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.

Lack of Maintenance, Procedures, and Training Led to Fire and Injuries
December 5, 2017
The United States Chemical Safety Board (CSB), says a culture that allowed maintenance to be done without proper instructions or training, contributed to a fire that seriously injured four (4) workers at ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge, LA refinery on November 22, 2016. An isobutane release and fire seriously injured the workers in the sulfuric acid alkylation unit at the refinery.

While performing the removal of an inoperable gearbox on a plug valve, an employee removed critical bolts securing a pressure-retaining component of the valve which came apart and released isobutane, which then formed a vapor cloud. The isobutane ignited within thirty seconds. This caused the fire, and burned the workers who were unable to exit the vapor cloud in time.

The CSB's final report stated that the work was done without an appropriate safety hazard analysis. Also, the CSB reported changing the older valve to one with a safer design, which had been done with 97% of the valves in the unit, could have prevented the fire. Finally, a culture at the refinery made it acceptable for workers performing maintenance to do so without written procedures or adequate training. The CSB issued three (3) key recommendations to address the problems it found during its investigations:

- Establish detailed procedures for workers performing potentially hazardous work, including tasks such as removing an inoperable gearbox,
- Provide training that focused on improving worker hazard awareness to ensure workers can perform all anticipated tasks safely, and
- Apply the hierarchy of controls which encourages engineering controls, such as improved valve design, over lower level administrative controls, such as warning signs for workers.

Overexertion in The Workplace
November 28, 2017
Overexertion along with falls, account for billions of dollars in worker's compensation costs in the United States. According to OSHA, worker deaths in the United States are down. The safety organization reports that workplace fatalities have gone down by at least 65% and occupational injuries and illnesses have declined by at least 67%, while employment in the Unites States has almost doubled.

Injuries related to lifting, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing fell under the category of overexertion. The report is based on information from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Researchers have determined that workers miss an average of at least six or more days of work due to on-the-job accidents.

Today, thanks to modern sciences and technology, there are ergonomic assessment tools that are able to help employers in the construction, manufacturing, health care, and hospitality industries. These ergonomic assessment tools help employers to understand and evaluate what risks their employers may face. The direct costs of workplace accidents can be greatly reduced if more companies put more emphasis on the proper training for their employees. With more safety awareness in the workplace, the number of accidents would almost certainly decline. Companies like AES Marine Consultants can help with this issue. They provide safety training for different types of employment, and can design an industry-specific module. If you are interested in learning more, click on our "Training Services" tab at the top of the page.

Are Workplace Fatalities Actually Decreasing?
November 20, 2017
Have job sites become safer, or are employers reporting less? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been publishing a lot less news about workplace deaths and injuries since President Donald Trump took office. Recent changes and requirements imposed by the Trump Administration, has required the federal agency to discontinue disclosing names of workers and the circumstances of their deaths. This was an established requirement of the Obama Administration, and this change has resulted in the removal of the scrolling list of names of workplace accident victims from the OSHA website last week.

While many workplace safety advocates saw the visibility of incident data as an important reminder and useful way to keep companies accountable to workers, the United States Chamber of Commerce disagreed with the practice. They claimed it unfairly smeared employers. Marc Freedman, Executive Director of Labor Law Policies for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the Obama Administration saw the increased transparency, "as a way to scare employers straight". This rollback takes place the same time the rate of deaths per 100,000 workers has been slowly increasing, especially among self-employed and contract workers, according to data from the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Now, rather than publishing the information from each incident, OSHA only releases fatalities that result in a citation in the states and territories it regulates directly. This means there are many deaths that don't make their way into the federal public record, since 26 states have their own regulators, and those that do see reports, have up to six month lag on their release.  

The repercussions for employers putting workers in harm's way remain very small under the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act. The average federal fine in 2016 for a serious workplace safety violation was $2,402, and the median fine for a worker fatality was $6,500. OSHA has also reversed a regulation that went into effect the first of this year. It required employers to share electronic copies of injury logs they keep onsite. With the reporting guideline changes, what will these number look like a year from now?

Worker's Comp Doesn't Cover Employee's Workplace Injury
November 13, 2017
A utility supervisor, Woodrow Nelson, for the Town of Christianburg, VA received disturbing news when a court found pronounced that his back injury didn't arise from an actual risk of employment. Nelson has been seeking worker's compensation benefits for medical and total disability compensation. A deputy commissioner said Nelson has not proven that his injury arose from an actual risk of his employment and his request was denied.

Nelson's duties included marking the location of utility lines, requiring him to reach into below-ground meters and clip transmitters onto them. Afterwards, he would walk and mark the utility lines with paint utilizing an above ground receiver. After marking the lines, he would reach back into the meters and unclip the transmitters.

One morning, Nelson was kneeling on the ground with the rear of his body resting on his heels, and remained in that position for several minutes. While carrying several tools (a transmitter, a receiver, a meter box puller, and a ground rod), he turned and twisted to his right going towards his truck. He heard, "something pop" in his back and fell to the ground in pain.

The Virginia Worker's Compensation Commission affirmed the decision, stating that the evidence failed to establish any work-related risk or hazard resulted in injury. The Commission further stated, "Nelson merely rose performing a normal work-related talk while in squatting position.". The Commission's decision has disapproved Nelson's request for workers' compensation medical or wage-replacement benefits.

Employer and Federal Government Investigating Mill Fire
November 6, 2017
The United States Department of Justice's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has initiated an investigation of a fire that raged for several hours at an abandoned plywood mill in south Arkansas. Debris from the fire, which included insulation from the mill's roof had spread for several days after the blaze. The fire which started about 9:30 AM on the 28th of October, prompted a response from numerous departments, the closure of U.S. Highway 82 and the evacuation of nearby businesses.

The investigation was initiated following concerns of toxic exposure as well as to identify if demolition workers, without proper fire-safety training or equipment, may have started and accidentally spread the fire. Last week, officials initiated their investigation of the fire at the mill, which had not been in operation since 2011 and was being torn down.

·    The start of the fire was accidental, it occurred when demolition workers were using cutting torches and ignited a pile of wood debris.

·    Workers took a 500-gallon water tank that was on site and sprayed directly at the fire.

·    Many of the flames directly hit by the water were extinguished, however many of the flames were also pushed away, allowing the fire to spread.

·     The workers were untrained in fire safety, and they did not know they should not spray water directly on a fire.

·    Onsite Management/Supervisors failed to recognize the hazards of using torches and grinders, which sparked the wood-framed structure.

 The fire department warned local residents that the fire was toxic, which later was identified as a reference to the general toxicity of all fires. OSHA is looking for anything that might have contaminated workers. The company is conducting an internal investigation to identify what procedures were and weren't followed, and why. OSHA initiated its investigation based on a non-formal complaint after seeing the report of the fire in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Internal investigations enable employers and workers to identify and implement the corrective actions necessary to prevent future incidents.

Workplace Tobacco-Control Interventions
In a recent study, the CDC has reported that close to 33 million working adults in the United States, or roughly 20%, regularly smoke cigarettes, vape, or use some other tobacco product. Just over 15.4% of working adults reported smoking cigarettes, while 5.8% used another combustible tobacco product, 3% used a smokeless tobacco product, and 3.6% used e-cigarettes, according to the analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Cigarette smoking has declined to record low levels among adults in recent years, but the report made it clear that rates vary substantially among occupations. Even in the occupations with the highest smoking rates since the CDC last reported, rates among working adults rates have declined.

Construction workers and repair/installation/maintenance workers had the highest overall tobacco use by occupation (34.3% and 37.2%, respectively). For cigarette smoking in particular, the highest rates were among construction workers and food/accommodation industry workers (24% and 25.8%, respectively). Physical and social science workers had the lowest tobacco use by occupation (9.3%), followed by educators/librarians (9.5%), and healthcare workers (11.7%).

According to the NHIS, among the main findings from the survey include:

·         22.1% of employed adult survey respondents reported current use of tobacco products.

·         4.6% of tobacco users reported use of two or more tobacco products.

·         Current tobacco use was the highest among men (27.4%), non-Hispanic whites (24.8%), young adults (24.9%), those with a high school education or less (30.1%), those with no health insurance (33.9%), and people living below the federal poverty line (28.5%).

·         By occupation, e-cigarette use was highest among food service/accommodation industry workers (5.8%) and repair/installation/maintenance workers (7.9%).                 

Workplace tobacco-control interventions have been especially effective in reducing cigarette smoking prevalence. Previous research has indicated that workers at worksites that had adopted or maintained smoke-free policies were twice as likely to quit smoking, than those whose worksites did not implement such policies. They concluded that employers should consider including comprehensive tobacco cessation programs as part of their workplace health promotion efforts.

Worker Buried Alive at Suncor Oil Sands Plant
October 23, 2017
RCMP (Canadian Police) were called to the work site about 9:40AM, Friday, the 20th of October to assist emergency services at the Suncor Millennium Mine where a man died when he was buried alive while performing trenching work. The worker, believed to be in his 30s, was subcontracted to the Suncor Energy Oil Sands Mine near Fort McMurray. Both the police and the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Department are investigating the fatality.

Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous activities workers perform in construction operations. Excavations are any man-made cut cavity, trench, or depression in the Earth's surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow excavation made below the surface of the ground. Cave-ins in trenches pose the greatest risk and are more likely than some other excavation-related incidents to result in worker fatalities.

An unprotected trench can result in serious injuries and fatalities, as recently experienced. Employers must ensure that workers enter trenches only after adequate protections are in place to address cave-in hazards. Other potential hazards associated with trenching work include falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and hazards from mobile equipment.

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.


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AES Marine Consultants, LLC
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