to death.

The ponds are common at dairies as a way to store manure to prevent it from polluting waterways. The waste can later be utilized to fertilize crops. Neither dairy had fences or barricades to keep workers from driving the wrong way and into the manure pond in the dark. No signs or signals were installed to warn employees they were nearing a deep pit of manure.

Agricultural workers face greater risks than urban workers. They are further away from medical care. A traumatic accident is 25% more likely to kill an agricultural worker. Safety and risk management is of greater importance for any worker in a rural or industrial environment, but none more so, than for those who work alone.




Heavy Lift Kills Worker. Is Your Company Following Standards?
July 17, 2017
Early this past weekend, a worker was fatally wounded after being crushed under a big piece of lift equipment at Phoenix Packaging in Mount Joy, according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). Both the Lancaster County Sheriff's Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), are investigating the incident.

Reports were made to emergency dispatchers at 5:25 AM, this past Saturday morning that indicated that a male was trapped under a heavy lift. Mount Joy Fire quickly responded to the emergency scene. Firefighters described the lift as part of a processing line and said employees had raised the lift off the dead worker by the time the emergency responders had arrived. Although the investigation is ongoing, this incident illustrates how Crane and Rigging activities can seriously impact the life of a worker and his/her family when something unplanned occurs.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established standards from general  industry to marine terminals, and long-shoring to the construction industry. OSHA has published a daunting listing of standards, requirements and records keeping rules, recognizing the "significant safety issues to be considered, both for operators and workers." What resources does your company have to ensure that all the standards are being followed?



Is Your Child's School Bus Safe?
July 12, 2017
School Buses have been carrying students to and from school, home, and school events since 1955. In North America, school buses are purpose-built vehicles distinguished from other types of buses by design characteristics mandated by both federal and state regulations. Despite the distinctive yellow paint color, warning lights, and multiple safety devices, thousands of school bus accidents occur each year. Every year, buses provide an estimated 10 billion student trips from home and school in the United States and Canada.

In the State of Texas, over 2,000 bus accidents were recorded in 2015. "In 2015, hundreds of children received injuries, some serious bodily injuries, and we also had some fatalities", stated Senator Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, who authored the Senate Bill. "This Bill is coming forward because I want to make sure every school bus, beginning with 2018 purchases, have three-point seat belts. There are some school districts that are doing it voluntarily, such as Houston ISD and Beaumont ISD."

In Texas, local school districts are having mixed reviews to a new state law that will soon require seat belts be installed on new school buses. Starting September 1, the new law would require a lap-shoulder seat belt installed on all newly constructed school buses (model 2017 and newer). Some school districts are having difficulty finding funding for the new law. In 2009, a similar law passed, however a provision allowed districts to voluntarily opt out of requiring seat belts on school buses if the state legislature did not allocate money for the mandate.

Garcia commented to these concerns, "If a school board decided that they just cannot afford it, they can opt out. No one is forcing them to do it...what are they going to do when they have to sit and talk with a family who has lost a child?"



Virginian Company Contesting Penalties & Fines Related To Worker's Death
July 10, 2017
A Virginia company is contesting claims of workplace safety violations that arose from an investigation into an accident that claimed an employee's life in November. Robert C. Dameron-44, of Natural Bridge, Virginia, died on the 23rd of November last year after he fell through a hole into a pulper tub and drowned at the Georgia-Pacific's containerboard mill in Big Island, according to a citation and notification of penalty sent by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry's Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) compliance program.

VOSH issued two citations to the company in May 2017, with one of those citations broken into two items:
    • One item within the first citation states that employees did not receive nor require personal protection equipment (PPE) training, while other items allege that the company didn't wear safety belts when necessary.
   • The second citation states the company removed a guardrail from a floor opening at a paper machine this past November. Dameron fell through that particular floor opening less than a week later VOSH stated.

For both of these violations, Georgia-Pacific is facing $84k in penalties, and according to OSHA's website, the company is contesting the citations. According to OSHA, contesting the violations means Georgia-Pacific doesn't need to pay penalties or remove the hazards described until litigation in the case is resolved.



OSHA Concludes Worker Death Investigation
July 5, 2017
The employer of a demolition worker killed at the Gap Inc. Distribution center in Fishkill, New York has been fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for violating regulations on the removal of steel construction. Environmental Remediation Services Inc. (ERSI) of East Syracuse, was cited for one "serious" violation and fined $8K in connection with the death of James Parisella. ERSI is contesting the finding, and along with Gap and the general contractor listed as named defendant, are facing a $20M lawsuit filed by Parisella's widow.

Parisella, 58 of Fort Pierce, Florida-and formerly of Millbrook-died when a 100 foot section of steel pierced the cab of his excavator on December 10, 2016. He was helping take down a building at the Gap site that had been destroyed by fire on August 29, 2016. OSHA released its findings report which included an account of the actions leading up to Parisella's death on June 8th. The report included: 
    • On December 9th, the day before the accident, four workers were performing demolition activities that included torch burning, ground spotting, and heavy equipment operations on and near structural steel members, structural columns and a type of roof truss known as an open web steel joist.
   • The demolition "progressed in a manner that caused overstressing of columns, thereby exposing workers and support crew to a potential, unplanned structural collapse".
   • Specifically, hinge cuts made at the base of the columns caused them to be overstressed.
   • Once a column was cut on three sides, the last remaining side was subjected to loads that were nearly three times the limit for the grade of steel.

OSHA defines a serious violation as a workplace hazard that could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, except when the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.















 



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AES Marine Consultants, LLC
PO Box 23331
San Antonio, Texas  78223
United States
Office:  (210) 430-3469
Fax:  (210) 568-6145
www.aesmarine.com                            

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